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Notre Dame rallies for Dance chance

Jeff Fogle  
VSiN City newsletter

March 8, 2018 12:01 AM

Notre Dame’s frantic rally may have clinched a Dance bid, possibly helped by bad Wednesday losses suffered by Oklahoma and Arizona State. Plus, big scheduling news for VSiN including the return of revenge-minded Derek Stevens to bet $11,000 per game on Selection Sunday!

ACC Tournament: Louisville and Notre Dame score important bubble wins
While only one of eight teams on the floor in Brooklyn Wednesday was ranked in the top 25, seven were seen as Dance-caliber or bubble teams by the respected computers we follow (those of Ken Pomeroy of, Jeff Sagarin of USA Today, and ESPN’s BPI). That meant NCAA tournament caliber matchups that deserved expanded stat coverage. We’ll take the games in the order they were played. 

Louisville (plus 2.5) 82, Florida State 74
Two-point Pct: Louisville 47%, Florida State 46%
Three Pointers: Louisville 10/16, Florida State 8/20
Free Throws: Louisville 8/15, Florida State 12/21
Rebounds: Louisville 38, Florida State 35
Turnovers: Louisville 9, Florida State 13
Estimated Possessions: Louisville 68, Florida State 71
Kenpom-Sagarin-BPI: Louisville 34-41-33, Florida State 36-32-36
Market Watch: Florida State was hit hard by sharps and the public alike (and, it’s largely sharp action driving the line in these earliest tips that start at around 9 a.m. Las Vegas time). An opener of FSU -1 was pushed up to the close of -2.5. The Over/Under opened at 152, and was pounded down to 149. Louisville’s hot shooting from long range spiked both of those. 

The computers were saying this was basically an 8-9 game in the Big Dance (though conference foes wouldn’t face each other that early). That goes against Joe Lunardi’s thoughts that Louisville is barely in the brackets. Both are in that range of performance that can scare a great team, but can fall victim to an upset if the team gets overconfident. 

In the box score, you can see across-the-board advantages for the Cardinals. But that 10 of 16 mark on treys (62.5%, which is like hitting 93.8% on two’s) drove the narrative. Created a big early lead and forced FSU to push pace to play catch up. Louisville is obviously unlikely to keep THAT going in this event. Though, you can expect peak intensity Thursday afternoon in a quick revenge spot against Virginia. Maybe this effort was all about getting that return bout.

Florida State closed the season poorly against expectations. This makes the Seminoles 1-8 ATS over their last nine games, with the only cover coming at home on Senior Night against Boston College. While it’s bad luck to run into hot three-point shooting, a neutral court favorite isn’t supposed to lose two-point shooting, rebounding, and turnovers in composite. 

Louisville may get tagged with the inferior Dance seed, but looks to be the superior team over the past couple of weeks. 

Boston College (plus 3.5) 91, NC State 87
Two-point Pct: Boston College 59%, NC State 53%
Three Pointers: Boston College 7/21, NC State 11/21
Free Throws: Boston College 16/19, NC State 8/15
Rebounds: Boston College 39, NC State 31
Turnovers: Boston College 10, NC State 12
Estimated Possessions: Boston College 74, NC State 76
Kenpom-Sagarin-BPI: Boston College 76-74-76, NC State 41-39-48
Market Watch: An opener of NC State -3 was bet up to -4 fairly early. Dog money did show on the four, bringing the closer down to 3.5. Once again, the Over/Under was bet down hard out of the gate (and once again it didn’t work!). The opening total of 159 fell all the way to 155. Late money on the Over did push the line back to 156. Those late bettors cashed at a good price. 

Though Boston College was only mid 70s in the computer ratings entering the day, the Eagles are capable of great games. They did beat Duke early in the ACC slate. Solid stuff from them here. Upsets are often driven by hot three-point shooting. That wasn’t the case. BC took the worst of it behind the arc, but won “1’s and 2’s” by a count of 70-54…while also winning rebounding handily. 

Quick reminder about something we discussed last week. Often lesser teams that get a head start on the week with an early game are in much better form in the first half against a rested but rusty superior seed. BC won the first half here 45-31 as an underdog. The Eagles would blow a 17-point lead before surviving at the end. Michigan’s only trouble in the Big Ten tourney came in a similar situation against unheralded Iowa. 

NC State entered the day as a projected #9 seed in the Dance. This gives them extra time to prepare for the next challenge. Wolfpack is still 5-2 ATS its last seven even with this flameout. Can BC make it three wins in three days, facing possibly rusty Clemson? Eagles have covered four of five after knocking out Georgia Tech and NC State. 

Notre Dame (-2.5) 71, Virginia Tech 65 
Two-point Pct: Notre Dame 42%, Virginia Tech 57%
Three Pointers: Notre Dame 10/29, Virginia Tech 8/30
Free Throws: Notre Dame 21/25, Virginia Tech 7/9
Rebounds: Notre Dame 38, Virginia Tech 32
Turnovers: Notre Dame 11, Virginia Tech 10
Estimated Possessions: Notre Dame 68, Virginia Tech 68
Kenpom-Sagarin-BPI: Notre Dame 32-44-34, Virginia Tech 30-30-29
Market Watch: An opener of Notre Dame -1.5 was lifted up to -2.5 or -3 depending on the store, driven by ND’s “must-win” narrative. Though, respected underdog money did come in after those early moves. Generally speaking, the public drove the market on Notre Dame at -2 or better, with sharp dog lovers doing the same at plus 2.5 or plus 3. The opening Over/Under of 141.5 didn’t inspire much interest. 

Here, Notre Dame couldn’t pull off a great first half, despite having all the motivation in the world, a potentially rusty opponent, and a star player who was supposed to be making up for lost time. Virginia Tech won the first 20 minutes 34-21 as a dog. If anything, Bonzie Colson has been the rusty one since returning. He shot poorly in the disappointing win vs. Pittsburgh Tuesday, and was just 4 of 14 Wednesday for 12 points. 

But his teammates sure rose to the occasion in a 50-31 second-half blitz that may have saved their season. Free throws were a difference maker. Though, the total is inflated because Notre Dame made 11 in the final 1:14 when Tech was in desperation mode. Important thing is that Notre Dame kept MAKING its free throws. The Hokies were too content to launch threes when things started going south. Virginia Tech was 17 of 30 on two-pointers for the game, 8 of 30 on three-pointers. More patience might have protected the lead. 

Notre Dame can now make a very strong case for inclusion in the Dance. The Irish are clearly “Dance caliber” with Colson. And this was a neutral site win over a team that had been very hot lately. The computers all have the Irish safely in, and they’re not omitting the games Colson missed. A win Thursday night over Duke would ice it. It might already be iced. 

Virginia Tech looks like its destined for a seed in the 8-9 area. The committee may have to tinker if more than four ACC teams all qualify for the 8-9 rungs. To avoid rematches, that would necessitate lifting one up to a #7 seed, or dropping one to a #10. Even with this loss, the Hokies are 9-4 ATS their last 13 games, including straight up wins as underdogs over Duke, Virginia, and North Carolina. The Hokies are clearly a dangerous floater, who will now be entering the Dance with extra rest and a chip on their shoulder. 

#12 North Carolina (-7.5) 78, Syracuse 59
Two-point Pct: Syracuse 30%, North Carolina 50%
Three Pointers: Syracuse 8/23, North Carolina 6/19
Free Throws: Syracuse 11/14, North Carolina 22/28
Rebounds: Syracuse 37, North Carolina 42
Turnovers: Syracuse 12, North Carolina 11
Estimated Possessions: Syracuse 66, North Carolina 67
Kenpom-Sagarin-BPI: Syracuse 57-57-50, North Carolina 8-9-7
Market Watch: Not much drama here. An opening line of North Carolina -7 moved to -7.5 early and stayed there all day. The opening total 140.5 moved up a point to 141.5. 

“Not much drama” also works for the game description. North Carolina gradually pulled away from the outmanned underdog. You can see that the game was won inside the arc. UNC didn’t do much from long range, but won scoring on “1’s and 2’s” by a count of 60-35. Tar Heels will be a Thursday favorite over Miami despite the inferior seed. Syracuse stays on the bubble. Computer ratings are suggesting it’s the wrong side of the bubble because you usually have to be top 45-50 to get into the brackets given all the auto-bids lower on the scale. 

ACC estimated “market” Power Ratings: Duke 87, Virginia 86, North Carolina 83, Notre Dame 80, Clemson 79, Louisville 79, Florida State 79, Virginia Tech 78, Miami 77, NC State 77, Syracuse 76, Boston College 75, Wake Forest 72, Georgia Tech 72, Pittsburgh 63.

Big 12 Tournament: You can’t spell “OUT” without OU! Sooners will have to sweat Dance bid, while Texas stays on right side of the bubble
The first two games from Kansas City are in the books. Let’s run the numbers…

Oklahoma State (plus 1) 71, Oklahoma 60
Two-point Pct: Oklahoma 42%, Oklahoma State 37%
Three Pointers: Oklahoma 9/27, Oklahoma State 11/26
Free Throws: Oklahoma 7/12, Oklahoma State 10/11
Rebounds: Oklahoma 27, Oklahoma State 53
Turnovers: Oklahoma 12, Oklahoma State 17
Estimated Possessions: Oklahoma 71, Oklahoma State 69
Kenpom-Sagarin-BPI: Oklahoma 43-34-42, Oklahoma State 57-46-58
Market Watch: The line hopped (softly) between Oklahoma -1 and -1.5 all day. Limited interest in the fading favorite. The dog couldn’t find much of a constituency either. An opening total of 162 was bet down to 159.5. Even that turned out to be way too high.

This is how badly Oklahoma played. Okie State was just 14 of 38 on two-point shots…while turning the ball over 17 times…yet the Cowboys won outright by double digits! You can see that the key stat was rebounding. Pathetic energy from disinterested Oklahoma, who threw in the towel on real effort away from home a few weeks ago. If you’re out-rebounded 53-27 in a must-win game, you weren’t playing with must-win intensity. 

Trae Young will still have at least one more postseason game, either in the NCAAs or the NIT. He closes out his “conference” career with 7 of 21 shooting and four turnovers. Lunardi had Oklahoma as a #9 seed entering this event. THAT’S INSANE, but might be a proper reflection of a selection process that has too much insanity. Oklahoma has been worse than a bubble team for several weeks now. Sooners are 3-13 against market expectations their last 16 games. Now 10 straight non-covers away from Norman. You’re going to stick THAT team into the NCAAs?

Texas (-5.5) 68, Iowa State 64
Two-point Pct: Iowa State 55%, Texas 55%
Three Pointers: Iowa State 6/16, Texas 8/31
Free Throws: Iowa State 4/9, Texas 10/16
Rebounds: Iowa State 32, Texas 37
Turnovers: Iowa State 17, Texas 10
Estimated Possessions: Iowa State 69, Texas 66
Kenpom-Sagarin-BPI: Iowa State 103-80-96, Texas 40-30-40
Market Watch: Sharps definitely liked the underdog at the opener of plus 6. No public sentiment for this favorite given the injury to Mo Bamba. The game closed at 5.5 at most stores. The opening total of 136.5 was bet up to 138.5 with the shot blocker in street clothes. 

Both teams were shorthanded. Iowa State hadn’t been in great form of late. Texas was in a letdown spot off an overtime win over West Virginia. Both defenses played soft inside the arc, which allowed scoring to reach the 130’s despite lethargy everywhere else. Iowa State couldn’t get to the free throw line, and turned the ball over 17 times. Texas launched way too many treys (a common trap for them). Horns actually had a 50/50 split between attempts on 2’s and 3’s despite facing the worst team in their league. Texas draws Texas Tech Thursday. Mo Bamba seems content to rest his turf toe through this event, already eyeing a large NBA contract in the near future. 

Big 12 estimated “market” Power Ratings: Kansas 85, West Virginia 84, Texas Tech 82, TCU 81, Oklahoma 79, Kansas State 79, Baylor 79, Oklahoma State 78, Texas 78 (77 without Bamba), Iowa State 72.

Major Tournaments: Quickfire results from other major conference tournaments, plus one new auto-bid
Let’s quickly recap scores from major conference tournaments, and update our estimated “market” Power Ratings for the auto-bids. 

Pac 12 Tournament (Las Vegas)
Colorado (plus 7) upset Arizona State 97-85
Stanford (-9) beat California 76-58
Oregon State (-2) beat Washington 69-66 in overtime
Oregon (-12) played Washington State in a late finisher

That first result might be enough to knock Arizona State out of the Dance brackets. They’ve been awful in conference play in a way that should trump early success when the Sun Devils caught some people napping. Horrible defense an issue again Wednesday. ASU is now 4-13-2 against the spread its last 19 games. Market has been very stubborn with this squad. Both Arizona State and Oklahoma will provide an interesting test for the selection committee. Both were strong early, lousy late, and posted awful results in one-and-done conference tourney visits. How much should November and December count for teams who are shadows of their former selves? 

Big East Tournament (New York)
St. John’s (-4) beat Georgetown 88-77
Marquette (-6) beat DePaul 72-69

St. John’s has been playing very well for weeks, and could give Xavier a thrill Thursday. Unfair that it’s a day game after a night game for the underdog. 

SEC Tournament (St. Louis)
Georgia (-2) beat Vanderbilt 78-62
South Carolina (-2.5) survived Ole Miss 85-84

There was one smaller conference championship game Wednesday. Bucknell (-9) pasted Colgate 83-54. The Bison go onto our list of estimated “market” Power Ratings for auto-bids…

Gonzaga 83
St. Mary’s 79
Loyola-Chicago 75 
Murray State 72 
Bucknell 72
South Dakota State 72
NC Greensboro 71
College of Charleston 69
Iona 67
Wright State 67
Lipscomb 65 
Radford 64 
LIU-Brooklyn 56

VSiN News: Big things happening in college basketball at “the CNBC for sports bettors”
A few quick notes for you regarding VSiN coverage of Championship Week and the NCAA tournament. 

*If you haven’t heard…by popular demand, “March to Madness” is now a daily broadcast airing at 5 p.m. ET, 2 p.m. Las Vegas time. Rotating hosts along with Greg Peterson will present hardcore hoops coverage with an eye on finding daily value and positioning yourself for the Big Dance. 

*This week’s Point Spread Weekly has been released. If you’re not a subscriber, this is a great time to join the fun. In-depth coverage and handy brackets for all of this week’s major and minor conference tournaments. Just $149.99 gets you a calendar year…meaning you go from this year’s March Madness past next year’s Super Bowl. 

*That subscription to Point Spread Weekly allows you entry into our “Beat the Spread” challenge. This isn’t a bracket-picking contest. You select against the point spread in every single tournament game. First prize is $5,000, two nights at the South Point, and a guest spot with Brent Musburger on “My Guys in the Desert.” Last year’s winner was the first “Westgate Millionaire” James Salinas, who you may have watched with Gill Alexander on “A Numbers Game” all through the football season. Big reward, and bigger bragging rights! It’s a freeroll to all PSW subscribers. 

*It also gets you our first ever betting guide for March Madness that will be released next week. Stats, trends, angles, selections from VSiN experts. We’ll also provide a bonus handicapping article from an analytics perspective. The cost is $19.99 as a stand-alone. But it is included with annual subscriptions. 

You probably thought we were going to stop there. Ha! Two more big announcements!

*VSiN will run LIVE throughout Sunday’s selection broadcast, focusing on the market angle as matchups are announced. That means instant projections for likely point spreads from our studio guests (with bonus coverage on twitter provided by VSiN City), game opinions based on personnel matchups, and thoughts on futures prices as pathways to the championship for each team become clear. The voice of big-time sports, Brent Musburger will host beginning at 6 p.m. ET, 3 p.m. in Las Vegas. 

*Derek Stevens, owner of “The D Las Vegas” hotel and casino, is back for revenge! After the matchups are announced, and the South Point begins posting point spreads for the betting public, Derek will play the board! Just like last year, he’ll be betting $11,000 per game…every game. Watch it happen live with Brent Musburger guiding viewers through the process once Nevada rotation numbers are locked in. Real betting. Real money. Only on VSiN.  

March Madness is now better than ever!

VSiN Business Center
*Click here to subscribe to Point Spread Weekly for just $149.99. We’ll take you from March Madness through next year’s Super Bowl. (And, you can enter our “Beat the Spread” contest!)

*If you haven’t had a chance to sign up for the FREE subscription to VSiN City, please click here to do so. Remember that we’ll be running seven days a week through March. Subscribers also get links to handy sports betting sheets from the South Point that are crucial during tournament time. 

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Back with you Friday to run stat summaries from the ACC (including Louisville/Virginia and Notre Dame/Duke) and Big 12 tournaments, plus any important results from other conferences across the nation. Thanks for being with us throughout one of the most exciting sports betting weeks of the calendar year.

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