Thursday's Early Action
March 20, 2013
By David Schwab
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The 2013 Men’s NCAA Basketball Tournament officially got underway this past Tuesday from Dayton with two games in the First Four Round, but starting this Thursday afternoon things really heat up with the first eight games in the Round of 64. To help get you ready for all the action the following is a brief betting preview of all eight games with lines provided by 5Dimes.
Midwest Regional – The Palace, Detroit (CBS, 12:15 p.m. ET)
No. 14 Valparaiso Crusaders (26-7) vs. No. 3 Michigan State Spartans (25-8)
Pointspread: Michigan State -10 ½
Total: 126 ½
The Crusaders earned its spot in the Midwest Region by winning the Horizon League Tournament after already claiming the regular season title. They went 9-1 straight-up in their last 10 games but were just 5-4-1 against the spread. The total stayed UNDER in four of their last five games. Valpo is averaging 71.7 points a game while shooting 48.9 percent from the field.
Michigan State bowed out of the Big Ten Tournament with a 61-58 loss to Ohio State as a 1 ½-point underdog. It had won six of its previous nine games while going 4-4-1 ATS. The Spartans are 5-2 ATS in their last seven games following a SU loss. Look for Keith Appling and Gary Harris to lead the way after combining for an average of 26.5 points a game this season.
East Regional – Rupp Arena, Lexington (tru TV, 12:40 p.m. ET)
No. 11 Bucknell Bison (28-5) vs. No. 6 Butler Bulldogs (26-8)
Pointspread: Butler 3 ½
Bucknell claimed the Patriot League title to punch its ticket to the Big Dance. It comes into this matchup riding a seven-game winning streak but it has failed to cover in its last three games with a posted line. The Bison are averaging 67.3 points while holding their opponents to just 57.7 points a game.
The Bulldogs are back in the NCAA Tournament as an at-large entry after posting an 11-5 SU record in their first season in the Atlantic 10. They went just 4-3 SU and 3-4 ATS in their last seven games and the total has stayed UNDER in four of their last six. The top scorer for Butler this season has been Rotnei Clarke with an average of 16.7 points a game.
West Regional – EnergySolutions Arena, Salt Lake City (TBS, 1:40 p.m. ET)
No. 9 Wichita State Shockers (26-8) vs. No. 8 Pittsburgh Panthers (24-8)
Pointspread: Pittsburgh -4 ½
Total: 118 ½
The Shockers earned their at-large bid in the Midwest Region with a 12-6 record in the Missouri Valley Conference but come in with just two SU wins in their last five games and a 1-4 record ATS. The total has gone OVER in four of their last six games. To advance, Wichita State will need a big game from Cleanthony Early and Carl Hall, who combined for 26.4 points and 12.3 rebounds this year.
Pittsburgh finished fourth in the Big East regular season standings at 12-6 and came up short in the tournament with a 62-59 loss to Syracuse as a 2 ½-point favorite. The Panthers are just 5-5 ATS in their last 10 games and the total has gone OVER in their last three. They are averaging 69.6 points a game while shooting a very respectable 47.5 percent from the field.
Midwest Regional – HP Pavilion, San Jose (TNT, 2:10 p.m. ET)
No.13 New Mexico State Aggies (24-10) vs. No.4 Saint Louis Billikens (27-6)
Pointspread: St. Louis -9
New Mexico State rolled through the Western Athletic Tournament to gain its automatic bid. It went 8-2 SU down the stretch but failed to cover in five of the 10 games. The total stayed UNDER in its last three games. Daniel Mullings led the Aggies in scoring with 14 points a game with Bandja Sy chipping-in 11.7 points and a team-high 7.3 rebounds.
The Billikens are 15-1 SU in their last 16 games and have been extremely profitable to wager on during this run with an identical record ATS. They rolled through the A 10 Tournament after winning the regular season title with a conference record of 13-3. St. Louis has five players averaging over nine points a game led by Dwayne Evans’ team-high 13.7 points.
Midwest Regional – The Palace, Detroit (CBS, 2:45 p.m. ET)
No. 11 St. Mary’s Gaels (28-6) vs. No. 6 Memphis Tigers (30-4)
Pointspread: St. Mary's -1
The Gaels already got their feet wet in tournament action with a solid 67-54 victory over Middle Tennessee as 2 ½-point favorites in Tuesday night’s First Four Round. They went 16-3 SU in the West Coast Conference this season with all three losses coming to Gonzaga. The player to watch on this team is Matthew Dellavedova, who is averaging 15.8 points game.
Memphis cruised through its Conference USA schedule this season with a perfect 16-0 SU record, but it is just 5-4 ATS in its last nine games. The total has gone OVER in its last four outings. The Tigers have been a tough out all year long behind an offense that is averaging 75.9 points a game while shooting 47.9 percent from the field
West Regional – Rupp Arena, Lexington (tru TV, 3:10 p.m. ET)
No. 14 Davidson College Wildcats (26-7) vs. No. 3 Marquette Golden Eagles (23-8)
Pointspread: Marquette 3 ½
Davidson may be a 14 seed but it brings a 17-game winning streak into this matchup that culminated in a Southern Conference Championship. The Wildcats are 3-1 ATS in their last four games and the total has stayed UNDER in three of their last five games. They are averaging 73.7 points led by Jake Cohen and De’Mon Brooks, who combine for 28.6 points a game.
The Golden Eagles bowed out of the Big East Tournament with a 73-65 loss to Notre Dame as three-point favorites. They are 4-2 SU in their last five games but just 2-4 ATS and the total has gone OVER in four of the games. Marquette is 18-7-1 ATS in its last 26 games following a SU loss but only 5-11-1 ATS in its last 17 non-conference games.
West Regional – EnergySolutions Arena, Salt Lake City (TBS, 4:10 p.m. ET)
No. 16 Southern University A&M Jaguars (23-9) vs. No. 1 Gonzaga Bulldogs (31-2)
Pointspread: Gonzaga -21 ½
Total: 126 ½
By virtue of winning the Southwestern Athletic Tournament crown, the Jaguars earned the right to try and make NCAA Tournament history by taking out a top seed. They come in with seven SU wins in their last eight games and are averaging 67.7 points a game while holding opponents to 58.4 points on the other end of the court.
The pressure will be on the Bulldogs as not only a one seed in this tournament but as the No.1 ranked team in the country. They have been opened at 10/1 to keep their current 14-game winning streak going for six more games all the way to a national title. Gonzaga has not been as reliable ATS with a 5-3-1 record in its last nine games. The total has stayed UNDER in eight of those games.
Midwest Regional – HP Pavilion, San Jose (TNT, 4:40 p.m.)
No. 12 Oregon Ducks (26-8) vs. No. 15 Oklahoma State Cowboys (24-8)
Pointspread: Oklahoma State -3
Total: 134 ½
Oregon claimed this season’s Pac-12 Tournament title with a 78-69 win over UCLA as a 1 1/2-point favorite. While it covered in that game, it went just 2-5-1 ATS in its previous eight games and the total has gone OVER in six of its last nine games. The Ducks have a trio of solid scorers in EJ Singler, Carlos Emory and Damyean Dotson, who are each averaging around 11 points a game.
The Cowboys came up short in their bid to win the Big 12 Tournament with a 68-57 loss to Kansas State as 1 ½-point underdogs. They went 5-2 SU in their last seven games and 3-3-1 ATS. The total has gone OVER in four of their last five games. Oklahoma State has four players scoring in double figures led by Marcus Smart (15.4 points) and Markel Brown (15.4 points).