#Betting101: Fading Arizona, MSU for March Madness

Jason Lake

Monday, March 12, 2018 11:18 AM UTC

Monday, Mar. 12, 2018 11:18 AM UTC

More people have the Arizona Wildcats and the Michigan State Spartans in their March Madness picks than any other team. We’ll tell you why that’s a very bad idea.

That puff of white smoke outside their office in New York City can only mean one thing: The NCAA selection committee has finally made its decision. The 68 teams participating in this year’s NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament were announced Sunday, and while there are always going to be some teams who feel “snubbed” after not getting invited, too bad. Play better basketball next time.

If you’re at all familiar with what we do here at #Betting101, you know the drill: Fade the big-name, overvalued teams with your NCAA basketball picks. As it turns out, nobody is more over-valued than the Arizona Wildcats (27-7 SU, 14-18-2 ATS) and the Michigan State Spartans (29-4 SU, 15-16-2 ATS). ESPN’s David Payne Purdum reported on Sunday that Arizona and MSU had drawn more March Madness futures bets than anyone else in Division I, with Sparty pulling in more money overall than the ‘Cats. Excellent.

Today’s Special: Bison

We’re still waiting for updated online NCAAB odds following Selection Sunday, but we’ve got the Vegas edition of the first lines for the First Round, and to no one’s surprise, both the Wildcats and Spartans are favored in their opening matches. Arizona earned the No. 4 seed in the South Region after sweeping its way to another Pac-12 title; they’re 8.5-point favorites against the No. 13 Buffalo Bulls (26-8 SU, 16-12-3 ATS), this year’s MAC champions. No. 3 Michigan State, meanwhile, is an at-large bid from the Big Ten, laying 13.5 points to the Patriot League-winning No. 14 Bucknell Bison (25-9 SU, 5-5 ATS) in the Midwest Region.

Heading into Championship Week, it looked like the Wildcats were about to crack up. Instead, they’ve rallied around beleaguered coach Sean Miller, winning all three of their Pac-12 tournament games SU and ATS. Look more closely, though: The Pac-12 was the weakest of the major college basketball conferences this year, and ‘Zona was fortunate to get past the UCLA Bruins (+6) 78-67 in overtime during their second-round matchup.

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Most bets to win NCAA tournament @LVSuperBook:
1. Arizona
2. Michigan St
3. Kansas
4. Kentucky
5. North Carolina

— David Payne Purdum (@DavidPurdum) March 11, 2018

Michigan State has been idle since crashing out in the second round of the Big Ten tourney. They’ll play Bucknell on Friday (7:10 p.m. ET, CBS), and if the projections are right, 13.5 points is just about right; FiveThirtyEight and ESPN’s Basketball Power Index both have Sparty winning about 92 percent of the time, which translates to –13.5 using the NBA numbers at Wizard of Odds as a rough guide. Arizona plays Buffalo on Thursday (9:40 p.m. ET, CBS), with FiveThirtyEight projecting the Wildcats' chances at 85 percent and the BPI checking in at 80.7 percent. That’s somewhere between –9 and –10.5. We’ll stick with fading Michigan State for now if that’s the case. They’ve got #MeToo issues to deal with, and they’re 2-8-2 ATS in their last dozen games.

Free NCAAB Pick: Bucknell +13Best Line Offered: BetOnline
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