As Pace said a couple days ago, it’s been a fun tournament to watch but a hard one to predict. We’ve seen plenty of great action and a few big upsets this first weekend, which always makes for a great viewing experience. It doesn’t always make for a great gambling experience, but that’s part of the risks that we take.
We’ve got one more day of eight games to watch before settling into the regional semifinals and figuring out what else we want to bet as we enter the period with neither college basketball nor football. Here are my plays for March 20.
VILLANOVA -5, -110
Yes, Ohio State knocked off Loyola, but lost in that is the fact that the Ramblers shot horrendously and Ohio State didn’t play all that well either. The Buckeyes won because their opponent couldn’t toss the ball in the Monongahela, not because they had a great day. Villanova should shoot a lot better in Pittsburgh today, and I like the Wildcats to handle this one.
WISCONSIN -4.5, -110
The Badgers didn’t look great against Colgate, but they survived, and I think they’ve now got a much easier second-round matchup. Iowa State might have beaten a distracted team in the first round when facing LSU, but the Cyclones are now up against a strong opponent in Milwaukee that knows how to shut down opposing attacks. I don’t see the Badgers having many issues here.
MIAMI +7.5, -120
The Hurricanes are guard-heavy, and Auburn doesn’t really have the defenders to match up with them. Miami showed that it can win a game on the perimeter in ousting USC, and I think the Tigers are going to find themselves in a scoring contest in this one. I really like the over between these teams, and I see this decided by two possessions or fewer.
NORTH TEXAS -3, -110
Just because we’re all focused on the NCAA tournament doesn’t mean there isn’t value in the NIT. North Texas gets to play Virginia at home, and I don’t see the Cavaliers being all that motivated to keep the season going in Denton. Not only do the Cavaliers have to travel, but for possibly the first time in the Tony Bennett era, Virginia is actually the faster-paced team in this game. Yes, the two slowest teams in the nation are facing off. We might see a football score.
MICHIGAN STATE +6.5, -110
I haven’t trusted Michigan State all month, but something tells me that Tom Izzo is going to be the one to end Mike Krzyzewski’s career. It’s a combination of a few things, namely poetic justice, lack of pressure on Michigan State, a feeling that Duke is going to do something stupid and the fact that weird things happen to the Blue Devils in Greenville, S.C. Duke lost here to South Carolina as a No. 2 seed in 2017, and I think they might get beat again. However, for my bet, I want the points.