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FRIDAY MARCH MADNESS GAMES: PICKING THE SPREAD
By Matthew L. Lofton
*Matthew went (9-6-1) Picking O/U. See total standings on the bottom.
For Friday’s games, I am going to add a little something in the bet. I will assign bets a rating 1-3. A 1 rating means it is a good bet. A 3 means I would shy away. Through the early games, my sure-fire bets were doing fairly well. It was the bet prognostications that I went back and forth on that was generally the losses.
So let us go on to the Friday games:
Cincinnati-Texas – Both of these teams have pretty good offenses and have defenses that are not the team’s forte. Do not be fooled by the Bearcats less than stellar final in the Big East Tournament. Texas has played close against numerous teams, but just cannot finish it out.
Pick: Take Cincinnati -2 (if you must but I rate this a 3) But a TAKE the over (1 rating) at 129.
North Carolina State-San Diego State – The lower seed the underdog? Say it is not so. The Wolfpack clearly have more talent than the Aztecs, but NCST is not very deep. Any foul trouble will spell doom for North Carolina State. And CJ Leslie and company commit a lot of silly fouls. Do not see the stars from the fact NCST almost beat UNC in the ACC tournament. It is a rivalry game and UNC pummeled North Carolina State twice in the regular season. Both teams like to get up and down.
Pick: (1) Take San Diego State +2.5 but (2) I would personally take the under at 137.
Creighton vs. Alabama-Offense sells tickets, but defense wins championships. However, Alabama has no offensive firepower. Creighton had a mid-season swoon, but the Blue Jays seem to be hitting its stride behind Doug McDermott.
Pick: Really? Creighton +1.5? Take Creighton (1) but stay away from the over/under (3). If you must, take over at 133.
Virginia-Florida – This game must not be getting much action. The over/under is surprisingly low and Florida is only giving 3.5 points. This is the first bet of the day I would consider taking both the spread and over under. Virginia is purely decimated by injuries, suspensions and transfers. Florida played pretty well in the SEC tournament and would have beaten most teams in the semifinals. I truly believe UVA hangs around, but in the end, Florida has enough of a lead to get to the free-throw line and cover the spread.
Pick: On the spread (1), take Florida -3.5 and (1) take the over at 122 points.
St. Bonaventure-Florida State – By now, I do not think anyone is surprised by the Seminoles. FSU has beaten both North Carolina and Duke twice. But the Seminoles have also lost to Princeton and barely won a few games they probably should not have. When FSU gets up big (as it was up double-digits in the ACC Tournament against both Duke and UNC before winning by only three), it tends to commit silly fouls and be rather careless with its hands and ball. St. Bonaventure should not be within double-digits in this game.
Pick: I assign a 3 (stay away), but St. Bonaventure + 6 and the under at 129.5.
Belmont-Georgetown – Very odd that a 14-seed is only getting four points again. But then again, Georgetown has been upset the last two years so people are gun shy. Belmont has great shooters but the Hoyas should be able score off a less-than-stellar Belmont defense. Vanderbilt exercised the round of 64 demons on Thursday, and I think Georgetown pulls away late.
Pick (2) Georgetown -4 but take the over (1) at 133.5.
North Carolina-Vermont- I have already made my pitch yesterday I hate large-spread games. North Carolina plays uninspired at times.
Pick: Take Vermont +15.5 (3) and the under at 144.5 (3).
Norfolk State-Missouri- Again, another large spread. Stay away. I think Missouri may have a letdown since it is more-or-less unanimous Missouri is going to the final four. Stay away (3).
Pick: Take Norfolk State +21.5 and the under at 144.
Saint Louis-Memphis- This is clearly another game I would stay away from. Memphis will want to speed things up but Saint Louis has the slow-it-down, three-point shooting, stingy defense and low turnovers type of game to give Memphis fits. Plus, Saint Louis has the big coaching advantage and it is not even close with Rick Majerus, the architect of Utah’s championship game run in 1998. Anyone remember UNLV in 1990 that won the championship game by 30? Well, it was Majerus’ Ball State squad in the Sweet 16 that almost derailed that UNLV gravy train.
Pick: Take Saint Louis +3 (3) and take under 129 (2).
Lehigh-Duke- No one has any idea which Duke team will show up. Duke has shown pretty good defense the last six games (save the last 10 minutes at Wake and against UNC), but the offense is missing.
Pick: Take Lehigh +12 (3) but go under 148.5 (1).
Michigan-Ohio- Take heed, all who may watch. This will be a shooters paradise of a game. This over/under is absolutely perplexing. I still think Ohio wins behind DJ Cooper, who will put it in anytime from anywhere. Michigan comes into the game limping.
Pick: Ohio +5.5 (2) but run for the over (1) at 125.5.
Purdue-Saint Mary’s- There is not much to say. This game is about even as one could be. So I will take this time out to point out the Gaels are 4-3 against RPI top-50 while the Boilermakers are 3-10. On the flipside, Purdue has won its first game in the NCAA Tournament.
Pick: I got to go Saint Mary’s in basically a pick ‘em at -2 (3) but I would go over at 140 (3).
Long Island-Michigan State- Another 1-16 game I would not touch. There is no rhyme or reason to take the over/under or spread.
Pick: Take Long Island +20 (3) and the under 154.5 points (3).
Xavier-Notre Dame- This is a tough one. It is another 7-10 slobber-knocker that could go either way. Notre Dame has done its offense by committee this season but with a lack of a go-to guy this season. It navigated its way through the Big East for the third-best record. Is that not something? While Xavier has been an enigma since Tu Holloway was suspended. This is a tough one. Both teams get down in D, it might be which O steps up.
Pick: Take Xavier and the 2.5 points (3) and I believe the over at 124 is a good bet (2).
South Florida-Temple- On the surface, South Florida getting three might look like a steal. South Florida had a great Big East record, but it was against a weak schedule. Temple had an unusual loss to UMASS in the A-10 finals. Temple is more consistent and South Florida is happy after its first ever tournament win.
Pick: Take Temple -3 (2) But these two teams should be over 121.5 (1).
Detroit-Kansas- Detroit is a one-trick pony and Kansas has something to prove after the surprising semifinal loss in the Big XII tournament. But it is one of those large spread games.
Pick: Take Kansas +14 (3) but go under on 142.5 (2).
Games they both pick
Cincinnati -2 Cincinnati -2
San Diego State + 2.5 NC State – 2.5
Creighton +1.5 Creighton +1.5
Florida -3.5 Florida -3.5
St. Bonaventure + 6 FSU -6
Georgetown -4 Belmont +4
Vermont +15.5 N. Carolina-15.5
Norfolk State +21.5 Norfolk State +21.5
Saint Louis +3 Memphis-3
Lehigh +12 Duke -12
Ohio +5.5 Ohio +5.5
Saint Mary’s -2 St Mary’s -2
Long Island +20 Long Island +20
Xavier + 2.5 Xavier +2.5
Temple -3 So Florida +3
Kansas +14 Detroit +14
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