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Thread: Best Bets On First 4 March Madness Games

  1. #1 Best Bets On First 4 March Madness Games 
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    Best bets for First Four games
    Andrew Lange
    ESPN INSDER


    The NCAA tournament kicks off on Tuesday and Wednesday with the First Four.

    First, the LIU Brooklyn Blackbirds face the Radford Highlanders in the opening contest at 6:40 p.m. ET on Tuesday, before the St. Bonaventure Bonnies play the UCLA Bruins at 9:10 p.m. ET.

    On Wednesday, the action continues with the North Carolina Central Eagles tipping off at 6:40 p.m. against the Texas Southern Tigers. Then, it's a pair of tournament regulars dueling for the final spot in the round of 64, when the Arizona State Sun Devils meet the Syracuse Orange at 9:10 p.m. ET.

    All four games will be played in Dayton, Ohio.

    Here's a look at how to bet the first two games of the tournament.

    Note: All odds are via Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook, as of March 13.

    Tuesday


    No. 16 LIU Brooklyn Blackbirds vs. No. 16 Radford Highlanders (-4.5)


    Two "non-boarded" teams start off tournament play, as LIU Brooklyn and Radford play in conferences that do not offer point spreads during league play. It's a matchup with contrasting styles. Radford's Big South tournament run featured three games with 59 or fewer possessions. On the flip side, LIU Brooklyn wants to push the pace under former UMass head coach Derek Kellogg. The Blackbirds led the Big South in pace at more than 71 possessions per game. In fact, LIU Brooklyn's slowest game of the entire season had 64 possessions, while Radford played 22 games with 64 or fewer possessions.

    In a competitively lined matchup like this, I tend to lean with the slower-tempo team being able to control the pace. You have to go back to Jan. 27 (11 games) to find a game involving Radford that topped 139 points in regulation. At the current number, I'm looking under the total.


    Pick: Under 138.5 total points



    No. 11 St. Bonaventure Bonnies vs. No. 11 UCLA Bruins (-3.5)
    I come away fairly impressed with UCLA's body of work this season. The Bruins beat Kentucky on a neutral floor, swept a USC team that should have made the field of 68, beat Arizona in Tucson and lost in overtime to those same Wildcats in the Pac-12 tournament. UCLA's defensive numbers aren't great (10th in the Pac-12 in defensive efficiency), but they mix and match looks effectively enough to keep opposing offenses honest.

    St. Bonaventure flashes better seasonal defensive numbers, but there are red flags. In six games against Rhode Island, Davidson and TCU, the Bonnies allowed an alarming 1.21 points per possession. UCLA was the most efficient offense in Pac-12 play and shot a league-best 40.3 percent from 3-point range. The Bonnies are also short on depth, as five players saw 29 or more minutes in their A-10 tournament loss to Davidson. It was the second of back-to-back games, and the Wildcats scored virtually at will with 82 points on only 58 possessions.

    I would lean with the Bruins, who grade out as having small edges on both ends of the court.

    Lean: UCLA -3.5

    Wednesday


    No. 16 North Carolina Central Eagles vs. No. 16 Texas Southern Tigers (-5)
    It's hard to ignore the massive strength of schedule discrepancy in this matchup. Like most SWAC schools, Texas Southern spent virtually its entire nonconference slate playing "paycheck" games against power conference foes. In an eight-day span, it took on Ohio State, Syracuse, Kansas and Clemson. The Tigers also faced Gonzaga and TCU. The end result was 0-13, but the experience undoubtedly aided in the Tigers' current seven-game win streak (average win came by 15 points).

    NC Central is far and away the lowest-power-rated team in the tournament. The Eagles finished only 9-7 in the MEAC, but got hot at the right time with four wins in five days. They do have the benefit of having played in last year's "First Four," a 67-63 loss to UC Davis. Texas Southern didn't have the luxury of playing a comparable foe, as it was blown out by the eventual national champs, North Carolina, 103-64.

    I prefer the chalk here, but a lot of the value is gone. TSU has been bet up from -3.5 to -5.

    Lean: Texas Southern -5



    No. 11 Arizona State Sun Devils (-1.5) vs. No. 11 Syracuse Orange


    Arizona State's non-conference success (12-0) included wins over top seeds Xavier and Kansas, and it played a major role in the Sun Devils slipping into the tournament. But they fell in love with outscoring foes and found life a lot more difficult in what was actually a very watered-down Pac-12. Ironically, ASU's biggest issue was facing teams that played zone and/or slowed down the pace. In games against power conference foes with less than 70 possessions, the Sun Devils went 3-4 SU and 2-5 ATS. The three wins came by margins of three, three and two.

    They'll see plenty of "slow" and zone with Syracuse. The Orange are as offensively inept as any power conference team in the country, but this is a favorable matchup. Syracuse has more than enough length and athleticism to take away the Sun Devils' transition offense and outside shooting. If it gets to +2, I'm on the underdog.

    Pick: Syracuse +2 or better
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  2. #2  
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    No opinion on this material fellas, just posting for others to read...
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