Vegas veteran Benjamin Eckstein, author of America’s Line, brings three decades of experience to make weekly picks in his”Ecks & Bacon” column.
Final Four picks
LAS VEGAS — Can’t recall which one of the 279 websites where I read this, but this is actually the first time in 31 years that among the so-called Blue Bloods won’t be at the Final Four. We’re talking North Carolina, Kansas, Kentucky, Duke, UCLA and Louisville. That is THIRTY-ONE Decades! WOW!
Now for the winner of the very first game on Saturday between Virginia and Auburn. Talking of Blue Bloods, Charles Barkley’s Tigers conquer Kansas, North Carolina and Kentucky, back to back to back, to make it to their original EVER Final Four. This was VERY impressive. And the last W against Kentucky has been WITHOUT among their best players, Chuma Okeke. Auburn rumbles to the celebration on a 12-0 straight-up PERFECTO and has covered eight of the last 10.
Tony Bennett’s Cavaliers come in with an impressive resume too, winning 13 of their last 14, but against the spread, the’Hoos have managed to pay only three of their last seven. Not necessarily calling for the upset, but would buy the hook, push on the line to +6, and observe Sir Charles cry on national TV. Crying since, as all of us know, Barkley is a ferocious sports bettor, and he’ll be all over Auburn plus the points.
In the nightcap, we’re gonna roll with Texas Tech +2.5 points over Michigan State. Of course, we WILL purchase the hook and push Tech to +3. What else can the Red Raiders do? They rolled into the Sweet 16 against the second-best defensive group in school hoops, Michigan, also blew the Wolverines away 63-44. Then they looked in the daunting task of confronting the NUMBER ONE offense in the country in the Elite Eight, Gonzaga. You believe that the Raiders were worried? Nah. They held the’Zags into ONLY 69 points, nearly TWENTY points below their season average of 87.6.
What about any other matchups with all the Big Ten? Gotcha. Besides the Michigan match, Tech stomped on Nebraska 70-52. More? OK. TT has won 13 of the previous 14 straight up, covered seven of the last eight, and steps onto the court in Minneapolis working within an 8-0 disperse PERFECTO on the street. It ai not gonna be simple, but we’re backing the blossom, Chris Beard!!!
NBA select For the wagering pleasure, here are some disperse stats of the day. The Nuggets might not catch the Warriors for the top seed in the Western Alliance, but you know they’re gonna bring some heat to the ESPN matchup against the Blazers. Denver has been on a sweet roll, winning nine of the last 13 straight up, but contrary to the spread, the Nugs have covered only four of the previous 12.
They have been stingy with things permitted and also have gone UNDER in 10 of the previous 12 games. Portland brings a similar portfolio into the dining table, winning eight of the previous nine straight up, but have done WAY better against the spread, covering four of their previous five. Taking a look at the big picture, the Nuggets’ overall spread log sits at 40-38, 24-15 at house and 29-26 as a favored. The Blazers’ in general spread markers is 44-33-1, 21-18 on the street and 13-15 within an underdog. Light tickle to Portland.
NHL select Skating onto the NHL ice, also obtained a play on the Rangers into the Blue Jackets.
PLZ struck me on Twitter over the weekend, @vegasvigorish, only if anything pops.
Benjamin Eckstein is a nationally syndicated sportswriter/oddsmaker. His column, America’s Line, with all the Ecks & Bacon appetizer, has run in the New York Daily News and above 100 other newspapers since 1988. You can follow him online at www.americasline.com. He’s loved by most, when he chooses winners, and detested by others, when he picks the occasional loser. Should you wanna piece of Eck, hit his email…firstname.lastname@example.org.