Sweet 16 Games set to Tip-off Thursday

Louisville and Indiana rank among the top favorites but there is underdog value for those looking to think ahead of the curve


The NCAA March Madness continues Thursday with four games including Arizona vs. Ohio State (-3.5, O/U 134) at 7:45 pm eastern and Syracuse vs. Indiana (-5.5, O/U 135.5) at 9:45 pm eastern time (ET).


Each of those favorites is ranked No. 1 with sportsbooks to win their respective regions but with a couple games in hand; bettors are still offered an opportunity to predict some bracket buster value with NCAA futures odds offered today.



Louisville is paying back in the +250 to +280 range, depending where you look. It’s not that much less than the +450 odds bookmakers opened the tournament with and with the high power rating given to Louisville by top sports handicapping sites, perhaps this is still a tempting bet. But don’t overlook Michigan State.


The Spartans are not only paying +325 to win the Midwest but up to +1500 to win the championship. We don’t suspect Louisville will have much trouble disposing of Oregon but should Michigan State upset Duke (-2) on Friday – a high probability – anyone holding a 15 to 1 futures ticket in their pocket starts feeling pretty good about their opportunities to hedge.



Louisville, Indiana (+450), Florida (+525) and Ohio State (+800) are the top four teams favored to win the national title


For the top favorites, odds on winning their respective regions are only paying back around even money so here are some things to consider as you breakdown the Sweet 16 matchups.


Seeds No. 1 to No. 3 have won 30 of 34 recent college basketball championships and that stat narrows this year’s Sweet 16 group down to nine teams. Only seven teams ranked lower than sixth have reached the Final Four since 1985 so you can cross four more teams from your futures betting checklist and by process of elimination, that makes Arizona (+2000) the ‘Math Man’s’ value pick to win.


Incidentally, a seed ranked fourth or lower has only won four of the past 34 titles and if you are considering the Wildcats (+3.5) to upset Ohio State Thursday, it probably pays to wait on this and see if the line moves back to plus-4.


The biggest parlay books are getting bombed with this weekend involves Indiana (-240) to Miami (-240) to Louisville (-600) and a $100 wager pays back at +134. Our advice: Watch the lines on Syracuse (+5.5) and Marquette (+5) and consider betting the undervalued dogs against the spread (ATS).



One more thing that can’t be understated is the value of coaching. These are young adults playing on a huge stage with a short turnaround between games. The men involved with making adjustments and getting their players to buy into the gameplan are what upsets are made of. Check the boxscore from Sweet 16 games and previous conference and tourney games; look at second-half scoring margins and try find value on teams with great leaders.


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NHL Picks: Jets at Hurricanes

In a key Southeast matchup Tuesday, the division-leading Winnipeg Jets will look to widen the gap over a second-place Carolina Hurricanes riding a five-game winless streak


WINNIPEG (17-14-2) AT CAROLINA (15-13-2)

The Jets were stunned in back-to-back home games by the surging Washington Capitals but regained some of their composure with a 3-2 win over Tampa Bay Sunday at the MTS Centre. Winnipeg maintains a four-point lead over Carolina but the Hurricanes have three games in hand and a win tonight would get the Canes back to .500 at home.


Sportsbooks opened the line for tonight’s game at Carolina -122 and 6 Over (-135) but pressure on the “Under” caused a drop to 5.5 Over (-115). Ondrej Pavelec (14-14-2) gets the nod for Winnipeg vs. Canes’ netminder Justin Peters. Pavelec hasn’t always fared well against Carolina, posting a 4-6-2 career mark vs. the Canes but he’ll look to build off his last performance which saw him record 27 saves in a 4-3 Jets win at PNC Arena.



Winnipeg is 9-6-2 on the road this year with Pavelec accounting for seven of those wins


Peters (2-2) takes over the No. 1 slot for Carolina with both Cam Ward (sprained MCL) and Dan Ellis (hand) unavailable due to injury. Peters won his only career start against the Jets and he is 1-1 at home this year with a 3.51 goals against average and .897 save percentage.



The Jets are playing without forwards Jim Slater and James Wright but defensemen Ron Hainsey (hand) and Mark Stuart (undisclosed) took part in the morning skate. Winnipeg seems to have found a winning recipe on the road this season and given the huge advantage between the pipes, we like the Jets to steal what is essentially a four-point game tonight and extend their lead in the Southeast.

Take the Jets


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NHL 3-Pack: Devils and Senators highlight card

This week’s NHL card starts with seven huge games and as the countdown to the final month of the regular season begins, every point counts!


Four of the top six teams in the Eastern Conference standings hail from the Northeast division and despite a rash of injuries to key starters, the Ottawa Senators continue to hold down their spot in fifth place.


The Senators (-133) host New Jersey tonight and Ben Bishop will get the nod against Devils’ No. 1 netminder Martin Brodeur. One of the game’s all-time greats, Brodeur hasn’t skipped a beat since returning from injury (2-0, 1.00 GAA and .944 SV) and his two starts against Florida and Carolina resulted in an “Under” and a push.


Marty 2


New Jersey has been a slow road starter with just three first period goals this season but they’ve only allowed seven, which explains why sportsbooks are asking more than -145 on the first period under. The Devils are without Ilya Kovalchuk and even with him in the lineup average just 2.13 goals per game (GPG) away from home. These teams have combined for just 2 overs, 7 unders and a push in the past 10 meetings and our projection for this game is on the Under 5 (-115) goals.



The Oilers couldn’t score against St. Louis Saturday, making it the third time in eight games Edmonton has finished with a goose egg. The loss completes a 1-1-2 home stand for the young Oil squad and now its back out on the road starting with tonight’s game in the Music City.


NHL odds makers are listing the Preds at -145 and our scoring metrics have them winning this game in regulation, a betting option some bookmakers offer at plus-money (Preds -.5 +115). Edmonton has lost seven of its past 10 games and although they are digging hard and limiting chances, Nashville wrote the book on that style of play.

Take the Preds in 60 minute betting



The Wings are ‘hot’ and tonight in the desert they’ll look to continue this storied road trip against the Phoenix Coyotes. Detroit’s power play has clicked in five-consecutive road games are failing to register a goal in its first 10 outings this season. They have outscored those five hosts 17-11 overall and improved their road mark to 7-6-2 in the process.


Phoenix has lost five-straight and been outscored 13-3 but tonight the Wings fit a 3-in-4 road spot that has produced just six wins for the visitor in 21 tries this month. The totals are 10-3-8 when the posted total is five and given that tonight’s starters are Jonas Gustavsson and Jason LaBarbera, we feel that the “Over” is worth a shot.

Take the Red Wings and Yotes Over 5 goals


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