2017 March Madness odds preview: Northwestern intriguing in top First-Round betting matchups

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Since they have no track record at all in the NCAA Tournament, the Northwestern Wildcats will be a curiosity for college basketball diehards and bettors alike during the first full day of March Madness on Thursday.

Northwestern and the Vanderbilt Commodores are in a pick’em matchup with a 131-point total at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

Northwestern, a three-point shooting team paced by PF Victor Law and PG Bryant McIntosh, does well when it’s rested. They are  5-0 straight-up and against the spread in their last five games with four days off between games. Vanderbilt is s 8-2 SU and 9-1 ATS in its last 10 games against teams with winning records.

Elsewhere, the Purdue Boilermakers are nine-point favorites against the Vermont Catamounts with a 134.5-point total in what been labeled as an upset special. Thirteen seeds have gone 5-3 ATS in the past two tournaments. Vermont is on a 21-game win streak and have a superlative scorer in F Anthony Lamb. Purdue is 7-2 ATS in its last nine games in March, but lost in the Round of 64 last season.

The Wisconsin Badgers are 5.5-point favorites against the Virginia Tech Hokies with a 138.5-point total. Wisconsin is 0-6 ATS in its last six games with three days off between games, but  6-2 SU in its last eight games as a favorite of 5.5 points or less. Virginia Tech is 11-1 SU and ATS in its last 12 games as an underdog of 5.5 points or less.

The Notre Dame Fighting Irish are seven-point favorites against the Princeton Tigers with a 134.5-point total. Notre Dame is more disciplined than the typical major conference team that falls prey to the Tigers, who are 13-3 ATS in their last 16 games as an underdog of seven points or more. The total has gone under in six of Notre Dame’s last seven games.

Twelve seeds are 10-5-1 ATS over the last four years.

The Florida Gators are 10-point favorites against the East Tennessee State Buccaneers with a 144.5-point total. East Tennessee State, 9-1 SU over its last 10 games, has towering transfers Hanner Mosquera-Perea and Tevin Glass to win the battle inside, where the Gators have been vulnerable since losing C John Egbunu (torn ACL) for the season.

Friday’s slate includes a study-in-contrasts tilt, with the defensively taut South Carolina Gamecocks listed as 1.5-point favorites against the offensive-minded Marquette Golden Eagles with a 148-point total. South Carolina is 1-9 ATS in its last 10 games. Tenth-seeded Marquette, which lost to Seton Hall in the Big East tournament, is 12-4 SU in its last 16 games after a loss.

The Miami Hurricanes are two-point favorites against the Michigan State Spartans with a 125.5-point total, with the winner of that matchup likely to get a shot at the No. 1-seeded Kansas Jayhawks in the Midwest Region of the NCAA Tournament bracket. Miami is 12-4 in its last 16 games as a favorite, while Michigan State is 0-8 SU and ATS in its last eight games as an underdog of two points or less.

And the Creighton Bluejays are 1.5-point favorites against the Rhode Island Rams with a 142.5-point total. Rhode Island is 6-1 ATS in its last seven games and has a stingy defense, while Creighton has lost continuity on offense since PG Maurice Watson Jr. was injured and subsequently suspended.

Warriors seeking Game 3 victory at Cleveland as road betting favorites

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Golden State Warriors backers are hoping the third time will be the charm when it comes to the Cleveland Cavaliers and Game 3 of the NBA Finals.

As the best-of-seven series resumes near the banks of Lake Erie, Kevin Durant and the Warriors are listed as 3.5-point favorites against the Cavaliers with a 226-point total in their NBA Finals matchup on Wednesday at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

In each of their two previous playoff matchups, Cleveland won Game 3 on its home floor at Quicken Loans Arena. Of course, those Warriors had neither Durant nor a record of 29-1 straight-up and 21-7-2 against the spread in their last 30 games (according to the OddsShark NBA Database). Nor were they threatening to go undefeated in the playoffs.

Golden State is 9-11 SU and 7-12-1 ATS in its last 20 road games when it was favored by 3.5 or fewer points, but apart from some turnover issues they have dictated terms to the Cavaliers. Cleveland has yet to find a defensive matchup for Durant (38 and 33 points in the first two games), while SG Klay Thompson went 8-for-12 from the floor in Game 2 on Sunday.

The Warriors’ turnovers (40) in the first two games almost matched their combined winning margin (41 points). It’s scary to think what Golden State, which is 5-0 ATS in their last five road games, would do if they cut their turnovers down to about 10 per game.

Cleveland, which is 16-4 SU and 12-8 ATS in its last 20 home playoff games, needs much more than characteristic superstar performances from SF LeBron James and PG Kyrie Irving to get back into the series. Members of the supporting cast such as PG J.R. Smith, PF Channing Frye (a solid three-point shooter) and physical PF Tristan Thompson will need to step up their contributions.

The Cavaliers shot 34.5 and 45 per cent in each of the first two games. That’s likely to improve now that the three-point threats such as Frye and Kevin Love are in familiar surroundings, but they would have still lost Game 2 even if they had shot 50% from the floor.

The total has gone over in seven of the Warriors’ last eight road games heading into Wednesday’s Game 3 matchup. The total has also gone over in four of the Warriors’ last six road games against the Cavaliers. The total has gone over in 12 of the Cavaliers’ 20 most recent home games against Western Conference teams.

North Carolina narrow favorite against Gonzaga for NCAA Tournament championship

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Joel Berry II and the North Carolina Tar Heels, who only seem to play close games at the Final Four, are a slim betting favorite against the first-time finalist Gonzaga Bulldogs.

The Tar Heels are listed as a 1.5-point favorite against the Bulldogs with 153.5-point total in the college basketball championship game matchup at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. The teams tip off at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona on Monday.

The Tar Heels are 7-2 both straight-up and against the spread on the college basketball point spreads in their last nine games as a favorite of 1.5 or fewer points. Gonzaga, though, is 15-1 SU in its last 16 games with one day off between games.

Coaches Roy Williams and Mark Few are going head-to-head for the first time since 2009, when UNC ousted the Zags in the Sweet 16 on its way to the national title. North Carolina is 0-4 ATS in its last four games after winning the previous game in a matchup, while Gonzaga is 6-0 SU and ATS in its last six games after losing the previous game in a matchup.

Gonzaga’s impressive record when it has a day of rest attests to having perhaps the deepest rotation in the country, with PG Nigel Williams-Goss as the floor leader.

Seven-foot-one Przemek Karnowski and freshman Zach Collins will be tasked with avoiding foul trouble and preventing North Carolina’s big men such as Kennedy Meeks and Isaiah Hicks from nabbing the offensive rebounds that give the Tar Heels extra scoring opportunities. How Collins, a NBA-bound freshman, responds to North Carolina’s challenge might make or break Gonzaga.

The Bulldogs are 1-5 SU in their last six games as an underdog, according to the OddsShark College Basketball Database, but those contests are spread out from the 2013-14 to 2015-16 seasons.

With North Carolina, the main question is the health of Berry, who is soldiering on with two sprained ankles. Berry clearly seemed affected during the Tar Heels’ semifinal win against Oregon and will have greater challenges against Gonzaga at each end of the court.

The Bulldogs have, in Williams-Goss, a more electric point guard and also play man-to-man defense while Oregon uses a zone. Justin Jackson, who is North Carolina’s first look on offense, is a resourceful attacker whom Gonzaga will be hard-pressed to shut down completely.

With Berry compromised, backcourt depth will be important. Gonzaga has been more impressive than North Carolina in this area during the run of the NCAA Tournament.

The total has gone under in seven of Gonzaga’s last 10 games. The total has gone under in Gonzaga’s last five games against the Atlantic Coast Conference The total has gone under in 10 of North Carolina’s last 14 games after a win. The total has also gone under in five of North Carolina’s last six games with a closing total of 153.5 points or less.