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Wild Card Wednesday: Best Bets for March 23

Tuesday represented both the extremes of gambling and the razor’s edge on which we so often live. We had one comfortable win with Vanderbilt and Xavier going over, one whiff when Northern Colorado failed to do its share of the scoring against UNC Wilmington (I knew I should have bet the Seahawks’ team total; that’s entirely on me) and three bets decided by one score.

Add it all up, and it was a 2-3 day, not where I want to be. But we’ll try to get things straightened out today as we wait for Sweet 16 action and the return of international soccer matches. Here are my best plays for March 23.

MIDDLE TENNESSEE-UNC WILMINGTON U136.5, -110

This is the CBI final, and it’s the third game in three days for Middle and the fourth in four for UNCW. As such, this is likely to be a grinder as both teams try to get through with whatever they have left and win a title. For Middle, that means defense. The Blue Raiders barely held Abilene Christian under their team total last game, but they should be back on track in this game. The Seahawks played out a 59-55 grinder against Delaware in the CAA final, and they’ll have no problem playing at Middle’s slower pace in this final.

WAKE FOREST +3.5, -120

Texas A&M believes it should have been in the NCAA tournament, but according to the metrics, Wake Forest had the stronger argument. The Demon Deacons have played opponents tough all year, and I think they can keep this one a battle to the final play. I might need the extra point here to get a full possession on my side, but I think that’ll be enough to get a Wake cover.

WASHINGTON STATE-BYU U143.5, -110

I love when the public misreads a trend and unintentionally hands us a mistaken line. BYU is expected to put up points because it has averaged 91.5 points per game in the NIT so far. But BYU’s first two games were against Long Beach State, which plays at a fast pace, and Northern Iowa, which doesn’t play much defense. Washington State mucks it up and plays slowdown, which means that like the Cougars’ first-round win against Santa Clara (a 63-50 game where the total was an inexplicable 152), this number looks way too high.

YOUNGSTOWN STATE TTU 59.5, -110

This trip seems a bit too tough for the Penguins. Youngstown’s got to travel across the country to Fresno, where the Bulldogs pride themselves on defense and rarely allow teams to hit 60 in regulation. Youngstown isn’t a team of good shooters anyway, so asking them to hit 60 in the Save Mart Center seems unlikely.

SABRES +1.5, -135

Buffalo is actually playing decent hockey as of late, and the Sabres have been tough on the Penguins when they’ve faced off. In the teams’ past six meetings, Buffalo is 2-4, but three of the four defeats have come by a single goal (and because the Sabres have stunk for years, they’ve all been covers because Pittsburgh is always -1.5 when facing Buffalo). With the Sabres at home and coming off two overtime wins, I think they can stick close with Pittsburgh.

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