Big Dance Semifinal Free Pick: Ducks vs Tar Heels

Roy Williams and his Tar Heels are double-digit favorites in Boston tonight against the Eagles

Oregon possesses an elite defense that is 8.7 points per game better than average (65.5 points per game to teams that would combine to average 74.2 points per game).  Teams are shooting just 40.6% from the field against the Ducks, which ranks 23rd nationally in field goal percentage defense.

Oregon shuts down its opponents without committing personal fouls, ranking 13th in the country in personal fouls per game (15.7).  Oregon also ranks 2nd in the country in blocked shots per game this season (6.3), although the loss of Chris Boucher certainly hurts the Ducks’ rim defense (Boucher averaged 2.5 blocks per game).

The Ducks possess one of the most disruptive defenders in the nation in Jordan Bell, whose versatility is unmatched by any of the remaining teams in the Tournament.  While Bell averaged 10.8 points during the regular season, his presence at the defensive end of the floor cannot be overstated.

 

 

 

Courtesy of Oskeim Sports
(813) Oregon vs (814) North Carolina (-5, 151)

He collected eight blocks against Kansas in the Elite Eight, establishing an NCAA Tournament record for a Pac-12 player.  The Jayhawks were just 5-for-19 on contested shots in the paint because Bell did an outstanding job in protecting the rim.  The UNDER is 5-2 in Oregon’s last seven NCAA Tournament games and 4-1 in its last five games as an underdog.

Meanwhile, North Carolina enters the Final Four for the 20th time in program history and possesses an underrated defense.  The Tar Heels are allowing just 70.6 points per game to teams that would combine to average 75.3 points per game against a mediocre defense.

North Carolina dominates the boards and prevents teams from getting second-chance opportunities, ranking 21st nationally in defensive rebounds per game (27.95).

What makes the Tar Heels so dangerous is that they can win games both offensively (see Butler in Sweet 16) and defensively (see Kentucky in Elite Eight).  Against Kentucky, the Tar Heels limited the trio of De’Aaron Fox, Malik Monk and Edrice Adebayo to just 0.99 points per possession.

The Wildcats’ star trio of freshmen controlled 54% of the team’s possessions between them during the regular season, generating 1.15 points per possession.

Defense has been the trademark of each team in the Final Four.  Oregon, North Carolina, South Carolina and Gonzaga combined to allow 0.95 points per possession during their Elite Eight games.

What makes that figure so remarkable is that their opponents averaged 1.12 points per possesion during the 2016-17 campaign, a gap of 18 points per 100 possessions!

Let’s also note that each of the four teams in this year’s Final Four are ranked in the top 20 in Ken Pomeroy’s defensive efficiency ratings.

Take the UNDER in the Oregon/North Carolina game as Oskeim Sports’ Free Pick for Saturday, April 1! 

 

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Read moreBig Dance Semifinal Free Pick: Ducks vs Tar Heels

Kentucky vs North Carolina Odds and Prediction

Kansas vs Kentucky Predictions and Sprea

North Carolina enters the Elite 8 Round of the NCAA Tournament seeking revenge for a 103-100 loss to the Wildcats on December 17 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. That defeat is significant in that teams in the Elite 8 looking to avenge a same-season loss are a profitable 17-6-1 ATS.

North Carolina is also bolstered by the fact that the ACC is 4-1 ATS in the Elite 8 Round of the NCAA Tournament, while the Tar Heels are 22-7 ATS overall as a No. 1 seed in the Big Dance. Head coach Roy Williams is a respectable 8-4 SU and 7-5 ATS in the Elite 8 Round.

The Tar Heels possess a potent attack that is 13.5 points per game better than average (85.2 points per game against teams that would combine to allow 71.7 points per game), ranking 9th nationally in scoring offense. North Carolina pounds the offensive glass like no other team in the land, ranking #1 in offensive rebounds per game (15.81).

North Carolina also leads the nation in both total rebounds per game (43.68) and rebound margin (13.1). The Tar heels averaged 83.5 points per game on 47.3% shooting from the field on the road this season, while also averaging 85.6 points on 46.9% shooting from the floor over the last five games.

The Tar Heels take excellent care of the basketball and rebound an inordinate amount of their missed shots, both of which lead to an extremely high shot volume. In fact, North Carolina’s shot volume is higher than any other team in major-conference play this season.

However, prior to the Butler game in the Sweet 16, North Carolina had found itself in a shooting slump in its previous four postseason games. The Tar Heels had made half of their 2-pointers and just 32% of their three-pointers, which would be below-average in ACC play.

The Tar Heels survived that mini-slump due to the extraordinary play of Kennedy Meeks, who pulled down 18% of the team’s missed shots in the four games leading up to the Sweet 16. Justin Jackson also stepped up during the mini-shooting slump, dishing out more assists than any other Tar Heel (also recorded 5 steals against the Razorbacks in the Round of 32).

Jackson, however, also contributed to the shooting slump, making just 39% of his 2-point shots in the four games prior to the Butler game. Senior Isaiah Hicks also rescued the Tar Heels in postseason play, making 66% of his attempts inside the arc and shooting 88% from the charity stripe.

Kentucky arrives in the Elite 8 following an impressive 86-75 win over UCLA as 1.5-point underdogs. The Wildcats are 13.8 points per game better than average offensively (85.2 point per game against teams that would combine to allow 71.4 points per game) and 4.1 points per game better than average defensively (71.4 points per game to teams that would combine to average 75.5 points per game).

In its 103-100 win over the Tar Heels back in December, Kentucky freshman Malik Monk compiled 47 points on 28 shots, including draining eight 3-pointers. Meanwhile, De’Aaron Fox is coming off a terrific performance against UCLA wherein he had a career-high 39 points on just 20 shots.
The Wildcats demonstrated an ability to win games at the defensive end of the floor with their dominating win over UCLA in the Sweet 16. Kentucky held the Bruins to 15 points below their season average and forced 13 turnovers from a team that had only nine in their first two NCAA Tournament games.

Over its last five games, Kentucky is limiting opponents to just 69.2 points per game on 28.8% shooting from beyond the arc. The Wildcats do an excellent job defending the three-point arc, limiting foes to just 30.8% on the season and 29.6% on the road.

From a technical standpoint, Kentucky is a perfect 4-0 SU and ATS under head coach John Calipari as an underdog in the NCAA Tournament. Interestingly, both teams are averaging more than 85 points per game this season, and squads that average 85+ points per game are 30-7 SU and 27-8-2 ATS in the NCAA Tournament.

North Carolina is 18-7-1 ATS versus SEC foes, 14-5-1 ATS in its last 20 neutral site games and 21-7-2 ATS in its last 30 neutral site games as favorites, while the Wildcats are 10-4-1 ATS in their last 15 neutral site affairs, 5-2 ATS in their last seven games versus ACC opposition and 4-1-1 ATS in their last six games versus .601 or greater opposition.

OSKEIM SPORTS 5% ELITE 8 GAME OF YEAR

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Wisconsin vs Florida Odds and Prediction

Wisconsin vs Florida Prediction

Following a red-hot 21-3 SU start to the 2016-17 campaign, Wisconsin struggled down the stretch, losing five of its last seven regular-season affairs before making a deep run in the Big Ten Conference Tournament. Wisconsin possesses unparalleled leadership (five returning starters) behind seniors Bronson Koenig and Nigel Hayes, both of whom have played in sixteen NCAA Tournament games (including Final Four experience). Indeed, the Badgers have reached the Sweet Sixteen in five of the past six Tournaments, including two Final Four appearances.

Read moreWisconsin vs Florida Odds and Prediction

Mad March Free 2nd Round Pick to Click: Bruins vs Bearcats

Mad March Free 2nd Round Pick to Click: Bruins vs Bearcats

Cincinnati possesses a suffocating defense that is 11.4 points per game better than average (60.8 points per game to teams that would combine to average 72.2 points per game).  Teams are shooting just 38.5% from the field against the Bearcats, who rank 5th in the country in scoring defense and 7th in field goal percentage defense. Cincinnati’s stop unit travels extremely well, limiting foes to a mere 59.0 points per game on the road (38.2% FG; 30.9% 3-PT).

Read moreMad March Free 2nd Round Pick to Click: Bruins vs Bearcats

Florida State vs Xavier Odds and Prediction

Florida State vs Xavier Prediction

Xavier deserves a lot of credit for battling adversity and reaching the Second Round of the NCAA Tournament without star point guard Edmond Sumner, who suffered a season-ending injury in conference play. However, the Musketeers’ journey is likely to end tonight against a very good Florida State squad that was 11-4 SU and 8-6-1 ATS against fellow NCAA Tournament teams this season. Florida State boasts wins over Florida, Virginia, Duke, Notre Dame, Louisville and Miami Florida (twice), while also taking down Virginia tech.

Read moreFlorida State vs Xavier Odds and Prediction

Big Dance Free Pick to Click: Wichita St. vs Dayton

2021 College Basketball Championship Odds: Four Co-Favorites

The Shockers and Flyers battle in a South Regional event at 7:10 p.m ET on Friday night. The game will take place at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Courtesy of Oskeim Sports

There is no doubt that Wichita State was grossly under-seeded in this year’s NCAA Tournament (my power rankings have the Shockers as a top 15 team in the nation).  However, Dayton is the real victim of the Selection Committee’s mistake in that the Flyers are now forced to play one of the best teams in Division I in the opening round as a No. 7 seed.

Dayton starts four seniors, all of whom have at least one game of NCAA Tournament experience.  The Flyers are coming off back-to-back losses against George Washington (87-81) and Davidson (73-67), but head coach Archie Miller’s squad is a near-perfect 9-1 ATS following consecutive losses by six points or less.

 

Dayton also possesses excellent depth as seven players are averaging more than six points per game, with Charles Cooke leading the way with 16.2 points and 5.2 rebounds per game.  The James Madison transfer is extremely versatile off the dribble and is capable of converting from beyond the arc.

Overall, the Flyers are 5.3 points per game better than average offensively (76.5 points per game against teams that would combine to allow 71.2 points per game) and 5.1 points per game better than average defensively (66.5 points per game to teams that would combine to average 71.6 points per game).  Dayton is ranked 49th in the country in field goal percentage (47.0) and 34th in three-point field goal percentage (38.7).

From a technical standpoint, Dayton is a profitable 14-3-2 ATS as an underdog of more than four points under coach Miller, including 7-1 SU and 7-0-1 ATS versus .801 of greater opposition.  The Flyers are also a perfect 3-0 ATS as underdogs following back-to-back defeats and will be playing with greater purpose in honor of their late teammate.

Dayton’s experience, depth and emotional purpose will be the difference in this game – take the Flyers plus the points as Oskeim Sports’ Free Pick for Friday, March 17!

Big Dance Free Pick to Click is a play on the Dayton Flyers.

 

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Kansas at Oklahoma State Free Pick and Preview

Euroleague Free Pick: CSKA Moscow @ Baskonia

My math model favors Oklahoma State in this game so we are getting decent line value with one of the hottest teams in college basketball. The Cowboys have won ten of their last 12 games overall, including upsets over Texas Tech (83-64), West Virginia (82-75), TCU (71-68) and Kansas State (80-68).

Oklahoma State possesses a prolific offense that is 15.0 points per game better than average (85.6 points per game against teams that would combine to allow 70.6 points per game). The Cowboys are 11-4 SU at home this season where they are averaging a remarkable 92.1 points per game on 48.6% shooting from the field and 39.8% from beyond the arc.
Oklahoma State is ranked 9th in the nation in scoring offense, 12th in three-point field goal percentage (40.6%) and 4th in free throw percentage (78.4%). In what could be an extremely competitive game, I like the fact that the Cowboys are capable of protecting and preserving a lead at the charity stripe. Indeed, Oklahoma State is making 79.9% of their foul shots at home this season. In contrast, Kansas is shooting just 65.7% from the foul line.

From a technical standpoint, Oklahoma State is a profitable 10-2 ATS in its last twelve games overall, including 5-1 ATS in its last six Big 12 Conferencer affairs and 4-0 ATS in its last four games versus .601 or greater opposition. Let’s also note that the home team is 6-1 ATS in the last seven meetings in this series, while the Jayhawks are 2-5 ATS in their last seven trips to Stillwater.

OSKEIM SPORTS 5% PAC-12 GAME OF MONTH

Read moreKansas at Oklahoma State Free Pick and Preview