Tuley: Saturday Best Bets in college basketball, XFL; Friday recaps including NCAA March Madness

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Saturday Best Bets, Friday Recaps

Friday was another thrilling day with the second half of the NCAA Tournament’s first round, though it certainly wasn’t as enjoyable as Thursday in and out of the Tuley’s Takes home office.
We felt a little odd coming into the day as I only had one underdog I liked on the whole NCAA card and it looked like a chalk-fest with all the matchups (especially as a lot of the lines looked short). As the early sessions progressed, I actually felt vindicated as favorites dominated by going 7-1 SU and 6-2 ATS (full details are below) and felt my dog-or-pass philosophy was saving me money.
Of course, in the night session (late afternoon here in Vegas), I missed the biggest dog of all when No. 16 seed Fairleigh Dickinson pulled the biggest NCAA Tournament upset ever as a 23-point underdog over No. 1 Purdue. I certainly wish I had seen that one coming, though I was hardly alone with FDU not even winning its own conference for its automatic bid and being a dog in the play-in game.
Dogs did better in the night session, but faves still went 6-2 SU and 4-4 ATS and I lost my sole Best Bet on Kent State +4 at Indiana. The Golden Flashes made it interesting in the second half but I was clearly on the wrong side. I also lost my NHL First-Period Over parlay as the Sabres and Flyers only scored 1 goal in the first 20 minutes (before averaging 3 goals apiece in the other periods), which was frustrating as the Blue Jackets-Ducks flew Over their 1P total with 4 goals in the opening period.

The day ended with a trip to Harry Reid Airport to pick up my daughter Peyton, who was flying home for spring break. Suffice it to say that didn’t go as smoothly as planned on a busy Friday night with seemingly a hundred thousand visitors coming to town in addition to the hundreds of thousands that were already here for the start of March Madness. When I originally offered to pick her up, I was hoping it would a quick trip and then back home to catch the end of the Kent State-Indiana game and finish this column.
Anyway, let’s recap the rest of Friday’s action and look for more Best Bets on Saturday as I have two NCAA picks in the round of 32, plus an XFL play. I’m passing on the NBA and NHL. For those still interested in NHL 1P Overs (which haven’t been as strong lately, though still around break even thanks to the plus-money when they do hit), the possible plays for Saturday include Oilers-Kraken, Maple Leafs-Senators and Canucks-Kings. There are also 1P Under options with Bruins-Wild and Jets-Predators (maybe a smaller round-robin with all 5 plays?), but I like my NCAA and XFL picks better.

Friday Recaps

NCAA Tournament: Fairleigh-Dickinson upset Purdue 63-58 on Friday afternoon to become only the 2nd No. 16 seed to beat a No. 1 in NCAA Tournament history. The ViewFromVegas is FDU did it as 23-point underdog and an average of +2000 (odds of 20-1) on the money line. The game stayed way Under betting total of 146 points. Favorites still went 13-3 SU on Friday and 10-6 ATS to finish the first round at 24-8 SU and 18-14 ATS (56.3%). After going 10-6 on Thursday, Unders did even better on Friday by going an impressive 14-2 to improve to 24-8 (75%) overall.

More NCAA Tournament: Faves went 7-1 SU in the first half of Friday’s action and 6-2 ATS with Kennesaw State (+12) covering in a 72-67 loss to Xavier. The lone upset was by Pittsburgh (+4.5) in a 59-41 win vs. Iowa State. Unders dominated 7-1 with Iona-UConn (141) the one Over. Faves went 6-2 SU in the night sessions, but just 4-4 ATS as Grand Canyon (+15.5) and Arizona State (+4.5) covered in losses to Gonzaga and TCU. Upsets were by Fairleigh Dickinson (+23 vs. Purdue) and FAU (+1.5) vs. Memphis. Unders dominated again at 7-1 with Montana State-Kansas State (140) the one Over.

Even more NCAA Tournament: No. 5 seed Miami-FL rallied to beat No. 12 Drake 63-56 in the early night games, covering as a 2.5-point favorite. That doesn’t seem like much of a "ViewFromVegas" note, but No. 12 seeds went 0-4 SU in this year’s tournament and also 0-4 ATS as the always-popular underdog play.

NBA: While most of us were focused on college basketball, pro basketball favorites went 6-2 SU and 5-3 ATS as the Spurs (+9) covered in their 126-120 loss vs. the Grizzlies. The upsets were by the Rockets (+5.5 in 114-112 win vs. the Pelicans) and Mavericks (+3.5 in 111-110 win at the Lakers). Home/road teams split 4-4 SU but home teams led 5-3 ATS. Unders 5-3.

More NBA: On the season, favorites improved to 682-356 SU with 16 games closing pick-’em, but underdogs’ lead was cut to 513-502-23 ATS (50.5%). Home teams lead 615-439 SU and 534-499-21 ATS (51.7%). In totals wagering, Overs’ slim lead dipped to 530-509-15 (51%).

NHL: Faves/dogs split 2-2 on Friday with the upsets by the Blues (+158 in 5-2 win at the Capitals) and Flyers (+117 in 5-2 win vs. the Sabres). The Maple Leafs (-120 in 5-2 win vs. the Hurricanes) and the Ducks (-115 in 7-4 win vs. the Blue Jackets) won as chalk and also both covered on the -1.5 puck line. Home teams went 3-1. Overs swept 4-0.

Saturday NCAA March Madness Best Bets

Penn State +5.5 vs. Texas: No. 10 seed Penn State followed up its Big Ten tourney run (taking Purdue to the wire before falling 67-65) with a surprisingly easy 76-59 win in the NCAA first-round over No. 7 Texas A&M on Thursday night. Andrew Funk led the way with 27 points as he was 8-for-10 from 3-point range as he obviously had no problem with the shooting background at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines, Iowa. Even if he’s not as hot in Saturday’s game, the Penn State offense usually runs through Jalen Pickett (team-leading 17.9 points per game and 6.7 assists) and could be the difference against a Texas team that is better on the defensive end but tends to let teams stick around (mediocre 18-17 ATS). Meanwhile, the Nittany Lions are 21-13 ATS as they continue to exceed expectations and I look for them to take this to the final gun like they did vs. Purdue. 

Tennessee +3.5 vs. Duke: This line was bet up to Duke -3.5 as of late Friday afternoon (this was originally written for the VSiN Best Bets file at VSiN.com) as it appears everyone is jumping on the Blue Devils’ bandwagon, so be patient if you’re with me in fading the masses. I know all the arguments by Duke apologists that say the No. 5-seeded Blue Devils are peaking at the right time and playing like a higher seed after their blowout of Oral Roberts as well as those who laugh at Tennessee coach Rick Barnes’ NCAA record and how the Volunteers nearly blew a commanding lead before escaping with a 58-55 win over Louisiana (and failing to cover as 11.5-point favorites). However, I still have Tennessee power-rated better than Duke and so do other handicappers/analysts I respect including Ken Pomeroy and VSin’s very own Steve Makinen. The shift to Duke being favored by this much looks like a classic overadjustment (early Sunday update: William Hill/Caesars were first books to go to Tennessee +4, so shop around).

Saturday XFL Best Bet

Orlando Guardians +7.5 at Vegas Vipers: I know the Guardians (0-4) are the worst team in the XFL, but the Vipers are also 0-4 and there’s no way there’s more than a TD between the worst and the second-worst teams in the league. Despite playing in more close games, the Vipers obviously haven’t shown the ability to win a game let alone any sign that they can win by margin. While Orlando is coming off its second blowout loss to Houston, the Guardians nearly beat the Arlington Renegades the prior week before losing just 10-9. The Vipers came up short in their 22-20 season-opening loss at Arlington, so I see no reason why this shouldn’t be a one-score game as well.

   

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