Playing the spreads is only one way to beat the college basketball odds in the Sweet 16, and we've targeted three teams that should be worth laying down on the money lines.
They've been No. 1 in both polls for about a month now, and enjoyed a campaign that included both the regular season con conference tournament titles. Those honors justified the overall No. 1 seed in the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament, and they head into the Sweet 16 with a string of 16 consecutive victories.
And yet, I'm not picking the Kansas Jayhawks to go any deeper in the dance. The team that will stop them is the Maryland Terrapins this evening when the two schools tip in Louisville for the South Region semifinals, the matchup set to begin around 9:40 PM (ET) on CBS. Kansas is favored by 6½ at 5Dimes where the total is an even gross. The same shop has the Jayhawks -280 on the money line, Maryland backers getting +255 on the take-back.
I had this matchup pegged a week ago, and I still like the Terrapins to pull off the outright upset for my first NCAA tournament pick of the day.
'Canes A Good Money Line Play vs. 'Nova
Day 1 of the Sweet 16 begins with a 7:10 PM (ET) tip-off in Louisville between the South's 2-3 teams, Villanova and Miami. Big CBS has the broadcast for this one at KFC Yum! Center -- what a stupid name! -- and the No. 2 Wildcats are running as chalk in this one as 4 point favorites over the Hurricanes at BetOnline, down a half at most shops listed on SBR's live NCAA basketball odds board, with 140 for the total.
I've been pushing 'Nova the entire time, and still have the Wildcats winning this region. Still, this is a spot to perhaps hedge a little bit on Miami (27-7 SU, 19-14 ATS) with a money line play. The 'Canes are +165 with Villanova requiring a -190 lay.
Jim Larrañaga's lads played pretty well the last five weeks of the regular season, save for that blowout loss at North Carolina and the inexplicable setback at Virginia Tech to close the conference slate. They haven't really beaten anyone up since then, a close win over the same Hokies in Round 1 of the ACC Tournament before losing to Virginia and taking a closer than expected win over No. 14 Buffalo in Round 1 of the NCAA's. Miami did show just how good its defense is in a 65-57 win last week vs. No. 11 Wichita State, one of my original Sweet 16 picks, doing so as small underdogs on the closing line in Las Vegas.
That has me thinking that a slow start by Villanova on the offensive end makes the Hurricanes a pretty good moneyline upset to get this Sweet 16 rolling towards the Elite Eight.
Aggies' Run Ends In Anaheim
So, how many of you are first-time readers? Raise your hands, please. Okay, so y'all aren't aware of my maroon blood that would love nothing more than for the No. 3 Texas A&M Aggies to take down West No. 2 Oklahoma in the semifinals out in Anaheim. The former Big 12 foes are slated for a 7:37 PM (ET) tip on TBS, and the Sooners are 2½ to three point favorites on Thursday's college basketball betting board.
Oklahoma is even more valuable to me at -145 on the money line. Trust me on this one. I said a month ago before the Aggies started to get things together that we, er, they would be lucky to get to the Sweet 16. And was Texas A&M lucky or what to get that win over Northern Iowa last weekend in Oklahoma City?
Oklahoma (27-7 SU, 12-20 ATS) has been horrible covering spreads of late, heading into this one with seven consecutive losses at sports books. Still, they'll beat the A&M defense early on, and put the Aggies under pressure to score early each time down before the end of the first half. Jalen Jones and Danuel House didn't react well when that happened in the win over UNI, and Lon Kruger isn't going to pull a coaching brain fart with a 10-point lead in the final minute this time against Texas A&M, one money line underdog I won't be playing tonight.
My picks: Maryland +255; Miami +165; Oklahoma -145.