Favorites are 36-20 and 26-29-1 ATS and the UNDER is 38-17-1 thus far.
The Higher Seeds are 37-15 and 27-24-1 ATS
Favorites of 7.5-points or more are 16-2 and 18-9-1 ATS
Favorites of 3.5 to 7-points are 14-6 SU and 12-8 ATS
Favorites of 3-points or less are 6-10 SU and 4-12 ATS
Totals of 125 or less are 9-4 OVER
Totals of 140 or more are 13-4 UNDER
All totals of 125.5 or higher are 34-8-1 UNDER
CBB News: March Madness continues, literally
3DW View: It never fails to amaze me in sports how certain situations completely alter the psyche of teams. For instance, two of the most aggressive teams in the country, Michigan State and Marquette, were as passive a grandpa sitting on a park bench watching the world go by last night.
Oh sure, both these teams lost their share of games this season, but seldom was it due to not giving everything they had in terms of effort. Florida coach Billy Donovan set the trap by staying away from running with the Golden Eagles and had his team pick their spots off turnovers to run, instead of flying up and down the court as they frequently do. Marquette, who was battling foul issues with Jae Crowder and Junior Cadougan, never found an offensive rhythm and fell prey to the half court game, which is clearly not their strength. The normally excitable Buzz Williams was even more animated, trying to light a fire under his squad, to no avail.
Among Rick Pitino’s many well deserved accolades, maybe the name – Mr. Sweet 16 – should be added after his Louisville club outworked Michigan State, giving Pitino a 10-0 lifetime record in this round of action. The Spartans were presumed to have the edge if the game came down to half court execution. But according to ESPN Stats, Michigan State had no answers for the Cardinals zone, shooting 22.2 percent and committing an unusually sloppy 11 turnovers. Louisville played zone on 45 of 48 Spartans half court possessions and when Michigan State did penetrate inside, Gorqui Dieng was there to block seven shots and alter several more. It’s not that Tom Izzo’s team didn’t have open shots, but when facing a zone, you have to make baskets to force the opposition to change up.
Wisconsin and Syracuse went at it for 40 minutes and the separation was razor-thin, with the Orangemen escaping 64-63. The Badgers were continually making long distance shots from the other side of the banks of the Charles River. At one point, Wisconsin had made 14 of 21 attempts beyond the arc, but missed their last six. The Syracuse defense expanded its 2-3 zone late in the game to bother Badgers shooters and did a better job covering up the middle of the zone to prevent kick-out passes to the wings. Seldom is it talked about a team winning a game inside the arc, but that is what the Orangemen did in making 22 of 40 shots from two-point range.
Ohio State’s superiority in the paint was the difference against in-state partner Cincinnati. Deshaun Thomas and Jared Sullinger scored 80 percent of the Buckeyes 30 points in the lane. Ohio State nearly doubled the Bearcats in second chance points (13-7) and cruised to the East Finals
CBB News: What to look for on Sweet 16 Friday
3DW View: Baylor is a deserving 6.5-point favorite on talent alone, but as we have seen all this season, the Bears are too often worse than the sum of their parts. Perry Jones III continues to be a major enigma, with nine total points in the tourney. Baylor needs to feed the ball inside and attack Xavier center Kenny Frease to get him in foul trouble, which would open up many possibilities for the Bears.
The Musketeers are starting to resemble the same team that was listed in early December as a Final 4 dark horse. Frease is a huge factor in the paint and Tu Holloway is back to getting any shot he wants and making them. Xavier has to exert physical play on Baylor, who doesn’t always react well to this kind of action. Xavier better assign one player early in the contest to guard steaming Brady Heslip, who is shooting over 50 percent outside the arc in his last four games, including crushing Colorado with nine 3’s in 12 tries.
North Carolina’s imposing size and skill in the frontcourt is sure to give Ohio U. a lot of problems. However, if the Bobcats D.J. Cooper can dominate Kendall Marshall’s expected replacement Stilman White, taking the Ohio U. with 10.5-points is less imposing. Expect Ohio U. to cover up the Tar Heels frontline as best they can and have them try and turn White in an outside shooter.
Payback can be, you know, a ____ and that is what Indiana faces. The Hoosiers will have to nail 3’s to stay competitive and more importantly go after the trickier aspect of this rematch. Attack Anthony Davis effectively to draw fouls and hope he doesn’t change your offense with blocks and altered shots in the mean time. In the last meeting, Indiana outscored Kentucky by 12 points when Davis was on the bench.
John Calipari is a master motivator and will be selling his young team on extracting revenge while talking about getting to the halfway point of their intended goal. There is no way to know how this will play out, but offensive rebounding will be a big key, since neither team boxes-out particularly well. Who can work hard enough to dig for those balls and convert second chance points will go a long way to determining the winner.
In the tournament thus far, Kansas has been generally unimpressive while N.C. State is handily surpassing all expectations. The Jayhawks are wholly dependent on Thomas Robinson and Tayshawn Taylor at the moment. Kansas entered Sweet 16 action as the poorest shooting team at 3’s in the tournament at 26.3 percent. For the season, the Jayhawks are at 35.1 percent on long-range attempts and if they continue to misfire badly, the Wolfpack have the interior size to slow Robinson down, which could be crucial unless Jeff Withey shows up (11 points in two games).
Since the ACC tournament, C.J. Leslie has been a real force for N.C. State and teammates Scott Wood and Lorenzo Brown are loose and making big shots. Of the underdogs on Friday night, the Wolfpack may have the best chance for the outright upset if both teams continue to play to tourney form.