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Villanova shows Elite class

By Jeff Fogle  (VSiN City newsletter) 

March 24, 2018 12:10 AM
Jalen Brunson took over in the second half as Villanova pulled away from West Virginia.

No real shockers Friday in the Dance, though underdogs got the money in three of four games. Numbers and notes…plus Elite 8 previews…along with bonus golf and baseball in this special Saturday edition of the VSiN City newsletter. 

Sweet 16-Boston: Villanova re-establishes itself as class of the field, will face Texas Tech next

Villanova fans had to sweat for a bit. But this team has a gear that nobody else seems to have as we get closer to the finish line of the 2018 NCAA tournament.

Villanova (-5.5) 90, West Virginia 78

Two-point Pct: West Virginia 48%, Villanova 47%

Three Pointers: West Virginia 7/28, Villanova 13/24

Free Throws: West Virginia 17/23, Villanova 23/27

Rebounds: West Virginia 39, Villanova 36

Turnovers: West Virginia 11, Villanova 17

Estimated Possessions: West Virginia 77, Villanova 78

Kenpom-Sagarin-BPI: West Virginia 11-8-9, Villanova 1-1-1

Market Watch: Opened at -5, and hopped back and forth through the week between -5 and -5.5. Chalk solidified late in the day, with some stores even testing -6. Not much interest in the total, as the opener of 153 only closed a half point away at 152.5. 

A more exciting game than the final score makes it sound. Very up-tempo based on what we’ve grown accustomed too. You can see both teams reached the high 70’s in possession count. That created the potential for surges…with West Virginia using a nice run to build a six-point second half lead before Villanova went on a 22-6 blitz to seal the decision. 

Huge night from long range for the Wildcats. This is easily the best team in the country on any night where they shoot like THAT on treys. Going 13 of 24 is 54%, which is the equivalent of 81% on two’s. You can see in the turnover category that the West Virginia press did create some havoc. Very high count for Villanova’s guards, who made up for that with treys and free throw accuracy. 

Game effort for the dog, who wasn’t afraid and didn’t blink. Mountaineers won scoring on “1’s and 2’s” by a count of 57-51. No way to hang with Villanova for 40 minutes when you lose treys 13-7. 

Texas Tech (plus 2) 78, Purdue 65

Two-point Pct: Texas Tech 55%, Purdue 48%

Three Pointers: Texas Tech 5/17, Purdue 7/18

Free Throws: Texas Tech 17/18, Purdue 6/6 

Rebounds: Texas Tech 34, Purdue 30

Turnovers: Texas Tech 11, Purdue 17 

Estimated Possessions: Texas Tech 68, Purdue 67

Kenpom-Sagarin-BPI: Texas Tech 13-12-12, Purdue 4-3-4

Market Watch: Generally speaking, an opening line of Purdue -1.5 was bet up to -2. Stores that tested -2.5 were brought back to the deuce. The Over/Under was within a half point of 138 all week at most places. 

A lot to love about Texas Tech’s performance there. And, you can see the impact of Purdue losing a big man all over the box score. Texas Tech scored easily inside, earned three times as many free throws, won the rebounding battle, and forced a lot of turnovers whenever Purdue tried to get closer than the arc. Really a mix of the best of Tech’s experienced, workmanlike approach and Purdue sinking because of a hole in the boat. Purdue had closed the season overrated by the market even when healthy, finishing 2-13-1 against the spread in its last 16 games (1-5 ATS in the postseason).

Tech won scoring on “1’s and 2’s” by a count of 63-44, exemplary of inside dominance. 

Sweet 16-Omaha: Favored Kansas and Duke advance to dream regional final, but neither covers

Form held in Omaha. But neither #1 seed Kansas nor #2 seed Duke could play to market expectations. 

Kansas (-5) 80, Clemson 76

Two-point Pct: Clemson 49%, Kansas 47%

Three Pointers: Clemson 6/20, Kansas 10/22

Free Throws: Clemson 14/19, Kansas 14/22

Rebounds: Clemson 39, Kansas 38

Turnovers: Clemson 12, Kansas 13

Estimated Possessions: Clemson 73, Kansas 72

Kenpom-Sagarin-BPI: Clemson 14-18-16, Kansas 9-4-7 

Market Watch: Kansas opened at either -4 or -4.5 depending on the store (and the time it opened), before closing at either -4.5 or -5. Small move on the Over/Under from 143 to 144. 

Second straight game where Kansas money left heartbroken because of a late bucket by the opponent. Might have been tougher to take here because Kansas blew most of a 20-point second half lead. (If you’re furious about this, stop betting so many favorites!)

Because of the late garbage-time surge from the dog, the stats don’t make it clear why Kansas was able to build such a big lead. Clemson wasn’t coming back with treys…the Tigers only made six all night. Must have been getting cheapies inside after Kansas relaxed. 

Jayhawks were a sharp 10 of 22 on treys, after shooting a similar 9 of 21 vs. Seton Hall. They don’t seem to have a 40-minute juggernaut mentality. But they are battle-tested from a tough regular season schedule…and any offense that can create and drain open looks from behind the arc is going to thrive in the modern game. 

That’s three Big 12 teams in the Elite 8 with Kansas, Kansas State, and Texas Tech still alive. Super-tough league this year even if some entries couldn’t play to expectations. Michigan is the only Big 10 school remaining. Duke and Florida State represent the ACC…Villanova the Big East…and Loyola the Missouri Valley. Here’s how Duke advanced…

Duke (-11) 69, Syracuse 64

Two-point Pct: Syracuse 55%, Duke 57%

Three Pointers: Syracuse 4/14, Duke 5/26

Free Throws: Syracuse 11/17, Duke 20/28

Rebounds: Syracuse 37, Duke 33

Turnovers: Syracuse 16, Duke 7 

Estimated Possessions: Syracuse 63, Duke 61

Kenpom-Sagarin-BPI: Syracuse 46-43-44, Duke 4-2-3

Market Watch: A high opening line of Duke -11.5 was bet down to -11. The opening Over/Under of 133.5 came down to 132…with some stores even falling to 131.5 before tipoff.  

As expected, a very slow game with both teams playing zone defense. You can deduce the refs were calling it close because both offenses shot well when they got the ball in the paint, while also combining for 45 free throws. No workable options for internal defenders. That helped the game sneak over its total despite 9 of 40 shooting on treys. 

Duke wasn’t really helped by seeing this zone before, given that 5 of 26 performance behind the arc. Great Dance cover run for Syracuse ends with cashers over Arizona State, TCU, Michigan State, and Duke all by at least five points. 

Duke vs. Kansas should be a lot of fun on Sunday. Will likely come down to how well Kansas shoots treys over the Duke zone. A lot of teams have had trouble with that. Kansas did get to play Baylor twice during the regular season, which means the Jayhawks won’t come in completely ill-prepared. 

Early lines were going up just at our overnight deadline. On twitter, VSiN’s Dave Tuley reported Villanova opening at -6.5 offshore, -7 in Las Vegas, while Duke opened -4 offshore and -3.5 in Las Vegas. 

That means we’ll have to lift Villanova up a point in our estimated “market” Power Ratings. Here’s the Elite Eight.

NCAA Tournament Estimated “Market” Power Ratings

89: Villanova

88: Duke

84: Kansas, Michigan

82: Texas Tech

79: Florida State, Kansas State

78: Loyola-Chicago

We also nudged all four teams in the “weaker half” of the bracket up a point too. Felt like we had too much distance between Kansas and Michigan. We’ll learn more from Final Four lines. 

NCAA Tournament: Saturday previews using the Holy Trinity

Two Elite Eight games on tap Saturday. We know the slate will definitely launch two teams worse than a #1 or #2 seed to the Final Four in San Antonio. None are left on this side of the bracket. Michigan, as a #3 out West is the best team left. That gives us a certain Cinderella from Atlanta, and a possible one from Los Angeles. Let’s see what the “Holy Trinity” stats that focus on defense, rebounding, and turnover avoidance have to say about these games. 


Kansas State (-1.5/126.5) vs. Loyola-Chicago (6:05 p.m. ET on TBS)

Loyola-Chi: #24 defense, #120 rebounding, #213 TO avoidance

Kansas St.: #41 defense, #289 rebounding, #90 TO avoidance

Some obvious similarities to the naked eye if you’ve been watching these teams advance. Both play at very slow paces (currently in the 300’s at out of 351 teams). Both play excellent defense that isn’t an illusion created by pace, because both grade out so well on points allowed per possession. Clear differences in the other two categories though. Kansas State is horrible at rebounding, while Loyola has a tendency to turn the ball over in traffic. 

Market has it all coming out relatively clean in the wash with a line near pick-em. Though, a mix of sharp and public play has driven the line back toward K-State in recent betting. 

Should you think about the Under given the likely slow pace? It’s not like the market is unaware. But there is some evidence the market has been underestimating its impact with these teams in this tournament. 

Loyola is 0-3 to the Under

126 vs. Miami (Under by 6)

125 vs. Tennessee (Under by 5)

137 vs. Nevada (Under by 8)

Kansas State is 0-3 to the Under

128 vs. Creighton (Under by 16)

93 vs. Maryland-Baltimore County (Under by 43)

119 vs. Kentucky (Under by 18)

Kansas State has stayed Under by 77 points! Even if you assume another wrestling match, the current market price is at the median of those six sums. It is possible that both will drag each other down into the 1-teens. Under bettors are still at the mercy of officiating and overtime. 

Easier to visualize Under potential this way, using current “adjusted pace” rankings from (in parenthesis).

Loyola landed on 137 vs. Nevada (#103)

Loyola landed on 126 vs. Miami (#230)

Loyola landed on 125 vs. Tennessee (#282)

Loyola will land on ??? vs. Kansas State (#308)

Kansas State landed on 128 vs. Creighton (#57)

Kansas State landed on 119 vs. Kentucky (#144)

Kansas State landed on 93 vs. UMBC (#170)

Kansas State will land on ??? vs. Loyola (#319)

The world is more complicated than this. But…you can see why it’s not unreasonable to envision both teams dragging each other down from prior Dance norms. Kansas State’s average and median are in the 1-teens, and it hasn’t even played a slow team yet. Something to think about. 


Michigan (-4.5/143.5) vs. Florida State (8:45 p.m. ET on TBS)

Florida State: #76 defense, #63 rebounding, #127 TO avoidance

Michigan #5 defense, #141 rebounding, #2 TO avoidance

Michigan at its best can name the score here. The Wolverines are clearly National Championship material when the offense is clicking. That was true whey they dominated Nebraska, Michigan State, and Purdue in the Big Ten tournament. The problem is…that doesn’t always happen! Michigan went overtime with Iowa in that same tournament, then was lucky to get past Houston in a virtual replay in the Round of 32 in the Dance. Solve the mystery of which version of Michigan shows up, and you don’t even have to watch the game. 

It’s certainly possible to create a narrative where Michigan doesn’t like dealing with rustiness (Big Ten opener vs. Iowa, sloppy first half vs. Montana, still groggy vs. Houston), but then carries on its red-hot-ness once it gets going. That was three straight WOW results in the Big 10…and the blowout of Texas A&M was a work of art. It’s dangerous to bet on narratives you create yourself. 

The Holy Trinity gives Michigan decisive victories on defense and turnover avoidance. Disappointing rebounding isn’t a concern when the shots are falling. Florida State is mostly still around because Xavier couldn’t hold onto the ball (18 turnovers, many in crunch time) and because Gonzaga couldn’t hit open looks on treys (5 of 20 for the night). There’s no doubt FSU can win this game if Michigan falters in any of those areas. You get the sense that Michigan controls its own destiny, while FSU has to hope for UM misfires. 

Maybe we’re not giving Florida State enough credit. The market would have them underdogs to Michigan State, Purdue, and Texas A&M…teams who stood in awe of Michigan in recent blowout losses. It’s Michigan’s game to cover. 

World Championship of Golf Match Play: Round of 16 pairings, updated odds

We’re going seven-days-a-week through March, which allows us some bonus coverage of the match play tournament this week down in Austin, Texas. Preliminary round-robins were completed Friday. The Sweet 16 and Elite 8 will be played Saturday. 

First, let’s start with odds to win the tournament as posted by the Westgate Friday evening on twitter. 

Justin Thomas 4/1 (20% win equivalent)

Patrick Reed 8/1 (11%)

Sergio Garcia 8/1 (11%)

Alexander Noren 9/1 (10%)

Bubba Watson 10/1 (9%)

Tyrell Hatton 12/1 (8%)

Matt Kuchar 12/1 (8%)

Louis Oosthuizen 12/1 (8%)

Kiradech Aphibarnrat 14/1 (7%)

Ian Poulter 16/1 (6%)

Brian Harman 18/1 (5%)

Cameron Smith 25/1 (4%)

Charles Howell III 25/1 (4%)

Kevin Kisner 25/1 (4%)

Kyle Stanley 30/1 (3%)

Si-Woo Kim 40/1 (2%)

As we usually mention with futures prices, sports books create a universe larger than 100% to represent the house edge. Those win percentages add up to 120%. With so many big names already eliminated, Justin Thomas is the clear favorite heading into the weekend. 

Those odds will help you visualize who will have the market edge in head-to-head matchups through the weekend. Here are the individual match odds as posted by the Westgate on twitter Friday evening…listed in the order they’ll go. Note that tee times are in bracket order, so the winner of the first match will play the winner of the second match in the next round (and soon). We’ll stack those so they’re easier to read. 

8:30 a.m. ET: Bubba Watson (-125) vs. Brian Harman (plus 105)

8:41 a.m. ET: Kiradech Aphibarnrat (-130) vs. Charles Howell III (plus 110)

8:52 a.m. ET: Sergio Garcia (-190) vs. Kyle Stanley (plus 170)

9:03 a.m. ET: Justin Thomas (-250) vs. Si-Woo Kim (plus 200)

(Note that Thomas and Garcia are the top two remaining seeds at #2 and #7 respectively. They would face off in the Elite 8 if both win Saturday morning.)

9:14 a.m. ET: Tyrell Hatton (-155) vs. Cameron Smith (plus 135)

9:25 a.m. ET: Patrick Reed (-140) vs. Alexander Noren (plus 120)

9:36 a.m. ET: Louis Oosthuizen (-115) vs. Ian Poulter (-105)

9:47 a.m. ET: Matt Kuchar (-145) vs. Kevin Kisner (plus 125) 

Enjoy the golf!

MLB: Madison Bumgarner suffers broken pinky on liner off his throwing hand, out 6-8 weeks

Horrible news for San Francisco Giants fans, and sports bettors who love betting on overpowering starting pitchers. Madison Bumgarner suffered a broken pinky on his throwing hand after getting hit with a hard liner in his final exhibition appearance of the preseason. He’s expected to miss 6-8 weeks, which would be roughly 10-12 starts. 

San Francisco wasn’t projected to win its division, with a Regular Season Win Total around 83 before the injury. That would have had them in the Wildcard race. Offshore props had them -200 to miss the playoffs, plus 170 to reach the postseason before the injury. Be sure you watch VSiN programming through the day Saturday to get the latest futures and Win Total adjustments to the marketplace. 

Don’t forget that Major League Baseball’s regular season starts this Thursday March 29 with a full 15-game slate (weather permitting).

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See you Sunday morning with stat recaps from Saturday, and our Holy Trinity stats for Sunday’s matchups.

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