When most people think of March Madness, they concentrate on the NCAA tournament later in the month. But we’ve been thrilled at the Tuley’s Takes home office with all the madness March has already provided, with live underdogs barking left and right.
We went 2-1 ATS with our XFL Best Bets last weekend and wrapped up the college basketball regular season with our unranked home teams going 5-4 ATS vs. Top 25 road teams, including 4-2 ATS when using our dog-or-pass approach to weed out the unranked teams that went off as short home chalk and didn’t fare as well. That made those plays 20-9-1 ATS down the stretch, and we hope you joined us for the ride.
I was concerned the gravy train might end with the start of conference tournaments, as we lose the angle of home-field advantage. But our recommendations on potential matchups in the smaller conferences last week went 2-0 ATS. Murray State covered as a 2.5-point underdog in a 76-75 loss to Belmont in the Ohio Valley title game Saturday, and Saint Mary’s beat BYU 51-50 as a 3.5-point dog in a West Coast semifinal Monday. UNLV didn’t make it to the Mountain West quarterfinals to face San Diego State for another of our anticipated plays, but hopefully readers still took my advice to fade the Aztecs as they went 1-2 ATS in the tourney. Also, I recommended fading Northern Iowa in the Missouri Valley. And even though UNI didn’t face Illinois State, as I expected, I hope after Drake beat ISU that readers still went with Drake in its 77-56 upset of Northern Iowa as a nine-point underdog.
So we’re glad to see dogs still barking and expect more this week as the big boys play their conference tournaments. As I wrote last week, I’ll be looking for bubble teams and other also-rans that are getting hot at the right time and need to win to make the Big Dance. But I’ll pass when they’re favored in earlier rounds and will wait for when they’re getting inflated lines against teams that are already locks for the NCAA tourney. Here are the potential dogs I’m planning to take ATS if these matchups come to fruition:
Thursday: Marquette (already available at 3) vs. Seton Hall, Xavier vs. Villanova, North Carolina State vs. Duke, Purdue 2 vs. Ohio State, Indiana vs. Penn State.
Friday: Texas/Texas Tech survivor vs. Kansas, Mississippi State vs. Florida, Purdue vs. Michigan State, Indiana vs. Maryland.
Saturday: Wichita State vs. Cincinnati, Tulsa/Memphis survivor vs. Houston.
Sunday: Richmond (if needing to win to get in) vs. Dayton.
Tuley’s Takes on XFL
We continue to enjoy the diversion of football on Saturdays and Sundays with the XFL. It helps our excitement that underdogs went 3-1 ATS in Week 5 and are 12-8 ATS on the season — including our favorite pet plays of home dogs being 7-3 ATS and double-digit dogs at 2-1 ATS.
Home-field advantage does exist in the XFL, as hosts are 12-8 ATS and Unders are still ahead at 12-8. But Overs were 3-1 in Week 5, as we warned that this trend was bound to reverse with oddsmakers setting totals lower and lower.
Also, Los Angeles’ 41-34 win over Tampa Bay on Sunday night — good to see an actual shootout in the highest-scoring game so far — was the fifth game to be decided by exactly seven points, so that’s the closest to a key number that we’ve seen in XFL betting. Three games have been decided by 20 points, two had 12-point margins and two last week landed on nine.
Here’s my breakdown of the Week 6 matchups (lines are from the consensus XFL lines at vsin.com/odds as of Tuesday afternoon):
Houston Roughnecks (-6.5) @ New York Guardians (O/U 46.5)
Tuley’s Take: Houston is still the XFL’s lone undefeated team at 5-0. But as we pointed out last week, the Roughnecks are not as invincible as they’re being touted. They fell to 2-3 ATS, failing to cover as 11.5-point favorites in Saturday’s 32-23 win over Seattle. This line opened at seven at some books, so the early sharp money has been on the underdog Guardians, and I believe it’s the right side. With XFL home dogs going 7-3 ATS and 6-4 straight up, I’m encouraged that New York is also 2-0 SU and ATS at home, though I also like that the Guardians won 30-12 at Dallas last week. The team has been sparked by QB Luis Perez and should have success against a Houston defense allowing 22.2 points per game. Granted, the Roughnecks score a league-high 31.6 points per game, but New York allows just 19 and will offer the best test yet for Houston QB P.J. Walker. Best Bet: New York 6.5.
St. Louis BattleHawks (-3) @ Tampa Bay Vipers (O/U 42)
Tuley’s Take: Which team is No 1 in the XFL in total offense at 391.8 yards per game and No. 1 in total defense at just 258.8 yards per game? I can’t blame you if guessed St. Louis. The BattleHawks have been considered the most balanced team in the league by many so-called experts (including yours truly), but the answer is Tampa Bay. St. Louis ranks second in each category. Yes, the Vipers have been great statistically but are tied for the league’s worst record at 1-4 after letting leads of 17-0 and 24-6 slip away in Sunday night’s loss at Los Angeles. I expect them to convert those stats into more victories in the second half of the season, starting with an upset Saturday night as home dogs. Best Bet: Tampa Bay 3.
Dallas Renegades (O/U 36) @ DC Defenders (-4.5)
Tuley’s Take: DC has had the biggest home/road dichotomy of any team in the league at 3-0 SU and ATS while going 0-2 on the road with two blowout losses. The Defenders upset St. Louis 15-6 as five-point home dogs Sunday. I made this game pick-’em, so I’m not surprised that the Defenders are favored by more than a field goal because of their success at home. That’s why I’ll probably resist grabbing the points with the dog here, even though Dallas is 2-0 on the road. Best Bet: Pass.
Los Angeles Wildcats (-2.5) @ Seattle Dragons (O/U 45)
Tuley’s Take: I’ve been proud to cash on Seattle 12.5 at St. Louis and Seattle 13 at Houston the last two weeks, but this number is too short to jump on the Dragons again, even though they’re home. The lines in those other games were overinflated, and we took advantage, but this game is lined pretty much where it should be. The Wildcats were 1-3 and trailing 24-6 to Tampa Bay on Sunday night before rallying for a 41-34 victory. Now they’re back in the playoff hunt at 2-3 and tied for second in the West. I like that QB Josh Johnson stretches defenses with deep passes more than most teams, and I expect the Wildcats to get back to .500. Best Bet: Pass.