March 20th 2014 - Updated at 5:00 PM Eastern Time
Clients will recall that SPS started the Bowl season poorly but ultimately profited huge from NCAA College Football!
Good things come to those who are patient. Some take consecutive lucrative weeks which even included two separate 9-game winning streaks for granted but are unable to handle just a few losses. That is what separates the winners from the losers; the discpline to ignore temporary ups and downs and to look at the BIG picture and long-term results.
#1: Take Texas at -2 spread against Arizona State risking 2%
This is a rather interesting matchup tonight as both teams basically come limping into the tournament. It wasn't a stellar end of the season for either the Texas Longhorns or the Arizona State Sun Devils, but all things considered, we feel that it is Arizona State who is going to struggle the most tonight.
The Sun Devils come in tonight's matchup as losers in 5 of their last 7 games. What we find most interesting than their losing streak is the fact that all 5 of those losses were either on the road or on a neutral court. Arizona State has been nearly unbeatable at home this season with a 16-1 record, but on the road, they have been absolutely atrocious going just 5-10! Most teams do naturally perform better at home than on the road but when there has been such a stark contrast in performances all season long, we find it hard to believe that they will suddenly show up and play well tonight.
Part of the reason behind Arizona State struggles away from home is their lack of quality scorers. At home that can somewhat be masked by enthusiasm, energy and the roar of the crowd but on the road. that's when good teams and players step up and that simply has not happened for them. The Sun Devils have Jahii Carson, and he is a dynamic player there is no doubt about that, however State relies on him way too much to carry the team. When teams rely too much on a certain player, it makes them somewhat one dimensional. When Carson struggles in a game (and we have seen it before) it is hard for the Devils to pace without a strong second and third scoring option. We feel that will hurt them tonight and If Texas double teams Carson and limits him, the odds will shift drastically in their favor.
Texas hasn't played much better recently but overall they have won 15 of the 17 games in which they were installed as favorites! The problem with Texas is that you never fully know what team is going to show up. We have seen them play absolutely brilliantly during certain points in the season, but then we have seen them in games where they put up somewhat of a head scratching performance. When the Longhorns have been "on" their game however, they can be an extremely "scary" team. This is the same team who has beaten North Carolina, Iowa State, Kansas State Baylor and Kansas this season. They were ranked in the Top 25 in the country for a time even had an 18-4 record before their late season slump. If that is the Texas team that shows up tonight then it will no doubt spell trouble for the Sun Devils.
The Longhorns have their problems but they have shown their ability to perform away from home and are more balanced. Arizona State has been terrible when slated in the underdog role this season. The Sun Devils are just 2-9 as an underdog this season. Both of these teams may have had their struggles to end the season but it's Texas who has the most potential to come out firing tonight. We expect the Sun Devils struggles away from home to once again haunt them in as Texas punches their tickets to move on in the tournament. With this line being just 2 points, if Texas wins the game as we believe they will, then the cover should naturally follow.
Other notable facts to consider:
- Arizona State is 5-16 ATS in their last 21 games on a neutral floor.
- Arizona State is just 2-8 ATS (Against-The-Spread) as an underdog this season!
- Texas is 5-2 ATS in its last 7 neutral site games.
#2: Take Cincinnati Bearcats at -3 spread against Harvard risking 2%
It's the official start of March Madness and we see value in the afternoon matchup between the Cincinnati Bearcats and Harvard Crimson.
The Harvard Crimson have been a very "trendy" pick this season. They tore through the Ivy League and made their way back to the "Big Dance". Many still recall last year when the Crimson knocked out darling favorites New Mexico in the opening round of the NCAA tournament. Their supposed bracket busting potential has caused many pundits and even President Obama to call for an "upset" this afternoon against the Bearcats but we couldn't disagree more.
Cincinnati is an incredibly tough team and has had an exceptionally successful season. The Bearcats are not the flashiest team on offense but they have a smothering defense and do the fundamental things in basketball extremely well. They create turnovers, attack on the glass and limit their opponents to a single shot per possession. Their games have typically been knock down drag out fights and they are used to playing in closely contested games. They are a battle tested veteran team and that is going to be an asset in this tournament.
The Harvard Crimson come into the tournament as Ivy league champs. They were no doubt that team that stood above the rest in their conference but they are a "big fish in a small pond". They come into this game riding a hot streak but haven't played in 12 days and have beat up on inferior opponents! They have yet to face a defense like this. They have had to travel over 2500 miles after a long layoff to take on what should be their biggest challenge of the season. Harvard has not seen teams that come close to matching up with the style of play of the Bearcats and we believe that is going to be a problem for them this afternoon. Cincinnati has one of the top defenses in the country and has faced top notch competition in the AAC all season long and gave up just 58 points per game. They know what it is like to be in a slugfest and are highly motivated to prove doubters wrong. Harvard has coasted to a majority of their victories and have not had to play from behind or been properly challenged. Cincinnati is a veteran team and has an excellent coach in Mick Cronin on the sidelines. Experience goes a long way in a tournament like this and could prove to be the difference in this game.
Media hype often runs high in a tournament like this and many are expecting Harvard to upset Cincinnati. Even some of the Harvard players spoke to the media about how "cool" it is that the President has publicly endorsed them and picked them for the first upset of the tournament. That kind of publicity is often times unwarranted and fills the players up with a false sense of security. The Crimson should be happy because they made the tournament but may come into this one a little bit over-confident due to the publicity surrounding them and we feel that the Bearcats are being overlooked by much of the media and aren't getting the respect they deserve. Just because Cincinnati is not a flashy team and doesn't typically win games via blowout doesn't mean they aren't a solid team. Sean Kilpatrick is a dynamic player and will more than likely be the best player on the court this afternoon. Justin Jackson will meanwhile clean up the glass and block a few shots. Cincinnati knows that it takes to stay competitive in games and close them out.
We have seen many times in this season how a narrow 1-point lead in the final minute can balloon into a 4 or 5 point win. The Bearcats are the deeper and more experienced team. Harvard may be able to hang around in the early going but sooner or later the better team will make adjustments and control the tempo and we believe that'll be the tenacious and resilient Bearcats. We expect Cincinnati to pull away in the second half and cover this short number.
Other notable facts to consider:
- Harvard is just 4-12 SU as an underdog the last 3 seasons!
- Harvard is 1-4 ATS when playing on 7 or more days rest the last 3 seasons.
- Cincinnati is 18-1 SU when installed as a favorite this season!
- Cincinnati is 5-2 ATS in non conference games this season.
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