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Despite my dominant 4-2 performance in the Sweet 16, my bookie still isn’t backing down. It’s time to give him the knockout punch in the Elite Eight, and here are the picks that are going to make that happen.
Gonzaga vs Texas Tech Over 65.5 1H and Under 139.5 Total:
This one’s a heat check. It’s up to you whether you want to parlay these or do two separate bets, but I like both these picks for this game. I think both teams will get off to a fast start knocking down shots and pushing the ball in transition which will make for a high scoring first half. Then in the second half, as the pressure increases in a tight game, both sides will play more controlled and have more half-court offensive possessions that will kill the clock. Texas Tech is a great defensive team, and I think Gonzaga matches up well on defense to face the Red Raiders. This game will come down to the wire, but both teams will score under 70 points.
Virginia -2 1H vs Purdue:
UVA -4.5 points is a little too much for me to bet on the Cavaliers for the full game, but I love them in the first half -2. Virginia has been a great first half team all season (other than in the first round against Gardner Webb), and although Purdue will be their toughest test of the tournament so far, I like the way they stack up against the Boilermakers. Virginia is ready for the big stage and will certainly come out strong.
Virginia vs Purdue Under 127
I’m always careful to bet unders in Virginia games because bettors tend to get carried away with UVA’s defense, but I really like this one. I was a little surprised at the number 127 considering that Virginia’s O/U’s are often less than 120 and Purdue doesn’t exactly have the most high-powered offense, but the 99 points Purdue put up in the overtime game against Tennessee probably had something to do with this. Regardless, I think Tony Bennett will be the one to finally slow down the freight train that is Carsen Edwards. Edwards has put up 25+ in four straight tourney games and is the first person to achieve this since Steph Curry. However, he now has to go up against the #1 defense in the country, and as long as Virginia doesn’t assign Kihei Clark to Edwards, then it should be the toughest day yet for the Senior from Texas. Though this game might have two to tango, I’m feeling a slow waltz in this matchup tonight at the Big Dance. Take the under.
Kentucky vs Auburn Under 142
Can’t believe I’m suggesting yet another under, but here we are. Auburn’s offense looked dominant against UNC, but they are going to be playing without Chuma Okeke (12.0 PPG) in this one. In addition, Kentucky is averaging just 67 points a game so far in the tournament and will likely continue to play at a slow pace and try to get the ball inside to their elite frontcourt. This O/U will likely come down to who decides the pace of the game: if Auburn controls it we may see the over hit, but if Kentucky controls the pace then the under will surely be a lock. I’m betting on the experience of Kentucky’s bigs and the savviness of Coach Cal to decide how this game is played.
Duke -2.5 vs Michigan State
Though my wounds from the last two devastating finishes in Duke games are still fresh, I must put all bias aside. Cam Reddish’s status for this game is still up in the air, but I’m going to take Duke ATS either way. Although having Reddish certainly is a good thing for Duke, he has been very inconsistent this season and even if he doesn’t play I believe MSU will have to respect Duke’s three-point shot now that Tre Jones is finally starting to let it fly from deep (5/7 from three against Virginia Tech). Take Duke.