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March 28th 2014 - Posted at 5:00 PM Eastern Time

Given the fact that there are no afternoon games tomorrow, SPS will NOT be posting picks at 11:00 AM ET like it normally does on Saturdays.
Tomorrow's picks will be posted at 5:00 PM ET instead.

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Sports Profit System is closing in on yet another highly lucrative month. There are two bets risking 4% tonight.
 

#1: Take the UNDER 136.5 Total in Michigan vs. Tennessee risking 2%

These two teams are mostly known for their explosive offenses which leaves their defenses unfairly overlooked. Michigan ranks third in the country in terms of offensive efficiency. They can score from nearly anywhere and yet it has been their defense that has been the star of this team in this tournament. In their tournament games thus far, the Wolverines have allowed an average of 52.5 points on defense. They held both Wofford and Texas to just 35% shooting from the field and an impressive 20% from 3-point range. Over the course of the season, the Wolverines have held 17 different opponents to under 30% shooting from behind the arc!

Tennessee has also been putting on an offensive display recently but they too have shown their ability to shut down opposing offenses. They have held 11 teams to under 30% shooting from behind the arc this season, which is a place where Michigan thrives. Over their past 11 games, the Volunteers have allowed an average of just 56 points on the offensive end. Their ability to clog up the lane and force teams into low percentage shots has been key in winning 9 of their last 11 games. 

Throughout most of the season the Wolverines have thrived on the 3-point shot. The fact that they have capable sharpshooters on the perimeter and have the ability to knock down long range shots has been key to their success this season. The Wolverines are good from long range because their shooters are big and have the ability to shoot over most defenders. That will not be the case as much tonight however. Tennessee has extremely tall wingmen who defend the perimeter very well. With both perimeter defenders being 6'6 it is going to be difficult for the Wolverine shooters to shoot over the defenders. Their wingspan and closing speed should be able to contest the long range shot more so than most other teams. Michigan knocked down 13 three pointers in their win over Texas when we back them but we don't believe that will be the case tonight. We expect to see more near misses and the ball rimming out of the bucket. If the Wolverines are not hitting their long range shots, we feel that it is going to be difficult for them to score and this total is then too high. As stated before, Tennessee is big and have the ability to clog up the lane and force turnovers. We don't expect to see this game being played much in transition and expect it to be more of a half court battle. 

Tennessee has also had their problems on the offensive end in games. When teams really turn up the pressure, the Volunteers have at times gone on long scoring droughts. This total opened up at just 131 but the public has massively inflated this number to where it sits now at 136.5 and even 137 in some places! We feel that the opening line is more realistic in terms of the style of both teams and the tempo. This game is important; both would love to make the Elite 8 and we expect both to be somewhat cautious and methodical when it comes to scoring and managing the clock. The public looks at these teams as scoring machines but that's not necessarily true and with so much on the line, we expect the defenses to play their part. If this game doesn't go to overtime, we picture this being a 69-65 type game which still sits comfortable under the number. Take the Under now that the number has been inflated. 

Other notable facts to consider: 

  • The Under is 8-1 when Tennessee has been listed as an underdog this season and 26-7 over the last 3 seasons. 
  • The Under is a perfect 10-0 when Tennessee plays on a neutral court as an underdog of 3 points or less since 1997!
     

#2: Take Michigan State at -2 spread against Virginia risking 2%

Michigan State is one of the most complete teams in the NCAA tournament this year. We say "complete” simply because they are extremely balanced on both sides of the ball.  Rarely do you see teams that excel in all areas of the game, but Michigan State is surely one of them. The Spartans are a veteran laden team and have a hall of fame coach on the sidelines in Tom Izzo. Michigan State opened up the season as the #4 team in the country and for good reasons; reasons everyone including the public is finally seeing now. For much of the season no one had really gotten to see the true Michigan State Spartans due to the number of injuries and adversities that this team had to endure. The Spartans had been forced to use 18 different starting lineups throughout the season to overcome key losses on their roster. For many, the fact that the Spartans have 8 losses on the season would be considered a down year which could be a reason why there hasn’t been enough hype about the Spartans this year. But given all of the adversity they have faced this season, the fact that they have only 8 losses is actually a testament to the depth and character of this team. What makes the Spartans so dangerous at this point in the season is the fact that they have gotten fully healthy and are peaking at the perfect time! They have all of their playmakers back in the lineup and their strong push during both the Big 10 tournament and now the NCAA tournament shows just how menacing and balanced this team can be. 

Not only have the Spartans been beating teams in tournament play but they have been doing so in convincing fashion. Over their last 5 games, which were all played on neutral courts, the Spartans have been beaten opponents by an average of 10 points per game and have scored an average of 78 points on the offensive side! They have a big presence down low in 6'10 Adreian Payne. Payne is one of the most versatile players on this team and can not only play the post but has turned into quite a capable shooter form the outside. Prior to their last game against Harvard, Payne had two back to back monster performances and even scored a career high 41 points against the Delaware Blue Hens in the first round! The senior is going to be a load to handle and if the Cavaliers decide to double team him, they will find themselves burnt by Keith Appling, Gary Harris and Branden Dawson. 

Virginia has gotten to this point in the tournament using stifling defense. They currently have the number one overall scoring defense in the country which is limiting opponents to just 55 points per game this season on 38% shooting. Their defense has stepped up in each and every game this season but it will surely be tested today against a versatile Michigan State team that has many different ways of putting the ball in the basket. While the Cavaliers defense has been sound on the interior, they have been somewhat average in limiting the perimeter shooting of teams which could be the difference in this game. Michigan State shoots nearly 40% from beyond the arc which could be their key to success tonight. Virginia has not been known for their offensive prowess and have severely struggled at times. They win games based on defense and exceptional rebounding. The issue here though is that Michigan State is a very good rebounding team themselves. Whichever team is more aggressive on the boards is probably to win the game tonight.

Something else that we found interesting in this matchup is the fact that Spartans head coach Tom Izzo used to coach opposite of Virginia HC Tony Bennett's father. The senior Bennett used to be the coach for Wisconsin which is a conference rival of Izzo's Spartans and so knows the "Bennett" style rather well. Tony used to be on his father's staff so a lot of his philosophies and style of play would naturally mimic that of his father. This should give Izzo a bit of an edge on the sidelines knowing somewhat what to expect and being able to neutralize what Bennett will be attempting. That type of information and insight is often times invaluable. 

This will more than likely be a closely contested game between two very good teams. In the end however we feel that the experience edge is going to be the difference tonight. Michigan State has more experience at this level than the Cavaliers. This team has been in this position before; this is not something that is new to them. They are used to being in the spotlight and expected to perform in pressure situation, Virginia is not. This is their first time in recent history making this deep of a run in the tournament. Pressure may be mounting for this team and that is where experience helps, both on the court and on the sidelines. We also feel that when the game is on the line that the Spartans have the more dynamic players that can step up and push their team across the finish line. With this spread being just 2 points, we feel that experience and offense is going to be the difference in this one. Lay the two points.

Other notable facts to consider:

  • Michigan St is 12-4 ATS in road games when playing against a team with a winning record this season. 
  • Michigan State is 12-4 ATS in road games after playing a game as favorite!
  • Michigan State is 2-0 ATS as a neutral court favorite of 3 points or less or pick.



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