College Basketball (Pre-March Madness) Odds

Jabari ParkerIf the grocery store aisles full of green ribbons and bottles of Guinness didn’t already remind you St. Patrick’s Day was coming, it reminds people of another thing that only happens every 12 months – MARCH MADNESS. Selection day is tomorrow, but there’s still some excitement to be found on the court for this sport, as conferences around the country winnow their way down to the championship teams. Winners are assured an automatic berth in the NCAA tournament, losers have to hope they had an impressive run or enough wins plus strength of schedule to not be “on the bubble.” At 3 PM ET, perennial powerhouses Duke and North Carolina State (from the vaunted “triangle” of college basketball” take each other on in an ACC tournament semi-final. Given Duke’s history it comes as no surprise to me that they are a -630 on the money line, with NC State paying out at +465. This is the time of year when upsets happen though, and State already knocked off #11 ranked Syracuse to get here. If T.J. Warren has a hot hand anything is possible – he averages almost 25 PPG and led NC State with 28 in the upset. In the AAC tournament at 6 ET, two more familiar names for college basketball fans square off – Connecticut and Louisville. The money line is on the Cardinals, which isn’t surprising given they’ve only lost 5 times all year, making them a -370 favorite. UConn tends to get hot in March though, and Shabazz Napier has shown the ability to light it up from the three point arc. The seasoned senior is another difference maker which makes a +310 line seem tempting At 9 PM ET, Baylor and Iowa State go head to head in the Big 12 tournament final. The #16 Cyclones are rolling after sprinting past #10 Kansas in the semi-finals with an impressive 94-83 win. Even the UFC style elbow that George Niang ate on a charge couldn’t quell their final minute fire. They’re only a slight favorite on the money line at -135 though, reflecting the fact they’re 25-7 on the year and 11-7 in conference play – less impressive than expected given they were at one point undefeated. Baylor is +115 with only a .500 record in conference play, 24-10 overall, but Baylor had to knock off Oklahoma and Texas to reach the finals, each with winning records and Oklahoma ranked #17 in the country. Other games of note this Saturday: Creighton is -340 to Providence at +280 (given Doug McDermott’s shooting ability I’d play the favorite), Arizona is -240 to UCLA at +200 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena – a familiar venue for mixed martial arts fans, and in a late game tonight New Mexico State is a whopping -525 money line over Idaho at +415. If you’re going to make a wild upset pick, save it for the actual tournament. All of these games look like sound victories for the favorites but when the “madness” hits anything can happen. Please remember that this preview is for entertainment purposes and that if you gamble you should always wager only what you can afford.

Written by Stevie J

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