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From Sports Illustrated

Gambling Cheat Sheet: NCAA Elite 8

Here We Are

Look at us. We’ve made it to the Elite 8, and we all deserve a big pat on the back…..and possibly counseling after the Illinois loss….once again, I’m still not over it so thanks for asking…. Tonight offers two games that are not really expected to be close with both having 6 point or more spreads, but let that not detour us from being excited. I see interesting value in both games, but contrasting styles as well. I’m getting real tired of not sweeping the board, and I think this is the night we break out and go undefeated so let’s get to the games.

Matchups:

Gonzaga (-8.5) vs. USC (O/U 153)

This is a strength vs. strength Elite 8 matchup. Gonzaga comes into the game with the most dominant offense in basketball averaging over 90 points a game, and shooting over 50% from the field. The stat that seems to get glanced over though is the fact that Gonzaga is one of the best at scoring in the paint, so even though it seems everyone likes to point out their 3 point shooting prowess, which is impressive, their offense relies on interior scoring more than a lot of people think. Where I think this game gets interesting is in that interior matchup.

USC is one of the best teams in the country at protecting the paint, and defending at the rim. Evan Mobley averages roughly 3 blocks per game, and the team as a whole is long and able to contest shots from in close which could frustrate the Gonzaga offense.

Obviously Gonzaga is so well rounded that even if USC can limit their interior scoring, they’ll need to find ways to put up at least 80 points, and do it in a variety of ways. The USC offense is dynamic, and have a variety of scoring options but headlined by star freshman Evan Mobley. It will take a extremely great, possibly perfect, game for USC to win this game. If USC can contain the paint, and rebound, which they are capable of doing it’ll come down to their offense, which also has the tools to pull off the upset. I think we’ll see this game be close. I foresee Gonzaga coming out and getting a decent lead, and then once USC settles in I think the game will become much tighter than expected.

Michigan (-6.5) vs. UCLA (O/U 135.5)

This is a awkward matchup from my point if view. Both teams have showed that they can be vulnerable, but also showed that they can both beat anyone. I see clear advantages for both teams so it comes down to weighing which advantage will be more impactful.

Michigan has the clear edge in the rebounding category, and should be able to control the glass. With the overall size advantage, along with the fact that we’ve seen UCLA struggle to consistently keep opposing teams off the glass, Michigan will need to take advantage of this to win.

On the other side I see UCLA having the clear advantage scoring the ball. Sure, Michigan has had some guys step up each game on the offensive side of the ball, but I feel much more confident in Juzang and Jaquez than any Michigan pair from a pure offensive standpoint. For UCLA to win they’ll need to try to be competitive on the glass, and also be aggressive and push the pace and score in bunches. For Michigan to win I think they need to have a great rebounding night, and limit UCLA from scoring at the rim. I see this game being close, and a single digits margin all game.

Official Elite 8 Picks:

*Gonzaga vs USC – UNDER 153

*Michigan vs UCLA – OVER 135.5

*USC – +8.5

*UCLA – +3.5 1st HALF

*USC – +5 1st HALF

*UCLA +6.5 — This is a bet that I’ll have, but for full disclosure this is a grudge pick. I have bet against Michigan since the beginning, and I’ve been wrong every time so I can’t stop now. I’ve got to stick to my guns until I’m right or in bankruptcy, I guess.

The End is Near

With the tournament quickly coming to the end we all need to look back and appreciate just how amazing this tournament was. Except for Illinois losing; that was bullshit and the NCAA should be ashamed of themselves for letting a #1 seed play against a damn 101 year old nun, on a Sunday no less. They should have crip walked into the final four for goodness sake. But I digress. As up and down, and unpredictable this tournament has been I still love this beautiful madness. As much as I wish our record was above 70% I’ll never complain. Not after not getting a tournament at all last year. Good luck to all tonight!!