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What an opening weekend of the tournament! It was truly everything we’ve been waiting for after missing out on March Madness last year. At BetKarma, my premium bets were on FIRE, going 24-12 for +14 units in the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament. Every bet was shared & discussed with the entire BetKarma CBB Premium group.
Futures are alive and well, as I have teams in three regions with live futures still going. In the West, the overwhelming favorite Gonzaga looks to cash my 19.7 units with a national championship, not to mention my stake in the Zags in a sizable Calcutta Auction.
In the South, I have a Final Four future with Arkansas to win 10 units, and may be looking to hedge out a bit if they meet Baylor in the Elite Eight. I also hold a Villanova national championship ticket to win 7 units, although I admit I’ve lost hope on that one with the loss of their injured senior leader and point guard Collin Gillespie.
Moving over to the South, I’m holding Houston futures for National Champ to win 15.25 units and Final Four to win 5 units. My prized possession has to be my Final Four future on Loyola Chicago, to win 44 units. If favorites hold serve in the Sweet 16, I should be in great position to cash in on several profitable futures, way more than offsetting my total of 7 units invested in Championship & Final Four futures.
Moving on to this weekend’s bets, there are a few spreads I absolutely LOVE in the Sweet 16 matchups.
Arkansas vs Oral Roberts
When: 7:25 pm EST Saturday
Where: Bankers Life Fieldhouse - TV: TBS
This spread is interesting since Arkansas beat Oral Roberts by 11 back in late December. Oral Roberts actually held a ten point lead midway through this game, before Arkansas put the clamps down and cleaned up the glass. The Razorbacks out rebounded the Golden Eagles by 26 boards. They held the nation’s leading scorer, Max Abmas, to 11 points and 1/6 from three. Obanor put up 21, but in general Oral Roberts struggled to score efficiently against the athletic Razorback defense.
Both of these teams want to get out and run. Oral Roberts wants to take a lot of threes, and I think if they hit them early this will be a game, but if the miss them early on they could fall behind and struggle to get back in it. I think the familiarity of these teams having played a couple months ago helps Arkansas in a sense that ORU won’t be sneaking up on them. Musselman knows they trailed by double digits to this team, but they also know they can shut Abmas down. Shut him down again and the hogs will run away with this one.
Arkansas -11 (-110)
Odds from William Hill
Houston vs Syracuse
When: 9:55 pm EST Saturday
Where: Hinkle Fieldhouse - TV: TBS
Buddy Boeheim has probably been the best player in the tournament so far. But that doesn’t really matter to me in this game. I think Houston has the lengthy, athletic guards to get out and run Buddy off the three point line. However, Buddy can go 6/12 from deep and Syracuse can still lose by double digits here.
The biggest matchup edge in this game is rebounding. Syracuse defense is allowing opponents to grab over 34% of their misses - that is bottom ten in the nation bad. On the flip side, Houston is the second best offensive rebounding (ORB) team in the country, grabbing nearly 40% of their misses. When this Syracuse team has gone up against opponents that dominate the offensive glass, it hasn’t turned out great for the Cuse. Syracuse split with North Carolina (1st ORB) this season, losing by six in Chapel Hill and winning by two at home. North Carolina doesn’t have nearly the shooting Houston has though. Syracuse fell behind by 15 to Buffalo (5th ORB) before a late comeback win in overtime. Cuse did beat West Virginia (9th ORB), but got swept by Pitt (22nd ORB) including a 20 point blowout, and lost to Duke (46th ORB) by double digits.
Kelvin Sampson gets a week to prepare his guys for the patented Boeheim 2-3 zone. Houston may have struggled against the zone in late December in a loss to Tulsa, but they came back prepared and beat Tulsa by 27 in late January. You can also throw in a pair of 20+ point wins against Ron Hunter’s zone defense at Tulane.
When you add in the fact that Houston has the #1 effective field goal percentage defense, this is an edge I really give to Houston.
Houston -6 (-107)
Odds from DraftKings Sportsbook
USC vs Oregon
When: 9:45 pm EST Sunday
Where: Bankers Life Fieldhouse - TV: TBS
A lot of people are going to look to USC dominating Oregon a month ago as a predictor for what will happen here. It’s important to note why Oregon got blown out, and see if we think those reasons will repeat. Oregon entered their fifth game in eleven days at USC and the tired legs showed as this jump shooting team started really slow, falling behind 17-1. USC made their first five three pointers and got up by 20. The rest of the game was rather even, with Oregon even cutting it to ten with five minutes to go in the game. Tahj Eaddy made 6/11 from deep, a season high, and he has cooled off since.
The circumstances of that matchup were unique and I don’t see Oregon getting blown out the same way again. Oregon won’t be shocked by the size and length of the Mobley brothers’ interior defense the way many of the Trojans’ first time opponents are. Dana Altman has led the Ducks to a 10-5 record vs Andy Enfield and USC. I think Oregon is a very live dog, but I’ll take the points here.
Oregon +2 (-109)
Odds from Barstool Sportsbook