Bet Colorado +5.5 over Pittsburgh for NCAA Tournament

David Lawrence

Wednesday, March 19, 2014 5:52 PM UTC

Wednesday, Mar. 19, 2014 5:52 PM UTC

The Colorado Buffalo enter their first matchup of this year's NCAA Tournament as 5.5 point dogs to the Pittsburgh Panthers. Could NCAA Basketball bettors be in a prime spot to pick up a dangerous dog in the first round?

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The Pittsburgh Panthers were the kind of team that was extremely competitive against really good opponents in the 2013-2014 season...but didn't beat a lot of the teams it played hard against. The Panthers very nearly beat Syracuse twice, but they didn't. Pittsburgh nearly beat Virginia, the team that got a top seed in the East Region this year. Yet, the Panthers didn't actually get a win in two chances against the Cavaliers. They fell just short. Pittsburgh didn't get a lot of big wins this season. It simply took care of the inferior teams on its schedule. Minimizing the number of bad losses is what got Pittsburgh into the tournament. Now, it will try to make use of its opportunity in the postseason by beating the Colorado Buffaloes and getting a chance to play top-ranked Florida on the weekend.

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The Panthers can win because…
The Panthers can win this game primarily because they're playing a Colorado team that is without its best player. Colorado does not have its star scorer and main offensive threat, Spencer Dinwiddie. Colorado lost him early in the Pac-12 season, and even though the Buffaloes made the NCAA tournament, they were limited in what they could achieve. Colorado got blown out twice by the Arizona Wildcats this season, and the Buffs lost to Arizona at home in Boulder, Colo., on a night when the Wildcats did not have their strong forward, Brandon Ashley, in the lineup. It's a question as to whether Colorado will be able to find consistent scorers against Pittsburgh's tough and rugged defense.

The Panthers might not fill it up themselves, but they can definitely limit what Colorado does on offense and win a low-scoring game. If Colorado can't find other scoring sources in this game, the Buffaloes are probably going to succumb to Pittsburgh's on-ball pressure. The Panthers should be able to win this game with their defense and with their low-post play. Colorado is a backcourt-oriented team, but without Dinwiddie, its style of play will be compromised in this game and they’ll have a tough time covering for your NCAA basketball picks. That's simply too much of a factor to ignore here.

The Buffaloes can win because…
The Buffaloes can win this game because Pittsburgh depends way too much on one player for its offense. Lamar Patterson does so much for the Panthers, and that's definitely a good thing on one level. You want to have a guy you can trust late in the game. Yet, the drawback is that if defenses take away Patterson, he often struggles to function with so much pressure and attention directed at him. Then, other players often fail to hit shots and release pressure on the Panthers' offense as a whole.

Colorado fought it's way into the NCAA tournament without Dinwiddie for the past two months, so the Buffaloes are obviously resourceful. They've made the best of a very bad situation. Ordinary teams do not overcome such hardships, and Colorado is not an ordinary team. This group works hard on defense and plays in such a way that its limitations are minimized. If Colorado's defense plays with hunger and can force bunches of Pittsburgh turnovers, the Buffaloes could get just enough easy baskets on fast breaks to change the direction in which this game goes. Pittsburgh has struggled for most of the past month. The Panthers are hardly assured of being able to hold up their status as a favorite on the NCAA basketball odds

Outlook & Pick
In the end, Colorado probably won't find enough offense to win this game. Yet, in the same breath, Pittsburgh won't find enough offense to pull away. The Panthers will win the game outright, but the Buffaloes will cover the number.

NCAA Tournament Pick: Colorado +5.5 at Bodog

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