Vegas veteran Benjamin Eckstein, author of America’s Line, brings three decades of experience to produce weekly picks in his”Ecks & Bacon” column.
Final Four picks
LAS VEGAS — Can’t remember which one of those 279 sites where I read this, but that is actually the first time in 31 years that one of those so-called Blue Bloods will not be at the Final Four. We are talking North Carolina, Kansas, Kentucky, Duke, UCLA and Louisville. That’s THIRTY-ONE Decades! WOW!
Now for the winner of this very first game on Saturday between Virginia and Auburn. Speaking of Blue Bloods, Charles Barkley’s Tigers conquer Kansas, North Carolina and Kentuckyback to back, to make it to their original EVER Final Four. That was VERY impressive. And the last W against Kentucky was WITHOUT one of the best players, Chuma Okeke. Auburn rumbles to the celebration on a 12-0 straight-up PERFECTO and has covered eight of the previous 10.
Tony Bennett’s Cavaliers come in with an impressive resume too, winning 13 of the previous 14, but against the spread, the’Hoos have managed to cover only three of the previous seven. Not calling for the upset, but might buy the hook, push the line to +6, and watch Sir Charles cry on national TV. Crying because, as we all know, Barkley is a ferocious sports bettor, and he’ll be over Auburn plus the points.
In the nightcap, we’re gonna roll with Texas Tech +2.5 points over Michigan State. Obviously, we WILL buy the hook and push Tech to +3. What else can the Red Raiders do? They rolled into the Sweet 16 from the second-best defensive group in school hoops, Michigan, and blew the Wolverines away 63-44. Then they looked in the daunting task of confronting the NUMBER ONE crime in the country in the Elite Eight, Gonzaga. You think the Raiders were nervous? Nah. They held the’Zags into ONLY 69 points, almost TWENTY points under their season average of 87.6.
What any other matchups with the Big Ten? Gotcha. Besides the Michigan match, Tech stomped on Nebraska 70-52. More? OK. TT has won 13 of the last 14 straight up, covered seven of the last eight, and steps onto the court in Minneapolis working on an 8-0 disperse PERFECTO on the street. It ain’t gonna be simple, but we are backing the beard, Chris Beard!!!
NBA pick For the wagering pleasure, here are some disperse stats of this day. The Nuggets may not grab the Warriors to the top seed in the Western Alliance, but you know they are gonna deliver some heat to the ESPN matchup against the Blazers. Denver has been around a sweet roll, winning nine of the last 13 straight up, but against the spread, the Nugs have covered just four of the previous 12.
They’ve also been stingy with things allowed and also have gone UNDER at 10 of the previous 12 games. Portland brings an identical portfolio into the table, winning eight of the last nine straight up, but have done WAY better from the spread, covering four of the last five. Taking a look at the big picture, the Nuggets’ overall spread log sits in 40-38, 24-15 in the home and 29-26 as a favorite. The Blazers’ overall spread mark is 44-33-1, 21-18 on the street and 13-15 as an underdog. Light tickle to Portland.
NHL pick Also skating onto the NHL ice, also got a drama over the Rangers into the Blue Jackets.
PLZ hit me Twitter over the weekend, even @vegasvigorish, only if anything pops.
Benjamin Eckstein is a nationally syndicated sportswriter/oddsmaker. His column, America’s Line, together with all the Ecks & Bacon appetizer, has conducted in the New York Daily News and above 100 other newspapers since 1988. You can follow him online at www.americasline.com. He’s beloved by many, when he picks winners, and detested by others, when he picks the occasional loser. Should you wanna bit of Eck, hit on his email…email@example.com.
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