Sweet 16 – Part 1

The only betting I do is at the blackjack and 3-card poker table. Occasionally when I’m in a drunken stupor or a under the effect of some other substance, I’ll make a small prop bet with one of my buddies along the lines of ‘Crosby will hook this field goal attempt’ or ‘Big Papi is gonna mash this one over the right field fence’ or ‘Derrick Rose is not gonna have a career ending injury before the All-Star break’. That last one hasn’t panned out for me or Chicago.

The great thing about betting, though, is that it makes games [more] watchable. One of my quoted lines is, “It doesn’t matter who wins or loses, it’s whether they cover the spread.”

Like most people, I don’t pay attention to college basketball until February or later. So here are my picks.

Wichita St (-2.0) vs Notre Dame (+2.0) ~ O/U = 137.5

What I’ve noticed about Wichita St is that they aren’t really great at any one thing; they’re very balanced. The Fighting Irish, on the other hand, have a very effective offense: great 3 point shooters, outstanding free throw percentage, and win if they can make you play their game. However, after winning the ACC Championship by taking down UNC and Duke, they survived the weekend by beating both Northeastern and Butler by a combined 7 points. If Wichita St can rattle Notre Dame’s shooters, I think VanVleet can take over, as well as drain a few 3s of their own. I’ll take the Shockers to cover in a decently high scoring matchup.

Verdict: Wichita St (-2.0) , Over 137.5

UNC (+6.5) vs Wisconsin (-6.5) ~ O/U = 145

It’s tough. With Kennedy Meeks likely sidelined for this one, it’ll be Kaminsky and Brice Johnson in the post. UNC is the hotter team, and has the better backcourt. Even though Joseph Young took over Oregon’s offense (despite a pretty bad shooting percentage), I think the Ducks exposed Wisconsin’s defense and Roy Williams will certainly take advantage. I think the game could go either way, but I’ll definitely take UNC to cover. Wisconsin has respectable defense, but I think this one’s gonna be a shootout.

Verdict: UNC (+6.5) , Over 145

West Virginia (+13.5) vs Kentucky (-13.5) ~ O/U = 136.5

This will be a big test for Kentucky. The Mountaineers have a very good defense, as did the Wildcats’ previous opponent, Cincinnati. The difference is that WVU is a little more well rounded, and have a nice 1-2 punch with Juwan Staten and Devin Williams. I don’t think I need to delve into Kentucky’s resume. Bottom line, I think WVU could make a game out of it. But if they get down by 15 or so, they’ll never relinquish it. They’re good enough to keep it close, but no one is good enough to take down the Cats. I’ll take WVU to cover, but still lose in a fairly low-scoring affair.

Verdict: West Virginia (+13.5) , Under 136.5

Xavier (+10.5) vs Arizona (-10.5) ~ O/U = 136

Some would peg Arizona as the best team in the country. I have them as 2nd between Kentucky and Duke. They’re great on both sides of the ball, they have NBA-type talent, and they’re just the better team. For Xavier, they lost to Villanova in the Big East championship despite being the 6th best team in the conference. They’re also the last Big East team in the tournament out of 6 bids. I like them, just not against Arizona. Pretty much the same way I felt about Ohio State. And Arizona held D’angelo Russell in check the whole game. I’ll take Arizona to cover, and I’ll take the under.

Verdict: Arizona (-10.5) , Under 136

Results + Friday’s picks tomorrow

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