March 10, 2017
There are three picks today.
#1: Take Central Florida -2 spread (buy the half point) against Memphis for 3% of the bankroll.
The Memphis Tigers appeared to be an NCAA tournament team halfway through the season, but stumbled at the finish line as they went on to losr6 of their last 8 conference games culminating in an absolute embarrassment in their regular season finale where they lost by 41 points to SMU. Even with the extra added time off, we don’t believe that will be enough to fix all of the holes that have plagued Memphis down the stretch. They will need a complete effort for the full 40 mins to come away with the win and we simply don’t see that happening here.
The UCF Knights however went in the complete opposite direction of their opponents as they appeared to get stronger as the season went on. The Knights come into this quarterfinals matchup on a 5-game winning streak which includes an impressive 53-49 victory over the then highly ranked Cincinnati Bearcats. Momentum will certainly be on the side of the Knights in this contest.
Where we believe UCF will have the advantage is the fact that this team is built for these types of one-and-done tournaments. The Knights are a team that relies heavily on their defense and it has served them extremely well this season. They haven't allowed an opponent to score more than 70 points in each of their last 8 games and are holding teams to an average of just 60.5 per game. The fact that their defense has been stellar is only half the story as their ability on the glass has been what has set them apart. They are ranked 2nd in the nation in rebounding as they average over 41 boards per game. Their advantage on the glass is what is likely to be the difference in this contest.
Memphis struggled down the stretch and now to play a physical and fundamentally sound UCF team is not going to do them any favors. This will likely be a low scoring game which will play directly into the Knights favor. Central Florida has shown their mettle and ability to make plays in closely contested games all season long and we expect their players to rise up in the final minutes once again to come away with the victory.
#2: Take Indiana +5 spread against Wisconsin for 3% of the bankroll.
This is a huge game for the Indiana Hoosiers tonight. After a convincing 95-73 victory over Iowa in the opening round of the tournament, the Hoosiers have a chance to not only avenge their two losses in the regular season to Wisconsin, but could also sway the committee into giving them an NCAA Tournament berth with a victory. This could arguably be Indiana's best shot at beating Wisconsin as the Badger's stumbled into this tournament having lost 5 of their last 7 games down the stretch.
Wisconsin isn't a team that is known for blowing teams out and we don't think this will be one of them. Indiana got hot from beyond the arc against Iowa, connecting on 12 of their 20 three-point attempts. We believe the confidence that the gained in that victory will carry over into this contest tonight. When Indiana is shooting the ball well they are an incredibly tough team to beat. They hold notable wins over both Kansas and UNC this season, two teams who propelled themselves to #1 rankings this season, which shows that when the right Indiana team shows up, they have the talent to beat any team in the country.
This game means much more to Indiana than it does to Wisconsin and in tournaments like this, it's often the team who needs the win more that play with the extra motivation to come away with the victory. We have already seen numerous upsets in the early rounds of the tournament and with Indiana's season on the line, we expect the team to rise up and make the plays needed to extend their season. Even if the Badgers happen to get the best of Indiana tonight, we believe this game will be much closer than the oddsmakers are expecting as Indiana is always just a three-point shot away from closing the gap and staying within the number. This game will likely come down to the final possessions and if that is indeed the case, the points could hold tremendous value.
#3: Take Vanderbilt +7 spread (buy the half point) against Florida for 3% of the bankroll.
At this moment, the Vanderbilt Commodores are on the outside looking in as the NCAA Tournament looms and will likely need another resume building win in order to sway the committee. Luckily for them, that particular resume building win could come tonight as they face the Florida Gators for the third time this season. Vanderbilt managed to sweep the regular season meeting in two very closely contested contests. Rarely do teams defeat the same opponent three straight times, but the Commodores will likely need to do just that in order to extend their postseason.
These tournaments are all about timing and which teams get hot at the right moment. Vanderbilt comes into this matchup playing arguably their best basketball of the season having won 6 of their last 7 games. Their defense has been tremendous recently as they have held their past 5 opponents to just 57.8 points per game on 36.8% shooting from the field. Their offense has been somewhat inconsistent; however, they are arguably the best three-point shooting team in the conference, connecting on nearly 40% of their shots from long range. They have also been stellar at the charity stripe all season long, making 77.1% of their shots as a team.
Florida has been a team that has been balanced on both sides of the ball this season, however they have struggled a bit ahead of this tournament going just 2-2 in their last 4 games. Their offense has also cooled down recently and is averaging just 70.6 points per game in their last 5 games which is a full 8 points less than their seasonal average. Against a tough Vanderbilt defense that is playing lights out at the moment, we expect Florida's offensive struggles to continue in this contest.
Vanderbilt certainly has the psychological edge entering into this contest as they have already defeated their opponents twice this season. Normally that would be a pause for concern about them coming into this game a bit complacent and overconfident, however, with the Commodores NCAA Tournament status not secured at the moment, that should give them the added motivation to come into this game looking to get off to a fast start. The confidence knowing that they already hold a pair of wins over this team should allow them to play loose and free and allow their game to come to them. This should be a highly entertaining and competitive game throughout and just like the first two meetings, we wouldn't be surprised is this game once again came down to the final few possessions. Even if Vanderbilt doesn't pull off the trifecta tonight, they should be able to keep themselves in the game and stay within this rather generous pointspread.
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