College Basketball: March Madness – Elite 8 Preview and Latest Odds

march-madness-2014The college basketball action keeps coming fast and furious as March Madness rolls on from the Sweet 16 to the Elite 8. I’ve had a lot of brackets busted this year, and a lot of sure things went up in smoke, but I’m feeling a little more confident after my last round of picks. Notre Dame wasn’t a huge upset according to the book but nonetheless I smelled that Wichita State was out of gas after Kansas. Time to pat myself on the back like Barry Horowitz. Kentucky rolled West Virginia, and I do mean ROLLED like a steamroller (78-39), so the Fighting Irish are in big trouble in the Elite 8. Kentucky is -820, ND is +560, and although I’ve said there’s a time to pick against Kentucky this is NOT that moment. And now I can take that pat back as I predicted North Carolina over Wisconsin, and the Tar Heels met their match and were bested 79-72. That leaves us with a semi-final in the West with the Badgers meeting the Arizona Wildcats, and a highly anticipated rematch from last year’s tournament. Last time around Wisconsin was the winner in overtime 64-63. #1 seed Arizona is a NARROW favorite in the rematch at -125, so if you feel like history will repeat itself #2 Wisconsin is a good buy (if not a profitable one) at +105 on the money line. Senior Frank Kaminsky averages over 18 PPG, and he’s over 40% from the three point line. Junior Sam Dekker had 23 in Wisconsin’s win over NC. They’re a heck of a 1-2 punch. Arizona has a star freshman in Stanley Johnson though and they’re well balanced across their starting roster in scoring and rebounds – they really do win as a team. Gonzaga punched their ticket for the Elite 8 with consecutive double digit wins over Iowa (87-68) and UCLA (74-62). They’ve been in the tournament 17 times but do not have ONE championship to their name, so motivation for the Bulldogs is at an all-time high. Kyle Wiltjer underperformed in their last game, scoring only 8 when he averages over 17, so he’s likely to have a breakout game against Duke unless he’s double teamed constantly. Jahil Okafor is arguably the best freshman in the entire tournament though and a huge asset for Duke – averaging over 18 PPG – but like Wiltjer he slumped against Utah in the Sweet 16. If both improve equally you’ve got to give the edge to Duke and so do the odds makers, putting Duke (-145) over Gonzaga (+125). Last but definitely not least it’s the incredibly unpredictable Eastern conference, where top seed Villanova fell to NC State and #2 seed Virginia fell to Michigan State. That leaves us with one hell of a bracket busting match-up that very few people could have correctly prognosticated – #4 seed Louisville (who ended NC State’s Cinderella run) going up against the aforementioned #7 Spartans. They held off a late run by the Oklahoma Sooners to advance 62-58, but I think the “Fighting Izzos” have enough moxie to do it again against Louisville, who are the +115 dog. Die-hard Spartans will love the fact that they’re the current favorite at -135. All betting previews are for entertainment purposes only, and if you’re going to wager, please remember to only gamble what you can afford. Thanks and enjoy the Elite 8!

Written by Stevie J

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