When a team can win by thirteen points despite shooting only 37% from the field, you know they’ve got something special going on. That’s pretty much the way Kentucky Wildcats coach John Calipari described his club’s victory in the Round of 32 in the NCAA Tournament over the Cincinnati Bearcats in NCAA college basketball picks. Now the undefeated Kentucky team faces a different challenge going up against the West Virginia Mountaineers, who will put the pressure on as college basketball betting action in the Sweet 16 begins at 9:45 PM ET at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland. When this game tips off, the wild and wacky wagering gets started, with Live Betting Extra from the people at BetAnySports.
In Kentucky’s 64-51 victory, they allowed Cincinnati to shoot just 31.7% from the field. The front line of Willie Cauley-Stein, Karl-Anthony Towns and Trey Liles combined for seven blocked shots. Kentucky is now 36-0 straight-up and 18-17 against the basketball pointspread.
West Virginia rolled to a 69-59 victory over Maryland last weekend, forcing 23 turnovers. That is indeed their kind of game, as they lead the nation with 10.9 steals per game. Coach Bob Huggins believes he can put enough pressure on the Kentucky backcourt to create some easy opportunities. The Mountaineers are currently 25-9 straight-up and 19-13 ATS.
Kentucky Wildcats -13.5/West Virginia Mountaineers +13.5
Over 136 points -110/Under 136 points -110
These teams have met twice in NCAA Tournament competition over the last five seasons. In 2010, Kentucky was turned back by West Virginia as they experienced Brick City from beyond the three-point arc, making just four out of their 32 shots in an Elite 8 matchup. The next season, the Wildcats got payback by a 71-63 score.
On paper, this doesn’t look like much of a chance for West Virginia. After all, this is a team that shoots only 41% from the field, while allowing 46.8%. Meanwhile, Kentucky has held opponents to 35% accuracy, and they are ranked not only #1 in the polls, but first in Adjusted Defensive Efficiency.
BetAnySports customers know that what West Virginia must do is force turnovers, plain and simple. They have been able to do that on 28% of their opponents’ possessions, and they just keep coming, because Huggins has a lot of people to pull off his bench. With all that aggressiveness, West Virginia commits a lot of fouls. In fact, they send their opponents to the line more than any team in the nation. Kentucky is a 72% free throw shooting team, and they have been able to compile a free throw “rate” of 44%.
Because West Virginia is not especially big, they will have problems preventing the Wildcats from attacking the basket. On offense, Devin Williams has averaged 18 points over the last four games, but how will you deal with that front wall? At least the Mountaineers have Juwan Staten back in the lineup. He is only a 42% shooter, but has averaged 14.2 points per game.
As college basketball bettors know, Kentucky pulled off a rarity this season, in that they actually brought back players for second season. The Harrison brothers in the backcourt are now “veterans.” So let’s see if they wilt in the face of West Virginia’s pressure.
When people talk about the NCAA Tournament, affectionately known as the “Big Dance,” one of the main elements of intrigue surrounds the occasional ability of a “David” to beat a Goliath. The North Dakota State Bison dealt one of these slingshot blows to the Oklahoma Sooners in last year’s event. Can they do it again, against the team that really LOOKS like Goliath? That is an interesting thing to ponder for college basketball bettors, who will see David Richman’s team from Fargo take on the Gonzaga Bulldogs, the #2 seed in the South Region, in action that will get underway at 9:50 PM ET at the Key Arena in Seattle.
North Dakota State comes into this game with a record of 23-9 straight-up (14-13 ATS), and they won and covered all three games in the Summit Conference tournament. Gonzaga was the champion of the West Coast Conference, and was up near the top of the national rankings all season long. The Bulldogs have a record of 32-2 straight-up, with a successful but rather modest 16-13 ledger against the basketball pointspread.
In the last three seasons, Gonzaga has been eliminated in their second game in the tournament – after an opening-round win in 2012 against West Virginia, Ohio State clipped them 73-66; Wichita State, who went on to the Final Four in a surprise, beat them in 2013, and Arizona dealt them a rather decisive 84-61 loss in last year’s tourney
Gonzaga Bulldogs -18/North Dakota State Bison +18
Over 128 points -110/Under 128 points -110
Gonzaga lost only one game within its conference this season, and that one really hurt, as they were defeated on their home floor against BYU. The only other defeat came at the hands of Arizona, in a rematch of that tournament game from last season, in which the Bulldogs kept thing much closer, losing 66-63. Outside of the WCC, they have beaten teams like Georgia, SMU and St. John’s, along with UCLA, which pulled off that controversy all upset of Larry Brown’s team on Thursday.
There was a time when this squad was like the little guy trying to make good, but now Gonzaga is more of a giant, and that takes on a double meaning in this game. North Dakota State, which defeated Oklahoma, as mentioned, in last year’s Big Dance, was later embarrassed with 44 points against defensively-stout San Diego State in the second round. The next two games BetAnySports customers saw them in against “national” programs – against Texas and Iowa – they were beaten by a combined 66 points. So there is understandably pressure to demonstrate that last year’s big upset was not a fluke.
NDSU is small on the floor as well. In effect, they start four guards. Of course, one of those guards, Lawrence Alexander, is especially potent, averaging 18.9 points per game, shooting 44% from beyond the three-point arc, and utterly undaunted by the big stage, having scored 28 points in that Oklahoma win last season. But here is something intriguing – beyond Alexander and AJ Jacobson, there is not a lot of three-point prowess, and North Dakota State ranks 326th in the country in assists, so ball movement does not seem to be a priority.
If the Bison cannot score from the far outside, they could come up empty, because Gonzaga is a pretty formidable front line, when you consider a seven-footer like Przemek Karnowski, along with Domantas Sabonis and versatile 6′ 10″ Kentucky transfer Kyle Wittjer, who leads the team in scoring with 16.7 per game. With all of that size, you would think that Gonzaga blocked more shots, but they don’t. Even so, BetAnySports patrons have to wonder whether a team starting four guards would be able to do a lot of business inside.
The bigger challenge for North Dakota State is defending a Gonzaga team that has the highest shooting percentage of anyone in the nation (52.4%), and has hit almost 41% is a team from beyond the arc. Another edge for the Bulldogs which may be quite plausible is the location of this regional game, which is in very close proximity to their home base in Spokane.
East Bracket Bracket Overview
The NCAA Tournament East bracket could come down to how well Virginia plays. The Cavaliers were the second best team in the country for most of the season but two losses over the final three games landed them a number two seed.
The East bracket has the potential to filled with madness with no sure shot team out of a Cavaliers team clicking on all heels. This bracket could provide some madness as well as the top seeded Villanova played well during the regular season but are they really deserving of the top spot?
The lower seeded teams like Louisville and Northern Iowa both drew difficult first round draws. Number 6 seeded Providence could also be in a difficult situation with a potential matchup against a Dayton Flyers team that could pull off an upset.
While this bracket features some potential solid college basketball matchups it also features some great players including sophomore guard Terry Rozier, junior guard Malcom Brogdon and senior guard Darrun Hilliard II.
Players to watch:
Terry Rozier, Louisville: The Louisville guard is averaging over 17 points on the season along with five rebound ands nearly three assists per contest. If the Cardinals have a chance in the tournament they will need a big game from Rozier who finished with 20 points in the teams loss to North Carolina in the ACC tournament.
Darrun Hilliard II, Villanova: As you enter the NCAA tournament all a team needs is solid guard play. That is where Hilliard can come into play for the Wildcats as he has averaged 14 points during the season. Hilliard posted four straight double digit performances down the stretch including 12 points, four rebounds and two assists in the Big East tournament.
Justin Anderson, Virginia: If Justin Anderson is healthy and back to his early season form the Cavaliers could be difficult to beat in the NCAA tournament. That being said Anderson still looks like he is having trouble gripping the ball in his left hand. Anderson missed time this season after fracturing a finger on his left hand. Anderson was averaging nearly 14 points before the injury and nearly fifty percent from behind the three-point line.
Games to watch:
#7 Michigan State VS #10 Georgia: It’s March Madness now its time for the Spartans to play. Tom Izzo has had a track record in post season play and this year should be no different. The Spartans fell one basket short in regulation during the Big 10 championship before losing to the Wisconsin Badgers in overtime. That being said anytime you have a chance to watch one of his team play in the tournament is must watch television.
#12 Wyoming vs #5 Northern Iowa: This isn’t a guaranteed upset as we think Northern Iowa could make a run in the tournament. As we looked at all of the matchups outside of the LSU/NC State matchup most of the first round matches in the East bracket look clear cut. The one key advantage Northern Iowa has had all season is Seth Tuttle a big man presence teams had lacked to match up with. That being said Larry Nance Jr can be the deciding answer in this matchup if he can produce download.
Four Four Team:
In the end we have liked the Cavaliers all-season and we are sticking with them despite the uncertainty around Justin Anderson.
Midwest Bracket Overview
As our NCAA tournament picks get underway this week with all eyes on the number one overall seed the Kentucky Wildcats. The Wildcats led by head coach John Calipari enter the tournament 34-0 on the season and 18-0 in the SEC conference. They will look to finish off their undefeated to join seven other teams in NCAA history to pull off the accomplishment. The last team to do so was the 1976 Indiana Hoosiers team led by head coach Bobby Knight.
While all eyes will be on the Wildcats the Mid-West bracket features some talented teams on the court including a Notre Dame team that we feel was robbed of a number two seed after winning their first ACC tournament championship.
Along with the Fighting Irish, the Mid-West bracket features former Cinderella Wichita State along with a few other teams that are not being given any credit entering the tournament. The first of those teams is the Maryland Terps led by freshman point guard Melo Trimble and senior guard Dez Wells.
Now before anyone just hands over that undefeated season and a trip to the Final Four, Kentucky will have a difficult task ahead of him in a bracket filled with stars. This includes Notre Dames guard Jerian Grant who is averaging over 16 points a game to go with three rebounds and six assists. As we have seen last year with Shabazz Napier all it takes is a hot run by a point guard to win the National Title.
Players to watch:
Jerian Grant, Notre Dame: The Fighting Irish senior guard show cased his abilities in the ACC Tournament Championship game finishing with 24 points to go with 10 assists. Grant is on a solid run for the team finishing in double digits in each of the teams last nine games. Eight of those outcomes were victories for the team.
Melo Trimble, Maryland: The freshman guard has played outstanding All-Season for the Terps and is one of the key reasons for the team’s success this year. Coming off a crazy off-season filled with player transfers many experts didn’t think much of the team but Trimble put those doubters to rest. Trimble averaged over 16 points to go with over three rebounds and three assists per game this season.
Willie Cauley-Stein, Kentucky: While the list of Kentucky stars all could join this list Cauley-Stein could be the real difference maker if Kentucky is to win the National title. The seven foot forward is a difference maker down low while also showing over the teams last two games he can add value on the offensive side finishing with a double-double in the SEC championship game.
Games to watch:
#6 Butler VS #11 Texas: Despite the talent from top to bottom in this bracket, none of the matchups really stand out as the only game to watch. That being said this we really want to see what Texas team shows up in the first round. The Longhorns finished under five hundred in the Big 12 but was able to pull off some upsets over both Baylor and West Virginia along with a close matchup early in the season against Kentucky.
#13 Valparaiso vs. #4 Maryland: This might be the one upset everyone is predicting since the bracket was filled on Sunday Night. Valparaiso is no stranger to pulling off big time wins in the big dance as their head coach Bryce Drew led the team back in 1998 on an impressive Cinderella story.
Four Four Team:
The question everyone continues to ask is their anyone that can knock off the Wildcats in this bracket? The one team that has that chance could be Notre Dame but they will need to get by a possible matchups of Butler, Wichita State and Kansas to get to the Elite 8.
West Bracket Overview
The Wisconsin Badgers enter the NCAA tournament as the favorite in the West bracket for most with there March Madness predictions. After another big season inside the Big Ten taking home the conference regular season crown followed by an overtime win the conference tournament over
The Badgers are just one of a few teams in this bracket that could go the distance including the Arizona Wildcats. The Wildcats enter the tournament as the number two seed inside the West with an opportunity to face the Badgers once again in the Elite 8.
Along with the Wildcats the West bracket features a few other teams to watch out for including Ohio State, North Carolina, Baylor and Sharka Smarts VCU team.
While the bracket features a nice selection of talented teams the bracket also features a few players we all need to watch out for. The key one that stands out is Frank Kaminsky for Wisconsin. Some of the other names include D’Angelo Russell, Joseph Young, Marcus Paige and T.J. McConnell.
Players to watch:
Frank Kaminsky, Wisconsin: The Badgers big man might be the best player in the country taking home both the Big Ten Tournament MVP award and Big Ten player of the year award this season. Kaminsky is averaging over 18 points a game this season along with eight rebounds and nearly three assists per game.
D’Angelo Russell, Ohio State: Russell might be the best freshman player in the college basketball this year. The Buckeyes guard averaged over 19 points a game this season to go with over five assists and five rebounds. The versatile Russell could help the Buckeyes make some noise this year in the bracket.
T.J. McConnell, Arizona: The last player to watch might not be a big time scorer but he can do a little bit of everything. This includes recording over six assists per game to go with nearly ten points a game. Down the stretch McConnell posted eleven assists in three of the teams final five games. Each of those contests were a Wildcats win
Games to watch:
#7 VCU VS #10 Ohio State: In the years past Shaka Smart’s VCU team has been one of college basketballs most surprising team this year they enter as a seven seed. That being said it won’t be no easy test in the first round as they take on a Buckeyes team that is led by D’Angelo Russell.
#8 Oregon VS #9 Oklahoma State: These two teams might be looked over heading into the tournament but both made some noise this season. The Cowboys despite finishing with a losing record in side the Big 12 picked up five wins against top 25 teams including four of them coming in a stretch of five games. The Ducks on the other hand won seven of their final eight games including an impressive win over #17 Utah to reach the Pac 12 Championship.
#13 Harvard vs #4 North Carolina: The Tarheels have been one of the hardest teams to grade this year. Just when they look like they have what it takes to be a great team they follow it up with a let down. If they aren’t ready to play this week they could fall to Harvard in the first round.
Four Four Team:
While the Badgers are led by one of the best players in the country and feel like they are the strongest team. That being said the Maryland Terps exposed them late in the season, which could lead to a difficult task if they face Arizona in the Elite 8 again. That being said the Badgers find a way to get it done this year.
South Bracket Overview
The 2015 NCAA tournament gets underway this way giving us a chance to take a look at the South Bracket. This South has everything you need in one place including two of the top teams in the country in Duke and Gonzaga.
Along with two of the top teams in the country the South bracket also features an Iowa State team that has what it takes to land in the final four. The Hawkeyes finished 25-8 during the regular season with a 12-6 record inside the Big 12 conference.
The South Bracket not only features a few of the top teams in the country but also some of the top players in the country. One of those stars is Blue Devils freshman Jahlil Okafor who is averaging over 17 points a game this season to go with nine rebounds.
Players to watch:
Deion Wright, Utah Utes: The Utes senior guard has been brilliant all season averaging over 14.9 points a game to go along with 4.9 rebounds and 5.3 assists. Wright showed at times this year he could carry the team posting over 20 points in six different contests.
Kevin Pangos, Gonzaga Bulldogs: While Pangos stat sheet might not look as impressive as some of the other top players. That being said Pangos has been able to find ways to set up his team all season averaging five assists per game. This includes seven games with over seven assists per game.
Aaron White, Iowa Hawkeyes: White might have the most impressive stat sheet of the bracket not named Okafor. The Cyclones forward is averaging 16 points a game to go with over seven assists. Entering the NCAA tournament, White posted five straight contests with over 21 points as well as two games with at least 13 rebounds.
Games to watch:
SMU Mustangs VS UCLA Bruins: This game might be the most interesting of all the contests in the bracket. The Mustangs are led by Larry Brown while the Bruins have the better team on paper. The Bruins are led by senior guard Norman Powell averaging over 16 points a game and sophomore guard Bryce Alford who is averaging over 15 points a game.
Iowa Hawkeyes VS Davidson Wildcats: The Hawkeyes were robbed of a higher seed and it could cost them in the first round against Davidson. That being said both of these teams have the talent to make a deep run in the South bracket. The difficult test for the Wildcats will be slowing down Aaron White.
Utah Utes VS Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks: Despite an impressive resume this season the Utes enter this matchup with a little chip on their shoulder after falling to Oregon in the Pac 12 championship. On the other side the Lumberjacks are looking to repeat the success they had during the 2014 NCAA tournament. The Lumberjacks will need a big game from Thomas Walkup and Jacob Parker.
Eastern Washington vs Georgetown Hoyas: We all love D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera and his play on the court. That being said every march madness season we see an upset featuring a eleventh, twelfth or thirteenth seed, check out who the public is betting on.
Four Four Team:
This bracket has a few teams that could find their way to the final four on paper including the Blue Devils, Bulldogs and even Iowa State. In the end we tossed and turned between the Blue Devils and the Cyclones going with second choice.
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