Published on Wednesday, 3/15/23, at 2:35 p.m.
Updated on Thursday, 3/16/23, at 8:58 a.m.
Pittsburgh (23-11 straight up, 23-10-1 against the spread) won its first NCAA Tournament game since 2014 Tuesday night when it captured a 60-59 win over Mississippi St. as a 2.5-point underdog in a First Four showdown in Dayton, OH.
Jeff Capel’s team won without starting center Fede Federiko, who was ‘out’ due to a knee injury sustained in last Wednesday’s ACC Tournament win over Ga. Tech. Federico averages 6.7 points, 5.7 rebounds and 1.8 blocked shots per game. He’s ‘questionable’ again Friday when the Panthers face Iowa St.
As of early Thursday morning, most books had the Cyclones listed as four-point favorites. The total is 131 points for this matchup in Greensboro, N.C., where they’ll square off in the second game of the afternoon session. The Panthers are +155 on the money line.
On Wednesday night, Arizona St. blasted Nevada 98-73 as a two-point ‘chalk.’ The 171 combined points soared ‘over’ the 135.5-point total. Desmond Cambridge had 17 points and six assists without a turnover against his former team, while DJ Horne scored a game-high 20 points for the Sun Devils, who advance to face TCU in Friday’s late game at Ball Arena in Denver.
As of Thursday morning, most spots had the Horned Frogs installed as six-point favorites with a total of 141. Bobby Hurley’s squad was +200 on the money line.
-Check out this thread below for some historical data on how First Four survivors have fared in recent years.
-As a No. 9 seed, Auburn (20-12 SU, ATS) didn’t deserve to stay home and play in Birmingham. Nevertheless, we’ll take advantage of it from a betting standpoint. We’re all over Auburn at pick ’em (with -110 odds) or at -120 on the money line or -1 at a few books (those numbers were from Wednesday; still like AU at -1.5). Since losing the program’s first NCAA Tournament game back in 1984, the Tigers have won 10 first-round games in a row.
Meanwhile, Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery has never advanced to the Sweet 16 in 12 career NCAA Tournament appearances. Iowa (19-13 SU, 17-15 ATS) has lost four of its last six games, including a home loss to Nebraska, a neutral-court setback vs. Ohio St., a 12-point loss at Wisconsin and an 80-60 defeat at Northwestern.
Ten of Auburn’s 12 losses have come against teams ranked in the top 36 at KenPom, and nine of those came vs. foes in KenPom’s top 28.
-There are several notable injuries for bettors to monitor. Miami’s double-double machine Norchad Omier (14.1 PPG, 10.0 RPG, 1.3 BPG & 1.0 SPG) is ‘questionable’ vs. Drake on Friday after spraining his ankle in an ACC Tournament semifinal loss vs. Duke. Houston’s Marcus Sasser (17.1 PPG, 3.3 APG, 2.8 RPG and 1.7 SPG) is ‘questionable’ vs. Northern Kentucky due to a groin injury sustained in the semifinals of Saturday’s AAC Tournament. Sasser did not play in an AAC Tournament finals loss to Memphis. For top-seeded Kansas, Kevin McCullar (11.1 PPG, 7.3 RPG, 2.4 APG & 2.1 SPG) is ‘questionable’ vs. Howard. He suffered a back injury in last Friday’s Big 12 Tournament semifinals win over Iowa St. McCullar didn’t play in Saturday’s loss to Texas in the finals.
-Penn St., a three-point underdog vs. Texas A&M, is 8-0 ATS with six outright wins in its last eight games as an underdog. This is a (pregame) pass for me, but I’d love to get the Nittany Lions as underdogs of seven or more with an in-game wager. The Aggies will hopefully get an early lead and I’ll jump on that opportunity if it develops.
-The ‘over ‘has hit at a 16-6 clip for Kentucky in its last 22 games.
-Kent St., a four-point underdog vs. Indiana in a 4/13 matchup in Friday’s late game of the evening session in Albany, N.Y., is 5-1 ATS with a pair of outright victories in six games as an underdog. The Golden Flashes were 16-point road underdogs at Gonzaga on Dec. 5. They had a 66-62 lead on the Bulldogs at the under-four television timeout. However, Mark Few’s team finished the game on an 11-0 run to win a 73-66 decision. They led 30-24 at Houston early in the second half as 18.5-point road underdogs. The Cougars ended up winning 49-44, but Kent St. easily took the cash. The Golden Flashes have won six games in a row, including a 93-78 win over Toledo in the MAC Tournament finals that ended the Rockets’ 17-game winning streak.
-I have the following in-pocket future plays: UConn at 30/1 odds, Kansas St. at 99/1, Creighton at 40/1, Providence at 100/1 and Miami at 50/1. I bought the Creighton ticket months before the season started. I got down on Kansas St. in early December. The future plays on UConn, Providence and Miami were made in early February.
-The Selection Committee didn’t do any favors for San Diego St. by sending them East to play in Orlando at Amway Arena. The Aztecs also have to face a 31-win Charleston team that probably deserved a higher seed. They also have to play at around 2:10 p.m. Eastern, which is before noon for their body clocks. The Cougars are five-point underdogs.
-Maryland has lost 11 of its last 14 games that haven’t been played in College Park. West Virginia has won four of its last six games while going 5-1 ATS. Both losses came against top-seeded Kansas, and neither one of those games were played in Morgantown. In fact, WVU only lost by two as a 9.5-point road underdog at KU. I’m on the Mountaineers -2 vs. the Terps.
-I’m disgusted with the committee for the way it has done Oral Roberts, a Sweet 16 teams two years ago that nearly made the Elite Eight. Max Abmas had a good look at a potential game-winning trey against Arkansas, only for it come up a tad short and end the Golden Eagles’ magical run that included wins over Ohio St. and Florida. Oral Roberts (30-4 SU, ATS) still has Abmas, who averages a team-high 22.3 PPG. ORU has also added Arkansas transfer Connor Vanover, a 7-foot-5 center who is second in the nation in blocked shots (3.3 BPG) and averages 12.6 points and 7.1 RPG. The Golden Eagles have to take on Duke in the opening round on Thursday. The Blue Devils are on fire and look more like a No. 2 or No. 3 seed than a five. They’ve won nine games in a row and look like they’re capable of winning it all. This is another (pregame) pass for me.
-Teams from the Mtn. West Conference have lost
eight nine NCAA Tournament games in a row (after Nevada went down Wednesday night) and 11 of the last 12. I’m hoping that continues Thursday when I’m on Missouri as a 1.5-point underdog vs. Utah St. The Tigers have won 10 of their last 14 games.
-I don’t think there are any teams in the field that we can truly trust. I’m picking Alabama to win it all, but the Crimson Tide have only been to one Elite Eight (18 years ago) and have never made the Final Four. Nevertheless, I think Nate Oats’s team has the best talent and the best player (Brandon Miller). They should cruise into the Elite Eight, where they’ll face a tough battle vs. Arizona.
I’ve got Texas coming out of the Midwest Region. If Omier’s ankle wasn’t such a question mark, I’d probably pick Miami to get to the Final Four. Without Jaylen Clark, I just don’t think UCLA has enough to get past the UConn-Kansas winner in the Elite Eight. I’ve got the Huskies beating KU and UCLA to get back to the Final Four. (I had to hold my nose with that pick because my brain tells me Dan Hurley isn’t ever getting a team to the Final Four.)
Finally, I’m going with Kansas St. out of the loaded East Region. This region is insane. The 12-seed has 30 wins, the winner of the 8/9 game is going to be a very short underdog to Purdue in the Round of 32, sixth-seeded Kentucky could get hot, Tom Izzo is one of the greatest NCAA Tournament coaches in college basketball history, Duke has won nine games in a row and Marquette just made it look easy at MSG in NYC last weekend. I’ll go with Jerome Tang’s squad, though. The Wildcats have a pair of stars in Keyontae Johnson and Markquis Nowell. This team has won in Waco and Austin. K-St. went 8-6 in 14 games against foes in the NCAAT field, but it also swept Oklahoma St. (#39 KenPom) and beat teams like Florida (#75) before three-time All-SEC center Colin Castleton suffered a season-ending injury, Oklahoma (#55), Wichita St. (#99), Nebraska (#94) and Texas Tech (#62).
I’ve got ‘Bama beating UConn in the 2023 NCAAT finals.
-For of my thoughts and picks, feel free to check out my BestBetUniversity podcast hosted by VegasInsider and sponsored by our good friends over at BetMGM. In this edition recorded Tuesday afternoon, I’m joined by Chattanooga Times Free Press columnist Jay Greeson to talk bets and ballgames for about an hour.
-Going into Thursday’s games, my college basketball selections – that are monitored at VegasInsider (see pull-down menus below the initial standings for all-sports leaders at the top of this page at VI) – for the 2022-23 season had a 163-145 record (53%) for 3.13 units of profit or $313 of profit if making $100 plays on each pick. I went 2-1 last night. My winners were ASU and Cincinnati and I lost on the UF-UCF ‘over.’