Editor's note: Brian Edwards went 3-1 last night, including a +220 money-line winner on Syracuse. Since Feb. 21, Brian is on a 49-33 run (60%) that has produced 13.9 units of profit. Don't miss out on tonight's pick package!
The Midwest Region semifinals will take place at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis on Friday night. In the lid-lifter, top-seeded Louisville will meet 12th-seeded Oregon as a double-digit favorite.
Duke, the No. 2 seed, will collide with third-seeded Michigan St. in the late game.
Most books have Rick Pitino’s team as the minus-150 ‘chalk’ to win a pair of games this weekend on its way to Atlanta. Duke and Michigan St. are at +300 and +350, respectively, while Oregon is the 10/1 longshot.
Let’s take a closer look at both contests…
**Louisville vs. Oregon**
--As of late Thursday night, most books had Louisville (31-5 straight up, 22-14 against the spread) installed as a 10-point favorite with a total of 130. The Ducks are +450 on the money line (risk $100 to win $450). U of L is a six-point favorite for first-half wagers, while the total is in the 59-60 range.
--Louisville has won 12 straight games and hasn’t lost since Feb. 9 when it dropped 104-101 decision at Notre Dame in five overtimes. The Cardinals have covered the spread in nine consecutive games, including a pair of blowout wins over North Carolina A&T (82-56) and Colorado St. (79-48).
--Russ Smith scored a game-high 27 points to lead his team past the Rams, draining 4-of-7 shots from deep and 9-of-10 at the free-throw line. Smith and Peyton Siva (10 points, five assists) helped force Colorado St. star Dorian Green into an abysmal 2-for-13 shooting performance from the field.
--Oregon (28-8 SU, 15-18-1 ATS) advanced to its first Sweet 16 since 2007 when it went all the way to the Elite Eight before losing to Kansas. The Ducks halted Saint Louis’s incredible 16-1 run both SU and ATS by spanking the Billikens 74-57 as 4.5-point underdogs last Saturday. Freshman guard Damyean Dotson scored a game-high 23 points to continue his stellar postseason play. Dotson buried 5-of-6 treys. E.J. Singler and Carlos Emory finished with 14 points apiece.
--In five games since the start of the Pac-12 Tournament, Dotson is averaging 16.8 points per game. He had a team-high 17 points in Thursday’s 68-55 win over Oklahoma St. for the Ducks, who closed as two-point underdogs.
--Dana Altman’s team is 6-4 both SU and ATS in 10 games as an underdog. In the Ducks’ lone spot as double-digit ‘dogs, they won 83-79 at UNLV while catching 11 ½ points.
--Louisville owns a 15-7 spread record in 22 games as a double-digit favorite.
--After hitting in six straight U of L games, the ‘over’ is 16-14 overall for the Cardinals.
--The ‘under’ is 16-12 overall for Oregon.
--Tip-off is scheduled for 7:15 p.m. Eastern on CBS.
**Duke vs. Michigan State**
--Most spots have Duke (29-5 SU, 18-16 ATS) listed as a two-point favorite with a total of 134.
--Duke failed to cover the spread in a 73-61 win over Albany as an 18.5-point favorite in its NCAA opener. Seth Curry and Mason Plumlee scored 26 and 23 points, respectively. The Blue Devils advanced to the Sweet 16 for the 27th time by eliminating seventh-seeded Creighton in a 66-50 triumph as 5.5-point favorites. Rasheed Sulaimon scored 21 points and Curry added 17. The Duke defense forced Bluejays’ star Doug McDermott to miss 12 of his 16 shots from the floor.
--Duke has been a single-digit ‘chalk’ 11 times, posting a 6-5 spread record.
--Michigan St. (27-8 SU, 14-16-2 ATS) is in the Sweet 16 for the 11th time on Tom Izzo’s watch. The Spartans advanced with wins and spread covers over Valpo (61-50) and Memphis (70-48) last weekend at The Palace of Auburn Hills. Gary Harris sparked MSU past the Tigers with a game-high 23 points. Adreian Payne controlled the lane with 14 points, 10 rebounds and five blocked shots.
--Michigan St. owns a 5-4 spread record with three outright wins over Kansas, Michigan and Wisconsin.
--These schools have met in each of the last two seasons. Duke won both encounters, but the Spartans took the cash each time. When they collided at Madison Square Garden last year, the Blue Devils won by a 74-69 count as seven-point favorites. Curry finished with 20 points, seven rebounds, four assists and four steals. Keith Appling scored a team-high 22 points in the losing effort.
--Mike Krzyzewski has compiled an 81-24 career record (77.1%) in the NCAA Tournament. This is the 12th time he has guided the Blue Devils to the Sweet 16.
--Izzo owns a 39-14 (73.6%) career record in the tourney.
--The ‘under’ is 7-1 in Michigan St.’s last eight games, 18-13 overall.
--The ‘over’ is 17-16 overall for Duke, but the ‘under’ is 4-1 in its last five games.
--The ‘over’ has hit in four straight head-to-head meetings between these schools dating back to 2004.
--CBS will have the telecast 30 minutes after the conclusion of Oregon-Louisville.
**B.E.’s Bonus Nuggets**
--After falling behind 4-2 in the opening minutes of the first half, Marquette spent the rest of the night dominating second-seeded Miami. The Golden Eagles advanced to the East Region finals with a 71-61 win that was nowhere near as close as the final score indicated. They won outright as 5.5-point underdogs, hooking up money-line supporters with a +210 return (risk $100 to win $210).
--The East Region’s No. 1 seed also got dominated in Washington D.C. last night. Syracuse spanked Indiana 61-50 as a five-point underdog. Gamblers taking the ‘Cuse on the money line cashed a sweet a +200 ticket (risk $100 to win $200). Michael Carter-Williams exploded for a game-high 24 points, while the Orange’s 2-3 zone defense stymied the Hoosiers. Just as I suggested on various radio shows all week, IU’s Tyler Zeller struggled against Syracuse’s length and athleticism and went 3-of-10 from the field. Jordan Hulls, one of the country’s best 3-point shooters, missed all five of his shot attempts.
--Sportsbook.ag has U of L’s Russ Smith as the +500 favorite to win Tournament Most Outstanding Player honors. Indiana’s Cody Zeller and Victor Oladipo share +750 odds. The following players have the next-shortest odds at 10/1: Louisville’s Peyton Siva and Gorgui Dieng , Duke’s Seth Curry, Michigan’s Trey Burke and Florida’s Erik Murphy.
--According to a report from Jeff Goodman of CBS Sports last night, UCLA is targeting Butler’s Brad Stevens to replace Ben Howland. I don’t see it happening.
--When I asked Creighton radio color analyst Nick Bahe if he thought McDermott was going to bolt for the NBA or return for his senior season, Bahe told VegasInsider.com, “I’ve been thinking he’s going to go pro all season.”
Brian Edwards can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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