1. #1
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    2019 NCAA Tournament: Best Bets For Every Sweet 16 Game 🤑

    2019 NCAA tournament: Best bets for every Sweet 16 game


    The favorites held their ground in the Round of 32, giving us some great matchups to look forward to. Florida State and Gonzaga will kick things off Thursday, and LSU will take on Michigan State when play resumes Friday.

    Our college basketball experts -- Joe Fortenbaugh, Preston Johnson, Doug Kezirian and Jordan Schultz -- are here to help, giving their best bets for the Sweet 16.

    If you're looking for more analysis, be sure to check out PickCenter, which has projections for every NCAA tournament game.
    Note: All odds are via Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook, as of March 26. All times Eastern.

    West Region

    No. 4 Florida State Seminoles vs. No. 1 Gonzaga Bulldogs (-7.5)

    Total: 147
    BPI line: Gonzaga -12.4

    Thursday at 7:09 p.m. in Anaheim, California

    Johnson: I felt robbed after Gonzaga jumped out to a massive lead against Baylor only to sleepwalk through the second half and let the Bears sneak in the back door. The Zags would have pushed the -13 or covered anyway if they had made their free throws in the final minute. I still think the Bulldogs have been undervalued in the tournament to this point, and the market agrees, making this the third game the Bulldogs' number has gone up since the opening spread. That might not last, however. My projection is Gonzaga -8.3, so at -7.5 it would be a pass. But I have a hunch the Seminoles will be a fairly popular underdog, and as we get closer to tipoff Thursday we might get a -7 or better offered again.

    Everyone will talk about how Florida State beat up this Zags squad in the Sweet 16 last year by 15 points, but how about mentioning that team didn't have Brandon Clarke (36-8-3 against Baylor with five blocks and two steals) or Killian Tillie (career 47 percent 3-point shooter) or North Dakota transfer Geno Crandall? Gonzaga is winning this one.

    Pick: Pass

    No. 3 Texas Tech Red Raiders vs. No. 2 Michigan Wolverines (-2)

    Total: 126
    BPI line: Michigan -0.6

    Thursday at 9:39 p.m. in Anaheim, California

    Johnson: My projections for this game are Michigan -1.2 with a total of 123.3. I grabbed the under at 126.5 and still think it's a worthwhile edge at 126 as well. This will be a battle between the two best defenses in the country this season, played at a snail's pace (Tech is 259th in pace, Michigan is 341st). The Wolverines have the edge offensively, and John Beilein is a wizard who I anticipate will be the ultimate difference-maker if this is close down the stretch. I know it isn't fun rooting for misses and slow basketball (I have another under on deck), but we are in the business of building our bankrolls, and I think the under gives us a great chance to do just that.

    Play: Under 126

    Schultz: This is a slugfest between college basketball's top two defensive teams (Texas Tech ranks No. 1 in adjusted defensive efficiency and Michigan ranks second, per KenPom). Tech has a lottery pick in sophomore wing Jarrett Culver(Big 12 POY) but the Wolverines counter with left-hander Ignas Brazdeikis (the Big Ten Freshman of the Year), whose offensive creativity will create problems in the half court. Michigan's biggest edge, however, is in the backcourt, specifically in point guard Zavier Simpson, a second-team all-conference selection. A good decision-maker (6.8 APG and under 2 TOs) who excels operating out of ball screens, Simpson has a considerable advantage over Red Raiders lead guard Matt Mooney. His ability to break down Chris Beard's hounding man-to-man defense is why I believe Michigan both wins and covers.

    ATS pick: Michigan -2

    South Region

    No. 3 Purdue Boilermakers vs. No. 2 Tennessee Volunteers (-1.5)

    Total: 146.5
    BPI line: Purdue -0.5

    Thursday at 7:29 p.m. in Louisville, Kentucky

    Johnson: At this point in the tournament we aren't finding too many edges on sides that are worth betting. Even this past Sunday I only made one bet on Virginia -10 because it got bet down into my buying range. Well, Tennessee -1 is one of just two sides in the Sweet 16 that differ from my projections by more than a point. My projection is Volunteers -2.5, so at -1 or better I'm definitely interested in Tennessee in this matchup.

    The value is likely coming from two overreactions in the market, one for each school. Purdue was lights out against Villanova (16-for-30 from 3-point range), and Carsen Edwards set multiple tournament records by dropping 42 points and making nine 3s. This type of performance clearly isn't sustainable. Tennessee choked away a 25-point lead in its round of 32 battle against Iowa, and it took overtime for the Vols to come out the victor. Nobody expected anything from the Hawkeyes entering the tournament, so the fact that Tennessee struggled (remember the Vols also couldn't pull away from Colgate in the opening round) is giving us some added value in the current market. Purdue's weakness on defense is in the post and in transition, both being offensive attacks that the Volunteers thrive in. The matchup lines up, and the number is short. Lay the points.

    ATS pick: Tennessee -1.5

    Schultz: This is too short a line. Tennessee is the superior team, operating at an elite level offensively with three premium options in All-American candidate Grant Williams, Admiral Schofield and Jordan Bone -- the latter SEC's leading assist man. Purdue is a terrific offensive team, relying on Edwards, who led the Big Ten with his 23 PPG. However, despite his Herculean effort against Villanova, Edwards has struggled mightily with length, as well as when loaded on with multiple bodies. The Vols have both of those in spades and should have little trouble handling the Boilermakers and covering the spread.

    ATS pick: Tennessee -1.5

    Kezirian: Not a single team in America could have beaten Purdue the way it shot against Villanova, but I'm treating that game as anomaly. After all, Edwards shot under 40 percent during the regular season and typically needs a high volume of shots, which does not bode well. I also think Tennessee has far too much size and strength for Purdue's big men. Greg Haarms is 7-foot-3 but only weighs 250 pounds. He's going to get pushed around and Purdue will struggle scoring in the paint.

    ATS pick: Tennessee -1.5

    No. 12 Oregon Ducks vs. No. 1 Virginia Cavaliers(-8.5)

    Total: 119.5
    BPI line: Virginia -13.7

    Thursday at 9:59 p.m. in Louisville, Kentucky

    Johnson: My projection for this game is UVA -9.1, but that was after making some drastic adjustments to Oregon's rating following the opening weekend. Part of me is hoping we get a similar market sentiment as we did when Oklahoma was bet down to 10 to give us a cheap price on the Cavaliers on Sunday, but I don't think it is likely. I know multiple sharp bettors that have already laid -8 and -8.5 in this matchup. The total intrigues me more, with my numbers coming in at just 116.7. The market was slightly higher than I was in both of the Oregon game totals over the weekend, and so far it looks to be similar in this game after an early move from 118 to 119.5. I am not in any rush to grab the under yet after the total just kept getting higher for UC Irvine-Oregon on Sunday, but this would be my look at 119.5 or better for the game.

    Play: Under 119.5, but waiting to see if the number continues higher

    No. 3 LSU Tigers vs. No. 2 Michigan State Spartans (-6)

    Total: 148.5
    BPI line: Michigan State -9.1

    Friday at 7:09 p.m. in Washington, D.C.

    Johnson: I would ultimately need a +6.5 before I jumped in and backed the Tigers (I make the number +4.8), but the matchup is certainly intriguing for a few reasons. Michigan State beat up on the Big Ten with its athleticism and advantage there against the likes of Michigan, Purdue and the rest of its conference foes -- except the Indiana Hoosiers. Indiana is at least somewhat comparable in size and athleticism to LSU, and it gave the Spartans fits during the regular season, as the Hoosiers won both matchups outright as underdogs. I anticipate the Tigers will be able to have similar success inside on the offensive glass and get to the free throw line, and Sparty's depth concerns might finally become an issue. LSU only lost one game all year by seven or more points, and that was in nonconference play to an Oklahoma State team that shot 59 percent from the field and 50 percent from the 3-point line. That is going to happen occasionally, but LSU battles and grinds and is a young team in an underdog role that I think suits the Tigers fairly well.

    ATS pick: LSU +6 smaller edge, waiting to see if a +6.5 pops in the market

    Fortenbaugh: Entering March Madness, the pressure was on for LSU following the program's impressive 26-5 regular season turned one-and-done SEC tournament performance courtesy of a three-point loss to the Florida Gators. But the Tigers acquitted themselves quite nicely throughout the opening weekend with victories over Yale and Maryland. LSU failed to cover the closing point spread in both contests, but now the pressure is off thanks to a Sweet 16 appearance combined with the team's first underdog casting since March 6. Look for LSU to play loose and relaxed in this change-of-pace role.

    ATS pick: LSU +6

    Kezirian: Among all legitimate contenders, Michigan State is the most inconsistent. Sparty can look fantastic with Cassius Winston running an offense that was second in the nation with 19.1 assists per game, but the Spartans can also look inexplicably disjointed -- and that makes me feel they are vulnerable against an athletic team like LSU. The Tigers have a tendency to play tight as a favorite but very loose when the expectations are lower (7-1 ATS this season as an underdog). Tom Izzo gives Sparty a huge coaching edge, but I'll take the points.

    ATS pick: LSU +6

    No. 4 Virginia Tech Hokies vs. No. 1 Duke Blue Devils (-7.5)

    Total: 144.5
    BPI line: Duke -6.4

    Friday at 9:39 p.m. in Washington, D.C.

    Johnson: A plethora of events all had to line up perfectly down the stretch in Duke's game against UCF that allowed the Blue Devils to advance. Duke is certainly fortunate to be in the Sweet 16. UCF shot well above its season average from long range and from the free throw line and a general expected points outcome I put together for each game based on shot distribution actually made this game 74.51 to 65.83 in favor of Duke. So, based on the events of the closing minutes leading up to Duke's unlikely win, the Blue Devils certainly appeared to be lucky. However, they were also fairly unlucky overall throughout the game based on UCF's shooting performance versus expectation. I was hoping we would get an overreaction in the market on a team seemingly everybody can't wait to fade by backing the Hokies here, but it lines up closely enough with where my projection is for the game at Duke -8.2. Virginia Tech certainly has the ability to duplicate UCF's shooting performance, but it isn't anything I am willing to bet on or bet against at the current number.

    Pick: Pass

    Fortenbaugh: Zion Williamson and the Blue Devils are currently experiencing what I refer to as, "The Tiger Woods Effect." Woods hasn't won a major since 2008, yet consistently finds himself on the board with short odds to win because bookmakers know they're going to experience an influx of money on the most popular golfer of all time. If they priced Woods according to his true odds -- maybe 30-1 instead of 15-1 -- a Tiger victory would create extraordinary liability for the house.

    The same holds true for the Zion-led Blue Devils, who are the most popular college hoops team of the last decade ... if not longer. The books know that Duke money will pour in from the public, so they can add an extra point or two to the spread and get away with it. In my opinion, this creates value on Virginia Tech. Case in point: In five games since Williamson returned from a knee injury, the Blue Devils are 1-4 ATS.

    ATS pick: Virginia Tech +7.5

    Kezirian: Duke somehow escaped the round of 32, but the vulnerability is apparent to all teams, especially a Virginia Tech squad that already beat them (albeit without Zion Williamson). I expect the Hokies to adopt a similar game plan that UCF used, relying on 6-foot-10 Kerry Blackshear Jr. to protect the paint. Buzz Williams will force Tre Jones and Jordan Goldwire to hit multiple outside shots. I also believe the Hokies want to avoid a track meet, forcing Duke to beat them in the half-court set.

    ATS pick: under 144.5

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    Midwest Region

    No. 3 Houston Cougars vs. No. 2 Kentucky Wildcats (-2.5)

    Total: 135
    BPI line: Kentucky -3.1

    Friday at 9:59 p.m. in Kansas City, Missouri

    Johnson: PJ Washington is questionable for the Wildcats, but nothing I have seen looks promising about him returning (at least yet). We saw Kentucky lock it in defensively in a game against Wofford in which their offense struggled (it has all season in games Washington played limited minutes or failed to reach double-digits himself). Both Houston and Kentucky rank top 12 in the country in adjusted defensive efficiency and 267th and 274th in pace. A well-respected outlet offshore opened the total at 131.5, which I thought was much closer to where the number should be than where the market adjusted to. My projection for the side is Kentucky -3.0 with Washington out, so there likely won't be anything I'm looking at there.

    Play: Under 135

    Schultz: I have loved Houston all year. Corey Davis, Jr. (17.1 PPG) is one of the best guards in America and Kelvin Sampson should be lauded for turning around the Cougars' program. Kentucky is a different animal though, even without PJ Washington. Reid Travis is healthy and really becomes the security blanket for John Calipari inside. Travis is a physical presence and as good a rebounder as you will find in this tournament. Freshman standout Tyler Herro -- the SEC Newcomer of the Year -- is a highly efficient player who scores in bunches and will force the Houston guards to extend.

    Keep in mind that the Cougars allow just 61 PPG and are the best rebounding team in the American, which is why this line is so tight. I expect the Wildcats to rise to the occasion with an Elite Eight trip up for grabs.

    ATS pick: Kentucky -2.5

    Midwest Region

    No. 5 Auburn Tigers vs. No. 1 North Carolina Tar Heels (-5)

    Total: 164
    BPI line: UNC -4.8
    Friday at 7:29 p.m. in Kansas City, Missouri

    Midwest RegionNo. 5 Auburn Tigers vs. No. 1 North Carolina Tar Heels (-5)

    Total: 164BPI
    line: UNC -4.8

    Friday at 7:29 p.m. in Kansas City, Missouri

    Johnson: I have had a few people asking me about hedging Auburn futures to win the region or win it all. I personally won't be hedging anything, but you certainly have the ability to at this point if it is what makes you most comfortable. With my projections at UNC -5.6 with a total of 164.0 I won't be betting the game otherwise. Let's just hope for a steady amount of long balls from the Tigers, and if they are going down again (13-for-30 against Kansas) and are able to win the turnover battle (best turnover rate in the country), they'll absolutely have a shot at the Elite Eight.Pick:

    Pass, letting futures ride

    Fortenbaugh: This UNC squad is something special, having hung 73 or more points in 14 of its last 15 outings, with point-spread covers in 17 of its last 24. But perhaps more importantly, the Tar Heels rank sixth in adjusted tempo while the Tigers rank 157th. That type of speed and ruthless efficiency should put Bruce Pearl's program on tilt early in the first half. After all, of the remaining 16 teams, Auburn ranks second-to-last in adjusted defensive efficiency while UNC ranks an impressive 11th in the country in the same metric.

    ATS pick: North Carolina -5
    Last edited by Hman; 03-27-19 at 11:47 AM.

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    No opinion on this material fellas.

    Posting per request for others who don't have access.