Here’s how I’m going to construct these articles during the NCAA Tournament. Rather than just give bets with unit size, I’m going to write up all the bets/leans I’m considering. That way you get more content and insight on more games. But with that said, please be careful. These aren’t all games that I’ll ultimately bet on.
For my official plays, I’ll continue posting the play to Twitter, but will loop you back to these articles for the analysis.
Everything below is what jumps out to me on the Thursday card.
No. 4 Arkansas vs. No. 1 Gonzaga — 7:09pm ET
So I put out a tweet on this one, and I may place a rare same game parlay. My intuition here was to play Arkansas in the first half, and after hopefully cashing, play the Zags second half, potentially on the moneyline. However, does this SGP cover more bases?
Rather than needing the Razorbacks to keep the half within four points, now we keep it within single digits and we’re alive. At the same time, if the Zags do lead by 5-9 points at halftime, the Arkansas 1H line that would’ve been a loser is still alive, and in better shape since the Zags have a healthy lead.
Why am I looking at this angle? Arkansas is 2-0 1H ATS in the tournament so far, but have failed to cover either full game or second half spread. Gonzaga is also 0-2 1H and full game ATS in the tournament, but has covered the 2H with a healthy margin in each game.
This play fits the game script I see in this one, and could provide really nice value if you can swallow changing allegiances at halftime.
No. 11 Michigan vs. No. 2 Villanova — 7:29pm ET
This game is so similar to the second-round matchup that Villanova had against Ohio State, and I’m likely going right back to it. We’ve seen the game touch -4.5, but it’s back to -5 at the moment. Just holdout for the better number.
Let’s start with the difference in this game. Michigan has two real tournament wins, where Ohio State just fell backwards into a win. Michigan also has size in Hunter Dickinson, which could be tough for the Wildcats to defend.
But the rest of the handicap is the same here — ‘Nova is the more fundamental team with a massive coaching advantage and a massive shooting/free throw shooting advantage. Villanova is the type of team that operates the way you want when looking to find a team to back in this tournament. Michigan, while looking good for the last three halves its played, has been wildly inconsistent this season, and is due for a letdown.
No. 5 Houston vs. No. 1 Arizona — 9:59pm ET
*In-game hedge Arizona futures
I hate where things have gone with Arizona futures. Do they deserve to be here? No, they should’ve lost in the second-round. But the Wildcats are here, and might’ve had a wakeup call.
I have a slight lean to Arizona in this game, mostly because I think fouls will be called, which works against a very physical Houston team. But the Cougars are terrific defensively and extremely well coached. They’re going to have a real shot in this game if the refs let them play. Houston is absolutely the sharp side in this game. So I’m going to watch, and if the refs are indeed letting Houston be physical on defense, you’re going to know you can back them early. If the whistles are piling up, I’ll sit back and cash some Elite 8 tickets on ‘Zona.
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