Saturday's Title Games
March 16, 2013
By Kevin Rogers
Nine automatic bids will be handed out tonight for the NCAA Tournament, leading up to tomorrow's Selection Sunday. We'll focus on the four major championships tonight in the Big East, Mountain West, and Pac 12, as the evening action starts with two old rivals hooking up in Kansas City for the Big 12 title.
Kansas vs. Kansas State - 6:00 PM EST
The Sprint Center will be filled up with Jayhawks and Wildcats fans for the third meeting between these two Sunflower State foes. Kansas (28-5 SU, 18-14 ATS) advanced to the Big 12 championship with blowouts of Texas Tech and Iowa State, including an 88-73 victory last night over the Cyclones as 5 ½-point favorites in the semifinals. Bill Self's team is seeking its sixth Big 12 tournament championship in eight seasons, while facing K-State in the title game for just the second time in history (2010).
The Wildcats (27-6 SU, 15-13-1 ATS) picked up quick revenge over Oklahoma State in last night's 68-57 triumph as 1 ½-point 'chalk,' while avenging a six-point defeat in Stillwater to close out the regular season. K-State improved to 3-0 SU/ATS at the Sprint Center this season with the win over OSU, which includes an outright underdog victory over Florida back in December. Bruce Weber's club owns a dreadful 3-6 ATS record in the 'dog role, while playing with double-revenge tonight.
Kansas edged K-State in the first meeting in Manhattan back in mid-January, 59-55 to cash as 3 ½-point favorites. The Wildcats shot just 35% from the floor in that loss, the lone defeat at Bramlage Coliseum this season. The Jayhawks pulled off the sweep in Lawrence three weeks later with an 83-62 rout to snap a three-game losing streak at the time. KU easily covered as 7 ½-point 'chalk,' which triggered its current 9-1 ATS run.
New Mexico vs. UNLV - 6:00 PM EST
The Mountain West title game is basically a home contest for the Runnin' Rebels, who receive the good fortune of drawing the top-seeded Lobos at the Thomas & Mack Center. New Mexico (28-5 SU, 18-12-2 ATS) cruised past San Diego State in Friday's semifinals, 60-50 as two-point favorites, while limiting the Aztecs to only 31% shooting from the field.
The Rebels (25-8 SU, 13-19 ATS) knocked out second-seeded Colorado State yesterday in a 75-65 triumph, their seventh win in the last eight games. UNLV is listed in the underdog role for just the sixth time this season, posting a 2-3 ATS record when receiving points, including a 65-60 defeat at New Mexico as 3 ½-point 'dogs in early January. The Rebels closed the regular season on a 3-8 ATS run, but covered both tournament contests against CSU and Air Force.
The Lobos lost at the Thomas & Mack Center in early February, 64-55 as five-point 'dogs, only the second loss in the previous 13 games. Steve Alford's team has put together a 7-3 run to the 'under' the last 10 contests, while holding five opponents to 50 points or less five times.
Syracuse vs. Louisville - 8:30 PM EST
The Orange and Cardinals are playing for the final time as Big East rivals, but these teams will be reunited soon in the ACC. Syracuse (26-8 SU, 17-13 ATS) held off Pittsburgh in the quarterfinals, 62-59 to cash outright as 2 ½-point underdogs, while edging Georgetown in overtime of last night's semifinals. Jim Boeheim's squad plays with revenge again tonight against Louisville, who held off the Orange in the last meeting at the Carrier Dome.
The Cardinals (28-5 SU, 19-14 ATS) are riding a nine-game winning streak after beating up Villanova and Notre Dame by double-digits in their first two games of the Big East tournament. The only victory that came by single-digits in this hot stretch came by five at Syracuse on March 2 as 1 ½-point 'dogs, as Rick Pitino's team won in spite of making just 14 of their 24 free throws and Peyton Siva being held scoreless on 0-for-9 shooting.
Syracuse owns a 3-6 ATS record the last nine games, but the Orange cashed in the underdog role in the past two days. The Orange edged the Cardinals in Louisville as seven-point 'dogs, 70-68 in mid-January, as Siva was limited to three points in that defeat. Louisville is playing in its fourth Big East championship in the last five seasons, as the Cardinals beat the Orange to claim the 2009 conference title.
UCLA vs. Oregon - 11:00 PM EST
The Bruins found a way to hold off Arizona State and Arizona the last two days to reach the title game of the Pac 12 tournament. UCLA (25-8 SU, 15-17 ATS) will be down one of its important players tonight as guard Jordan Adams (15 ppg) broke his foot in the final seconds of last night's 66-64 underdog victory over Arizona. Oregon enters tonight's contest off a 64-45 blowout of Utah in the semifinals, battling a Utes' team that was playing their third game in three nights.
The Ducks (25-8 SU, 12-18-1 ATS) took the only regular season meeting from the Bruins at Pauley Pavilion, a 76-67 triumph as five-point road underdogs in January. Dana Altman's team overcame a three-point halftime deficit to outscore UCLA, 39-27 in the second half, including an 18-point effort from center Tony Woods. Oregon has been unreliable in the favorite role in spite of covering against Utah last night, as the Ducks have compiled a 2-10-1 ATS record the last 13 games when laying points.
UCLA is seeking its first conference tournament title since beating Stanford for the 2008 championship, while Oregon hasn't won the Pac-12 title since 2007. The Bruins have cashed six of their last eight games overall, as Ben Howland's club is rolling in the underdog role by covering six of seven times when receiving points this season.
You can reach Kevin Rogers via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
Kevin Rogers can be followed on Twitter at virogers.
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