Peter Loshak's Thursday NCAA Tournament Picks

Peter Loshak

Thursday, March 27, 2014 12:02 PM UTC

Thursday, Mar. 27, 2014 12:02 PM UTC

The Sweet Sixteen kicks off tonight, and we look to give you some betting insight for the four games that take place this evening. Which matchups are we trusting to help us haul in the big bucks?

In my experience, the lines for the Sweet 16 round of the NCAA tournament are usually a lot tighter than the lines from the earlier rounds, since any team that makes it to the Sweet 16 is, by definition, talented, playing well, and without significant mental or chemistry problems, and the market probably has a relatively accurate read on them.

But, there is still always value to be found, even if it’s maybe not as obvious or as sizable as in the earlier rounds.

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Dayton/Stanford is the first matchup on Thursday, and this one might be the toughest game to cap of all. Stanford has some great talent in their starting 5 that enabled them to get wins over two tough teams, New Mexico and Kansas, but they also lack bench depth, which could be an issue later in the game. And Dayton got two good wins over two tough teams themselves, although they were also probably particularly well suited to take advantage of Ohio St’s weaknesses in the Round of 64, and then to deal with Syracuse’s zone defense in the Round of 32. Stanford is favored by 3.5 points, and they could dominate on the inside and get a comfortable win and cover, but the game could easily also go down to the wire, in which case having a 3.5-point cushion at the end will prove very valuable.

Then Baylor and Wisconsin is the second game on Thursday, and this one, unsurprisingly, has a lot of strong opinions supporting both sides of the spread. I can see each side’s perspective, but my play on this game, and the one that I think is my favorite play of the Thursday games, will be a play on the total, which is currently 136.5 or 137 market-wide.

Then powerhouse Florida will take a challenge from Pac-12 Champion UCLA, who is a 4.5-point underdog. Capping value with this game is purely a matter of figuring out how much Florida’s awesome and athletic defense will be able to contain UCLA’s productive but not unstoppable offense.

And then the fourth game on Thursday between San Diego St and Arizona presents an intriguing matchup between two defense oriented teams, and as a result, a very low total, but also a relatively large spread due to Arizona’s perceived talent edge. The key to betting value in that game lies in determining exactly how big of a spread would be appropriate, since with such a low total, each half-point on the spread is very meaningful.
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