Sports Betting Insights: Betting on NCAA Tournament Games
by Dave Schwab - 3/19/2014
The easiest way to bet on this year's men's NCAA Tournament is by filling out a bracket for any number of contests that exist both publically and privately. If fact, many of them will not even cost you a dime for a chance to win millions of dollars. Anyone who is serious about betting on college basketball this time of year knows that the true value lies in betting on the actual games, given that there are bound to be a few bad lines in some of these very unfamiliar matchups.
This week's Sports Betting Insights has been devoted entirely to uncovering the 'best bet' for each of the four regions over the course of both Thursday's and Friday's games based on betting odds from BetOnline.
Top Pick: South Region
Pittsburgh enters this tournament as the No. 8 seed in the South, and there is already some inherent value in this team based on the Panthers +1600 odds to win this region. They will face No. 9 Colorado this Thursday in the opening game for both teams. The Buffaloes have not only been opened as +7500 longshots to win the South, but they come into this matchup as six-point underdogs.
The loss of Spencer Dinwiddie with a season-ending knee injury in mid-January took a big chunk of scoring out of Colorado's offense. On the other side of the coin, the Panthers gathered some serious momentum in the ACC tournament with a win over North Carolina in a game that closed as a pick followed by a tight three-point loss to Virginia as three-point underdogs.
Top Pick: East Region
Virginia is the No. 1 seed in the East, but No. 4 Michigan State is the favorite to move onto the Final Four out of this region at +210. The Spartans have also been opened as +525 second-favorites to win the entire tournament. After a solid run to this year's Big Ten Tournament title with a lopsided 69-55 victory over Michigan as 3.5-point favorites in the championship game, the Spartans come into the Big Dance as 14-point favorites over Delaware in their opening game this Thursday.
Delaware is completely outmatched in this contest, but it does have two big things in its favor that will keep things much closer than expected. One, the Blue Hens have a trio of players that know how to score points, which is a key recipe to keeping games close. Second, they will face a fatigued Michigan State squad that could easily get caught reading all of its press clippings while looking ahead to the next round.
Top Pick: Midwest Region
Coaching and experience are two key factors when it comes to winning games in the NCAA Tournament, and No. 8 seed Kentucky has a huge advantage in both of these categories coming into this Friday's matchup against No. 9 Kansas State. In this battle of Wildcats, Kentucky has been opened as a five-point favorite.
Ever since last season's embarrassing early exit in the NIT, head coach John Calipari has been grooming another very young group of players for a run at a national title after Kentucky cut down the nets in 2012. This group is probably not going to get there this season at +1300 odds to win the Midwest Region and +4000 odds to win it all, but Kentucky is also not going to make an early exit two years in a row from any tournament.
Top Pick: West Region
This is another region where I am going to defer to the current futures odds to make my pick. The Oregon Ducks climbed all the way to No. 12 in the nation this season after going a perfect 12-0 in nonconference play, and while they did not fare nearly as well in Pac-12 play, they come into the West as the No. 7 seed.
The Ducks have been listed at +1800 to win this region, while their first opponent this upcoming Thursday, the No. 10 BYU Cougars, have been listed at +7000 longshots to advance to the Final Four out of the West. Oregon comes into this matchup as a 5.5-point favorite after beating the Cougars 100-96 in overtime as an 8.5-point home favorite the first time they met this season in late December. While you might want to consider a play of the "over" with the total set at 158, look for the Ducks to flex their muscle to cover the spread this time around.
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