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Wichita State vs. Ohio State: What bettors need to know
Wichita State Shockers vs. Ohio State Buckeyes (-4, 130)
Ohio State has become accustomed to coming up with critical shots late in the NCAA Tournament in its quest for a second consecutive Final Four. Wichita State has simply played big as it pursues a regional final victory for the second time in school history. The teams meet for the first time since 1963 on Saturday in Los Angeles for the right to represent the West Region in the Final Four.
For the second straight game, Ohio State drained a 3-pointer in the waning seconds to break a tie and advance. After Ohio State used a 3-pointer from Aaron Craft to break Iowa State’s heart on Sunday, LaQuinton Ross hit one to sink Arizona on Thursday. The Buckeyes will put their 11-game winning streak on the line against the Shockers, who followed their upset win over top-seeded Gonzaga last Saturday with an impressive victory over La Salle on Thursday.
TV: 7:05 p.m. ET, CBS.
ABOUT WICHITA STATE (29-8): Carl Hall dominated the undersized Explorers inside, hitting his first five shots and scoring 14 of his 16 points inside the paint. The Shockers recorded 40 points in the paint against La Salle and took 43 shots inside, the most such attempts for a team in this tournament. Wichita State’s tournament opponents – Pittsburgh, Gonzaga and La Salle – each entered their games with the Shockers shooting at least 45 percent, but the teams combined to shoot 35.5 percent against the Missouri Valley Conference’s top-ranked field-goal percentage defense.
ABOUT OHIO STATE (29-7): Unlike the play that left Craft open for a 3-pointer against the Cyclones, the pivotal moment in the win Thursday came when Arizona overcommitted to the Buckeyes’ point guard. "It was similar to the play we ran last game," Ross said. "We like to get the (big men) on a pick-and-roll. It so happened they messed up the switch there and I was able to knock down the shot." Perhaps one of the biggest turnarounds the team has made lately is beyond the arc. In three NCAA Tournament games, Ohio State is a combined 23-for-46 (50 percent) from the 3-point line after shooting 35.9 percent over its first 33 contests.
* Shockers are 4-1 ATS in their last five games overall.
* Under is 6-0 in Buckeyes’ last six Saturday games.
* Over is 4-1 in Shockers’ last five non-conference games.
* Shockers are 4-0 ATS in their last four non-conference games.
1. Craft and Ross are two of only four players in this tournament to make a potential game-tying or go-ahead field goal in the final 10 seconds of a game.
2. Wichita State, one win shy of its first 30-win season, is seeking its first Final Four since 1965.
3. The Buckeyes are 8-2 all-time as a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
Marquette Golden Eagles vs. Syracuse Orange (-3.5, 128)
The conference that is disintegrating due to the realignment chaos is assured of having a team in the Final Four. Big East mates Syracuse and Marquette square off Saturday in Washington D.C. in the East Regional final, marking the first time since 2009 that teams from the same conference will compete for a Final Four berth. The fourth-seeded Orange dominated top-seeded Indiana on Thursday while third-seeded Marquette thrashed second-seeded Miami.
The Golden Eagles defeated Syracuse 74-71 on Feb. 25 in the lone regular-season meeting. Marquette squeezed past Davidson and Butler in its first two NCAA Tournament games, which made the rout of the Hurricanes particularly impressive. “They dominated a team that won the regular-season ACC and the ACC tournament,” Orange coach Jim Boeheim said. “Tremendous team and Marquette dominated the game.” Syracuse frustrated Indiana 61-50 after posting earlier tournament victories over Montana and California. Golden Eagles junior guard Vander Blue knows his team will be the underdog. “We’re used to people not giving us credit, saying we were no good,” Blue said. “If you were to look at our roster, no one would expect us to be an Elite Eight team.” The last time conference foes battled for a Final Four spot also featured two Big East squads – Villanova defeating Pittsburgh.
TV: 4:30 p.m. ET, CBS.
ABOUT MARQUETTE (26-8): The Golden Eagles are led by Blue, but feature a wealth of contributors who are capable of stepping up at any time. Junior forward Jamil Wilson had 16 points and eight rebounds against Miami, while Blue and junior reserve forward Davante Gardner contributed 14 points apiece. In fact, Gardner’s 11.4 average is second on the squad behind Blue’s 14.8. Wilson averages 9.9 points, senior guard Junior Cadougan averages 8.6 and senior wing Trent Lockett contributes 7.2 points and a team-best 5.1 rebounds. A blue-collar mentality sometimes leads to Marquette being overshadowed by more talented teams. “We want to keep being the hunters,” Blue said. “We don’t want to be the hunted.”
ABOUT SYRACUSE (29-9): Sophomore point guard Michael Carter-Williams had a spectacular game against Indiana with a career-best 24 points to go with six rebounds and four steals. “This was the best he’s played all year,” Boeheim said. “He was tremendous. He was the difference in the game on offense, clearly.” Williams ranks fourth on the Orange at 12.1 points per game while averaging a team-best 7.5 assists. He has 104 steals, one of three players nationally with 100 or more. Junior forward C.J. Fair averages a team-high 14.4 points and also grabs a team-leading seven rebounds per game, while senior guard Brandon Triche (13.8) and senior forward James Southerland (13.4) also score in double digits.
* Orange are 0-5 ATS in their last five Saturday games.
* Over is 4-0 in Golden Eagles’ last four games following a win.
* Underdog is 5-1 ATS in the last six meetings.
* Orange are 0-5 ATS in the last five meetings.
1. Gardner scored 26 points in Marquette’s February win over the Orange. Fair scored 20 to lead Syracuse.
2. Syracuse is attempting to reach the Final Four for the first time since the Carmelo Anthony-led team won the 2003 national title.
3. Marquette is also vying to return to the Final Four for the first time since 2003, when Dwyane Wade was the team’s star player.
NCAA's biggest betting mismatches: Saturday's Elite Eight
By JASON LOGAN
Finding a chink in the oddsmakers’ armor is tough come tournament time. But we peel back Saturday’s Elite Eight matchups, looking for some underlying mismatches that could make or break your college basketball bets this March.
Syracuse Orange vs. Marquette Golden Eagles (+3, 127)
Orange’s flat final 20 vs. Golden Eagles’ halftime adjustments
Marquette won the lone meeting with the Orange this season, putting together a strong second-half push to win 74-71 as a 1.5-point home underdog in February. Second-half adjustments are the Golden Eagles’ calling card in March, having won in comeback fashion in their first two NCAA games, versus Davidson and Butler, before steamrolling Miami Thursday.
Syracuse has been a poor second-half squad all season. The Orange ranked fifth in the country in first half margin (+8.7) but ran out of steam in the final 20 minutes, boasting an average margin of just +3.4. The Orange were outscored in the second half versus Indiana and Cal – which resulted in a backdoor cover for the Golden Bears - and who can forget their embarrassing 16-point collapse to Louisville in the conference title game. It’s enough to turn Orange bettors green.
Wichita State Shockers vs. Ohio State Buckeyes (-6.5, 132)
Shockers’ deep bench vs. Buckeyes’ short reserves
Just like a swarm of bugs, the Shockers have strength in numbers. Wichita State head coach Gregg Marshall rolls out wave after wave of players, frustrating foes with their pressure defense and physical play. Just like a boxer working the body, WSU’s “Play Angry” philosophy wears on opponents and leaves them gasping for air come crunch time. The Shockers have gone at least 10 deep into their bench in each of their tournament games.
Ohio State head coach Thad Matta is not as trusting with his reserves. The Buckeyes have water wings on when it comes to their bench and try not to go too deep. They usually run an eight-man rotation and only two of those backups - Shannon Scott and LaQuinton Ross – get serious minutes. The grind of the tournament will never be more prominent for OSU than against the relentless Shockers Saturday. The Buckeyes have to avoid early foul trouble, especially PG Aaron Craft who picked up four personals versus Arizona.
Marquette (+1.5) beat Syracuse 74-71 at home Feb 25, game they trailed by 11 in first half; Eagles outscored Orange 29-5 on foul line, making 29-35, while SU was just 5-7- both teams shot 57%+ inside arc. Gardner scored 27 points off bench for Marquette (7-7 from floor, 12-14 on foul line). Marquette held Miami to 35% Thursday in 71-61 win, playing a whole lot better than they did last week in two narrow wins. Syracuse won its three tourney games by 47-6-11 points- they're 3-2 in regional finals since '87, losing LY to Ohio State in this round. Since 2003, dogs covered last five regional finals with neither a #1 or #2 seed in them. Marquette (+5) upset Syracuse 66-62 in second round of '11 tourney.
Over last 17 years, underdogs are 9-8 in West region final (12-3 last 15 vs spread); Wichita State won 10 of last 13 games; they beat Iowa by 12 on neutral court Nov 21, its only game by Big Dozen foe. Shockers won first three tourney games by 18-6-14 points, wiith no opponent making more than 35.7% of its shots from floor. Ohio State won its last two games by 2-3 points- they've won 11 games in row since 71-49 loss at Wisconsin Feb 17. Buckeyes played four starters 30+ minutes in last games Thursday, couple subs got 14+ minutes- Ross had 17 points in 18 minutes off bench. OSU beat Memphis/Syracuse in regional finals in last six years. Wichita trying to be first Final Four team from MVC since Larry Bird's Indiana State team in '79.
Evansville won seven of last eight games (lost by point to Indiana State in MVC tourney), with three of seven wins on road- they scored 84+ in last four wins. East Carolina won its last five home games- they haven't left home in this tournament, after losing at Tulsa in C-USA tourney.
Weber State won 16 of last 17 games, with only loss at Montana by 3 in Big Sky tourney final; this is Wildcats' first road game since then, with home wins by 42-21-9 since then. Northern Iowa won home games by 11-12-14 in this event; they've won 10 of last 13 overall, are 2-0 vs Big Sky teams this year, beating North Dakota by 25, No Colorado by 17.
The Shockers look to build on their 6-2 ATS record in their last 8 games against a team with a winning percentage above .600. Wichita State is the pick (+4 1/2) according to Dunkel, which has the Buckeyes favored by only 2 1/2. Dunkel Pick: Wichita State (+4 1/2). Here are all of today's games.
SATURDAY, MARCH 30
Time Posted: 6:00 a.m. EST
Game 521-522: Syracuse vs. Marquette (4:30 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Syracuse 71.864; Marquette 69.712
Dunkel Line: Syracuse by 2; 132
Vegas Line: Syracuse by 4 1/2; 127 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Marquette (+4 1/2); Over
Game 523-524: Wichita State vs. Ohio State (7:05 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Wichita State 71.298; Ohio State 73.639
Dunkel Line: Ohio State by 2 1/2; 127
Vegas Line: Ohio State by 4 1/2; 131 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Wichita State (+4 1/2); Under
Game 525-526: Evansville at East Carolina (5:00 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Evansville 63.153; East Carolina 59.233
Dunkel Line: Evansville by 4; 146
Vegas Line: Evansville by 1 1/2; 151 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Evansville (-1 1/2); Under
Game 527-528: Weber State at Northern Iowa (8:00 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Weber State 63.566; Northern Iowa 64.399
Dunkel Line: Northern Iowa by 1; 140
Vegas Line: Northern Iowa by 4; 136 1/2
Dunkel Pick: Weber State (+4); Over