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CBB: Are higher seeds good or bad bet Friday night?2010-03-20
In the final sector of first round games, five teams with seeds five or higher are in action. Just five years ago or slightly more, the higher seeds were strictly play against, as oddsmakers loaded the points on the chalk, trying to bait the public into paying dearly for heavy favorites. Yet in the last several seasons, people got wise and took the points with over-stuffed dogs and cashed a number of winners along the way. This has forced Sportsbook.com oddsmakers to produce a truer number on the higher seeds, which in turn has made picking winners that much more challenging. What will tonight bring?
(1)Duke vs (16) Arkansas Pine Bluff
The Blue Devils are being talked about in some circles as a viable option as a championship game participant. That is not exactly “man bites dog material” given Duke is the top seed in the South, but they are far and away the quietest No. 1 squad coach Mike Krzyzewski has ever had. Sports bettors have paid attention and have been betting the Blue Devils up significantly to 23-point favs at Sportsbook.com.
Duke has kept getting better as the season trudged on. Coach K knew what to expect from Jon Scheyer, Kyle Singler, Nolan Smith and for the most part Lance Thomas. As the season continued, the Hall of Fame coach found ways to place Thomas in more productive offensive situations, the Plumlee brothers became ripe as a plum, playing with increased confidence and making Duke a force on the glass. If senior Brian Zoubek continues to march forward (averaging 10.1 boards in last 10 games), no reason the Dukies can’t improve to 6-2 ATS when favored by 13 or more since Dec. 15.
By now, most are familiar with the fact that Arkansas Pine-Bluff lost its first 11 games of the season, all on the road against mostly formidable competition. To their credit the Gold Lions showed heart and have won 18 of last 22. AR-PB isn’t going to knock off Duke, but they could cover the spot if they can continue to maintain +6 rebound margin.
(1)Syracuse vs (16) Vermont
The Orangemen are a 17-point choice and need to start fast to regain their swagger after losing their last two trips to the hardwood. Syracuse needs an infusion of confidence getting Wesley Johnson started and pounding the ball inside to whomever is on the court to open up shooting lanes. Dating back 13 years, the Orange are 7-0 ATS off two or more consecutive losses as a favorite.
Vermont won’t be a pushover, as they hold teams to only 39.7 percent shooting. The Catamounts have had time to breakdown workings of Syracuse’s 2-3 zone and must have top notch efforts from Marqus Blakely (two-time America East Player of the Year), Maurice Joseph and Evan Fjeld. It’s interesting to note despite Vermont not having many games showing up on big boards for bettors, they are 8-0 ATS after playing a game as favorite.
(2)Ohio State vs (15) UC-Santa Barbara
Sports talk personality Jim Rome called UCSB “the most dangerous 15th seed ever”, of course that was a whimsical quote having attended the university several years ago. The Gauchos will find out just how good they are against one of the best starting five’s in the tournament in Ohio State.
The Buckeyes have Evan Turner, as good a place to start as there is the country. Review these numbers. Ohio State is 21-4 and 17-10-1 ATS with Turner (0-6 ATS without him). His presence helps the other players get better shots and the Buckeyes are 26-2 and 17-11-1 ATS when they connect on a higher shooting percentage than opposing club. The magic number for the Buckeyes is 70, as they are 20-1 and 15-5-1 ATS when they reach that barrier and being a 17.5-point favorite with total of 132.5, suggests a 71-52 final score.
UC-Santa Barbara is presumed to put up a good fight; however they are 10-25 ATS versus solid shooting teams making 48 percent or more of their shots.
(4)Maryland vs. (13) Houston
The Terps will have a gi-nourmous edge in facing Houston. Maryland has played 20 minutes of full effort basketball since March 6, the second half in their loss in the ACC quarterfinals against Georgia Tech. The Terrapins played like turtles, moving in slow motion against the Yellow Jackets in the first half and were deservedly beaten.
Houston on the other hand played four games in four days, which is what was needed to make a first NCAA entrance in 18 years. The Cougars have to stay hotter than an August afternoon in Houston to win their fifth consecutive game. Houston heated up UTEP in the C-USA championship game with 12 treys, the 13th time this season they have drilled 10 or more deep tosses. Coach Tom Penders’ teams usually take care of the ball and are 20-6 ATS away from home after a game committing eight or less turnovers.
Maryland’s Gary Williams club is a 9.5-point favorite and they need to shake off last game as bad effort, figuring they were due, after knocking off seven straight opponents and posting an 8-3 ATS record in previous 11. The Terps defense can swallow up the best of offenses, holding teams to 38.8 percent and they are also 7-1 ATS versus good ball handling teams committing 14 or fewer turnovers in the second half of this season.
(5)Michigan State vs (12) New Mexico State
The Spartans are favored by 13.5 points over New Mexico State and will cover this handily if they listen to their coach and start putting in the kind of effort that took them to the national championship game a season ago. While it’s true Michigan State lacks a true center, that is not a requirement for the Aggies. New Mexico likes to motor up and down the floor, but defense is not in fashion in Las Cruces, as they concede 77.8 points per game (while scoring 78.6 PPG) and allow foes to ring up 46.7 percent shooting away from southern New Mexico. The Spartans are 21-8 ATS away from East Lansing when they score 75 to 80 points.
If Michigan State continues to be sloppy with the ball (14 turnovers a game), it could have a game on its hands. The Aggies are not a so-called mid-major that holds the ball and tries to limit possessions to slow down superior opponent; these guys are athletes and like to run. Guard Jahmar Young is a creator and an All-WAC performer at 20.5 points per game. His running mate is Jonathan Gibson and the duo combines for an average of 38 points per contest. New Mexico State wants to play fast and is 8-1 ATS after two or more Under’s. Tthe Spartans are 0-7 ATS as a neutral court favorite of 12.5 to 15 points.
CBB: Conference Tourney Previews2010-03-10
The majority of the remaining conference tournaments begin on Wednesday or Thursday, with most of the power leagues deciding their 2010 champions. In most cases, the teams that win these tournaments will probably have already been in position to get a bid to the Big Dance on Sunday. Still, the chance exists that some underdogs will steal a bid from bubble teams by winning their respective conference proceedings. Read on for a preview of some of the action, with predicitions, then head over to the LIVE ODDS page on Sportsbook.com to see the latest prices on every game.
Conference USA Preview – March 10-13
It’s a brave new world in C-USA as they prepare for their 15th postseason tourney. UTEP is the regular season champion and will look to unseat Memphis, who has won the last four tournaments. In fact, if anyone other than the Tigers’ wins, it would be just the second different team to win, with all other previous champions in other leagues. UTEP is the favorite, as they are suffered just one conference loss all year and have first Top 25 ranking since 1992. The Miners are also 9-3 and 8-4 ATS away from El Paso.
UAB and Memphis are legitimate threats, the Blazers 11-4 SU away from home and the Tigers have pedigree and experience, plus coach Josh Pastner will talk up tradition. Marshall has the size (6’11 Lee Whiteside) and three-point shooting ability to be dangerous, having won eight of last nine and are 9-3 ATS as visitors. The venue change should benefit Tulsa, who will be playing before home town fans. Jerome Jordan and Ben Uzoh are dynamic duo. Of the teams below the top five, only Southern Miss looks capable. The Golden Eagles are 12-3 ATS away and 10-3 ATS as underdogs, however have only three wins.
Quarterfinals underdogs are 9-3 ATS, the last three years.
Prediction: UTEP vs Memphis final
Championship -11:30ET, CBS
Pacific 10 Preview - March 10-13
This conference has enjoyed all the appeal of a republican’s view of President Obama’s health care plan. The league was supposed to be down and didn’t even meet those substandard expectations this season. California has the best overall talent and is the top seed and has never won this event, finishing second in 2006. USC will be on the sidelines with suspension, meaning the 8 vs. 9 winner draws the Bears. Washington was expected to compete for title, but proved to be too young and senior Quincy Pondexter did not enjoy stellar senior season. The Huskies were dogs on the road with 4-7 SU and ATS mark.
Arizona State finished second in the league, thanks to great coaching by Herb Sendek, with limited ability and could make title game on smarts and guile, something lacking in this conference. Honestly, it’s hard to make a case for any other teams and the crowds are usually sparse at the Staples Center when the Pac-10 has four or five good teams, which means this could resemble a New Jersey Nets home game. Best advice here is play underdogs, as many of the teams as evenly matched (stink).
Favorites of three to six points are on a run of 12-0 SU & 9-2-1 ATS in the Pac 10 Tournament.
Prediction: California and Washington final
Championship -6:00ET, CBS
Big 12 Preview - March 10-13
The 2010 tournament returns to original location, Kansas City, with a stacked field. Coach Bill Self’s club is the betting choice and they have been a consistent winner all season. This is not a great Kansas team (the one that won the title two years ago was better with more mature players), however that might be good enough in 2010. The scariest aspect of backing the Jayhawks is they have continually not buried teams. The 9-2 SU road record is impressive, however winning by 9.9 points per game is not.
Who can knock off Kansas? Baylor has quickness and strong front court, Missouri can score in bunches with pressing defense and Texas A&M has G Donald Sloan and adequate players in the paint. Oklahoma State has picked off the Jayhawks and has G James Anderson and other Cowboys’ sharp-shooters whom are treacherous. Texas has suffered too many injuries and still lacks guards to matter much. This leaves Kansas State, who has all the attributes to take down the Jayhawks, including great guard play. This should be fabulous tournament with several close games, lending value to underdogs, who could be better than average wagers.
Underdogs of six points or more are 37-21 ATS since 2000.
Prediction: Kansas vs. Baylor in final
Championship -6:00ET, ESPN
MAC Preview – Mar. 7, 10-13
Kent State has won this tournament four times since 2001 and will among the favorites again. The Golden Flashes have the mental makeup to win tight tilts and have blown out their fair share of MAC teams and are 5-1 SU and ATS as road favorites. The main competition figures to be division partner Akron, who is the defending champion. The Zips have plenty of zip and are 10-2 and 6-4 ATS off a spread loss. The West Division is strictly generic by comparison, however at least Central Michigan drew the higher seed as champ.
The first four games were played at higher seeded home sites this past Sunday and those winners will have the benefit of momentum, rest and preparation taking on teams at neutral site of Cleveland. Ohio U. and Buffalo can make noise being the top two scoring teams and Ball State is the best defensive team, holding opponents to 40 percent shooting. Nonetheless, Kent State and Akron have been so dominant this season, it’s difficult to look anywhere else for championship matchup.
The title tilt favorite is 9-3 SU and ATS and the SU winner is 12-0 ATS.
Prediction: Kent State vs. Akron in final
Championship -6:00ET, ESPN2
Mountain West Preview - March 10-13
The last few Mountain West tournaments have been little lackluster, however this 2010 version is setting up to be very competitive, as long as the chalk wins. New Mexico and BYU are the class the conference, both being ranked natioanlly the last seven weeks of the season. The Lobos are 11-2 and 7-4-1 ATS on the road and the Cougars are 13-3 and 11-5 ATS in same situation, winning by over 12 points per game. Just be careful with these two teams in the quarter-finals, as MWC favorites of nine or more an ordinary 8-7 ATS since 2002.
UNLV is again the host, which has been tremendous edge, emerging victorious three times and finishing second two other times on their home floor in seven years. San Diego State is also a threat because of their tenacious defense, allowing the fewest points in the conference. Difficult to imagine the Aztecs advancing far if they get in tight game, being last in the league in free throw shooting at just over 60 percent.
Favorites have done well in recent MWC tourneys, going 7-1 SU and ATS over the last three years in the semi-finals and title games.
Prediction: New Mexico and Las Vegas in final
Championship -7:00ET, Versus
Big East Preview - March 9-13
For the second straight season, all 16 members of the Big East will participate in this gala event. The first day will have the bottom eight teams in action and at least from talent perspective, Connecticut and Seton Hall are the best, but both have to play at faster pace to succeed. The four winners of the opening day move on to face seeds 5 thru 8 and this grouping is packing with some real quality. Though they might not be the most talented, Marquette and Notre Dame are playing the best, with the Golden Eagles 9-2 and 8-3 ATS and the Fighting Irish on 7-2 ATS run out.
In the quarterfinals, the heavyweights arrive and though it seems unlikely any in this group would lose, at least one underdog has won outright on average over the last dozen years. Let’s move Syracuse and Pittsburgh to semis, based on ability and Pitt’s exceptional record in March in New York. Looking for an upset, think Villanova, who is 2-3 in last five outings and 3-7 ATS since February.
This tournament has often seen one team make improbable run the last several years and only once has a team won back to back since 2000, which should eliminate Louisville. Favorites of seven or less are 9-2 SU and ATS the first two days.
Prediction: Syracuse and Pittsburgh in final
Championship -9:00ET, ESPN
Big West Preview – March 10-13
Many may not know or remember the Big West has held this annual event every year since 1976. One dependable aspect of this conference is 11 of the last 13 years, the champion or co-champion of the regular season has appeared in the championship game. That should mean UC-Santa Barbara or Pacific or both have a great chance to wind up playing for NCAA automatic bid. Cal-State Fullerton is the league’s top scoring team and is 8-3 ATS as a visitor, however lost all four games to the top two teams.
UC-Davis is up and down and their best trait is being 11-5 ATS against Big West foes. This competition will again be held in Anaheim. The previous five years, it’s been like nearby Disneyland for total players. Those on the UNDER are 23-9, 73.5 percent, with all the games coming in a full four points below the oddsmakers average total in games played.
This Big West bash is known for being competitive, as only 10 matchups have registered above 7.5-point spread in recent years and though the underdog is laughable 1-9, they are potent 8-2 ATS.
Prediction: UCSB and Pacific in final
Championship - 8:00ET, ESPN2
WAC Preview – March 11-13
Eight teams will be in Reno, NV for the WAC conference tournament. The University of Nevada finished tied for second in the league and will have the advantage of playing on their home floor. Utah State is the definite favorite as the league champion and was 11-5 ATS in conference action. Interestingly, all the other squads facing off in upstate Nevada are right around or above .500 against the spread, with the exception of the Wolf Pack who are 6-10 ATS. This could make underdogs a play with history to back it up.
Over the previous four tourneys, dogs have had plenty of bite with a 20-9 ATS record and the OVER has also been a strong play at 21-10. Beyond the top four seeds, Fresno State has the most talent, however difficult to throw much support their way since they are 3-12 SU as visitors. No. 4 Louisiana Tech will have chance to take down Utah State in semis should they get that far, having earned a split and covering both meetings. Nevada will have the home court edge over New Mexico State and last week won and covered over the Aggies. Nevada finished second to Utah State in last year’s tournament at the same Lawler Events Center and this could be the third meeting in five years with these same two schools.
Prediction: Nevada and Utah State in final
Championship -10:00ET, ESPN2
SEC Preview – March 11-14
This year’s SEC Tournament is like many from the past, with Kentucky a decided favorite as the top seed. Mississippi State also nabs a co-No.1 placement having won the SEC West. This year’s competition will still have a vast number of Wildcats fans in attendance, but it will also have a flavor of those from the Volunteer State, being played at the Sommet Center in Nashville, where Vanderbilt and Tennessee will be well represented.
The lesser teams in the conference are all obviously flawed, yet other than LSU, all have at least one positive attribute that makes them a dangerous dog. South Carolina has Devan Downey, Georgia is athletic (1-12 away from home however), Auburn and Arkansas are capable of scoring outbursts and Alabama is second in the conference in fewest points allowed. If any of these teams make the quarterfinals, consider them since underdogs are 8-3 ATS this round.
This still figures to be the Kentucky Invitational and teams in the title game are 8-1 UNDER with dog 5-3-1 ATS.
Prediction: Kentucky and Vanderbilt in final
Championship -1:00ET, ABC
Atlantic 10 Preview – March 9, 12-14
The A-10 tourney is known for mini-runs as only three teams (’97 St. Joseph’s, ’99 Rhode Island and ’03 Dayton) have not won consecutive championships or two of three since 1991. This year’s tournament could be one of the most exciting ever, with a number of strong teams at the top and the second level clubs capable of stringing together a number of wins. All season, two-time defending A-10 postseason champ Temple, Xavier and Richmond have shown to be the class of the conference. St. Louis, Charlotte and Rhode Island have all proven they can win a segment of games, with the Rams ability to score (2nd in the A-10) and winning road record (9-6) and the Billikens second in points allowed in the league.
The best teams will of course be favored and it could be profitable to watch them in the right situation, as double digit favorites are 9-0 and 7-2 ATS. The first round is always at the home higher seed and the home-standing favorite of seven or less points is 18-4 and 17-5 ATS. Once they get to Atlantic City, all bets are off (pun intended) and Temple and Richmond rematch from Feb. 6 (Spiders won 71-54) seems like a possibility.
Prediction: Temple and Richmond in final
Championship -1:00ET, CBS
ACC Preview – March 11-14
The Atlantic Coast Conference was created in 1953 and starting one year later, the ACC held a men’s postseason tournament, making it the one all others yearn to have for prestige and history. It has not been a banner year for the ACC, with a number of good squads, with just two standing above the fray. Duke and Maryland have been the finest, yet no team among the 12 members had a winning road record in conference. The Terps are 8-5 and 8-4 ATS on the road overall and the Blue Devils are 9-5 and 7-6-1 ATS in same spot.
The most intriguing team with the most to gain is North Carolina, who was playing better of late (until Duke massacre) and has to win out in order to defend their NCAA title. The other bottom teams in the standings seem to have little chance, as they have been in losing mode, with the exception of Boston College who has won primarily at home. Virginia Tech has bunched together wins to be considered for semi-finals and Florida State is a threat the way they play defense, if they can make shots.
Review this; ACC underdogs boast an overall mark of 44-23-3 ATS since 2003.
Prediction: Duke and Virginia Tech in final
Championship -1:00ET, ESPN
Big Ten Preview – March 11-14
It really has been a maniacal year in the Big Ten. Teams lost when they had every reason to win on their home court and underdogs off deflating losses bounced back immediately to win as head-scratchers. In the end, one team stood above the rest playing their best basketball of the season, Ohio State. The Buckeyes have won 10 of 11 (6-5 ATS) and have a versatile starting lineup led by Evan Turner that can thwart the opposition in various ways. Michigan State, despite its fine record, has disappointed, not being as strong as most thought. Purdue could very likely have won the Big Ten outright, however the loss of Robbie Hummel takes them from top five in the country to Top 20-30 range.
Two teams that are under the radar in this part of the world are Wisconsin and Illinois. The Badgers have their big man back in Jon Leuer and could put together a weekend streak and steal this deal. Illinois is physically capable with Demetri McCamey leading the Fighting Illini; it’s just a matter of the rest of the team being mentally strong to compete day after day. Pending seeds, nobody will want to see Penn State, who is 3-15 in league play, but 9-2 ATS on the road, losing by less than four points a game.
These games tend to wrestling matches and the UNDER has hit 60 percent the last three years.
Prediction: Ohio State vs. Michigan State in final
Championship -3:30ET, CBS