After a break following UVA’s win over NC State in the ACC Tournament Quarterfinals, we’re back and bringing you a pick for each of the four Sweet Sixteen games. We get you started with Thursday’s action and none other than the Virginia Cavaliers.
Oregon Ducks vs. Virginia Cavaliers
KP: Virginia -10, O/U 118
Vegas: -8.5, O/U 119.5
Here we are, 34 games into the season and UVA games are more confounding than ever. Betting the UVA under is generally a good practice. But then Virginia had to go get good at offense making their total susceptible to the Hoos’ hot shooting. There is nothing worse than hoping for a 12 win point win over a 19 point win so the under stays in tact. Luckily, the books haven’t caught up to this phenomenon and though the over isn’t necessarily the play (since the D is still really good), UVA lines aren’t often high enough. And that’s what I’m thinking here. Oregon has been hot, but they haven’t seen anyone on offense or defense like Virginia. There is a good chance this goes down through the day, so if you can get it at 7.5 or 8, I’d say grab it.
Pick: UVA -8.5
Florida State Seminoles vs. Gonzaga Bulldogs
KP: Florida State +8, O/U 150
Vegas: Florida State +7.5, O/U 147
This is an incredibly intriguing matchup between the two teams that might be playing the best basketball of anyone in the tournament. It also features two teams who might have the best top to bottom depth of anyone in the country. But the edge for me goes to the team that can and will play defense. I’m as big a believer in Gonzaga as anyone east of Spokane, Washington but their lack of ability on the defensive side of the ball scares me. Gonzaga could definitely win, don’t get me wrong, but if I’m getting almost eight points, give me the team that can get stops.
Pick: Florida State +7.5
Purdue Boilermakers vs. Tennessee Volunteers
KP: Tennessee +1, O/U 149
Vegas: Tennessee -2, O/U 146.5
I don’t know what to make of Purdue. Early on in the season, I had great success betting against the Boilermakers. However, once Big Ten play started, they played better. However, I’m not sold on how good the conference actually is. Purdue is led by Carsen Edwards who’s absolutely amazing. But he doesn’t get much help. Against Villanova he scored 42 while Matt Haarms and Ryan Cline chipped in 18 and 12 respectively. Outside of that, there wasn’t much. And Villanova isn’t exactly a defensive juggernaut. Tennessee won’t let Edwards get his that easily. They’ll be physical and ultimately wear down the Boilermakers to come away with the W.
Pick: Tennessee -2
Texas Tech Red Raiders vs. Michigan Wolverines
KP: Michigan -1, O/U 123
Vegas: Michigan -2, O/U 126
On the flipside of my stance in the Gonzaga / Florida State game, this tilt features two teams that are as good as anyone on defense, but can struggle to score. While I’m not a believer in narratives like “slow pace can’t win in March,” I am a believer in the narrative that you have to be able to score when absolutely need to. And one of these teams can do that while the other can’t. Texas Tech has ratcheted up the offense in the last couple weeks. After failing to score more than 68 points in their first eight games of the calendar year, the Red Raiders have only fallen short of that mark twice in their last 14. The big reason is while Jarrett Culver is a stud, now he’s getting some help. Matt Mooney and Davide Moretti have proven to be scoring threats when the defensive collapses on Culver. But most of all, at this time of the year, in a close game I’m going to lean with the team that has a guy who can get a bucket when his team needs it. Who is that for Michigan? Therefore give me the Red Raiders.
Pick: Texas Tech +2 (Money line is a great bet too)
Season Total: ATS (38-27-2), O/U (27-20), Total (65-47-2)