Sweet 16 Free Betting Picks
by Nicholas Tolomeo - 3/23/2010
Sixteen teams remain and the madness of March hits a temporary hiatus to allow everyone to catch their breath after four days of non-stop action. The gap between the second round of the NCAA Tournament and the round of 16 also gives bettors more time to break down games and pay attention to point spread movements.
Two favorites, Kansas State and Kentucky, take on two upstart mid-major teams, Xavier and Cornell, who are looking for an upset as part of a four-game slate on Thursday night.
Syracuse, New York
No. 12 Cornell (29-4) vs. No. 1 Kentucky (34-2), 9:55 p.m.
How They Enter
Cornell first burst on the map with its close call in Lawrence, Kansas. Since then the Big Red has won 17 of 18, including upset wins against No. 5-seed Temple and No. 4-seed Wisconsin to set up the date with Kentucky. The tournament wins came in blowout fashion, 13 points over Temple as three-point dogs and 18 points over Wisconsin as 4.5-point underdogs.
Kentucky closed the regular season lethargically with a loss at Tennessee in the final week of the season and then close calls against Alabama and Mississippi State in the SEC Tournament. It got its act together in time for the NCAA Tournament with two resounding wins over No. 16 seed East Tennessee State and No. 9 Wake Forest.
Kentucky’s youth brings back memories of Michigan’s Fab Five in the early 90s. Junior Patrick Patterson brings most of the experience but freshmen John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins and Eric Bledsoe more than make up with their lack of experience with pure explosiveness. Wall is the favorite to win Most Outstanding Player in this tournament, Cousins averages a double-double and Bledsoe is fourth on the team in scoring and second with assists.
The Kentucky youth shows sometimes with the Wildcats’ struggles in handling the ball and free-throw shooting. Wall has 140 turnovers this season and Bledsoe has 109. Just like most John Calipari teams, free-throw shooting is optional. As a team Kentucky shoots 67.4 percent, that ranks 227th in the entire country.
Cornell is entirely opposite of Kentucky. They are disciplined, they are the best three-point shooting team in the country (44 percent) and they have nine seniors, four who start and two who are their first players off the bench.
Trends that Matter
Cornell is 4-0 ATS following a SU win
Cornell is 5-1 ATS in their last six games on neutral courts
Cornell is 36-15 ATS in their last 51 non-conference games
Cornell is 38-17-1 ATS in their last 56 games as an underdog
Kentucky is 8-17 ATS in their last 25 games following an ATS win
Kentucky is 1-4 ATS in their five games after a win over more than 20 points
Cornell is the one Cinderella story with the toughest path ahead of it but the Big Red are more than capable of pulling off one more upset. Kentucky has yet to play a bona fide tournament team while Cornell has gotten past two of them and made it look easy. Cornell is a tournament-tested and veteran team that will make the difference here. The pick is Cornell plus the points, but don’t be surprised if they win this one outright.
Salt Lake City, Utah
No. 6 Xavier (26-8) vs. No. 2 Kansas State (28-7), 9:35 p.m.
Kansas State -5
How They Enter
Since Jan. 30 Kansas State has lost only four games, and three of those were to Kansas. With the Jayhawks out of the way Kansas State looks to be the new favorite out of the Big 12 to reach the Final Four. They knocked off Oklahoma and Baylor to reach the Big 12 title game before losing to Kansas in the title game. To reach the Sweet 16 the Wildcats blew past North Texas, 82-62 and BYU, 84-72.
Xavier enters the game having won 10 of 11 SU including a 65-54 win over Minnesota in the first round of the tournament and then a 71-68 win to knock Pitt out of the tournament.
Jordan Crawford, he of dunking on LeBron James fame, is Xavier’s go-to scorer, averaging 20.2 points per game and Jason Love is a force inside averaging 11.8 points and 8.5 rebounds a game. Crawford and Love dominated the game against Pitt, both inside and outside. The Musketeers can shoot as well as any team from three-point range. They shoot 37 percent from there and 46 percent from the field.
Kansas State is not known as much for their three-point shooting but against BYU they couldn’t miss, hitting 41 percent of their shots from deep including a 7-of-12 performance from Jacob Pullen. He ended the game with 34 points. The Wildcats lack a dominant inside man but make up for that with the athleticism of Pullen, Denis Clemente and Jamar Samuels.
Facing Tournament Competition
When it comes to being battle tested, Kansas State may trump every other team in the tournament. Thirteen times this season they played a tournament team and in those games they are 8-5 SU and 9-4 ATS. You eliminate Kansas from the discussion and Kansas State is 8-2 SU against the rest of the tournament field.
The difference between Kansas State and Xavier is remarkable when it comes to competition against tournament teams. The Musketeers struggled against tournament-bound teams, going 2-7 SU and 2-7 ATS.
One of those losses was to Kansas State. The teams met in Manhattan, Kansas, back on Dec. 8 and it was all Wildcats as they rolled to a 71-56 win as 6.5-point favorites. The Wildcats outrebounded Xavier by 13 and held them to 29-percent shooting from the field.
Shootout in Salt Lake
That is exactly what the oddsmakers are expecting, setting the total at 153.5. Both teams can score in bunches but when the total has been posted above 150, both teams have tended to play in lower scoring games. All three Xavier games with a total of 150 or higher stayed ‘under’ and the ‘under’ is 3-6-1 in Kansas State’s 10 games with a total over 150. The last time these teams met, the total points scored were 127, well shy of the posted total of 146.5. The decision to set it so high this time is a curious one.
Considering the impressive success Kansas State has had SU and ATS against tournament competition and the struggles Xavier has endured the play here is Kansas State. In terms of the total, the ‘under’ has tremendous value.
Most Recent March Madness Betting
- Free NCAA Tournament Betting Picks for Final Four
- 2021 March Madness Bracket Predictions: South Region
- 2021 March Madness Bracket Predictions: Midwest Region
- 2021 March Madness Handicapping: No. 5 vs. No. 12 Seeds
- 2021 March Madness Bracket Predictions: East Region
- 2021 March Madness Bracket Predictions: West Region
- 2021 March Madness Prop Bets and Predictions
- 2021 NCAA March Madness Betting Tips
- 2021 NCAA Tournament Facts
- 2021 NCAA Tournament Bracket Advice and Tips