Thursday's Late Action
March 28, 2013
By Kevin Rogers
An interesting contrast of late games takes place to wrap up the first night of the Sweet 16. Indiana and Syracuse are no surprise to make it to this round of the NCAA Tournament, but La Salle and Wichita State were definitely not predicted to qualify at this point. We'll start with the rematch of the 1987 National Championship in the Nation's Capital.
(1) Indiana vs. (4) Syracuse - 9:45 PM EST - CBS
These two traditional powers are meeting for the first time since 1998, as the Hoosiers survived a scare from Temple in the round of 32. Indiana advanced to the Sweet 16 for the second consecutive season by knocking out Temple, 58-52, but failed to cash as 12-point favorites. Tom Crean's club will not be laying points at that magnitude for at least the next two rounds (assuming they advance), as Syracuse's road to this round hasn't been difficult so far.
The Orange pulled off the biggest blowout in the second round by dispatching Montana, 81-34 as 13-point 'chalk.' Syracuse stepped in class in the next round against Cal, which had a slight home-court advantage by playing the game in nearby San Jose. Jim Boeheim's team overcame 39% shooting from the floor by eliminating the Golden Bears, 66-60, but couldn't grab the money as 7 ½-point favorites. Syracuse benefited greatly from the line by attempting 22 more free throws than Cal, while converting 26 foul shots.
Indiana has struggled down the stretch to cover numbers, posting a 2-5-1 ATS in the last eight games, which includes an outright underdog victory at Michigan to close the regular season. The Hoosiers put together a lousy 3-7 ATS record in the role of a single-digit favorite, while losing outright the last four times (Wisconsin, Illinois, Minnesota, and Ohio State).
Syracuse thrived in the underdog role two weeks ago in the Big East tournament with outright victories over Georgetown and Pittsburgh. However, the Orange blew a 16-point cushion in the championship against Louisville in a 78-61 defeat as 5 ½-point underdogs. Since 2006, Syracuse owns an 0-3 SU/ATS record when receiving points in an NCAA Tournament game, including last season's Elite Eight setback to Ohio State.
Indiana is listed as 5 ½-point favorites, while the total is set at 136.
(9) Wichita State vs. (13) La Salle - 10:15 PM EST - TBS
The Explorers finished tied for third in the Atlantic 10 standings, while being one of five teams from the conference to make the NCAA Tournament. La Salle is the only team remaining from that league in the Sweet 16, as the Explorers are the lone school to win three games so far after beating Boise State in the First Four.
Wichita State pulled off a nice shock by bouncing top-seeded Gonzaga, 76-70 as 6 ½-point underdogs in the third round. Gregg Marshall's club shot lights out by hitting 50% from the field, while drilling 14 three-pointers, including four each by Ron Baker and Cleanthony Early. The win was the second one in the underdog role for Wichita State in the tournament, who routed Pittsburgh in the second round, 73-55 as four-point 'dogs.
Interestingly enough, La Salle dropped its opening game inside the Atlantic 10 tournament to Butler, but has won three straight contests since, all in the underdog role. The Explorers held off Kansas State in the second round, 63-61 to cash as six-point 'dogs, while rallying late to stun Ole Miss, 76-74 as four-point 'dogs. Since the start of February, La Salle owns a solid 9-4 ATS record the previous 13 games.
Following a nice run of 'unders' to close January, the Shockers are 6-2 to the 'over' the last eight contests. Since winning and covering road contests at Drake and Bradley to kick off Missouri Valley play, the Shockers have cashed just once in the last five opportunities in the road favorite role on the highway (2-3 SU).
Wichita State is listed as 4 ½-point favorites, while the total is set at 135 ½.
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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