March Madness has been very chalky so far, but I think there are a few great underdogs now that we have gotten to the best 16 teams in the country. We have seen a lot of chalk hit, including 16 of 16 favorites hitting in the round of 32. I expect more tight games, and I think there are a lot of situations to take advantage of.
Florida State (+7.5) vs. Gonzaga:
This line is too long for a top team in the country, and I think this matchup is relatively bad for the Zags. Florida State is generally inconsistent, but they definitely have the ability to win this game outright. Florida State plays really frustrating defense, and they are incredibly long. Gonzaga is a great team inside and out, but a lot of this greatness has to do with efficiency. I think that being as efficient as they usually are vs. a lengthy Florida State team will be very difficult. If Florida State can frustrate the Bulldogs, I think this game will be really close throughout, making this 7.5-point line way too big.
Purdue (+1.5) vs. Tennessee:
This line is actually closer than I thought, but I still like Purdue to move on past Tennessee because they have the scariest player on the court. Carsen Edwards was fantastic in the Boilermakers last game and he is one of the players that I would be the most worried about playing. Edwards scored 42 points on 9-16 from beyond the arc in their last game vs. Villanova that turned out to be a blowout victory. I think Edwards continues this tear and takes down Tennessee, making them an interesting ML play.
LSU vs. Michigan State (-6):
Both of these teams have shown flaws during the tournament, but I think Sparty is just way more disciplined. I have been fading LSU in both of their first games, and they really haven’t shown me anything to change my opinion of them even though they have advanced. A 5 point win over Yale when their best player can’t hit a shot, and a 2-point victory over Maryland should not inspire confidence in this team. LSU is incredibly talented, and their talent has willed them this far. Michigan State has plenty of size to compete with LSU down low and superior guard play. I think Michigan State eventually pulls away in this game and makes this one of the less competitive games of the weekend.
Houston (+3) vs. Kentucky:
This game is on Friday night, and I would wait to bet on the Cougars until we know the status of P.J. Washington. Washington posted a video of him walking in basketball shoes Wednesday Afternoon, but we have not heard official word about his status. If Washington is out, I like the Cougars to beat the Wildcats outright in this game. If Washington is ruled 100% healthy and back to full playing time, I expect this line to move in Kentucky’s favor. I would prefer to bet the Cougars on the spread once we hear either way. Houston is really talented on both sides of the ball, and I think Corey Davis is their X-factor in this spot. Kentucky will not have a clear answer to stopping him, and he can be electric from beyond the arc. I think the defense and scoring ability of the Cougars overwhelms Kentucky without Washington. If Washington does play, I think we see an incredibly close game that favors Kentucky because they will be more consistent offensively. In that scenario, I expect to see the line move a bit and I would be comfortable taking Houston regardless.