NCAA Tournament Picks For Friday: Two Totals Fading Public Action

Mark Lathrop

Wednesday, March 23, 2016 11:44 AM GMT

Our handicapper digs deep into these Sweet 16 matchups to find some betting value in these heavily wagered games. Read on as he breaks down the match ups and makes his best NCAA picks!

#11 Gonzaga vs. #10 Syracuse (Over 61.5 1st Half)
Before counting out the Gonzaga Bulldogs (28-7) in the NCAA Tournament it is important to note that their star player, forward Kyle Wiltjer, has been here before. Wiltjer won a national championship with the Kentucky Wildcats before transferring to Gonzaga after being named the SEC 6th man of the year in his sophomore year. Maybe this explains why they woke up around tournament time and started stomping people.

The Syracuse Orange (21-13) limped into the NCAA tournament, losing 5 of 6 games before winning in impressive fashion over Dayton and Middle Tennessee State in the first two rounds. Their trademark zone defense was in full form in those games, and they held Dayton to 32.1% and Middle Tennessee to 29.7% shooting from the field. Both Dayton and Middle Tennessee State found no success trying to shoot over the top of the zone either.

Ok, so what am I getting at here. Syracuse has no reason to switch up their defense, and Gonzaga has the talent in Kyle Wiltjer to make them pay by shooting over the top. While Wiltjer shoots nearly 43% from behind the arc, the team also shoots 38% from deep as a whole.

Syracuse has scored more than 70 points in each of their last six games against some steep competition. They’ve averaged 31.8 points in the first half of their last five games. Gonzaga has scored more than 82 points in eight of their last thirteen games, and have started fast as well, averaging over 43 points in the first half in their last five. The O/U in this game has been set at 135 at Pinnacle, but I like the value of the 1st half line here, which can be found at 61.5 NCAA tournament odds at 5Dimes. These teams play pretty evenly in halves, so there is value within the 1st half discount. Take Over 61.5 points in the 1st half at 5Dimes as one of your Friday NCAAB tournament picks.

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Free NCAA Tournament Pick: Over 62.5 (-108) 1st Half
Best Line Offered: at Pinnacle

 

#4 Iowa State vs. #1 Virginia (Over 142)
In this game of clashing styles, the Iowa State Cyclones (23-11) and their high powered offense visit the 1-seed and defensive powerhouse, Virginia Cavaliers (28-7). The Cavaliers are favored in this game by 5 points across the board, while the O/U total has opened at 142 at multiple books.

While Virginia is known for stifling opponents, it is their offense that I am more interested in for this matchup. The Cavaliers shot 55.8% from the floor against Butler in their last game in putting up 77 points. Against outclassed Hampton they shot a very similar 55.2% from the field and 48% from behind the arc en route to putting up 81 points. All of this contrasts with their defense – Virginia has allowed a measly 59.5 points per game against all opponents this year. That’s why they are a number 1 seed, after all.

Iowa State is one of the best offensive teams in the country and average 82.1 points per game on 50.3% shooting from the floor. They also average 9 more attempts per game than the Cavaliers, so their pace is quite a bit higher. Surprisingly with these numbers the Cyclones are a not-so-impressive 14-17 O-U on the season. Four of their last six games have gone under the consensus total; however, all of those totals have been higher than the one listed for this game.

When it comes down to it, I’m just not comfortable backing the Under in a game in which both offenses score at nearly 50% from the floor. Any break in the typical Virginia pace, even an 8-minute stretch, will have this game pushing the over listed for this match up. I’m taking over 142 at 5Dimes as one of my Friday NCAA tournament picks.

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Free NCAA Tournament Pick: Over 141 (-105)
Best Line Offered: at 5Dimes