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 Friday’s card.
No. 15 St. Peter’s vs. No. 3 Purdue — 7:09pm ET
I don’t love trusting a Purdue team that entered the tournament on a 0-9-1 ATS streak, but they are 2-0 ATS for the first half and full game in tournament play. It’s a team we’ve talked about all season that has the pieces to cut down the nets, but has been frustrating at times.
Now the Boilermakers draw America’s sweetheart — the Saint Peter’s Peacocks. The Peacocks are an amazing story, and a team that pulled one of the largest upsets in tournament history. They followed it up with yet another victory, proving they can play. But bringing that play into the second weekend of the tournament is a different story, particularly as a 15-seed, which has never advanced to an Elite Eight.
The Peacocks were a tremendous ATS team all season, and posted some historic defensive numbers. But Purdue is one of the most elite offenses in the country. Yes, I know the Peacocks kept up with Kentucky, but getting struck by lightning twice is tough to do.
St. Peter’s was a double-digit dog twice during the regular season, and neither went their way. St. John’s was laying 13.5 against the Peacocks and won by 21, and Providence was laying 13 and won by 14. I can’t go to the full game here, but if I play the game, I’ll be going for Purdue on the first half line. The Boilermakers have come out with energy in both games, and have a full week to prepare for a Cinderella that they will not be caught off guard by.
No. 8 North Carolina vs. No. 4 UCLA — 9:39pm ET
The Tar Heels found themselves in the game of the tournament against Baylor, prevailing against all odds in overtime. But forget the comeback that UNC was on the wrong side of. That can be attributed to Brady Manek being ejected, key ball handlers fouling out in regulation, and some questionable calls by the officials. The two things that jump out to me are the 25-point lead that the full starting lineup was able to build when it was in the game, along with the way the team was able to gut out the win in overtime after losing all momentum.
Since an awful loss to Pittsburgh in mid-February, UNC has gone 8-1 and 7-2 ATS. Carolina has won three of those games as underdogs of 4.5, 11 and then 5.5 in the last round. Meanwhile, UCLA did struggle in the first round, and while they broke out in the second round, it did come at a cost. Jaime Jaquez suffered an ankle injury on Saturday, and it didn’t look pretty. While Jaquez was back at practice on Thursday, head coach Mic Cronin said “he’s going to want to try and play. The question is: Can he be effective?”
I was leaning UNC prior to knowing Jaquez’s status, but if he’s this dinged up, that puts me over the edge on the Tar Heels.
No. 11 Iowa State vs. No. 10 Miami — 9:59pm ET
I didn’t see Iowa State being here, but when you look back at the path, it does start to make more sense. I jumped the gun betting on LSU in the first round, I really should have been looking at that game on the live line after head coach Will Wade was fired. How would the team react? Poorly.
In the next round, the Cyclones got the perfect matchup — a Wisconsin team that also plays in rock fights. What did we get? A rock fight, which Iowa State is perfectly capable of winning, and ultimately did.
Miami presents a completely different matchup, following absolutely throttling Auburn in the last round. Sure, Iowa State might be able to slow this game down a bit, but the Hurricanes have a great trio of guards that should be able to also help Miami push the pace at times. Ultimately, I feel Miami dictates this one and finds a way to pull away with offense.
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