Saturday - Session 3
March 16, 2018
By Brian Edwards
Editor's note: Brian Edwards has cashed winners in college hoops at a 10-6 clip (62.5%) since Wednesday, guiding pick-pack purchasers to 4.39 units of profit. His guaranteed plays are on a 3-0 run and have cashed at a 45-32 clip (58.4%, +10.99 Units!) since Dec. 8, so don't miss out on tonight's pay-if-it-wins-only selection!
West Region – Boise – Taco Bell Arena
#5 Ohio State vs. #4 Gonzaga (-3, 143) – 7:45 PM EST – CBS
-- As of late Friday afternoon, most betting shops had Gonzaga (31-4 straight up, 14-17 against the spread) installed as a 3.5-point favorite with a total of 143. The Buckeyes were +150 on the money line (risk $100 to win $150).
-- Gonzaga survived a major scare in Thursday’s opening-round win over UNC Greensboro. With the game knotted at 64-64, Zach Norvell Jr. drained the go-ahead 3-pointer with 20.1 seconds left to propel his team to the Round of 32 with a 68-64 victory. Mark Few’s team never got ahead of the number and failed to cover as a 13-point favorite. Down by three with 17 ticks remaining, UNC Greensboro’s Francis Alonso was whistled for a questionable offensive foul, but the Bulldogs’ Rui Hachimura missed the front end of a one-and-one opportunity to give the Spartans one last chance. Marvin Smith’s potential tying three was off the mark, though, and Norvell made one free throw to put the game on ice.
-- Johnathan Williams was the catalyst against the Spartans, producing 19 points, and 13 rebounds on 8-of-12 field-goal attempts. Josh Perkins added 16 points and Norvell finished with 15 on 7-of-8 shooting from the free-throw line.
-- Williams leads Gonzaga in scoring (13.7 points per game), rebounding (8.4 RPG) and blocked shots (1.1 BPG). Perkins (12.5 PPG) paces the Bulldogs in assists (5.3 APG), steals (1.2 SPG) and is second in 3-point accuracy (40.4%), while Killian Tillie averages 13.1 points, 5.9 rebounds and makes 48.9 percent of his treys.
-- Gonzaga is 12th in the nation in scoring (84.0 PPG) and seventh in field-goal percentage (50.1%). The Bulldogs are ranked 22nd in the country in FG percentage defense (40.6%) and 48th in scoring ‘D’ (67.0 PPG).
-- Gonzaga is 11-3 in its past 14 NCAA Tournament games with the only defeats coming against North Carolina, Duke and Syracuse. The Bulldogs are attempting to make their third Sweet 16 in four seasons after they went five straight years (2010-14) without tasting a region semifinal.
-- Ohio State (25-8 SU, 15-16 ATS) advanced to the Round of 32 by pulling away late for an 81-73 victory over a very game South Dakota State squad. The 154 points climbed ‘over’ the 148.5-point total, while bets on the side resulted in pushes with the Buckeyes closing as eight-point favorites at most spots. The game was tied with 1:53 remaining before Chris Holtmann’s squad finished with an 11-3 run. Keita Bates-Diop was the difference, tallying 24 points and 12 rebounds. Kam Williams contributed 22 points, five rebounds, three steals and two assists without a turnover, while C.J. Jackson had 20 points, nine boards and five assists. Jackson was good on 4-of-9 launches from downtown.
-- Bates-Diop paces Ohio State in scoring (19.5 PPG), rebounding (8.9 RPG) and blocks (1.6 BPG). Jackson averages 12.4 points, 3.9 assists, 3.9 rebounds and 1.1 steals per game, while Jae’Sean Tate averages 12.3 points and 6.2 RPG.
-- Ohio State went to four straight Sweet 16’s from 2010-13, but it is just 2-2 in four Tournament games since then.
-- Ohio State owns one national title from 1960. The Buckeyes have been to 11 Final Fours and own a 56-30 record in the program’s 86 all-time NCAA Tournament games.
-- Ohio State is mired in a 1-4-1 ATS slump in its past six games. The Buckeyes have been underdogs seven times this season, going 3-4 both SU and ATS.
-- This is a rematch of a PK80 Invitational first-round game in Portland on Nov. 23. Ohio State will be seeking revenge because it got absolutely obliterated by Gonzaga in an 86-59 loss as a five-point underdog. Williams led the winners with 21 points, five rebounds and two blocked shots on 8-of-10 shooting from the field. Perkins added 29 points, four assists, two steals and two rebounds, hitting 6-of-9 attempts from long distance. In the losing effort, Tate and Jackson shared team-best scoring honors with 12 points apiece. Bates-Diop was limited to seven points, 10 rebounds and a pair of blocks.
-- The ‘under’ is 17-15-1 overall for the Bulldogs after cashing in their past two outings.
-- The ‘under’ is 21-10 overall for the Buckeyes, but they’ve watched the ‘over’ hit at a 4-1 clip in their past five contests.
-- The winner advances to face the Xavier-FSU/Missouri survivor in the West Region semifinals at Staples Center in Tinseltown.
East Region – Dallas – American Airlines Center
#6 Florida vs. #3 Texas Tech (-2, 133 ½) – 8:40 PM EST – TNT
-- As of late Friday afternoon, most books had Texas Tech (25-9 SU, 13-16 ATS) listed as a 1.5-point favorite with a total of 134. Gamblers could take UF to win outright for a +110 return (risk $100 to win $110).
-- Texas Tech advanced to the Round of 32 with a 70-60 non-covering win over Stephen F. Austin as an 11-point favorite. The Red Raiders trailed nearly the entire game and by as many as eight points early in the second half, but they finished the game on a 26-9 run in the final 10:08. Keenan Evans scored 19 of his game-high 23 points after halftime. Evans made all 10 of his FTAs and 6-of-10 shots from the field. The senior guard, who was a first-team All-Big 12 selection, also had six rebounds, five assists, one steal and one blocked shot. Zhaire Smith added 10 points and eight boards.
-- Evans sprained his ankle in mid-February, causing him to miss one game and play fewer minutes in three others. He scored only 12 points in a three-game stretch to pull his scoring average down. Since then, however, Evans has produced 23, 25, 13 and 23 points in the past four games.
-- Evans paces Texas Tech in scoring (17.7 PPG) and assists (3.1 APG), and he also averages 3.1 rebounds and 1.2 steals per game. Jarrett Culver averages 11.5 points, 4.7 rebounds and 1.3 steals per game. He’s buried 40.2 percent of his 3-pointers. Smith averages 11.1 points, 4.7 rebounds, 1.2 steals and 1.0 blocked shots per game.
--Texas Tech is 0-4-1 ATS with three outright defeats in its past five games as a single-digit favorite. However, for the season, the Red Raiders are 8-9-1 ATS with five outright losses in 18 games as single-digit ‘chalk.’
-- Chris Beard’s squad is ranked 15th in the nation in scoring defense, holding opponents to 64.6 PPG. Texas Tech is 14th in the country in FG percentage ‘D’ (40.3%).
-- Before beating SFA Thursday night, Texas Tech had not won an NCAA Tournament game since 2005 when Bobby Knight’s team lost a heartbreaker to West Virginia in the Sweet 16. The Red Raiders, who are now 8-16 in 24 NCAA Tournament games, have never advanced beyond the Sweet 16 in the program’s history.
-- Since 2006, Florida (21-12 SU, 16-15 ATS) owns a 29-6 record in the NCAA Tournament. Mike White is now 4-1 in the Tournament following Thursday’s 77-62 win over St. Bonaventure as a six-point ‘chalk.’ Egor Koulechov was the catalyst for the Gators, knocking down 4-of-10 launches from downtown. The grad transfer from Rice finished with 20 points and six rebounds, while Jalen Hudson had 16 points. Keith Stone contributed nine points, eight rebounds and three blocked shots, and Chris Chiozza added eight points, four rebounds, three steals and 11 assists without a turnover.
-- Florida has been an underdog five times, compiling a 3-2 record both SU and ATS. Both non-covers were by merely one point, as the Gators lost 62-57 at Tennessee as four-point ‘dogs and dropped an 87-84 decision to Duke as two-point puppies. They blew a 10-point lead with four minutes remaining in the loss in Portland to the Blue Devils.
-- Florida has won four of its past five games both SU and ATS, including scalps of Kentucky, Auburn and Alabama. This surge was preceded by a three-game losing streak that had some pundits implying the Gators were teetering on the bubble. UF blew late leads in two of the defeats, vs. Georgia and at Vandy, and there’s no shame in getting beaten by five in Knoxville this year.
-- Florida has won 10 of 17 games it has played against team that are in the NCAA Tournament field. UF is 6-3 against RPI Top-25 opponents and 10-6 vs. the Top 50. The Gators swept a pair of games from Kentucky, beat Gonzaga in double overtime in Portland and knocked off Cincinnati in Newark, N.J. They also won at Texas A&M, at Missouri and at Alabama.
-- UF’s narrow defeats at Ole Miss and at Vandy were its only L’s to teams outside of the RPI Top 85.
-- Texas Tech went 4-1 against the RPI Top 25, 6-5 versus the Top 50 and 14-8 against the Top 100. The Red Raiders’ only bad loss came at Iowa St.
-- The ‘under’ is on a 9-3 run for UF in its past 12 games to improve to 17-14 overall.
-- The ‘under’ is 17-13 overall for the Red Raiders after hitting in back-to-back outings.
-- The winner advances to the East Region semifinals to take on the survivor of Butler vs. Purdue.
West Region – Wichita – Intrust Bank Arena
#6 Houston vs. #3 Michigan (-11, 148) – 9:40 PM EST – TBS
-- As of late Friday afternoon, most books had Michigan (29-7 SU, 23-11 ATS) listed as a three-point favorite with a total of 134. The Cougars were +135 on the money line (risk $100 to win $135).
-- John Beilein’s team has won 10 consecutive games while going 9-1 ATS and hasn’t tasted defeat since losing at Northwestern on Feb. 6. The Wolverines have won seven of those 10 games by double-digit margins and nine by at least nine points. They captured a 61-47 win over Montana on Thursday to take the money as 10-point ‘chalk.’ Charles Matthews led his team past the Big Sky champs by scoring 20 points and grabbing 11 rebounds. Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman added 11 points, five rebounds and two steals.
-- Michigan has been a single-digit favorite 14 times this season, compiling a 9-5 spread record with only three outright losses.
-- Michigan has an extremely balanced offense with six players averaging 6.4 PPG. Mo Wagner is averaging team-highs in scoring (14.3 PPG), rebounding (7.1 RPG) and FG percentage (52.6%). Wagner also hits 40.0 percent of his treys but he’s prone to get into foul trouble. Matthews averages 12.8 points and 5.6 RPG, while Abdur-Rahkman (12.6 PPG) is splashing the nets at a 39.2 percent clip from 3-point land and has an incredible 118/26 assist-to-turnover ratio. Duncan Robinson (9.5 PPG, 2.6 RPG) is one of the nation’s best sixth men who makes 38.9 percent of his 3-balls and 89.3 percent of his FTs.
-- Michigan is 12-4 in its last 16 NCAA Tournament games dating back to 2013.
-- From 1982-84 under the leadership of the late Guy Lewis, Houston (27-7 SU, 18-11 ATS) went 12-3 in 15 NCAA Tournament games. UH went to three straight Final Fours and lost consecutive national-title games to N.C. St. and Georgetown in ’83 and ’84, respectively. The Cougars had not tasted a Tournament victory since beating Virginia (the year after Ralph Sampson graduated) 49-47 in the ’84 national semifinals at the Kingdome in Seattle until Thursday night. The five-game losing streak in NCAA Tournament games that spanned 34 years for UH finally ended in a 67-65 win over San Diego St.
-- Kelvin Sampson’s club failed to cover the number in the narrow victory over the Aztecs as a 4.5-point ‘chalk.’ Rob Gray stole the show for Houston by dropping 39 points on San Diego St. Gray, who averages 19.2 points, 4.4 assists, 3.5 rebounds and 1.2 steals per game, drained 12-of-25 FGAs, 4-of-6 treys and 11-of-15 FTs. He also had eight rebounds. Devin Davis added nine points and nine boards.
-- Houston has a 5-2 spread record with four outright wins in seven games as an underdog.
-- UH is 18th in the RPI Rankings, posting a 3-2 record versus the RPI Top 25, a 7-2 mark against the Top 50 and a 10-3 ledger vs. the Top 100. The Cougars have neutral-court wins over Providence and Wichita St., in addition to home triumphs over the likes of Arkansas, Temple, Wichita St. and Cincinnati.
-- Devin Davis (10.7 PPG) averages team-bests in rebounding (6.2 RPG) and FG percentage (49.4%). Corey Davis Jr. is scoring at a 13.4 PPG clip and has an 84/49 assist-to-turnover ratio. He also leads the Cougars in 3-point accuracy by knocking down 43.0 percent of his launches from distance.
-- The ‘under’ is 17-13 overall for the Cougars.
-- The ‘over’ is 5-1-2 in Michigan’s past eight games, but it has watched the ‘under’ go 17-15-2 overall.
-- The winner advances to the West Region semifinals to face the UNC-Texas A&M winner at Staples Center in Los Angeles.
Follow Brian Edwards' sports gambling opinions on Twitter at @vegasbedwards.
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