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Saturday’s Elite Eight Action

After Marquette, Ohio State, Syracuse and Wichita State all won their Sweet Sixteen matchups on Thursday night; the regional finals in the West and East regions are set. They are both very interesting games and for the first time in this year’s tournament we have conference foes matched up against one another.

Syracuse (-3.5) vs. Marquette (+3.5); Total set at 127.5

These two Big East rivals only met once this year and it was Marquette who stole a 74-71 win as small home underdogs. That made it five straight ATS wins over Syracuse for the Golden Eagles and they’ve gone 3-2 SU in that span. They are one team that typically doesn’t get stifled by the 2-3 zone Syracuse employs and won’t get completely thrown off their game like the Indiana Hoosiers did in the Sweet Sixteen.

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In those past five ATS wins, Marquette has put up 74, 66, 66, 76, and 71 points against the Orange and you’d have to go all the way back to a meeting in January of 2007 to see the last time Marquette failed to put up 66 or more on Syracuse. They put up those five scores by shooting over 42% once, so it’s not like they need to shoot lights out to put up points. Marquette simply knows how to attack the zone.

Syracuse turned a lot of heads with their dominating performance on Thursday night and oddsmakers had no choice but to peg them as small favorites in this revenge spot. They have a clear edge in coaching which helps when a birth to the Final Four is on the line and don’t mind playing a faster style against Marquette.

Syracuse has put up 70 or more against the Golden Eagles in seven of the past eight meetings and I think they do the same in this game. They know that Marquette is well-versed in attacking their zone so the only way to advance is to get in that attacking mindset as well. Whether it will be good enough to win ATS for the 1st time in six contests against Marquette I don’t know, but this total is way too low for two teams that are so familiar with one another. Many will remember that dominating defensive performance Syracuse showed on Thursday night vs. Indiana, but there is no chance Marquette lets that happen to them.

Take the over.

Wichita State (+4.5) vs. Ohio State (-4.5); Total set at 130

The Buckeyes have needed two straight three-pointers in the dying seconds to get to this point and by now they’ve got to feel tremendously lucky and confident that they have what it takes to succeed in this tournament.

Ohio State hasn’t been at their best in the past two games yet found a way to win and now get to take on a #9 seed that has to feel like they are playing with house money right now. When you’ve scraped by twice and are now expected to dominate a much lower seed, the pressure of expectation can do funny things and the Buckeyes have to avoid falling in that trap for a third straight game. If they keep playing with fire like this they will eventually slip up too far and the Shockers hope this is the time it happens.

Wichita State looked very good in their wire-to-wire win over La Salle on Thursday, and they showed no lingering effects of contempt after knocking off #1 Gonzaga. The idea that they are playing with house money should help them here because they won’t feel that same enormous pressure that comes when you’re expected to advance like Ohio State. The Shockers have the size and strength inside to battle on the glass with the Buckeyes and their guards won’t be intimidated by going up against one of the best in Aaron Craft.

I think with how Ohio State has finished their last two games, laying this kind of chalk is simply too many points to give up in this spot. The Buckeyes are the ones who have more pressure on their shoulders here and I can see this game coming down to another last second shot.

Take the points with Wichita State.

  
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