Starting off here with a few early tips that I really like. Will add to the card on Thursday.
UNVL +1.5 (-110) — 1-unit
UNLV comes in a pretty hot team, going 4-2 in its last six, and 6-2 ATS over the last eight. But with this tournament in Las Vegas, we also get the Runnin’ Rebels playing at home, where they’ve won five of six. UNLV recently topped this Wyoming squad by seven points, and matches up pretty well with them. The Cowboys were a terrific home team this season at 14-1, just are just 2-5 ATS over their last seven. UNLV has taken five of the last six head to heads here.
Colorado +1.5 (-120) — 1.5-units
Oregon got off to a terrible start this season, and then had some moments. Don’t let them fool you, they’ve been awful since and advanced a round in this tournament because they faced one of the worst teams in the country. Oregon entered the PAC-12 Tournament on a three game losing streak both SU and ATS. It’s without its best player in Will Richardson, which leaves the Ducks in a tough spot against a well rounded Colorado team. The Buffalos have won seven of eight in conference play, and each of their last three wins have come as underdogs. I expect an early lead here and Colorado to hang onto it.
Virginia vs. North Carolina — 9:30pm ET
UNC -3.5 (-110) — 2-units
We know Virginia can only win one way, and that’s a rock fight. The Cavs were able to do that with 51 points in a one-point win over a dreadful Louisville squad on Wednesday night. I don’t think they can make it work against a far more talented and athletic group of Tar Heels. UNC is riding high after that win at Duke on Saturday, but it had been playing well towards the end of ACC play entering that game. I think this is a clash of styles that’s really going to hurt UVA by the time this one’s over. UNC will push the pace and pull away.
Michigan -2 (-110) — 1.5-units
No typo on the tip time — wake up and let’s get to gambling. Indiana is a terrific home team, and while this tournament is in its home state, the venue won’t provide much of an advantage. The Hoosiers also just haven’t been good of late — 2-7 over the last nine, 3-6 ATS.
Michigan is the wild card. The Wolverines opened the season ranked in the top-five. They’ve been a disappointment, but have also shown a high ceiling. Now Juwan Howard will be back on the sidelines, and I’m expecting a strong showing in his return. I’ll take the higher ceiling in this game against a team that can’t beat better teams outside of their own building. Michigan dominated the regular season matchup on the road by 18 points as an underdog.
Texas A&M +2 (-110) — 1.25-units
I’m just not impressed with Florida, whether we go by the numbers or the eye test. The Gators are just 3-7 ATS in their last 10, and seem extremely inconsistent in games that really matter. They beat Auburn at home, so Florida is probably the higher ceiling team here. But I really like the groove Texas A&M is in right now.
The Aggies have won four in a row entering SEC Tournament play, two of them as a dog. Go back further, and A&M has won five of six with the one that started the streak over these Gators. This one is more of a gut call than an analytics play, but I’m backing the hotter team.
Duke 1H -8 (-110) — 1.5-units
I have a 2.5-unit play on Duke to win the ACC Tournament, so I didn’t really envision myself betting on them much, if at all in individual games. But I can’t pass up on this spot.
We know the spot for Duke. The Blue Devils are coming off a terrible home loss as a double-digit favorite to a storied rival in their historic coach’s last home game. That all sets up for the perfect bounce-back to kickoff the conference tournament. This is a top-10 team and by far the best team in the conference. They’re going to show up out of the gates in this game.
On the other side, more perfection to fade. Syracuse shot the lights out in their first game of this tournament. A blowout winner as a slight dog. Now we see the regression. Shots will start to miss, and things won’t come as easy, especially against much better competition. And, of course, the Orange’s best player (Buddy Boeheim) threw a punch on Wednesday and will be suspended for this game. This is not a deep team, and we’re going to see that bright and early on Thursday.
We’ll see what the number is. As I write this, the spread for the game is 13. Duke’s going to be up double-digits at halftime, so I’m prepared to lay a heft number.
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