Saturday's Hoop Picks
March 23, 2013
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The opening rounds of March Madness betting has left a grave of broken brackets behind and this weekend’s action is going to maintain the torrential pace. Here’s a rundown of Saturday’s games broken up by region. Are therea any big upsets on the board or will the madness give in to logic and reason?
#1 Louisville Cardinal -10.5 over #8 Colorado St. Rams (5:15pm EST)
The Louisville Cardinal absolutely crushed the NC State A&T Aggies in a 79-48 beatdown\ to keep their amazing winning streak alive. In their past 10 games, they’re now 10-0 SU and 9-1 ATS. Colorado State put up a great fight against Missouri, but they simply won’t be able to match Louisville on the hardwood. They’re also not a great betting team, with a 3-7 ATS record over their last 10 games so I’m leaning away and taking the Cardinal.
#6 Memphis Tigers +6.0 over #2 Michigan State Spartans (2:45pm EST)
Coach Izzo’s Spartans played well in a win over Valparaiso, but are running in to a very talented team from Memphis. The Tigers will fall in to an early hole, but can claw their way back. This is Memphis’s biggest challenge so far this season and once they adjust to the tempo of the game, they’ll seize control of the scoreboard in an upset victory.
#4 Saint Louis Billikens -3.5 over #12 Oregon Ducks (7:10pm EST)
The Billikens’ brand of basketball is incredibly fun to watch and they’ve been a reliable betting force so far. They had a soft matchup in round two, and Oregon will certainly give them a fight. Part of me really wants to back the Ducks here because they have a ton of momentum in this matchup, but Saint Louis is too complete and too consistent to break their 9-1 SU and ATS streak right now.
#5 VCU Rams +3.0 over #4 Michigan Wolverines (12:15pm EST)
This game has the potential to be the best on the board as VCU tries to use its havoc defense to destroy Michigan’s national title hopes. Trey Burke is easily one of the best point guards in the country, but he may have trouble finding open passing lanes with VCU’s ability to penetrate and disrupt the flow of an offence. This is going to be a slobber knocker.
VCU crushed the Akron Zips 88-42 with one of the biggest second round whoopings over the first two days. They’re not a great betting team, going just 2-4 ATS in their last 6 games, but they’re a great take here. The real question is whether VCU has the ability to keep up with the premier level athleticism of the Wolverines.
Michigan has not lived up to expectations that much, but a 71-56 thrashing of San Diego State helped build some momentum. They are prone to good defensive teams as was evidenced by their blowout loss against Wisconsin in the Big Ten Tournament. I expect another stout defence to smother their offensive potential and create a big upset here. Back the Rams here.
#14 Harvard Crimson +10.0 over #6 Arizona Wildcats (6:10pm EST)
The Wildcats came on strong in a big test against a squirrely team from Belmont, but they won’t have the same luck against a Harvard team that is using solid defence and hot perimeter shooting to pick up wins. This game will be a shootout and Harvard has too many weapons to go completely cold so I’m projecting a cover over this unfair spread. This number has more to do with the name value of both teams instead of the actual talent. I’m not sure Harvard can win this game outright but that double digit number is too tempting to turn away from.
#1 Gonzaga Bulldogs -6.5 over #9 Wichita State Shockers (8:40pm EST)
Gonzaga almost became the first top seed to lose to a sixteenth seed, and on Saturday they’re going to have to try and stop another “shocking” upset. Sorry, I couldn’t help myself there. The Zags kept their winning streak alive and are now 15-0 SU and 8-6-1 ATS over that run. They better have woken up if they want to stay alive in this tournament, and they’ll use their dominant paint presence to give Wichita State a beating. A gigantic -23.0 line was hard to cover to begin with, but a softer spread against the Shockers won’t be an issue.
#6 Butler Bulldogs +2.0 over #3 Marquette Eagles (7:45pm EST)
Marquette escaped an early exit by barely beating Davidson, who allowed the hope of an upset get to them and break their spirits. The Butler Bulldogs won’t allow that to happen and are toe-to-toe with a Marquette team they beat 72-71 last season. The Bulldogs will escape here in a very tough matchup.
#4 Syracuse Orange -7.5 over #12 California Bears (9:40pm EST)
If Syracuse can play to their potential throughout the tournament, they have are contenders to win the whole damn thing. Their 47 point shellacking of the Montana Grizzlies showed how ready they are to prove that their late season implosion was a blip on the radar. Including the Big East Tournament and March Madness, the Orange are 4-1 SU and 3-2 ATS. Expect them to exile the Bears with ease.