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March 14, 2018

There is one pick tonight.

Take Syracuse +2 spread against Arizona State for 3% of the bankroll.

It was a surprise to many that the Syracuse Orange, despite all their struggles this season, had earned a spot in the NCAA Tournament this season. The committee's decision was met with a lot of criticism, but the fact remains that Syracuse is in. That being said, if there is one team that an opponent certainly does not want to play in this type of setting; it is the Orange. For those who remember, just a couple of seasons ago, Syracuse was once again a bubble team who was fortunate to sneak into the tournament and they parlayed that opportunity into an improbable Final 4 appearance. Jim Boeheim is a veteran coach and realizes that his team has been given another opportunity and given his experience in this situation, we certainly don't expect him to waste it.

The Orange have the exact style of play that is built for this type of tournament. They play a vaunted 2-3 zone defense that many teams outside of their conference have a hard time handling. We expect Arizona State to suffer the same effects tonight. As good as the Sun Devils were in the non-conference to start the season, they fizzled down the stretch and while their offense is something that could give Syracuse problems, we believe their zone defense will be the neutralizing factor. When the Sun Devils have a hard time getting into their offensive rhythm, they struggle. That is what we expect to happen tonight. The only way to beat a zone defense like Syracuse is for teams to get hot from the perimeter and relying on long-range jump shots is a recipe for disaster in a one-and-done tournament format such as this. Unless the Sun Devils happen to shoot lights out from 3-point range, we don't see them being able to outscore what should be an extremely motivated and hungry Syracuse team.

This should be an entertaining contest and we have seen flashes of how dominant the Orange can be against non-conference opponents. This will surely be a good test for both teams, but like so many perennial programs that advance into the tournament, it is hard to go against a program that has shown their ability to win when the lights are at their brightest. This will likely be a close game, but we expect Jim Boeheim's group to make the critical plays at the end to advance to the next round. The points have value in this one.

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