Sweet 16 Picks of the Day for March 23rd

Gonzaga Bulldogs

Mark Lathrop

Thursday, March 23, 2017 1:41 PM UTC

Thursday, Mar. 23, 2017 1:41 PM UTC

The lines have been tighter than a gnat's ass so far in the NCAA tournament and I've had more ATS losses by less than 2-points than I've had all year over the last two weeks. At this point, I'll just tip my hat to the bookie and realize he's not going to give up his golden castle without a fight.

West Virginia vs. Gonzaga

These teams have met 3 times in the last decade or two, with Gonzaga winning all three SU and ATS. The last has a common denominator even if only one player remains on Gonzaga’s roster, Coach Mark Few.

When you look at a system vs. system matchup, such as the case with “press” Virginia and Gonzaga, what I like to focus on is the coaching staff. Because even if players change, trends that have common coaching staffs and systems in place tend to stick. Same is the case with college football, NFL, and the like.

Gonzaga comes into this game favored by only 3 points, and after a scare by a Northwestern team with nothing to lose the line is rightly as tight as it is. But with West Virginia’s tactics on full display and not a mystery, this game is pretty easy to handicap as the question is; can Gonzaga solve the press defense of West Virginia?

In short, yes, they can. Gonzaga excels at ball possession and only turns the ball over 11 times per game on average on the year. That is compared to the 20 opponent turnovers that West Virginia is forcing per game on average. That statistic is the only one that West Virginia has any kind of an advantage on in this game, if they can somehow buck the trend Gonzaga has kept all year, and the coaching history between these two teams and the personnel don’t portray a story that West Virginia will likely want to tell. Transition offense will likely take over in this game which I see as a huge advantage for Gonzaga, and I like them at -3 at Pinnacle for a double-digit win as one of my Thursday college basketball picks.

Free NCAA Basketball Pick: Gonzaga -3 Best Line Offered: at Pinnacle

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Purdue vs. Kansas

When the public is all over a team and the numbers portray an even matchup, the points you can get on the underdog are rarely a bad thing. The Boilermakers have what it takes to be a surprising live dog on Thursday night.

On the road, one of these teams shoots better from beyond the arc, fouls less, and shoots better from the charity stripe, but is not favored in this game. Purdue finds themselves a steep public underdog even if they are only getting 5.5-points at Bovada against #1 seed Kansas in this matchup.

Even though I have Kansas advancing in my bracket, this has all of the makings of a ‘sure thing’ gone bad for sports bettors. The Boilermakers shoot more than 7% better than the Jayhawks from beyond the arc on the road, and Kansas hasn’t shown the ability to defend the 3 consistently on the season. Otherwise, these teams shoot within a percentage point of each other from the field. This game is more of a crapshoot than most people realize, and I’ll take the better foul shooting team if the stats suggest it will be close. This figures to be a classic so I’m taking Purdue and the 5.5 points at Bovada as another Thursday pick.

Free NCAA Basketball Pick: Purdue +5.5 Best Line Offered: at Bovada

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