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03/17/2013 12:59 PM
NCAAB

Sunday, March 17

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Atlantic 10 final: VCU vs. Saint Louis
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VCU Rams vs. Saint Louis Billikens (-1.5, 136.5)

No. 22 Virginia Commonwealth will get a shot at revenge — and improving its seed for the NCAA Tournament — when the Rams take on No. 16 Saint Louis in the Atlantic 10 championship game Sunday in Brooklyn, N.Y. Saint Louis easily handled VCU in the regular season, winning 76-62 at home while withstanding the Rams' vaunted "Havoc" defense.

The top-seeded Billikens, who won the regular-season title outright, have advanced to their first conference championship game since joining the Atlantic 10 in 2005-06. The second-seeded Rams, however, are playing in their conference title tilt for the third straight year — the last two came in the Colonial Athletic Association.

TV: 1 p.m. ET, CBS Sports Network

ABOUT VCU (26-7, 12-4 Atlantic 10): The Rams can put up the points, thanks in part to the large number of turnovers they force and strong outside shooting. Senior guard Troy Daniels (12.5 points) led the barrage in a 71-62 win over Massachusetts in the semifinals, going 6-for-9 from 3-point range. If the Rams are going to knock off Saint Louis, they'll need leading scorer Treveon Graham (15.4 points, 5.8 rebounds) to bounce back after going 1-for-12 for three points Saturday. Forward Juvonte Reddic (14.4 points, 8.3 rebounds) is coming off a big game, though, with 18 points and 12 rebounds against the Minutemen.

ABOUT SAINT LOUIS (26-6, 13-3): The Billikens are one of the top defensive teams in the nation, but they also boast four double-digit scorers. Undersized power forward Dwayne Evans (13.6 points, 7.7 rebounds) has led the way all season, but he has taken over completely in the conference tournament. Evans is 15-of-19 from the floor and 18-of-20 from the foul line through his first two games in the tournament and has compiled 49 points and 20 rebounds. Reserve forward Cody Ellis (10.3 points) also had a solid game in Saturday's 67-56 win over Butler with 13 points off the bench.

TRENDS:

* Billikens are 8-0 ATS in their last eight games vs. a team with a winning percentage above .600.
* Billikens are 8-0 ATS in their last eight Sunday games.
* Over is 4-0 in Rams’ last four games following an ATS win.

TIP-INS

1. The top two seeds have reached the Atlantic 10 final for the first time since 2005.

2. Evans has scored in double figures in 14 consecutive games.

3. Graham has failed to reach double digits in scoring only four times this season.


Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
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03/17/2013 05:36 PM
Well I Tried to sweep all the games...that late game caught me...thought those badgers would pull off that upset......

Owell 6 - 2 is still good.....................
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03/18/2013 05:02 PM
Armadillo: Monday's six-pack

Six of the more interesting tournament games this week......these are not selections, just posting the pointspread for information purposes.

-- Boise State (-1) vs LaSalle-- Both teams play four guards at a time; this play-in game should be high scoring and fun to watch.

-- Michigan (-11.5) vs South Dakota State-- Jackrabbits can score, but have to play Michigan in Auburn Hills, a virtual road game.

-- UNLV (-3) vs Cal-- Rebels won at Cal by a point in December; another road game here-- this one is in San Jose.

-- NC State (-4) vs Temple-- Owls' senior G Wyatt will determine winner here, for better or worse; he's taken 47 foul shots in last four games, after taking none in a February 24 game with Charlotte.

-- Missouri (-3) vs Colorado State-- Not sure if Dorian Green re-injured his ankle at end of game Friday; if he's healthy, Rans are a tough out.

-- Creighton (-3) vs Cincinnati-- Great offensive team vs a defensive team from a bigger conference; Bearcats resemble Jays' rival Wichita State.


*****

Armadillo: Monday's List of 13: First impressions on field of 68............

13) Hopefully ESPN or CBS will do a feature on how teams scurry for scouting video after the field of 68 is announced. Its an interesting process; the Charleston, SC newspaper ran an article that credited the sophistication of video scouting as a reason for the deep decline in scoring.

I mean, do you think New Mexico has a lot of film on Harvard? Marquette has to be scrambling for knowledge on Davidson, and how much does New Mexico State know about Saint Louis? Lot of scrambling going on.

12) My dad's comment while CBS showed the brackets Sunday: "Who the hell is Florida Gulf Coast?" Eagles beat a banged-up Miami team, way back on November 13, but they turn ball over 21% of time, have only two seniors, and are in serious trouble against Georgetown.

11) Lon Kruger went 1-8 in his last nine games vs San Diego State when he was coaching at UNLV; now his Oklahoma Sooners will try to solve this defensively-stout Aztec team. Should be low-scoring.

10) Oregon is a 12-seed? They wouldn't have been in the tournament had they not beaten UCLA late Saturday night? Wow.

9) No Pac-12 team was seeded higher than sixth. Yikes.

8) Northwestern State upset Iowa in a 3-14 game in '06, but this Florida team is a lot better than that Iowa team. Not a great draw for the Demons.

7) Miami is the first ACC team ever to win the regular season/conference tournament to not get a #1 seed in the NCAAs.

6) I'm tired of hearing how NC State underachieved this season; maybe the pundits did a horrible job picking them so high in the preseason, maybe the expectations in Raleigh are placed way too high, the same way they were before Herb Sendek bolted NC State for Arizona State in 2006, after he made the NCAA tournament five years in a row.

5) No national champion lost their first conference tournament game, which would rule out Duke; since 1985, only three teams won the national title after not being in the tournament the year before.

4) Hats off to Western Kentucky/New Mexico, who looked like they had huge crowds in their arena just to see the brackets unveiled.

3) Virginia (#27) has best kenpom.com rating to not make tournament; the lesson? ACC teams shouldn't go 0-3 against CAA teams.

2) I got tired of ESPN showing Joe Lunardi's Last 4 in/Last 4 out for a whole month, but dammit, he hit it 100% this year, has missed only 10 teams in the last nine years, so kudos to him on being really good at his job.

1) Here's an early Final Four pick off the top of my bald head:
Miami-Florida-Louisville-Gonzaga, with Louisville winning it.
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03/18/2013 05:03 PM
NCAA tournament opening line report and odds

Oddsmakers laced up their dancing shoes Sunday waiting for the NCAA tournament field to be announced so they could begin the frantic process of setting spreads and totals for the biggest betting week of the year.

Around 9 p.m. ET Sunday night, lines for the opening matchups of the tournament began to trickle out but oddsmakers started their work the second the Selection Sunday show concluded. They quickly printed off the brackets and schedules and started crunching stats and figures for Tuesday and Wednesday’s play-in games as well as the second-round matchups on Thursday and Friday.

“Those play-in games are probably the toughest,” Peter Korner, founder of the Nevada-based odds service The Sports Club, told Covers. “We don’t know a whole lot about some of those play-in teams. Other than those, we match stats for stats and figure out how high do you want to go.”

Korner bounces his projected spreads and totals off his panel of oddsmakers and they debate which numbers suit their clients the best, factoring in public opinion and expected sharp betting patterns.

The No. 1 seeds with second-round matchups already set – Gonzaga and Kansas – obviously have the highest spreads of the opening rounds. The Bulldogs, the top seed in the West Regional, are suggested 22-point favorites over No. 16 Southern. The Jayhawks, the No. 1 seed in the South Regional, are 20-point chalk versus No. 16 Western Kentucky. No. 3 Florida is also a 20-point favorite versus No. 14 Northwestern State.

As for the tightest spreads on the board, Korner’s oddsmakers sent out a “pick’em” for two No. 7-versus-No. 10 matchups: Illinois vs. Colorado and Notre Dame vs. Iowa State. The play-in game between La Salle and Boise State was also sent out as a pick.

For fans of high-scoring hoops, the biggest total on the board belongs to the game between No. 8 North Carolina State and No. 9 Temple, which garnered a 152-point number. Both teams have a potent offense, averaging a combined 150.3 points per game, and rank among the bottom in defense.

“We wanted to go with whoever had the highest for that game,” Korner says of the NC State-Temple total. “It’s a game that’s going to be a lot of fun to watch.”

The lowest over/under on the board is the 122-point total for the game between No. 3 Saint Louis and No. 13 New Mexico State. The Billikens rode their stout defense – ranked 18th in the country – to the A-10 championship while the Aggies allowed only 62.1 points per game this season.

“The toughest totals are the ones where you have one high-scoring team versus a team that plays low,” says Korner. “We usually go with the team that has the strength and should control the flow of the game. But it’s like the playoffs, we are thinking ‘low, low low’.”

Here’s the full list of odds for the opening games of the 2013 NCAA tournament:

Play-in games

March 19, 2013

Liberty vs. North Carolina A&T (-3, 127)
St. Mary's vs. Middle Tennessee State (+3, 131)

March 20, 2013

La Salle vs. Boise State (Pick, 138)
James Madison vs. LIU Brooklyn (-1, 147)

Round 2

March 21, 2013

No. 9 Missouri vs. No. 8 Colorado State (+2.5, 143)
No. 12 Oregon vs. No. 5 Oklahoma State (-3, 135)
No. 13 New Mexico State vs. No. 4 Saint Louis (-10, 122)
No. 14 Valparaiso vs. No. 3 Michigan State (-9.5, 128)
No. 12 Akron vs. No. 5 VCU (-5.5, 138)
No. 13 South Dakota State vs. No. 4 Michigan (-12, 141)
No. 12 California vs. No. 5 UNLV (-3, 126)
No. 13 Montana vs. No. 4 Syracuse (-15, 130)
No. 11 Bucknell vs. No. 6 Butler (-4.5, 124)
No. 14 Davidson vs. No. 3 Marquette (-3.5, 131)
No. 16 Southern vs. No. 1 Gonzaga (-22, 127)
No. 9 Wichita State vs. No. 8 Pittsburgh (-5.5, 125)
No. 11 Belmont vs. No. 6 Arizona (-5, 142)
No. 14 Harvard vs. No. 3 New Mexico (-11.5, 127)

March 22, 2013

No. 10 Cincinnati vs. No. 7 Creighton (-1.5. 124)
No. 15 Albany vs. No. 2 Duke (-19, 133)
No. 16 Western Kentucky vs. No. 1 Kansas (-20, 135)
No. 9 Villanova vs. No. 8 North Carolina (-4, 137)
No. 11 Minnesota vs. No. 6 UCLA (+3, 133)
No. 14 Northwestern State vs. No. 3 Florida (-20, 136)
No. 10 Oklahoma vs. No. 7 San Diego State (-2, 135)
No. 15 Florida Gulf Coast vs. No. 2 Georgetown (-14, 126)
No. 9 Temple vs. No. 8 North Carolina State (-4, 152)
No. 10 Colorado vs. No. 7 Illinois (Pick, 128)
No. 15 Pacific vs. No. 2 Miami (-13, 127)
No. 10 Iowa State vs. No. 7 Notre Dame (Pick, 142)
No. 15 Iona vs. No. 2 Ohio State (-13, 142)
No. 12 Mississippi vs. No. 5 Wisconsin (-3.5, 128)
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03/18/2013 05:05 PM
68 stats for 68 NCAA Tournament-bound teams

It's tourney time, so here's a few betting stats and notes for all 68 teams vying for the national title:

MIDWEST REGION

(1) Louisville - Ranks 224th in the nation in 3-point shooting percentage (33.1%)

(2) Duke - Went 18-0 in the regular season with forward Ryan Kelly in the lineup (11-7 ATS) but 9-3 SU and 6-7 ATS without him.

(3) Michigan State - The Spartans play strong, balanced team defense, finishing 35th or better in four key defensive statistical categories - points allowed per game, opponent field goal percentage, opponent 3-point percentage and opponent free throw percentage.

(4) Saint Louis - In seven NCAA tournament appearances, the Billikens have never advanced past their second game.

(5) Oklahoma State - The Cowboys lost in the opening round of their last tournament appearance in 2010.

(6) Memphis - The Tigers are very efficient from the floor, shooting 37.9% from 3-point range and 47.9 from the field. But their 66.7 percent mark from the free-throw line ranks 260th in the country.

(7) Creighton - The Bluejays lead the nation in field goal percentage (.508) and rank fourth in assists per game (17.2).

(8) Colorado State - Have only covered once in their last seven games.

(9) Missouri - The Tigers are the second-best rebounding team in the country at 41.4 per game.

(10) Cincinnati - The Bearcats rank 26th or better in opponent points per game, field goal percentage, 3-point percentage, and free throw percentage.

(11) TBD from play-in game.

(12) Oregon - The Ducks will make their first tournament appearance since 2008, when they were eliminated in the first round as a No. 9 seed.

(13) New Mexico State - Enters the tourney on a five-game winning streak and has now won six straight WAC tournament games by at least nine points, and by an overall average margin of 14.3 points per win.

(14) Valparaiso - The Crusaders are making their first NCAA appearance since 2004. They head into the tourney on a six-game winning streak after breaking the school's single-season record for victories.

(15) Albany - This will be the third tournament appearance for the Great Danes. They also made it to the Big Dance in 2006 and 2007.

(16) TBD from play-in game

SOUTH REGION

(1) Kansas - Kansas has the best field-goal percentage defense in the country -- and much of it comes from its shot-blocking prowess on the interior. The Jayhawks allow teams to shoot only 38.9 percent inside the arc, and only 35.9 percent overall -- both rank first in the country.

(2) Georgetown - The Hoyas rank 297th in experience, making them one of the youngest teams in the field.

(3) Florida - The Gators were once seen as a lock for a No. 1 seed. After going 5-4 on the road during the SEC regular season and losing in the tournament title game, the Gators fell to a No. 3 seed

(4) Michigan - Posted a 19-12 over/under mark during the regular season - the most overs in the Big Ten.

(5) VCU - The Rams lead the country in turnovers forced per game (19.9) and steals per game (11.9).

(6) UCLA - Second leading scorer Jordan Adams (15.3 ppg) is out for the rest of the season. He suffered a broken foot Friday night against Arizona.

(7) San Diego State - The Aztecs have only covered once in their last six games.

(8) UNC - The Tar Heels have advanced to at least the regional final in six of their last seven NCAA tournament appearances, including two national championships in 2009 and 2005.

(9) Villanova - The Wildcats were a Big East-best 19-10-1 ATS this season.

(10) Oklahoma - The Sooners have played over the total in 10 of their last 11 games.

(11) Minnesota - The Gophers have some quality wins over Memphis, Illinois, Michigan State, Wisconsin, and Indiana this season.

(12) Akron - The Zips overcame the loss of G Alex Abreu to win the MAC tournament, but their 64.5 percent free throw shooting percentage is a major cause for concern.

(13) South Dakota State - The Jackrabbits' sole NCAA appearance came last year, when they earned a trip to the dance but fell in the opener 68-60 to Baylor.

(14) Northwestern State - The Demons score 81 points per game and average 72.9 possession - both are tops in college basketball

(15) Florida Gulf Coast - The Eagles won the Atlantic Sun's automatic bid with an 88-75 victory over top-seeded Mercer on its floor on March 9. It's the first time for FGCU in the tournament in just its second year of eligibility.

(16) Western Kentucky - Went 0-3-1 O/U in the Sun Belt tourney.

WEST REGION

(1) Gonzaga - Has lost in the second round of the NCAA tournament three years in a row.

(2) Ohio State - The Buckeyes are 5-0 ATS in their last five games and 7-1 ATS in their last eight.

(3) New Mexico - The Lobos' January 9th win over UNLV is their only victory against a team in the RPI Top 20.

(4) Kansas State - The Wildcats are 9-2 in games when senior guard Rodney McGruder scores 20+ points.

(5) Wisconsin - The Badgers hold opponents to a 10th-best 55.9 points per game.

(6) Arizona - The last time Arizona posted seven losses in the regular season (2010-11) it advanced to the Elite Eight.

(7) Notre Dame - The Irish have gone over the total in four straight heading into the NCAA Tournament.

(8) Pittsburgh - This will be Pitt's first NCAA appearance since 2011, when they were eliminated by Butler in the round of 32 as a No. 1 seed.

(9) Wichita State - The Shockers were eliminated in the first round in last season's tournament by VCU. They were an at-large entry and a No. 5 seed.

(10) Iowa State - The Cyclones rank fourth in the nation in points per game (79.6).

(11) Belmont - This is the third year in a row that Belmont earned an automatic tournament bid as Atlantic Sun tournament winner. They were eliminated in the first round the previous two seasons.

(12) Ole Miss - Last made an appearance in the 2002 NCAA tournament and lost in the first round.

(13) TBD from play-in game

(14) Harvard - The Crimson are a good rebounding team that shoots well from beyond the arc. Harvard ranks seventh in the nation in 3-point percentage (40.1) and 28th in rebounding (27.2).

(15) Iona - The Gaels won the MAAC tournament last winter and were eliminated in the first round of the 2012 NCAA tournament by Brigham Young.

EAST REGION

(1) Indiana - All five of Indiana's losses this season have come against teams in the RPI Top 50.

(2) Miami - The Hurricanes broke the program’s record for wins in a season, set by the 2001-02 team. Miami easily covered in all three of its ACC tournament games.

(3) Marquette - The Golden Eagles have failed to cover in their last three games.

(4) Syracuse - The last time Syracuse lost in the Big East Conference final (2009) it advanced to the Sweet 16 before losing to No. 2 Oklahoma.

(5) UNLV - The Runnin' Rebels have been ousted in the opening round of the NCAA tournament three years in a row.

(6) Butler - Has been a perennial bracket buster in past tournaments and brings a balanced attack with four players averaging 10 points or more per game.

(7) Illinois - The Illini have the third most Top-25 RPI wins in the country with six.

(8) N.C. State - The Wolfpack shot 49.5 percent from the field – fourth best in the nation – but only 45.3 percent in their nine losses.

(9) Temple - The Owls tangled with some big-name programs in non-conference play, taking on Villanova, Duke, Syracuse and Kansas. Temple was 2-2 SU and 3-1 ATS in those games.

(10) Colorado - Junior forward Andre Roberson is second in the nation with 11.3 rebounds per game. The Buffaloes were a great under play this season, posting a 7-16 O/U mark.

(11) Bucknell - The Bison failed to cover as big favorites in all three Patriot League playoff games.

(12) Cal - Junior guard Allen Crabbe led the Pac-12 in scoring with 18.7 points per game, but the Golden Bears were a great under play (9-16 O/U) this season.

(13) Montana - The Grizzlies were covering machines on the road this season (10-4-1 ATS).

(14) Davidson - This team is the best in the nation from the charity stripe (80.1 percent).

(15) Pacific - This is Pacific's eighth appearance in the NCAA tournament, and its first since 2006. In the Tigers' last tourney appearance, they lost to Boston College in the first round.

(16) TBD from play-in game

Play-in teams

North Carolina A&T - The Aggies have an aggressive offense that gets to the foul line on a quarter of their possessions.

Liberty - The Flames dropped their first eight games of the season and amassed 20 losses. A classic example of a team getting hot at the right time to win its respective conference tourney to earn a berth.

Middle Tennessee - The Blue Raiders are headed to the big dance for the first time in 24 years and are 2-6 all-time in the tournament, with the last win coming in the 1989 Southeast Regional appearance.

St. Mary's - The last time the Gaels entered the NCAA tournament with an at-large bid was 2008. They were eliminated in the first round.

La Salle - The Explorers have been on everybody's NCAA radar since one of the greatest weeks in recent school history when they defeated visiting Butler, 54-53 on Jan. 23 and then earned a 69-61 win at VCU on Jan. 26.

Boise State - The Broncos rank 33rd in the nation with 7.8 three pointers made per game and boast an efficient 39.1 three-point percentage.

LIU-Brooklyn - The Blackbirds became the first team to win the Northeast Conference tournament three years in a row and are 5-1 ATS in their last six neutral site games.

James Madison - The Dukes are 5-0 ATS in their last five Wednesday and neutral site games.
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03/18/2013 05:31 PM
Liberty, North Carolina A&T open NCAAs on Tuesday

NORTH CAROLINA A&T AGGIES (19-16)

at LIBERTY FLAMES (15-20)

NCAA Tournament - First Round
Dayton, OH
Tip-off: Tuesday, 6:40 p.m. ET
Line: North Carolina A&T -2, Total: 127

The 2013 NCAA Tournament tips off Tuesday in Dayton, OH when a pair of 16-seeded teams meet with North Carolina A&T clashing with a sub-.500 Liberty club.

After finishing February with three straight losses, the Aggies have put together a stellar March, going 6-1 SU (5-0 ATS) including four wins in five days in the MEAC Tournament. Liberty has also been perfect this month with a 5-0 SU (4-0 ATS) mark and winning by 11 points in the Big South Championship over Charleston Southern. Both of these schools are seeking their first-ever NCAA Tournament victory after extremely long droughts. North Carolina A&T is 0-9 all-time, last losing in 1995 to a Tim Duncan-led Wake Forest team by 32 points. Liberty is 0-2 in the Big Dance with its most recent appearance coming in 2004, an 82-63 loss to Saint Joseph's when Jameer Nelson went for 33 points. North Carolina A&T is 5-1 SU (6-0 ATS) on a neutral court this season, while Liberty is 3-2 (SU and ATS) in neutral-court tilts.

Which school will open the NCAA Tournament with a victory? For the answer, connect to 2013 NCAA Tourney Picks for all the Expert picks throughout the entire tournament. The four StatFox experts begin the NCAA Tournament on quite a roll, going a collective 75% ATS (35-12-1) in the season's final four days and 67% ATS (67-33-2) since March 9, with StatFox Gary going 75% ATS (12-4), StatFox Brian posting a 68% ATS mark (19-9-1), StatFox Dave also at 68% ATS (17-8) and StatFox Scott winning 61% ATS (19-12-1) in those final nine days. Gary has a 68% ATS record (23-11) since Feb. 27 to improve to 56.1% ATS (110-86-4) for the entire college basketball season.

North Carolina A&T prides itself on defense, allowing a mere 61.1 PPG on 38.2% FG (11th in nation). This includes an even more stellar 57.0 PPG on 36.9% FG defense during four straight MEAC Tournament victories. A big part of these impressive numbers is the play of 6-foot-8 PF Austin Witter (6.3 PPG) who blocks 3.0 shots per game (9th in nation) and grabs a team-best 7.1 RPG. But there's a good reason this team is a 16 seed. The Aggies do not have a single player taller than the 6-foot-8 Witter, which has led to a minus-1.4 RPG margin for the season. N.C. A&T also turns the ball over way too much (15.1 TOPG, 300th in nation) and shoots horribly from the field (39.9% FG, 315th in D-I) and from behind the three-point arc (29.9% threes). Senior SG Adrian Powell leads the team with 12.5 PPG on offense and 1.8 steals per game on the defensive end. Powell is coming off a huge MEAC Tournament where he averaged 15.3 PPG and 5.0 RPG. Junior SG Lamont Middleton (12.4 PPG, 4.1 RPG) also had a great conference tournament with 12+ points in all four games, averaging 13.8 PPG. He has shot poorly all season (38.3% FG, 26.5% threes), but he has done a nice job driving to the hole and forcing opponents to foul him, attempting 39 free throws in the four-game MEAC tourney.

As its 15-20 record (12-20 versus D-I school) suggests, Liberty has many deficiencies. These include a minus-2.6 TO margin (310th in nation), a minus-0.7 RPG margin, 69.9 PPG allowed, and a paltry 5.5 steals per game. The Flames have defended the three-ball pretty well though, giving up a mere 30.0% clip from downtown. Liberty's offense has peaked in March with 72.8 PPG, well above its 68.4 PPG in the first four months of the season. The Flames poured in 87 points in their championship win over Charleston Southern, as their three starting guards combined for 65 points. Junior PG John Caleb Sanders (14.2 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 3.5 APG) led the way with 27 points on 7-of-13 FG and 11-of-12 FT, while adding seven boards and four assists. Senior SG Tavares Speaks (13.1 PPG) also had a well-rounded 18 points, nine rebounds, four assists and two steals in the March 10 victory, while 5-foot-11 Davon Marshall (13.4 PPG) scored 20 points, hitting 6-of-7 threes. No other player on this team averages more than 7.3 PPG on the season, but PF JR Coronado (8.2 RPG) could have a big day against the undersized Aggies. Coronado averaged 7.3 RPG in just 24.0 MPG in the four wins in the Big South Tournament.
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03/19/2013 03:38 PM
Coaches to Bet

March 18, 2013

Top ATS Teams and NCAA Tournament Coaches

The 2013 NCAA Tournament is here! Before you start to fill out your brackets and place bets on the dance, check out this list of the top NCAA Tournament coaches who are leading their teams to wins and covers consistently in the big dance.

Tom Izzo, Michigan State Spartans – Has there been a better picture of consistency in the dance than Izzo? He only went 1-2 against the spread in last year's dance, but he is 11-7 ATS in the NCAA Tournament since 2008, and that includes two runs to the Elite Eight. The last time MSU was knocked out of the tourney in the first round was back in 2006 when a little school named George Mason went on a magic run to the Final Four.


Brad Stevens, Butler Bulldogs – How's 17-5 ATS in your last 22 postseason games? That's what Butler's record is since the second round of the NIT in 2006, and in there includes a nice run in the CBI last year as well. The Bulldogs of course, have been to a pair of National Championship Games under Stevens, and it's a miracle that he is even still coaching with the boys at Hinkle Fieldhouse. This is shaping up to be another great Butler team this year.

Shaka Smart, VCU Rams – How could we talk about Stevens without talking about Smart? This is another one of these coaches that passed up the big bucks to continue to try to grow his mid-major program, and it has really paid off. The Rams are 10-1 ATS in their last 11 games here in the NCAA Tournament, and that's thanks to their patented HAVOC defense, which this season, forced nearly 12 steals and over 17 turnovers per game.

Jim Larranaga, Miami Hurricanes – This is a new experience for Larranaga, as he is used to playing the underdog role with George Mason. However, Larranaga jumped to Miami this year and took over a program that was set to potentially fall into shambles with NCAA sanctions potentially coming. Instead of folding, Larranaga led his team to the ACC regular season and tournament titles, going 20-9-1 ATS in the process. On top of that, the former George Mason boss was 3-1 ATS in his four first round games, which is a good sign for "The U" in Austin on Friday against Pacific.

Bo Ryan, Wisconsin Badgers – The Badgers have made back to back good runs to the Sweet 16 in the NCAA Tournament, and they are 5-1 ATS to show for their work in those games. This has never been a team that has had great shooters, but stout defenses have been the key. Ryan has been the orchestrator of all of this, and he is sure to be on the prowl for another run to the second week of the tourney this year as well.
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03/19/2013 03:40 PM
Midwest Region Outlook

March 18, 2013


With the brackets set, here is a quick look at the Midwest region and some of the games and teams to pay attention to. Louisville leads the charge in this region and by all accounts has the most favorable path in the field but rarely does this tournament play to form completely. Take a look at the Midwest region in this snapshot.

Favorite: Louisville - The Cardinals have not been immune to an early upset, bowing out early two years ago as a #4 seed but this was a final four team last season and one of the more complete teams in the nation. Louisville is not an elite shooting team but the Cardinals possess perhaps the best defense in the nation and as was displayed during the Big East championship game, the press can create turnovers and big scoring runs. By being the #1 overall seed Louisville will draw a very weak first round foe and the Cardinals will be stacked with favorable venues with a path in Lexington and then Indianapolis. The second round game could be a challenge however as both Colorado State and Missouri rate above Louisville in offensive efficiency as they are the top two rebounding teams in the tournament field. Louisville would be a larger favorite than any other #1 seed in the second game however as there are some quality teams in the #8-9 slots this year. Louisville also likely draws the least fearsome #4 and #5 seeds in their region so rightfully so the Cardinals enter as the championship favorites at 9/2.

Final Four Sleeper: Saint Louis - Nationally the Billikens may not be a household name but this is a team that has been on a roll. The death of former head coach Rick Majerus as the season started was a challenge but this team has played on a mission, winning the regular season and conference tournament titles in a very strong Atlantic 10 Conference. St. Louis has been one of the top ATS teams in the nation this season at 21-10 on the season and the Billikens have held foes to just 58 points per game this season. St. Louis beat New Mexico and lost to Kansas in the most prominent non-conference games so they have some experience against top teams. There are no easy games at this point and St. Louis is just a slight favorite against New Mexico State in an intriguing first round game and the second round contest will be closely lined with either Oklahoma State or Oregon but this is a team that could challenge Louisville should they get the opportunity and that game would also be a reasonable trip for St. Louis in Indianapolis.

Sweet 16 Sleeper: Middle Tennessee State - The Blue Raiders brought about the most controversy among the teams included in the field but that was the scenario for a Virginia Commonwealth team that made it to the Final Four two years ago. This is a team that lost just five games all season and all three non-conference losses came against teams that are in the NCAA Tournament field. Middle Tennessee State beat Mississippi and Vanderbilt this season and this is a veteran squad with all seniors and juniors in the rotation, ready for this opportunity after just missing out on the NCAA Tournament last season. Middle Tennessee State made a run to the NIT Final Eight last season and that experience should help the cause in the postseason this year. Opening up with a St. Mary’s won’t be an easy game but the Gaels do face long travel and have a complete dearth of quality wins on their resume. Memphis awaits the winner of that game but Conference USA warrants great scrutiny and the Tigers appear to be a bit over-seeded. Getting to the Sweet 16 will likely require beating Michigan State so this is certainly a long shot but the Spartans have had several early flameouts in the Tom Izzo years despite being well known for Final Four runs. Michigan State has lost its first or second tournament game five times since 2002 and the Blue Raiders are well equipped to handle a half court Big Ten style game.

Best Opening Game: Oklahoma State vs. Oregon - Oregon has a right to feel slighted in the bracket as a #12 seed despite winning the conference tournament. Oregon finished ahead of Colorado in the regular season and the Buffaloes were dealt a #10 seed while fellow under-seeded California also at #12 was at least given a game in its backyard. Oregon went 3-0 this season against UCLA and Arizona yet both of those teams were seeded well above the Ducks. Oklahoma State is a team that had Final Four sleeper attached to it before the brackets came out as they have one of the best players in the nation with freshman Marcus Smart. The Cowboys have a very tough draw overall but this is a team that won a preseason tournament in Puerto Rico with wins over Akron, Tennessee, and NC State in succession. Oklahoma State also lost by just a single-point against Gonzaga and this team was a single-point in double-overtime away from beating Kansas for a second time on the year. These teams both have excellent defensive efficiency ratings and this game will figure to be a grind of a game between two teams that are capable of making noise in the bracket despite the tough first game. Despite the 5/12 seeding the Cowboys are just 3-point favorite in this match-up and this could well be an exciting down-to-the-wire game Thursday afternoon.

Trendy Upset that won’t be: Cincinnati over Creighton - This is an offense vs. defense showdown and while backing the Big East as an underdog vs. the Missouri Valley sounds appealing this is a Cincinnati team in disarray at this point in the season. The Bearcats have lost seven of the last 11 games and each of the last three losses came by at least 16 points. Cincinnati has lost each of the last six games in which their opponent scored at least 60 points and this Blue Jays squad is one of the highest scoring teams in the nation, averaging over 75 points per game. Creighton has the top shooting percentage in the nation both overall and from 3-point range and while Cincinnati is one of the worst free throw teams in the nation, Creighton is one of the best. Cincinnati will play great defense and force Creighton into some uncomfortable looks but this is a veteran team with many different scoring options even through Doug McDermott gets most of the attention. Meanwhile Cincinnati is the team with limited options on offense with the vast majority of the scoring coming from three players. Creighton beat both Wisconsin and California away from home this season, two teams with outstanding defensive efficiency like Cincinnati, so it is not clear that the Blue Jays can be slowed down in this match-up. Cincinnati is much closer to Philadelphia than Omaha but that court will be dominated by Duke and Georgetown fans, which will relish rooting against the Bearcats.
Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
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03/19/2013 03:42 PM
West Region Outlook

March 19, 2013


Midwest Region Outlook

With the brackets set, here is a quick look at the West region and some of the games and teams to pay attention to. Gonzaga earned a historic though controversial #1 seed but this could be a wide open region. Take a look at the West region in this snapshot.

Favorite: Gonzaga - While there are different opinions all around on who will come out of this region, Gonzaga is still listed as the favorite at 9/4. Ohio State and New Mexico are close behind and there are many that feel Wisconsin, Pittsburgh, Arizona, and Kansas State are all viable contenders in what could be a wide open region. Gonzaga does not have the resume to be up at the top, but they did lose just two games and the Bulldogs pass the eye test. Facing a tough defensive team like Pittsburgh or Wisconsin would seem to be a big hurdle for this squad and the lack of legitimate competition in the last two months is certainly a concern. Gonzaga will get to play on the West Coast which could certainly help against Eastern contenders, but that advantage would be negated if they make it to the Sweet 16 or Elite Eight games and have to face New Mexico or Arizona. While Gonzaga has slightly shorter odds than Ohio State to win this region as well as to win the national championship, the Buckeyes will likely be favored if they actually meet head-to-head. Gonzaga would only be a two or three-point favorite over potential foes Pittsburgh or Wisconsin, so while the Bulldogs can make a run, they are certainly rightfully pegged as a team that could also fall early and one has to be hesitant to pencil in Gonzaga to the Final Four, though it is not clear who the best alternative may be.

Final Four Sleeper: Kansas State - Should the bracket play to form, Wisconsin will likely be favored over Kansas State, but the Wildcats may be the forgotten team in this region. Kansas State has lost just seven games all season and every loss came against a NCAA Tournament team with three of those losses coming against Kansas. The location advantage should not be overlooked as the first two games for the Wildcats will be in Kansas City in an arena this team has already played games in this season. Wisconsin is certainly a dangerous team in that potential round of 32 matchup, but the Wildcats have veteran guards that won't be forced into careless mistakes and Coach Weber is certainly familiar with the Badgers. Should they have to face Gonzaga, it would be a great challenge, but the Bulldogs are likely to get a great second round test and they look like the most vulnerable of the top seeds. Given that Kansas State is sitting at 25/1 to win this region, this is a team with a lot of value and in a wide-open region and all of the teams in the path of the Wildcats have clear vulnerabilities. Kansas State beat Florida earlier this season and while they have struggled with rival Kansas, this is a team that can make a deep run in this region even though most are overlooking this team.

Sweet 16 Sleeper: Pittsburgh - The Panthers have efficiency rankings that peg them as a top 10 team, yet the Panthers were saddled with a #8 seed. That may be a blessing in disguise as they draw the most vulnerable #1 seed in their pod and while Wichita State is not an easy first round opponent, the Shockers certainly don't have any wins of substance that rival what the Panthers battled through in the Big East. This is a team that has defeated Georgetown and Syracuse this season and also played very tight games with Michigan, Marquette, and Louisville. Pittsburgh has some youth, but this is a team that improved tremendously as the season went on and may be able to peak at the right time. Pittsburgh might not be consistent enough on offense to make a Final Four run, but they will be a serious threat to knock off Gonzaga should they survive the opening game with Wichita State as slowing down Gonzaga's offense to Pittsburgh's pace could cause real problems for the Bulldogs. Jamie Dixon has been labeled with being a great regular season performer only to see his team often fail in the NCAA Tournament as a high seed, this year's team has the opportunity to turn the tables on that history and produce a great run as a lesser seed.

Best Opening Game: Arizona vs. Belmont - The Pac-12 did not get a whole lot of respect from the NCAA Tournament committee with teams like Oregon and California falling to the 12-line, but Arizona may be a team that is over-seeded. Arizona finished 25-7 on the season and wins over Florida and Miami certainly stand out. Arizona struggled in the Pac-12 however going 0-5 against UCLA, Oregon, and California. This team is reliant on four underclassmen that play significant minutes and they will face a veteran Belmont squad that starts five upperclassmen. This Belmont team was in the NCAA Tournament the last two seasons, but they were dealt tough draws with elite defensive teams, falling in competitive games with Wisconsin and Georgetown. This year Belmont draws an Arizona team that is vulnerable to 3-point shooting and the Bruins have several players that will look to knock down long range shots regularly. Belmont won at Stanford earlier this season so they have proven they can hang with a quality Pac-12 squad and in the Bracket Buster the Bruins dominated an Ohio team that was in the Sweet 16 last season. This team is ready for this opportunity and if the shots are falling this could be a down-to-the-wire game.

Trendy Upset that won't be: Ole Miss over Wisconsin - Wisconsin is getting a little more national respect than usual this season as the Badgers are generally a team that many pundits peg for a first round fall. While Bo Ryan has had a few squads that have underachieved a bit in the Big Dance, he has only once lost in the first round in 11 straight trips to the tournament. Belmont and Montana were both popular upset picks the last two years and both went down by double-digits against the Badgers. Ole Miss is a team that would not have made the NCAA Tournament until a great SEC Tournament run and the overall body of work is rather shaky for the Rebels. Prior to beating Missouri and Florida in the SEC tournament, Mississippi had defeated exactly one NCAA Tournament team this season and this is a squad that also lost to several bad teams, including falling to Mississippi State and South Carolina this year in SEC play. Mississippi has some talent but this team often lacks discipline, playing up-tempo and often forcing questionable shots. That style of play won't often hold up well against an elite Big Ten defense and with top distributor Jarvis Summers unlikely to play with a recent concussion this could be a disastrous match-up for Rebels team. Ole Miss has the look of a team that may simply be happy to be in the field and still riding high after the conference tournament championship.

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
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03/19/2013 03:43 PM
West Region Outlook

March 19, 2013


Midwest Region Outlook

With the brackets set, here is a quick look at the West region and some of the games and teams to pay attention to. Gonzaga earned a historic though controversial #1 seed but this could be a wide open region. Take a look at the West region in this snapshot.

Favorite: Gonzaga - While there are different opinions all around on who will come out of this region, Gonzaga is still listed as the favorite at 9/4. Ohio State and New Mexico are close behind and there are many that feel Wisconsin, Pittsburgh, Arizona, and Kansas State are all viable contenders in what could be a wide open region. Gonzaga does not have the resume to be up at the top, but they did lose just two games and the Bulldogs pass the eye test. Facing a tough defensive team like Pittsburgh or Wisconsin would seem to be a big hurdle for this squad and the lack of legitimate competition in the last two months is certainly a concern. Gonzaga will get to play on the West Coast which could certainly help against Eastern contenders, but that advantage would be negated if they make it to the Sweet 16 or Elite Eight games and have to face New Mexico or Arizona. While Gonzaga has slightly shorter odds than Ohio State to win this region as well as to win the national championship, the Buckeyes will likely be favored if they actually meet head-to-head. Gonzaga would only be a two or three-point favorite over potential foes Pittsburgh or Wisconsin, so while the Bulldogs can make a run, they are certainly rightfully pegged as a team that could also fall early and one has to be hesitant to pencil in Gonzaga to the Final Four, though it is not clear who the best alternative may be.

Final Four Sleeper: Kansas State - Should the bracket play to form, Wisconsin will likely be favored over Kansas State, but the Wildcats may be the forgotten team in this region. Kansas State has lost just seven games all season and every loss came against a NCAA Tournament team with three of those losses coming against Kansas. The location advantage should not be overlooked as the first two games for the Wildcats will be in Kansas City in an arena this team has already played games in this season. Wisconsin is certainly a dangerous team in that potential round of 32 matchup, but the Wildcats have veteran guards that won't be forced into careless mistakes and Coach Weber is certainly familiar with the Badgers. Should they have to face Gonzaga, it would be a great challenge, but the Bulldogs are likely to get a great second round test and they look like the most vulnerable of the top seeds. Given that Kansas State is sitting at 25/1 to win this region, this is a team with a lot of value and in a wide-open region and all of the teams in the path of the Wildcats have clear vulnerabilities. Kansas State beat Florida earlier this season and while they have struggled with rival Kansas, this is a team that can make a deep run in this region even though most are overlooking this team.

Sweet 16 Sleeper: Pittsburgh - The Panthers have efficiency rankings that peg them as a top 10 team, yet the Panthers were saddled with a #8 seed. That may be a blessing in disguise as they draw the most vulnerable #1 seed in their pod and while Wichita State is not an easy first round opponent, the Shockers certainly don't have any wins of substance that rival what the Panthers battled through in the Big East. This is a team that has defeated Georgetown and Syracuse this season and also played very tight games with Michigan, Marquette, and Louisville. Pittsburgh has some youth, but this is a team that improved tremendously as the season went on and may be able to peak at the right time. Pittsburgh might not be consistent enough on offense to make a Final Four run, but they will be a serious threat to knock off Gonzaga should they survive the opening game with Wichita State as slowing down Gonzaga's offense to Pittsburgh's pace could cause real problems for the Bulldogs. Jamie Dixon has been labeled with being a great regular season performer only to see his team often fail in the NCAA Tournament as a high seed, this year's team has the opportunity to turn the tables on that history and produce a great run as a lesser seed.

Best Opening Game: Arizona vs. Belmont - The Pac-12 did not get a whole lot of respect from the NCAA Tournament committee with teams like Oregon and California falling to the 12-line, but Arizona may be a team that is over-seeded. Arizona finished 25-7 on the season and wins over Florida and Miami certainly stand out. Arizona struggled in the Pac-12 however going 0-5 against UCLA, Oregon, and California. This team is reliant on four underclassmen that play significant minutes and they will face a veteran Belmont squad that starts five upperclassmen. This Belmont team was in the NCAA Tournament the last two seasons, but they were dealt tough draws with elite defensive teams, falling in competitive games with Wisconsin and Georgetown. This year Belmont draws an Arizona team that is vulnerable to 3-point shooting and the Bruins have several players that will look to knock down long range shots regularly. Belmont won at Stanford earlier this season so they have proven they can hang with a quality Pac-12 squad and in the Bracket Buster the Bruins dominated an Ohio team that was in the Sweet 16 last season. This team is ready for this opportunity and if the shots are falling this could be a down-to-the-wire game.

Trendy Upset that won't be: Ole Miss over Wisconsin - Wisconsin is getting a little more national respect than usual this season as the Badgers are generally a team that many pundits peg for a first round fall. While Bo Ryan has had a few squads that have underachieved a bit in the Big Dance, he has only once lost in the first round in 11 straight trips to the tournament. Belmont and Montana were both popular upset picks the last two years and both went down by double-digits against the Badgers. Ole Miss is a team that would not have made the NCAA Tournament until a great SEC Tournament run and the overall body of work is rather shaky for the Rebels. Prior to beating Missouri and Florida in the SEC tournament, Mississippi had defeated exactly one NCAA Tournament team this season and this is a squad that also lost to several bad teams, including falling to Mississippi State and South Carolina this year in SEC play. Mississippi has some talent but this team often lacks discipline, playing up-tempo and often forcing questionable shots. That style of play won't often hold up well against an elite Big Ten defense and with top distributor Jarvis Summers unlikely to play with a recent concussion this could be a disastrous match-up for Rebels team. Ole Miss has the look of a team that may simply be happy to be in the field and still riding high after the conference tournament championship.
Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
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