Final Four Action – Louisville vs. Wichita State

The Cardinals are listed as a double-digit favorite by sportsbooks but the value in this matchup is on the total

 

The wait is over and Final Four action begins Saturday at 6 pm eastern with the top ranked Louisville Cardinals taking on the Wichita State Shockers.

 

Odds for this contest have held fairly steady, with Louisville favored by 10 to 10.5 points and a total around 132.5. The majority of bettors are backing the favorite (62-percent) and the “Over” (78-percent) but given Louisville’s talent, we project this game getting off to a slower start.

 

In the past four games, Louisville has led by an average of 12.3 points at half-time but Wichita State has made it tough on teams getting good looks at the hoop. The Shockers held Ohio State to just 20-percent from beyond the arc and in the four tourney games thus far, the Shockers have held opponents to no more than 36-percent shooting overall.

 

Getting past Southern, Gonzaga, La Salle and Ohio State was more than a fluke for these Shockers and while it will be tough for them to pull off an outright upset, it doesn’t mean this game turns into a track meet out of the gate.

 

First halves for Louisville totalled 67, 76, 76 and 78 points (74.3 average) and those are all well above the posted first-half total for this game (61.5) but watch for a slower start to this game as the Cards implement their gameplan. Take the First-Half Under 61.5 points

 

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Astros open season with 8-2 win

The Houston Astros entered the 2013 season ranked No. 1 in category for “Most likely team to lose 100-plus games.” Baseball pundits will be singing different tunes Monday following an 8-2 win over the Texas Rangers.

The game was scoreless through the first three and-a-half innings but Houston scored two runs in the bottom of the third followed by a pair in the bottom of four. Houston took a 7-2 lead in the fifth and held on for its first victory of 2013.

Bud Norris gets the win and Erik Bedard was solid in 3.1 innings of relief. Seven different players had hits for Houston including Rick Ankiel, who blasted a three-run homer to blow the game wide open. Matt Harrison was tagged with the loss for Texas.

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MLB Tips and Trends – Texas Rangers at Houston Astros

It’s the dawn of a new era for the Astros as they kick-start the 2013 Major League Baseball season in a new division against the Texas Rangers.

 

Houston led the Majors with 107 losses in 2012 and oddsmakers are only projecting marginal improvements in this campaign but tonight’s starter, Bud Norris, gives the team a quality chance against most opponents.

 

Norris (7-13, 4.65 ERA) led the team in strikeouts and quality starts in 2012 and the fourth-year pitcher has a 3.51 ERA at home in 48 starts. The right-hander led the league with a 1.71 ERA in home games and a 4.8 to 1 strikeout to walk ratio. He faces a Rangers team who hit .269 against and opened last season with a 9-1 record in its first 10 road games.

 

It’s helped fuel a moneyline price of -165 on the road squad who are projected to win upwards of 88 games this year and challenge Los Angeles for the AL West title.

 

Baseball odds for the total show 8.5 Under (-115) and the Rangers opening day starter is Matt Harrison. The left-hander was 18-11 in 2012 with a 3.29 ERA and his team is an impressive 14-2 when he starts a series. Harrison also shows a strong 16-3 Sunday record and although he has struggled in division play (27-30), the Astros are a step down from the likes of Oakland and the LA Angels.

 

ODDS TO WIN THE 2013 AL WEST DIVISION

The Angels (-250) lead the charge followed by Texas (+250), Oakland (+550), Seattle (+1350) and then Houston (+10,000).

 

Futures for Houston’s win total hover just south of 60 and the team appears to be rolling with a ‘Moneyball’ theory, entering the year with the lowest payroll ($18.7 million) since the 2006 Florida Marlins ($15 million).

 

For what it’s worth, we could see the Astros winning at least 60 games this year, catching a few teams off-guard and taking advantage of the opportunities to face the bottom part of the rotation as opponents look-ahead to tougher matchups.

MLB Season Win Total Pick: Take the Astros Over 59 wins!

 

As for tonight’s game, our play is on the Rangers and Astros to stay under 8.5 runs. Harrison went 2-2 in his first four starts of 2012, pitching six-plus innings each time out and allowing just nine earned runs. Norris is as big a ‘homer’ as any pitcher in baseball and as the season begins, we’ll look to bank a winner with our first total.

Pick: Take the Rangers-Astros Under 8.5 (-115)

 

The Pick Sixty Sports team has been cashing winners with hockey and basketball picks all month long – Follow us on twitter and get in on the action! 

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