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VSiN City: Yes or No answers on Sweet 16

Jeff Fogle
VSiN.com

michigan_rebounding
Michigan is the worst rebounding team left in the Sweet 16.
© USA Today Sports Images

We’re a day away from the Sweet 16. Plenty in our preamble to get you ready, with some bonus coverage of the NIT and NBA. We start by updating a popular betting prop in the Big Dance…

Updated “Yes/No” props for the sweet 16
We have new “Yes/No” props from South Point sportsbook director Chris Andrews for the Sweet 16. As we discussed when they were first posted for the 2017 NCAA Tournament last week, the “Yes” side of the equation is simply a match for the futures price on that team. A squad that’s 5-1 to win will show as 500, which means a $100 bet will win $500, or anything in that ratio ($10 to win $50, $500 to win $2,500, $1,000 to win $5,000 and so on).

The “No” price is what you pay for the field against that team. In this example, it would be -700, meaning you’d bet $700 to win $100, or anything in that ratio, that they won’t win the tournament.

North Carolina is the current tournament favorite in the betting markets at 350. Arizona is priced to our example at 500. Arizona’s Thursday opponent, Xavier, is the last Cinderella standing at 10000 (a $100 ticket on Xavier to win the tournament would cash $10,000).

As of late Tuesday…
-450 no, plus 350 yes: North Carolina
-600 no, plus 400 yes: Kansas
-700 no, plus 500 yes: Arizona
-900 no, plus 600 yes: Gonzaga
-1400 no, plus 800 yes: UCLA, Kentucky
-2000 no, plus 1200 yes: Michigan, Wisconsin
-3000 no, plus 1800 yes: West Virginia
-3200 no, plus 2000 yes: Purdue, Florida
-3600 no, plus 2200 yes: Oregon, Baylor
-10000 no, plus 5000 yes: Butler, South Carolina
-20000 no, plus 10000 yes: Xavier

You can see that those “No” bets get expensive. You’d have to risk $20,000 to win $100 that Xavier won’t cut down the nets a week from Monday in Glendale! But, value can be found if you believe the market has mispriced how definitively a team’s weaknesses will cost them from this point forward. (Remember, a “No” on Duke was an affordable -700 last week, even though many computer simulations were skeptical the Blue Devils could go the distance).

(Additional notes on the Yes/No props from VSiN Senior Editor Matt Youmans can be found here.)

Will the Big Ten stay underrated?
Yesterday we showed you how incredibly overrated the ACC was by the betting markets in this year’s Dance. Only North Carolina remains from the nine entries who received invitations. But, it wasn’t just the losing that surprised everybody…it was the size of the misses.

The Big Ten is doing much better than expected. How does that look by the same standards we used for the ACC?

  • The Big Ten went 8-4 against the number
  • The Big Ten’s average result bettered the line by 1.6 points
  • The Big Ten went 6-3 ATS vs. other “Power Six” conferences

At the conference level, that’s much more of a “slightly” mispriced theme rather than the monstrous market miss we saw in the ACC. The markets have respected Michigan even if the seeding committee didn’t. The markets didn’t see Wisconsin or Purdue as pretenders with no shot. 

Have the futures prices caught up to the new reality? Big Ten fans have to like that the East region has opened up for Wisconsin at plus 1200. But, Purdue (plus 2000) and Michigan (plus 1200) are both in the Midwest along with top seed Kansas in Kansas City. Only one can get through to the Final Four, and one of them would have to upend the Jayhawks for that to happen.

Battle of the boards in the Sweet 16
You longtime basketball fans know how important rebounding is in the latter rounds of the NCAA Tournament. Many wins or losses are determined by which team wins the battle of the boards. Every defensive rebound is a virtual steal because it ends the opponent’s possession. Every offensive rebound gives you another chance to score.

Unfortunately, rebounding stats aren’t as prominent in Big Dance coverage as they should be. The media will notice extremes when they’re happening. But, advance preparation for who’s most likely to win the stat is lacking. Let’s fix that now for those of you trying to handicap the coming action.

We’ve collected current national rankings in “Rebound Rate” as calculated and posted by teamrankings.com. This stat is better than “raw” rebound counts because it adjusts for opportunity. It’s possible for a mediocre rebounding team to grab “a lot” of rebounds just because they play at a fast pace. There are more missed shots in their games.

UCLA and Arizona provide good comparison points because UCLA plays lightning fast (#15 in pace nationally when adjusted for opponent’s pace according to Ken Pomeroy) while Arizona is more slow and methodical (#272 in adjusted pace). UCLA averages 38.8 rebounds per game, two better than Arizona’s 36.8. Yet, it’s Arizona who’s better at grabbing available rebounds. The Wildcats have snared 55.1% of available boards, UCLA just 52.5%.

Here’s a look at the national rankings in rebound rates for the Sweet 16, going by matchup:

Oregon (#57) vs. Michigan (#276)
Purdue (#8) vs. Kansas (#38)
Gonzaga (#7) vs. West Virginia (#74)
Arizona (#11) vs. Xavier (#13)
Baylor (#4) vs. South Carolina (#138)
Wisconsin (#14) vs. Florida (#98)
North Carolina (#1) vs. Butler (#124)
Kentucky (#32) vs. UCLA (#59)

You can see that the only really BAD rebounding team is Michigan. They make up for that by working for good shots and making them. Four of the top eight rebounding teams nationally are still alive in the tourney, as are seven of the top 14. That right there is a testament to how important this stat is in college basketball.

Five games in particular jump out with big differences in rankings. Clearly Michigan, West Virginia, South Carolina, Florida, and Butler must excel in other facets of play to make up for issues they’re likely to have on the glass vs. Sweet 16 opposition. Michigan has played at such a high level the past few weeks that this weakness hasn’t bitten them. Yet.

NIT quarterfinal previews
A couple of appetizers on the table tonight from the NIT. Wednesday’s winners will go to Madison Square Garden next week for the NIT Final Four…

7 p.m. ET: #4 seed Central Florida at #2 seed Illinois (-3.5, total of 130)
9 p.m. ET: #8 seed Cal Bakersfield at #6 seed UT Arlington (-6.5, total of 144)

How they got here:

UCF (-3.5) beat #5 seed Colorado 79-74
UCF (plus 5) won at #1 seed Illinois State 63-62
Illinois (-9.5) beat #7 seed Valparaiso 82-57
Illinois (-8.5) beat #6 seed Boise State 71-56

Cal-Bakersfield (plus 6.5) won at #1 seed California 73-66
Cal-Bakersfield (plus 4.5) won at #4 seed Colorado State 81-63
UT Arlington (plus 5.5) won at #3 seed BYU 105-89
UT Arlington (-5) beat #7 seed Akron 85-69

Illinois obviously had the easiest path of tonight's quartet. They were home favorites twice. But, you have to be impressed with those victory margins. Can't throw this in the "Big Ten is underrated" pile though because Indiana and Iowa both flamed out of the NIT earlier than they were supposed to.

Give UCF credit for playing tough on the road against Illinois State, the team arguably most motivated to win this event after an NCAA snub. Bakersfield has been amazing, beating market expectations by 13.5 and 22.5 points. Arlington isn't far behind with covers of 21.5 and 11 points. VSIN oddsmaker Vinny Magliulo mentioned on a broadcast last week that the key to handicapping the NIT was determining which teams care the most. Really great stuff from the surprise survivors.

Now, a quick look at adjusted offensive and defensive efficiency from Ken Pomeroy’s landmark statistical site (we hope you caught his chat with Brent Musburger not too long ago):

Central Florida: #160 in adjusted offensive efficiency, #18 in adjusted defensive efficiency
Illinois: #114 in adjusted offensive efficiency, #36 in adjusted defensive efficiency

Cal-Bakersfield: #256 in adjusted offensive efficiency, #12 in adjusted defensive efficiency
UT Arlington: #70 in adjusted offensive efficiency, #84 in adjusted defensive efficiency

For those of you not familiar with adjusted efficiency stats, Pomeroy measures points scored and allowed per possession, then adjusts for strength of schedule. Those first three teams are "defense first," with rankings much better on that side of the floor compared to their offenses (and what are, very clearly, "Dance caliber" defenses). Arlington is fairly balanced.  

(If you’re wondering about the rebound data for Wednesdays NIT quarterfinals, Central Florida ranks #6, compared to Illinois at #100 in the opener;  Cal Bakersfield ranks #104, compared to #83 for UT-Arlington in the nightcap.)

TCU and Georgia Tech advance to MSG with Tuesday night victories
TCU was the first NIT quarterfinalist to earn its ticket to the Big Apple. The Horned Frogs routed Richmond 86-68 in Forth Worth. Rebounding was the key here, with TCU winning the category 39-19.

Georgia Tech (plus 5.5) impressed in the nightcap with a 74-66 road victory at Mississippi. The only other ACC team besides North Carolina still in postseason action won thanks to a big edge at the free throw line. Georgia Tech was 17 of 20 from the charity stripe, compared to 6 of 8 for Ole Miss.

VSIN NBA power ratings
We’ve already talked a few times here at the website about college basketball power ratings. As we gear up for the stretch drive of the regular season and the much-anticipated playoffs, it’s time to introduce NBA numbers.

Keep in mind that these are much “looser” on a game-by-game basis because of personnel issues (injuries, players getting rested, etc…) and travel concerns (the market adjusts for back-to-back spots, sometimes as much as 2-3 points even when the starters are going to play). But, they will give you a sense of how teams are generally rated by the marketplace at the moment. Then, you can make adjustments as needed for complications that arise.

You should know that the standard home court value in the NBA is 3 points. Denver often gets 4 points because altitude has a larger negative impact on visitors. Some oddsmakers and professional wagerers will attempt to pin it down more intently by site. Poor teams, or teams who are “tanking” for draft position may be awarded virtually no home court advantage in their projections.

East: Cleveland 87, Boston 84, Washington 83, Miami 82, Toronto 81, Charlotte 81, Detroit 81, Atlanta 79, Indiana 79, Milwaukee 79, Chicago 78, New York 77, Orlando 75, Philadelphia 74, Brooklyn 73.

West: Golden State 89, San Antonio 87, Houston 86, LA Clippers 84, Utah 83, Memphis 82, Oklahoma City 82, Denver 81, Portland 81, New Orleans 81, Minnesota 79, Dallas 78, Phoenix 75, Sacramento 73, LA Lakers 72.

NBA results from Tuesday

Toronto (-8) beat Chicago 122-120 in overtime.

Brooklyn (plus 5) beat Detroit 98-96. The Nets are now 6-3 ATS in their last nine games.

Miami (-11.5) mauled Phoenix 112-97, moving to an astounding 24-5-1 ATS its last 30 games. Phoenix has now failed to cover five straight.

New Orleans (-2.5) beat Memphis 95-82. The Pelicans move to 8-2-1 ATS their last 11 games.

Golden State (-4.5) dominated Dallas 112-87. After a mini-slump, the Warriors have now covered four straight games...by margins of 16, 15, 14, and 20.5 points. Again, those weren't the scoreboard margins...that's how much they beat the spread by!

San Antonio (-4.5) beat Minnesota 100-93. The Timberwolves fall to 1-5 ATS their last six.

Milwaukee (plus 3.5) upset Portland 93-90.

The LA Clippers (-9.5) beat the tanking LA Lakers 133-104. The Lakers are now 3-11-1 ATS their last 15 games, and 10-41 straight up their last 51.

That’s a wrap for Wednesday. See you every weekday around lunchtime on the East coast, mid-morning here in Las Vegas. Any feedback or suggestions would be much appreciated. Feel free to send us an email.

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If you haven't tried the VSiN Beat The Spread Challenge for the NCAA tourney, there is still time to play.

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