30-19-2 with my posted picks, so hopefully I can keep it going. Looking at Friday’s lines, Duke opened as the only double digit favorite. Double digit favorites have not done well in the Sweet Sixteen as they are 10-13-1 going back to 1996.
Let’s start breaking down Friday’s games:
#5 Clemson vs. #1 Kansas (-5)
538 Win Prob: Kansas 73%
Ken Pom says: Kansas 72-71
Joes vs. Pros: This line opened at -4 and looks like it was driven up to -5 immediately by both public and sharp money. 61% on Kansas.
ATS Pick: Clemson+5
This was the toughest game on the card for me, as both these teams come into this game playing some great basketball. In these types of toss-up games, I’ve gone with the team that has the better overall defense, so I’m going with Clemson. Their AdjD is 7 and they are number 36 in FTA/ FGA rate allowed, which means they play great team defense and don’t commit stupid fouls. Kansas is an offensive machine, but the Tigers matchup well and should be able to make it tough for the Jayhawks to keep rolling. I’ve been riding this Clemson train all season long, so I’m dipping into the well one more time. One of the #1 seeds/ public bets is going to struggle tomorrow, my bet is that team will be Kansas.
#5 West Virginia vs #1 Villanova (-5)
538 Win Prob: Villanova 70%
Ken Pom says: Villanova 82-76
Joes vs. Pros: 70% of the public bets are on Villanova, no real line movement either way.
ATS Pick: Villanova -5
I love West Virginia as you saw when I took them against Marshall, but this is the worst possible matchup for their pressing style. What does a good press do? It generates turnovers and easy buckets. Unfortunately for them, the Wildcats don’t turn the ball over often, and were the toughest team in the nation to steal it from (6.6 Steal% 8th in the nation). Nova has a plethora of ball handlers that can help combat the press, and that is why WV is in for a rough outing. What happens once a team breaks a press? Usually in the case of WV, their opponents get open shots. Once the Wildcats break the press, they will be able make it rain on the Mountaineers as they are also one of the best shooting teams in the country (40% 3FG%). WV’s matchup with Nova’s reminds me a lot of their regular season games vs. Kansas. The Jayhawks can take care of the ball and make shots, and that is why WV’s style went 0-3 against them. Both of WV’s weaknesses play right into Nova’s strengths in this matchup. As long as the Wildcats hit their shots, they should be able to run away with this one.
#11 Syracuse vs. #2 Duke (-11.5)
538 Win Prob: Duke 85%
Ken Pom says: Duke 71-61
Joes vs. Pros: The line seems perfect as betting is almost 50%/50% in this one, with 52% being on Syracuse. No real line movement.
ATS Pick: Duke -11.5
If there is one team that is made to crack this Syracuse zone, it is the Blue Devils. Their overall offense is AdjO 3 and they shoot the 3 ball at 38.3%. I give credit to the ‘Cuse defense, as they held the Spartans to only 53 points and an abysmal 8/ 37 from 3’s. But Michigan State had sooooo many good looks to win that game, and if you give Duke those same kind of chances, they are not going to miss. This is a Duke team firing on all cylinders right now. Grayson Allen was quiet in their last game, but look for him to have a huge game vs. this zone. The Blue Devils also played on Saturday, giving coach Mike Krzyzewskian extra day to prepare. Coach K said himself they stole their new zone from Coach Jim Boeheim, so you can be sure they will know how to attack the holes. The Orangeman have grinded their ways to some awesome wins, but their Cinderella story stops here. This one gets ugly in the second half, as they just don’t have enough firepower (AdjO 140) to keep up with Duke.
#3 Texas Tech vs. #2 Purdue (-2)
538 Win Prob: Purdue 62%
Ken Pom says: Purdue 72-69
Joes vs. Pros: The public is split 50/50, but the bigger dollars are on Texas Tech in this one.
ATS Pick: texas tech +2
As I predicted in my post last week, coach Painter did in fact call on the engineering program at Purdue to design a NCAA compliant brace for Isaac Haas!!! The students came through, as Haas did practice today with his new brace on:
The brace is dope, but if it hurts him to attempt a layup, imagine how much it is going to hurt when he gets banged going up for a rebound…
And if there was a team the Boilermakers needed Haas 100% against, it would be the Red Raiders. Texas Tech is a physical and athletic team that attacks the offensive glass. They are rated #45 in the nation in OReb%, so look for TT to have the advantage on the glass. TT also has the better overall defense (AdjD 4) going for them in this matchup. On the offensive side of the ball, the Red Raiders star guard Keenan Evans has been dealing with a toe injury. Despite the injury, he has been balling at a high level all tournament long, scoring 22 in their win over Florida. Purdue on the other hand has been overvalued on the betting line for a while now, going just 2-12-1 against the spread in their last 15 games. Seeing Haas back is going to drive up the public money on Purdue, but I’m going with the better defensive team, so give me the Red Raiders!