March has arrived with big news! VSiN City will run SEVEN days a week all month…our NCAA Tournament “Beat the Spread” Challenge returns…and a special Big Dance edition of Point Spread Weekly is already in production. Oh, there’s some Wednesday basketball to recap too. Let’s get to work!
VSiN News: The biggest betting month of the calendar year is ready to rock
Several nuggets of note for the upcoming college basketball extravaganza…
*First, the VSiN City newsletter you’re reading right now will run SEVEN days a week through the month of March. That will enable us to cover big weekend news on the fly as conference tournaments climax and the Big Dance boogies.
That means front-and-center coverage of the Big Ten tournament in New York this weekend (along with the North Carolina/Duke rematch)…all the other major tourneys plus Selection Sunday next weekend…and then NCAA Tournament action the rest of the way.
Market reports analyzing sharp action, key stats and matchup dynamics, constantly updated “market” Power Ratings so you can project future point spreads round by round. There’s nothing else like it anywhere…and you’re going to get a lot of it all through March.
If you’re reading this on our home page, or in an email a friend sent you, you can subscribe to receive email delivery of VSiN City absolutely free by clicking here.
*Second, VSiN just announced the return of its popular “Beat the Spread” contest through the NCAA Tournament. This was a rousing success last season because it rewarded real handicapping against Las Vegas point spreads from an elite field. You may recall last year’s winner was “Westgate Millionaire” James Salinas, the first handicapper ever to top $1 million in lifetime winnings in the famous SuperContest. (VSiN regulars heard James talk regularly with Gill Alexander throughout this past football season on “A Numbers Game.”)
There’s a difference this year though. Now this is a competition for annual subscribers to our Point Spread Weekly digital magazine. If you already have a one-year subscription to PSW, you’re all set. If not, join the fun by clicking here. Pay just $149.99 for 52 weeks.
First prize is $5,000 in cash, two nights at the South Point, and a guest appearance with Brent Musburger on “My Guys in the Desert.” There will also be cash prizes of $250 awarded to the top point getters in Rounds 1, 2, and 3 of the Dance.
You can still have fun with those “cross your fingers” office pools where you and your buddies try to dodge Cinderella stories to win a steak dinner. REAL MONEY and REAL BRAGGING RIGHTS are up for grabs for PSW subscribers if you can “Beat the Spread.”
*Finally, because of the popularity of PSW’s special college football “Bowl Issue” back in December, VSiN had decided to put together a bonus blockbuster edition just for the NCAA Tournament. This is included in the annual subscription purchase. The same in-depth trend reports, handicapping articles, and three-tiered ratings projections that you already love, but geared specifically to the 68-team field in the 2018 NCAA Tournament.
If you’re not a year-round bettor, and just want to purchase this digital special edition separately, our March Madness Guide will be available for $19.99 once the brackets are locked in.
VSiN is the place to be for the biggest sports betting events. Sometimes, VSiN even shows up in other places! We hope you caught Matt Youmans on ESPN’s “Beating the Book” podcast hosted by Doug Kezirian and Ben Fawkes. If you haven’t had a chance to listen yet, you can click here.
More announcements about more special events will be coming soon. Buckle up!
Big East Basketball: #4 Villanova survives Seton Hall in overtime
Seton Hall provided its annual late season tutorial on how to disrupt Villanova. The Hall beat Villanova 55-53 in last year’s Big East Tournament championship game. This one was 52-all at the end of regulation.
#4 Villanova (-6.5) 69, Seton Hall 68 (in overtime)
Regulation Score: Villanova 52, Seton Hall 52
Two-point Pct: Villanova 53%, Seton Hall 50%
Three Pointers: Villanova 8/36, Seton Hall 5/25
Free Throws: Villanova 13/16, Seton Hall 13/18
Rebounds: Villanova 41, Seton Hall 43
Turnovers: Villanova 11, Seton Hall 12
Estimated Possessions: Villanova 76, Seton Hall 76
Kenpom-Sagarin-BPI: Villanova 2-3-2, Seton Hall 32-28-33
Joe Lunardi Seed Projection: Villanova a #1 seed, Seton Hall a #8 seed
Greg Peterson Seed Projection: Villanova a #1 seed, Seton Hall a #6 seed
Slow game, with possessions in the mid-60s in regulation. Both teams had a tendency to get frustrated trying to work the ball inside, settling for less-than-wide-open 3-pointers. Just 13 of 61 combined for the two teams. A reminder that some marquee March matchups are going to end up being grinders like this. Villanova couldn’t bounce back off the weekend loss to Creighton with an impressive result. All the #1 and #2 seeds in the Dance are going to be vulnerable from the second round on given what we’re seeing across the nation the past several days. Little margin for error on neutral courts, too.
Big East estimated “market” Power Ratings: Villanova 88 at home…87 on the road, Xavier 81, Butler 78, Seton Hall 77, Creighton 77, Marquette 76, Providence 74, St. John’s 73, Georgetown 72, DePaul 70.
ACC Basketball: #18 Clemson outclasses Florida State
It’s hard to call Clemson an off-the-radar team because the computers (except for Jeff Sagarin of USA Today) and the bracketologists are giving them respect. But you sure don’t hear much about them from the mainstream media amid the usual ACC hype. Solid win for Clemson Wednesday over Florida State.
#18 Clemson (-3.5) 76, Florida State 63
Two-point Pct: Florida State 44%, Clemson 42%
Three Pointers: Florida State 9/23, Clemson 10/26
Free Throws: Florida State 12/19, Clemson 20/26
Rebounds: Florida State 30, Clemson 39
Turnovers: Florida State 12, Clemson 9
Estimated Possessions: Florida State 66, Clemson 67
Kenpom-Sagarin-BPI: Florida State 35-31-36, Clemson 18-34-18
Joe Lunardi Seed Projection: Florida State a #9 seed, Clemson a #5 seed
Greg Peterson Seed Projection: Florida State a #10 seed, Clemson a #4 seed
What was solid about it? Big edge in rebounding. Clean execution on offense to win the turnover battle. And eight extra made free throws on seven extra earned attempts. Three-point shooting was a wash, yet the Tigers still won by double digits as a relatively short favorite. Performance like that gives them a chance to win in March even when shots aren’t falling.
ACC estimated “market” Power Ratings: Duke 87, Virginia 86, North Carolina 83, Clemson 80, Florida State 79, Virginia Tech 79, Louisville 78, Miami 77, NC State 77, Notre Dame 77, Syracuse 75, Boston College 74, Georgia Tech 73, Wake Forest 73, Pittsburgh 61.
SEC Basketball: Potential Dance sleeper Texas A&M turns the lights out in Georgia
Not a pretty game to watch. Both teams shot poorly. Texas A&M blew a 9-point halftime lead fairly quickly in the second half. Georgia blew a 5-point lead with just over three minutes to go.
Texas A&M (plus 1.5) 61, #8 Georgia 60
Two-point Pct: Texas A&M 38%, Georgia 33%
Three Pointers: Texas A&M 6/17, Georgia 8/24
Free Throws: Texas A&M 7/16, Georgia 10/16
Rebounds: Texas A&M 47, Georgia 44
Turnovers: Texas A&M 11, Georgia 10
Estimated Possessions: Texas A&M 69, Georgia 69
Kenpom-Sagarin-BPI: Texas A&M 30-29-38, Georgia 71-64-82
Joe Lunardi Seed Projection: Texas A&M a #8 seed
Greg Peterson Seed Projection: Texas A&M a #7 seed
The computers have Texas A&M in the danger zone of threats “who can beat anybody.” But Georgia’s way off the Dance grid according to those analytics…and the Aggies could barely get the win. Holding Georgia to 13 of 40 shooting inside the arc proved to be the tie-breaker.
SEC estimated “market” Power Ratings: Auburn 82, Florida 81, Tennessee 81 at home…80 on the road, Kentucky 81, Texas A&M 80 at home…79 on the road, Arkansas 79 at home…77 on the road, Missouri 79 at home…77 on the road, Mississippi State 78 at home…77 on the road, Alabama 77, Georgia 77, South Carolina 75, LSU 75 at home…74 on the road, Vanderbilt 76 at home…75 on the road, Ole Miss 75.
Big Ten Tournament: Iowa advances to matchup with Michigan, Rutgers eyes Indiana
The first two results are in from the Big Ten tournament being played at Madison Square Garden in New York.
#12 seed Iowa (plus 1.5) beat #13 seed Illinois 96-87. Not much defense as the teams combined to shoot 22 of 44 from behind the arc and 37 of 70 inside. It was actually losing Illinois driving the trey count with 14 of 30. But Iowa won free throws 34/41 to 9/12. Also, a big rebounding edge for the Hawkeyes, who controlled the glass 40 to 20. Iowa will hope to catch #5 seed Michigan flat-footed out of the gate in Thursday’s second round. The winner of Iowa/Michigan advances to face #4 seed Nebraska in Friday’s quarterfinals.
#14 seed Rutgers (pick-em) beat #11 seed Minnesota 65-54. We talked in our tourney preview Wednesday about the surprisingly strong Rutgers defense (great defense on a horrible team). Here the Scarlet Knights held disinterested Minnesota to 54 points on about 67 possessions. Huge edge on the boards for Rutgers, whose hustle netted them a 48-28 rebounding advantage. Rutgers gets #6 seed Indiana Thursday, with that winner then facing #3 seed Purdue in Friday’s quarterfinals. Rutgers didn’t play as well as the final score makes it look, outside of out-hustling a team that didn’t care. Indiana will provide a much tougher test. Betting markets never adjusted to Minnesota’s free fall. The Gophers finished 5-18 ATS over their last 23 games…not being priced as the worst team in the league until sharps drove an opener of Minnesota -2.5 down to pick-em in the season finale.
Big Ten estimated “market” Power Ratings: Purdue 86, Michigan State 86, Ohio State 82, Michigan 81, Penn State 78, Maryland 77, Nebraska 76, Indiana 76, Wisconsin 75, Northwestern 73, Iowa 73, Illinois 73, Rutgers 69, Minnesota 69.
NBA: Washington covers again without Wall in loss to Golden State
Though the short-handed and tired Washing Wizards weren’t able to spring an upset on the Golden State Warriors as 9-point home underdogs, they were able to stay within the number in a 109-101 loss Wednesday night. That brings the Wiz to 11-3 against the spread since John Wall suffered a knee injury. Washington is 10-4 straight up.
Golden State (-9) 109, Washington 101
Two-point Pct: Golden State 57%, Washington 43%
Three Pointers: Golden State 10/24, Washington 11/32
Free Throws: Golden State 25/30, Washington 18/21
Rebounds: Golden State 36, Washington 50
Turnovers: Golden State 15, Washington 16
Estimated Possessions: Golden State 98, Washington 99
Golden State earned the victory thanks to an advantage inside the arc (better shooting pct and more free throws earned). But Washington’s hustle on the boards (even on night two of a back-to-back) allowed the dog to cover. The Wizards earned extra chance baskets thanks to an 18-3 edge in offensive rebounds. Another great sign for team camaraderie amidst the absence of ball monopolizer Wall.
Until additional fatigue sets in for Washington, or another injury hurts the rotation, evidence suggests betting value should continue. The market just isn’t accounting for the current quality of Washington’s effort.
Also in the NBA Wednesday…
*Detroit (-1.5) beat Milwaukee 110-87. The Bucks didn’t have much in the tank on night two of a back-to-back. That allowed the Pistons to move to 2-10 ATS since Blake Griffin joined the team. The Bucks are now 1-4 ATS, continuing to lose mojo in the post-Jason Kidd era.
*Toronto (-9) won at Orlando 117-104. Toronto is 8-2 ATS its last 10, continuing to establish on-court and market superiority over the rest of the East.
*Atlanta (plus 4) upset Indiana 107-102. Rare, these days, to see one of the “tankers” beat somebody set for the playoff brackets. The Hawks did have revenge off a recent blowout.
*Boston (-7.5) shattered Charlotte 134-106. Boston’s offense has ignited in recent action. Celtics’ games are now 5-0-1 to the Over the past six. Charlotte had covered four in a row before this no-show.
*Phoenix (plus 2.5) beat Memphis 110-102. Amazingly, both teams entered on 10-game losing streaks! Make it 11 for Memphis. Phoenix is still just 3-18 straight up its last 21 with this victory. Memphis is 2-7 ATS its last nine, and appears to be tanking harder given the point spread below the value of home court advantage against another dreg.
*New Orleans (plus 5) beat San Antonio 121-116. The Pelicans have now won seven in a row straight up, and are 6-1 ATS in that stretch. Unibrow is more than making up for the loss of Bookie Cousins. The physical demands of that will likely matter soon. Note that LaMarcus Aldridge suffered a sprained ankle in the first half for the Spurs, and couldn’t play after the break.
*Oklahoma City (-4.5) survived overtime at Dallas in a 111-110 win. The Thunder fall to 3-10 ATS over their last 13 games. Dallas is 7-3 ATS its last 10 games, suggesting Mark Cuban’s team isn’t in the tank just yet. Mavs sure battled hard here.
NBA Eastern Conference estimated “market” Power Ratings: Toronto 85, Cleveland 82, Philadelphia 82, Boston 82, Milwaukee 80, Washington 80, Miami 79, Indiana 79, Charlotte 78, Detroit 78, Brooklyn 75, New York 74, Orlando 73, Chicago 72, Atlanta 72.
NBA Western Conference estimated “market” Power Ratings: Golden State 90, Houston 88, Oklahoma City 83, San Antonio 82, Utah 82, Portland 81, Denver 81 at home…80 on the road, Minnesota 80, New Orleans 80, LA Lakers 78, LA Clippers 77, Dallas 75, Memphis 73, Phoenix 73, Sacramento 71.
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