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Kentucky Wildcats vs. Connecticut Huskies

The Kentucky Wildcats and UConn Huskies will square off Monday night in the NCAA tournament championship. It’ll be a battle between two historic programs looking to add another championship to the trophy case. The Wildcats are -3 point favorites over the Huskies with an over/under point total set at 135.
The Kentucky Wildcats received some more late magic to top the Wisconsin Badgers in the Final Four. Kentucky has now beaten Kansas State, Wichita State, Louisville, Michigan and Wisconsin to make it to the final. On the season, Kentucky averages 75.3 points on 45.5 percent shooting and allows 66.8 points on 41.1 percent shooting. Kentucky loves to crash the glass, averaging 41.3 rebounds per game, while Julius Randle leads the team with 15.1 points and 10.5 rebounds. The weakness for Kentucky may be its 68.2 percent free throw shooting. The Kentucky Wildcats are 19-15-3 ATS overall.
Connecticut is another team that very few expected to make it this far, but wins over St. Joseph’s, Villanova, Iowa State, Michigan State and Florida have put UConn in this position. On the season, the Huskies average 72.1 points on 45 percent shooting and allows 63.5 points on 39.2 percent shooting. UConn is a smaller team that averages just 35.4 rebounds, but the Huskies do shoot 77.4 percent from the free throw line and average seven steals per game defensively. Of course, UConn is led by senior guard Shabazz Napier, who averages 17.9 points, 5.8 rebounds and 4.9 assists.
The Wildcats are 7-0-1 ATS in their last 8 games overall and 8-1-2 ATS in their last 11 neutral site games. The Huskies are 6-0 ATS in their last 6 non-conference games and 14-3 ATS in their last 17 NCAA Tournament games. The underdog is 4-0 ATS in the last 4 meetings.
You’re going to hear all about Kentucky’s size and how the Wildcats are a mismatch for the smaller Huskies. Haven’t we heard this before? Iowa State, Michigan State and Florida were supposed to provide mismatches for UConn, and all of those teams are now watching the games from the couch.
Bottom line is Kentucky has needed several miracles to make it this far, while UConn has played tremendous basketball at both ends of the floor. Not to mention I don’t see Napier allowing his team to lose this matchup. Forget the points, I’m very confident in taking UConn to win this game.

Pick
Connecticut Huskies +3 Kentucky Wildcats

Minnesota Golden Gophers vs. Southern Methodist Mustangs

The Minnesota Golden Gophers and SMU Mustangs will square off Thursday night in the NIT championship. The Mustangs are -3 point favorites over the Golden Gophers with an over/under point total set at 132.5.
SMU reached the tournament by knocking off UC Irvine, LSU, California and Clemson. On the season, the Mustangs average 71.2 points on 48.3 percent shooting and allow 62.2 points on 38.3 percent shooting. SMU is a big team that relies heavily on defense and rebounding to win games. However, the Mustangs also shoot 38 percent from three and are led by Nic Moore, who leads SMU with 13.5 points and 4.8 assists. The Mustangs downfall is that they shot 68.3 percent from the free throw line and usually get off to poor starts. SMU has trailed at halftime in three of the four games in this tournament. The SMU Mustangs are 20-12 ATS overall.
The Minnesota Golden Gophers beat High Point, Saint Mary’s, Southern Miss and Florida State to make it to the NIT final. On the season, Minnesota averages 71.3 points on 44.8 percent shooting and allows 67.9 points on 42.4 percent shooting. The Golden Gophers usually rely on their stingy defense that averages 7.4 steals per game, but Minnesota is shooting the ball well lately, which includes nine threes in the win over the Seminoles. Minnesota is led by Andre Hollins, who averages 13.6 points and 3.5 rebounds. Minnesota isn’t a great three shooting team at 35.3 percent and can get careless with the ball at times with an average 11.5 turnovers. The Minnesota Golden Gophers are 16-15-1 ATS overall.
The Mustangs are 5-1 ATS in their last 6 non-conference games and 11-4 ATS in their last 15 games following a ATS win. The Golden Gophers are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games following a S.U. win and 2-5 ATS in their last 7 neutral site games.
This is a championship game that’s too close to call with both teams running hot and cold. That’s why I’m going to side with the over. The number has gone down a couple of points since opening up, and I’ll take it where it currently stands. Both offenses have the ability to get red hot and they also allow transition points.
The winner of this game should score in the 70s, pushing the projected number over the total.

Pick
Over 132.5

Minnesota Golden Gophers vs. Florida St. Seminoles

The Florida State Seminoles take the hardwood with the Minnesota Golden Gophers in an NIT semifinal. The Golden Gophers are -1 point favorites over the Seminoles with an over/under point total set at 132.
The Seminoles have played well at both ends of the floor in periods through three wins in the NIT which has been good enough to reach the semifinals. It was their offense that did the damage in a 78-75 decision in the quarters versus a solid Louisiana Tech squad Wednesday although the defense had a hand in the success as well. Nearly 45% shooting put up enough points but 15 turnovers led to 15 more Bulldogs looks which boosted their 35.6% accuracy. The one, two punch of Aaron Thomas and Okaro White combined for 41 points and 17 rebounds with Devon Bookert and Montay Brandon adding 21 points and five yanks apiece.
Through three games in the NIT Minnesota has scored when needed and defended when needed although the offense took the leading role in an 81-73 victory over a dangerous Southern Mississippi in a quarterfinal match up on Tuesday. The Golden Gophers sank half their looks and were a near perfect 19-21 from the charity stripe to hold off the 44% shooting Golden Eagles. Austin Hollins was the offensive star with a game high 32 points including a 6-12 mark on threes followed by Joey King with 15 while Maurice Walker added 12 points and nine rebounds as the Golden Gophers went with a seven man rotation.
I nteresting match up with both teams putting up similar numbers. Minnesota has played a tough schedule and the Seminoles have as well but I simply feel the Golden Gophers are a better team.

Pick
Minnesota Golden Gophers -1 Florida St. Seminoles

Tennessee Volunteers vs. Michigan Wolverines

The Tennessee Volunteers and the Michigan Wolverines face off on Friday in Indianapolis in a NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 matchup with the winner going to the Elite Eight. The Wolverines are -2 point favorites over the Volunteers with an over/under point total set at 131.5.
The Tennessee Volunteers barely made it into the NCAA Tournament but so far they have made the most of it winning three games to make it to this point. Tennessee opened in the play in game knocking off Iowa by 13 points then they beat UMass by 19 and upstart Mercer by 20. Jordan McRae leads the Vols averaging 18.6 points per game. Jarnell Stokes is averaging 15.2 points and 10.7 rebounds, Josh Richardson is averaging 10.1 points, and Jeronne Maymon is averaging 9.9 points and 8.2 rebounds. Tennessee is averaging 72.3 points and they are shooting 45 percent while defensively they are allowing 61.4 points and their opponents are shooting 41 percent. Tennessee has won eight of their last nine games and their one loss was to Florida in a game that was competitive until the final minute and thus far the SEC has been perfect in the NCAA Tournament this year.
The Michigan Wolverines lost in the Big Ten Tournament Finals against Michigan State but thus far in the NCAA Tournament they have been rock solid. Michigan knocked off a stubborn Wofford in their first round game and then turned back Texas eventually winning by 14 in their second round game. Nik Stauskas leads the Wolverines averaging 17.4 points per game. Caris LeVert and Glenn Robinson III are averaging 13.1 points and Derrick Walton Jr. is averaging 8.1 points. Michigan is averaging 74 points and they are shooting 47.5 percent from the floor while defensively their opponents score 64.6 points per game and shoot 44 percent. Michigan won the Big Ten regular season title and are the number two seed in the Midwest Region and they were ranked seventh in the nation coming into the tournament.
Tennessee is 5-0 against the spread in their last five non-conference games, 6-1 against the spread in their last seven neutral site games, and 5-2-1 against the spread in their last eight NCAA Tournament games. Michigan is 7-1 against the spread in their last eight NCAA Tournament games, 13-6-1 against the spread in their last 20 neutral site games, and 2-6 against the spread following a game that they covered the spread.
With two teams that average well over 70 points per game ad coming off of high scoring efforts the total is set at 131.5 which seems more than just a little to the low side

Pick
Over 131.5

Michigan St. Spartans vs. Virginia Cavaliers

The Michigan State Spartans and the Virginia Cavaliers face off on Friday at Madison Square Garden in a NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 matchup with the winner going to the Elite Eight and being a win away from the Final Four. The Spartans are -1.5 point favorites over the Cavaliers with an over/under point total set at 126.
The Michigan State Spartans were never 100 percent healthy until the end of the season but since then they have own their last five games. Michigan State won the Big Ten Tournament then started their NCAA Tournament knocking off Delaware by 15 points and then beating Harvard by seven in a game that was never really in doubt. Adreian Payne has been the leader of the Spartans doing it all averaging 16.6 points and 7.3 rebounds per game. Gary Harris is averaging 16.9 points, Keith Appling is averaging 11.7 points, and Branden Dawson is averaging 11 points and 8.3 rebounds. Michigan State is averaging 76.5 points and they are shooting 47.7 percent from the floor while defensively they are allowing 65.9 points and their opponents are shooting 40 percent. Every player that has played for Tom Izzo and has stayed four years has made at least one Final Four and this is this group’s last opportunity to continue that trend.
The Virginia Cavaliers are the top seed in the East Region of the NCAA Tournament and the ACC Conference and Tournament Champions. Virginia opened their NCAA Tournament with a first round win over Coastal Carolina and then thrashed Memphis by 18 points in their second round game. Malcolm Brogdon is averaging 12.6 points and 5.4 rebounds per game to lead the Cavaliers. Joe Harris is averaging 11.8 points, Anthony Gill is averaging 8.8 points, and Justin Anderson is averaging 8.0 points. Virginia is averaging 66.4 points and they are shooting 45.7 percent while defensively they are allowing 55.5 points and their opponents are shooting 38.6 percent. Virginia was considered the last of the number one seeds but they haven’t done anything either before or during March Madness to show they aren’t worthy.
Virginia is 4-1-1 against the spread in their last six neutral site games, 16-5-2 against the spread in their last 23 games, and 15-4-2 against the spread against a team with a winning record. Michigan State is 5-1-1 against the spread in their last seven games, 4-1-1 against the spread against a team with a winning record, and 3-1-1 against the spread in their last five neutral site games.
The total in this one is set at 126.5 and I don’t see the score getting that high so my pick is the under.

Pick
Under 126.5

Kentucky Wildcats vs. Louisville Cardinals

The Kentucky Wildcats and the Louisville Cardinals face off on Friday in Indianapolis in a Sweet 16 NCAA Tournament matchup for the right to go to the Elite 8. The Cardinals are -5 point favorites over the Wildcats with an over/under point total set at 138.5
The Kentucky Wildcats were ranked number one to start the season and finished the season unranked but they look to be playing their best basketball of the season after narrowly losing to Florida in the SEC Tournament Championship Game. Kentucky held off Kansas State in their first round NCAA Tournament game and then won a war with number one seed and previously unbeaten Wichita State in the second round. Julius Randle leads the Wildcats averaging 15.1 points and 10.6 rebounds per game. James Young is averaging 14.3 points, Aaron Harrison is averaging 14.1 points, and Andrew Harrison is averaging 11 points. Kentucky is averaging 75.4 points and they are shooting 45.2 percent while defensively they are allowing 66.4 points and their opponents are shooting 40.6 percent. Kentucky beat Louisville by seven points on December 28th as an underdog. While UK doesn’t have a ton of experience there may not be another team in the nation with as much talent.
The Louisville Cardinals have been on a roll losing just once since February and looking very much the part of defending National Champions. Louisville started their title defense y beating Manhattan by seven points and then beating St. Louis in dominating fashion by 15. Russ Smith leads the Cardinals averaging 18.1 points per game. Last season’s NCAA Tournament MVP Luke Hancock is averaging 12.1 points, Montrezl Harrell is averaging 14 points and 8.4 rebounds, and Chris Jones is averaging 10.4 points. Louisville is averaging 81.4 points and they are shooting 47 percent while defensively they are allowing 60.8 points and their opponents are shooting 39.5 percent. Louisville was a fourth seed in March Madness but they very much are playing the part of a one seed.
Kentucky is 5-0 against the spread in their last five games, 5-0 against the spread in their last five neutral site games, and 6-1 against the spread in their last seven NCAA Tournament games. Louisville is 6-1 against the spread in their last seven games, 18-8 against the spread in their last 26 non-conference games, and 5-1 against the spread against a team with a winning record. The underdog has covered the point spread in the last five meetings of these two.
With the total set at 138.5 the odds makers appear to be dialed in but I like the under in what should be an outright war.

Pick
Under 138.5

Gonzaga Bulldogs vs. Arizona Wildcats

The Gonzaga Bulldogs and the Arizona Wildcats face off on Sunday for the right to go to the Sweet 16 in the NCAA Tournament. The Wildcats are -6 point favorites over the Bulldogs with an over/under point total set at 127.
The Gonzaga Bulldogs haven’t come into March Madness with the fanfare we have seen in recent years but they came out with guns blazing beating Oklahoma State in the first round. Gonzaga jumped out to a early lead and held off several rallies by OSU getting the win and advancing. Kevin Pangos led the Zags scoring 26 points. Gary Bell had 17 points, Przemek Karnowski had 15 points and nine rebounds, and Kyle Draginis had 12 points and eight rebounds. Gonzaga shot 50 percent on Friday shooting 50 percent of their two-point shots and 50 percent of their shots beyond the three-point arc. Gonzaga shot 63.4 percent from the free throw line> Gonzaga was the first one seed to lose last season and they hope to pass that on to Arizona this year.
The Arizona Wildcats brushed off a slow start to take control mid-first half of their opening round West Regional NCAA Tournament game against Weber State and advance. Arizona led by over 20 at one point but in the end they won by nine points. Nick Johnson led the Wildcats scoring 18 points. Aaron Gordon had 16 points, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson had 13 points, and Kaleb Tarczewski scored 10 points. Arizona shot 55.3 percent from the floor shooting 57.5 percent from the floor and 50 percent from three-point land. Arizona hit just 56.3 percent of their free throws going to the line just 16 times.
Gonzaga is 5-1 against the spread in their last six games, 4-1 against the spread following a win, and 1-5-1 against the spread against the Pac-12. Arizona is 6-1 against the spread in their last seven NCAA Tournament games and 19-7 against the spread in their last 26 non-conference games.
The total is at 127 and I still see it well below that number.

Pick
Under127

Baylor Bears vs. Creighton Bluejays

The Baylor Bears and the Creighton Blue Jays face off on Sunday with the winner going to the Sweet Sixteen in the NCAA Tournament, The Blue Jays are -3 point favorites over the Bears with an over/under point total set at 144.
The Baylor Bears have been red hot and they remained that way on Friday in their first round game against Nebraska. Baylor jumped all over the Huskers and never let up in a game that was never close. Cory Jefferson was the Bears leading scorer with 16 points and six rebounds. Isaiah Austin had 13 points and seven rebounds, Brady Heslip had 12 points, and Rico Gathers had 11 points and six rebounds. Baylor shot 40.5 percent from the floor going 51.7 percent with their two point shots and just 15.4 percent from beyond the three-point arc. Baylor shot 79.2 percent from the free throw line. BU looks like they will need contributions from everyone in this one to get it done.
The Creighton Bluejays fell behind Louisiana early on Friday but the shots started falling and they won by double digits. Creighton struggled to score at times but they were clearly the better team in their first round game. Doug McDermott scored 30 points and grabbed 12 rebounds to lead the Bluejays. Austin Chatman scored 16 points and had five rebounds, Ethan Wragge had 12 points, and Grant Gibbs had six points. Creighton shot 51.9 percent from the floor hitting 61.2 percent of their two-point shots and 39.1 percent from beyond the three-point arc. Creighton will need to improve on their 52.4 percent free throw shooting.
Baylor is 9-3-1 against the spread in their last 13 games, 5-1 against the spread against a team with a winning record, and 10-4 against the spread in their last 14 non-conference games. Creighton is 5-0 against the spread against the Big 12, 5-1 against the spread in their last six non-conference games, and 1-7-1 against the spread in their last nine NCAA Tournament games.
This should be a high scoring game and even at 144 I like for it to go over the total.

Pick
Over 144

Manhattan Jaspers vs. Louisville Cardinals

The Louisville Cardinals and the Manhattan Jaspers face off on Thursday in Orlando is a first round game in the Midwest Regional of the NCAA Tournament. The Cardinals are -14.5 point favorites over the Jaspers with an over/under point total set at 146.5.
The Louisville Cardinals are the defending National Champions and won the AAC regular season title as well as the conference tournament but all of that was only good enough to be a four seed in the NCAA Tournament. Louisville is 11-2 in non-conference games and 4-1 in neutral site games this season. Russ Smith leads the Cardinals averaging 18.3 points per game. Montrezl Harrell is averaging 14.2 points and 8.2 rebounds, Luke Hancock is averaging 11.7 points, and Chris Jones is averaging 10.3 points. Louisville is averaging 82.1 points and they are shooting 47.4 percent while defensively they are allowing 61 points and their opponents are shooting 39.4 percent. Louisville ended the season the fifth ranked team in the nation.
The Manhattan Jaspers won 11 of their last 12 games and while finishing in second place in the MAAC they won the conference tournament landing them in this spot. Manhattan was 7-2 out of conference, 4-0 in neutral site games, but they didn’t play any team ranked in the top 25. George Beamon leads the Jaspers averaging 19.2 points and 6.6 rebounds per game. Michael Alvarado is averaging 12 points, Rhamel Brown is averaging 10.1 points and 6.0 rebounds, and Emmy Andujar and Shane Richards each average 8.5 points per game. Manhattan is averaging 77.4 points and they are shooting 45.1 percent while defensively they are allowing 70 points and their opponents are shooting 41 percent. Manhattan Coach Steve Masiello has worked as an assistant under Louisville Head Coach Rick Pitino at both Kentucky and Louisville.
Louisville is 9-2 against the spread in their last 11 NCAA Tournament games, 21-6 against the spread in their last 27 neutral site games, and 17-7 against the spread in their last 24 non-conference games. Manhattan is 6-1 against the spread in their last seven neutral site games, 4-1 against the spread following a game that they covered the point spread, and 6-2 against the spread following a win.
The total is sky high at 146.5 but I have to believe we still see and over in this one.

Pick
Over 146.5

Dayton Flyers vs. Ohio St. Buckeyes

The Ohio State Buckeyes and the Dayton Flyers face off on Thursday in Buffalo in a first round NCAA Tournament game in the South Regional. The Buckeyes are -5.5 point favorites over the Flyers with an over/under point total set at 128.5.
The Ohio State Buckeyes are the number six seed in the south after finishing in fifth place in the Big Ten this season. Ohio State went 13-0 out of conference this year and 3-1 in neutral site games. LaQuinton Ross is averaging 15.4 points and 6.1 rebounds per game to lead the Buckeyes. Lenzelle Smith Jr. is averaging 11.1 points and 5.1 rebounds, Aaron Craft is averaging 9.6 points, and Amir Williams is averaging 8.0 points and 5.8 rebounds. Ohio State is averaging 69.8 points and they are shooting 44.9 percent while defensively they are allowing 59.8 points and their opponents are shooting 40.5 percent. Ohio State has come up short in the NCAA Tournament under Thad Matta and they are hoping this is a year they fly under the radar.
The Dayton Flyers got off t a slow start to the season but they won 10 of their last 12 games and finished tied for fifth place in the A-10. Dayton is 12-3 in non-conference games, 3-2 in neutral site games, and 1-2 against teams ranked in the top 25. Jordan Sibert leads the Flyers averaging 12.5 points per game. Devin Oliver is averaging 12.1 points and 7.5 rebounds, Dyshawn Pierre is averaging 11.1 points and 5.6 rebounds, and Vee Sanford is averaging 9.9 points. Dayton is averaging 73.4 points and they are shooting 46.6 percent while defensively they are allowing 67.6 points and their opponents are shooting 43.9 percent. Dayton has been looking for a chance to play Ohio State for a very long time and now they finally get that opportunity.
Ohio State is 1-4 against the spread in their last five NCAA Tournament games, 0-6 against the spread in their last six games, and 3-9 against the spread following a loss. Dayton is 8-2 against the spread in their last 10 non-conference games, 4-1 against the spread in their last five neutral site games, and 5-2 against the spread against a team with a winning record.
The total is set at 128.5 and I like the over for my pick.

Pick
Over 128.5

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