Welcome to SportsGrid’s new, daily feature, where we tell you what sports are on TV tonight. Then, I do my best to help you win some money while watching. You know, if you’re into that sort of thing, and gambling is legal in your jurisdiction. Feel free to tweet hateful things at me if my advice moves you to do so. TV games are often the toughest games to find an edge on, so don’t go crazy, people. If I do recommend a bet, I’ll keep track of it, so you can tell me how awful (or wonderful?) I am. For record-keeping, we’ll assume a standard bet is $10. Occasionally, there will be 2x or 3x bets, maybe 4 or 5 if I’m feeling spunky. Good luck, America!
NCAA Tournament, Sweet 16: Marquette vs. Miami (-6) (7:00 p.m., CBS)
This line moved from -5.5, despite Reggie Johnson’s announced absence. That’s a bit strange, but it’s not a huge blow to the Hurricanes.
Miami struggled a bit with Illinois, but still looks solid. Marquette eked out two wins over two solid teams and is lucky to be here.
Marquette has a good offense with two massive weaknesses: they can’t shoot the three, and they turn the ball over a ton. They are very good down low. On defense, Miami’s 3-point defense isn’t great, but they are very good down low. Johnson’s absence may have an impact on defense, but Miami is still a freakishly tall team without him.
I don’t really see a reason to bet here. Miami is better on both sides of the ball, and they’ll probably win. But six points is a lot, and Marquette has been scrappy. If you must bet, I’d include Miami in a moneyline parlay. In fact, I will. Keep reading, mayne.
Pass, for now
NCAA Tournament, Sweet 16: Arizona (-3.5) vs. Ohio State (7:15 p.m., TBS)
Arizona has flown under the radar for some reason, despite being one of the most talented teams in the tournament. I initially had them in my Final Four, when I decided to switch to Gonzaga because brackets cause you to second-guess the few smart intuitions you have. It’s probably the fact that they’re a 6-seed, but I assure you they are as talented or more talented than
One key factor: This game is at the Staples Center, which is far from Tuscon, Arizona, but there will likely be a very pro-Arizona crowd. That’s worth a point or so and will certainly help. OSU played their first two games in Dayton, which was almost like being at home.
The Buckeyes are an elite team, but they have weaknesses. One: they don’t guard the 3-point line well, which is a problem against hot-shooting, 3-happy Arizona. OSU also is a middling shooting team, and their offense is only No. 11 in efficiency because they protect the ball.
Arizona has the edge in most categories, but they have two main concerns. One: they don’t protect the ball well, in direct contrast to the Buckeyes. And, two: they have to deal with Aaron Craft’s defense. But @nropp, a far smarter man than I, detailed how Sean Miller’s coaching will be able to counteract this.
Obviously, anytime an opponent matches up with Ohio State, the #1 concern is how efficient and smooth your offense can operate with as much pressure as what Aaron Craft throws at the opposing PG… Obviously, Lyons ability to take care of the basketball will be a major storyline in this game. Or will it? … it seems as if PG duties become a bit more 50/50 with Lyons and Johnson, where Johnson becomes more of a distributor and Lyons is asked to take on a bit more scoring load. What Miller is essentially doing, is allowing his offense to stay at the same efficient clip, taking the opponent’s best perimeter defender (usually on the PG), and putting him in an awkward spot off of the ball.
He also has an awesome chart detailing Arizona’s production versus “pressure teams,” and you should read it before you bet.
All that said, I like Arizona at +4, which I got them at a few days ago. But 3.5 is still solid if that’s all you have available.
Arizona +4, $25 to win $22.73 AND ML (+175) $10 to win $17.50
NCAA Tournament, Sweet 16: Syracuse vs. Indiana (-5) (9:30 p.m., CBS)
Before the tournament, nobody would’ve picked Syracuse in this game. Indiana was right behind Louisville in the tourney-favorite pecking order. Then the Hoosiers struggled with Temple last round, and all of a sudden they’re vulnerable. Nobody liked ‘Cuse entering the tourney, but then they (expectedly) embarrass Montana and squeak by Cal, yet people are talking them up a bit. I don’t think this is a huge factor, but Indiana’s stock has dropped for a change, so there could be value on them.
Syracuse is not a bad team, by any means. They beat Louisville on the road. But Indiana is unequivocally better. The Hoosiers are elite shooters; the Orange are poor shooters. The only concern for Indiana is Syracuse’s ball-hawking defense, because Indiana is prone to turnovers. But their elite offensive rebounding vs. Syracuse’s pitiful defensive rebounding (an effect of their 2-3 zone) probably cancels out that edge.
Because of Indiana’s unfamiliarity with the zone, I’m uncomfortable backing IU -5. But I think they should win, so I’ll moneyline parlay them with Miami, who I discussed earlier.
Miami/Indiana ML Parlay, $10 to win $9.83
NCAA Tournament, Sweet 16: LaSalle vs. Wichita State (-4) (10:00 p.m., TBS)
This opened at -3.5, but you can only get -4 or even -4.5, now. Wichita State’s win over Gonzaga was a bit flukey; they shot 14-for-28 on 3-pointers despite being a bad 3-point shooting team (33.7%) throughout the season. That happens, but don’t count on it happening again.
On the topic of 3-pointers, LaSalle guards the 3-point line incredibly well. They give up the sixth-lowest ratio of 3-point attempts in the country. Wichita State relies on chucking threes and grabbing offensive rebounds when they miss (they’re 20th in OREB%), so LaSalle’s 3-point defense could be a problem for them. LaSalle is an awful defensive rebounding team, though (256th), so the Shockers should dominate the glass. They’ll easily win the battle on the boards.
But the Explorers are a great shooting team, and they also shoot a ton of threes. Wichita State doesn’t guard the 3-point line well (289th).
I’m not really sure what to think here. I think the matchup favors LaSalle, but Wichita State is the better team and should absolutely dominate the offensive boards. If you made me bet, I’d probably take LaSalle +4.5. When in doubt, take the points. But I’m not betting this.
Pass, lean LaSalle
NHL: Kings (+116) at Blues (-126) (8:00 p.m., NHLN)
On neutral ice, the Kings are probably the better team right now. These are two legitimate Cup contenders that haven’t played up to their potential this year. It might be a Cup hangover for LA. They’re great in front of their home crowd (12-4-1), but worse than they should be on the road (6-8-1). They’re coming off a win over the Blackhawks in Chicago, which is as impressive as a win can get, but whether it’s effort or Jonathan Quick’s struggles, LA just isn’t a team to trust on the road.
If you must bet, I think there’s some value on the Kings. But I don’t trust them on the road, yet.
Pass, lean Kings
None, just watch basketball, guys.
Record in games actually worth risking money on: 87-65 (+$64.68)
What else is on: Nothing. Watch March Madness, if that wasn’t clear.
Lines taken from 5dimes.eu (with reduced juice) and betonline.ag
Photo via Yahoo!