Sunday's Title Games
March 17, 2013
By David Schwab
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The final pieces of this season's NCAA Tournament's 68-piece puzzle will be put in place this Sunday as the final four conference tournaments stage their championship games. The following betting guide will take a closer look at the title game matchups in the Big Ten, ACC and Atlantic 10.
Big Ten Championship - No. 2 Ohio State vs. No. 4 Wisconsin (3:30 p.m. CBS)
Ohio State earned the No.2 seed for this tournament with a 5-0 straight-up run to close out the regular season while covering in four of the five games. It ended-up 13-5 SU in conference play and went 25-7 SU (18-11-1 against the spread). Including the Buckeyes two victories in this tournament, they are now 6-1 ATS in their last seven games with the total staying UNDER in six of those games. They come into this matchup as 1 ½-point favorites on 5Dimes opening line with the total set at 117 ½.
There is little doubt that Ohio State owes much of its success this season to the elevated play of Deshaun Thomas, who leads the team with 19.6 points and 6.2 rebounds a game. However, equally important has been the Buckeyes play on defense; holding opponents to an average of 58.4 points a game.
Wisconsin might have finished tied for fourth in the Big Ten regular season at 12-6 SU, but it has been a thorn in the side of the top teams in the conference all season long. Adding to a two-game sweep of Indiana, the Badgers beat Michigan twice both SU and ATS while earning a split against both Michigan State and Ohio State during the regular season.
To end this impressive run with a conference tournament title, Wisconsin will also turn to a shutdown defense that has held teams to just 56.1 points a game this year. Offensively, the Badgers have trio of quality scorers in Ben Brust (11.4 points), Jared Berggren (11.3 points) and Ryan Evans (10.4 points). Overall, they are averaging 66.2 points a game but shooting just 42.6 percent from the field.
ACC Championship - No. 1 Miami vs. No. 3 North Carolina (1 p.m. ESPN)
Miami opened this season as a +500 third-favorite to win the ACC this season but it finds itself just one victory away from adding a tournament title to the regular season title it already earned with a 15-3 SU record in conference play. The Hurricanes have been opened as 3 ½-point favorites to get it done with the total line set at 140 ½. The one concern for anyone betting on Miami to accomplish this feat is a 4-5-1 ATS record in its last 10 games, but it is a perfect 2-0 SU and ATS against the Tar Heels this year.
If the Hurricanes have any serious plans of cutting down the nets at Greensboro Coliseum later this afternoon, they will need another big game from Shane Larkin, Kenny Kadji and Durand Scott. This trio has combined for 41.1 points, 15.7 rebounds and 6.3 assists a game. Miami as a team is averaging 69.4 points while shooting 45.8 percent from the field.
North Carolina waited quietly in the wings for much of the season while Miami and Duke grabbed all the headlines, but a 6-1 SU run down the stretch proved that once again the Tar Heels are still a force in the ACC. They have also been extremely profitable to wager on this past month or so with an 8-2 record ATS in their last 10 games.
The Tar Heels have gotten it done behind a potent offense that is averaging 77.2 points a game while shooting an effective 44.4 percent from the field. James Michael McAdoo and Reggie Bullock are each averaging over 14 points a game while controlling the boards with a combined 14.1 rebounds a game. PJ Hairston has also come up big with 13.8 points and 4.2 rebounds.
Atlantic 10 Championship - No. 1 Saint Louis vs. No. 2 VCU (1 p.m. CBS)
The No. 16 ranked Saint Louis Billikens have been the top team in the Atlantic 10 all season long and after winning the regular season title with 13-3 SU record in conference play (26-6 SU and 20-10 ATS overall) they will have an opportunity to put an exclamation point on that performance with another victory against VCU as three-point favorites. On Feb. 19 they hammered the Rams 76-62 as two-point favorites at home. The total went OVER the 136 ½-point line.
This time around, BetOnline has opened on Saint Louis as a three-point favorite with the total set at 136. If the Billikens are going to complete the sweep look for a big afternoon from Dwayne Evans who leads the team with 13.6 points and 7.7 rebounds a game. Overall, the team is averaging 68.9 points a game while holding their opponents to just 58.2 on the other end of the court.
VCU joined the A 10 this season after a long and successful stint in the Colonial Athletic Association. It quickly proved that it can compete at a higher level with an overall record of 26-7 SU (10-16 ATS) and a solid 12-4 SU record in conference play. The Rams come into this matchup with an 8-2 SU record in their last 10 games but sporting just a 4-6 record ATS.
Paced by Treveon Graham's 15.4 points a game, VCU is ranked 11th in the nation in scoring with an average of 78 points while shooting 45.2 percent from the field. The Rams biggest weapon under the boards is Juvonte Reddic with 14.4 points and a team-high 8.3 rebounds a game. Defensively, VCU is holding teams to an average of 64.9 points a game.