Through the opening weekend, we are 17-13 on the plays and while that is a little disappointing by my own standards, I’m pleased that it isn’t the other way around. We are now down to just 16 teams, and oh how sweet it is. Let’s take a look at the Thursday games and see what we can do with them.
Arkansas at Gonzaga
Gonzaga has not looked great in this tournament. In the first two games they played, both were a little concerning with the first half of the game before they turned it on in the second half and took control. This team does not care about covering, but they care about winning. I do think this is a tough matchup for Arkansas (and, yes, that’s a pretty obvious statement considering that Gonzaga is the #1 overall team), but I don’t know how they stop the bigs of Gonzaga. The game is sitting at 9.5 right now and even though they’ve looked bad the first two games I expect them to come out with some more intensity and win both halves of this game. I’m going to cautiously take them at -9.5.
Michigan vs. Villanova
I haven’t been a Michigan believer this entire tournament. I’m not going to start here either. I think Michigan is a fraud team that has been overrated since the start of the year. I’m taking Villanova to win this game. Their defense should secure this game and they have enough smart and efficient scorers that they can handle whatever schemes are thrown at them. None of this is to say that Michigan CAN’T win the game, but when it comes to money, I think we have the edge on Villanova’s side. If they are in a tight game, I trust the Wildcats to get it done much more. Villanova -5.5 -110.
I don’t have much more than leans on the other two games. I like Duke but after a certain extent, you can’t just keep saying they will win because it is Coach K’s last season. The problem with the one-and-done players really comes out during the tournament. They struggled to get past Michigan State and Texas Tech is a better team than the Spartans. I think this game is a complete toss up and could see either team pulling it out. I don’t expect it to be a 1 point game though, I’d bet it ends at 3+ because of free throws near the end of the game, so over 137 might be the best way to play it. As far as Arizona and Houston, I think Arizona wins this, but Houston has played very well for quite some time now. They have the capability to beat Arizona, but I wouldn’t put money on either side. This is another game that I’d lean towards the over (145.5) but remember, just because a game is available doesn’t mean you HAVE to bet it.