Saturday, March 29, 2014

Elite 8 (Day 1) Open Thread + Picking The Lines

Welp. My bracket is officially busted. Just a horrible game all around from Louisville - halfway through the second half they still had only hit two shots outside the paint, and they finished 13-for-23 at the line. I was beating the "Kentucky is underrated" drum all season long, but they've gone from underrated to overrated so quickly that my neck hurts. The big winner tonight is Michigan, as they'll go from being an underdog against Louisville to being favored over Kentucky.

Speaking of Michigan, they have been shooting out of their minds in the NCAA Tournament. They're 32-for-65 behind the arc so for in the NCAA Tournament. It got them past a Tennessee team tonight that beat them on the glass, shot better on two-pointers, forced more turnovers and had more blocks. Sometimes it just comes down to hitting shots.

I want to say briefly that the "Virginia was overrated" and "The ACC sucks" stuff related to the ACC being totally out of the NCAA Tournament is a bit ridiculous. Michigan State is one of the three or four best teams in the country right now, and Virginia took them down to the final possession. Don't draw large conclusions about coaches, teams or conferences by the results of a single-elimination tournament. Virginia is a great team that had a great season. And they were one shot in a 40 minute game away from being favored in an Elite 8 game.

Anyway, now that my bracket is busted all I have left are my against-the-spread picks. Let's get this done:

Sweet 16 Day 2 ATS: 2-1-1
2014 Tournament ATS: 35-22-3
2013 Tournament ATS: 36-30-1
2012 Tournament ATS: 30-35-2
2011 Tournament ATS: 40-26-1
2010 Tournament ATS: 35-25-3

Dayton (+10) over Florida: Florida obviously is the better team and will very likely win this game, but this spread is just a bit too big. The computers do say the line should be 9-10 points, but Dayton is playing their best basketball of the season right now, and season-long computer ratings won't really take that into account.

So does Dayton have a potential match-up advantage? No, not really. I guess they're a little better at the free throw line. But realistically, the only way Dayton can win this game outright will be if they shoot significantly better.

Wisconsin (+3) over Arizona: Arizona will certainly pose a much tougher test for Wisconsin, who will struggle much more with an athletic, aggressive man-to-man defense than Baylor's soft zone. The Badgers definitely could struggle to score here. The biggest test for them will be fighting to a draw on the glass against the big Arizona front line. Frank Kaminsky has to stay out of foul trouble, or else Kaleb Tarczewski could go nuts.

That all said, this is a tough match-up for Arizona in a lot of ways. Arizona is a poor shooting team - they finished 9th in the Pac-12 in 3P% and 8th in eFG%. Their offense depends on transition offense and put backs. Wisconsin is not going to commit many turnovers, and they're not going to allow transition offense, so if the Badgers can fight to a draw on the glass then Arizona is going to struggle to score even worse than Wisconsin. The Badgers have a number of guys who can light it up from deep, while Arizona doesn't. And while Wisconsin is in trouble if Frank Kaminsky gets in foul trouble, Wisconsin was a much better team than Arizona this season both at drawing fouls and avoiding committing fouls, and Arizona's bench is arguably even thinner than Wisconsin's.

This is obviously the game of the day, and it could easily come down to the final possession. But in my opinion, Wisconsin is the favorite to win outright. Take the points.

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