It’s been a typically wild and crazy ride through the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament this year, and if history has proven anything, today’s remaining games in third round action will once again find no team safe from elimination, and everything on the line in the win-or-go-home format. With brackets busting across the nation already, as national elite programs including #2 Missouri, #2 Duke, #4 Michigan and as of today #3 Georgetown have been sent packing, we’ll look to the two best available match-ups for online sports betting, with the most favorable betting lines at one of the best online sportsbooks reviewed right here.
Best Looking Third Round Match-up That Won’t End Up Being Close: #2 Kansas vs. #10 Purdue
There is so much talk about defense in this tournament, and rightly so. The smaller schools that have gotten around favored opponents have done an excellent job keeping shooting percentages low, and have won games with scrappy play on the boards, most notably on the offensive glass. In the match-up between #2 Kansas and #10 Purdue, which features two teams from elite conferences, one might expect this match-up to be a close affair as emphasis on both sides is placed firmly on defense. Here’s why it won’t be; Kansas ranks among the top-five teams in the nation in defensive rating (a measure of points allowed per 100 possessions). Purdue ranks 87th. Kansas’ ability to play well on defense against outside shooters is especially important in this tournament, where underdog teams try to catch up or stay on top via the 3-point shot, and Purdue today will inevitably be forced to take shots from the outside as the Jayhawks are stacked inside with Thomas Robinson and Jeff Withey. Purdue is not a great shooting team either, ranking 139th in the country at 44.1 percent from the floor. Kansas is 14th in the nation, and 48.5 percent. Purdue’s only real outside shooting option is Ryne Smith (%43.1 from 3-pt range), who should be hounded all night by Kansas’ Tyshawn Taylor and Elijah Johnson, who both match up well in stature with Smith. Taylor shoots almost equally well from deep at 42.9 percent, and at the least should negate any of Smith’s efforts from beyond the arc tonight, being as he’s one of the best players in all of college basketball this year.
Purdue’s only real hope in this match-up? Exploit the Jayhawks’ lack of depth by getting either Thomas Robinson or Jeff Withey in foul trouble. This puts huge pressure on the Boilermakers’ leading scorer and rebounder Robbie Hummel (16.1 points, 7.1 rebounds/game), as he’ll have to play very physical inside the paint and try to draw as many fouls as possible. Purdue though is greatly undersized in this match-up especially in the middle, having no player other than Hummel over 6’8″ who also scores more than 2.6 points/game, so there’s a massive disadvantage in the paint against a very talented Kansas front court. Even worse for Purdue, aside from Hummel there isn’t a single player on the team that has more than 3.7 rebounds per contest. Rebounds, especially those that create second chances on offense, have been huge in this tournament, and Purdue is going to have a very difficult time finding those with Thomas Robinson and Jeff Withey clogging the lanes on both sides of the court.
Betting Lines for #2 Kansas vs. #10 Purdue at Oddsmaker Sportsbook
Kansas is a -400 favorite to win straight up in tonight’s contest, while Purdue comes in as +320 underdogs. Though Kansas’ bottom line in the first tournament match-up with Detroit (a 65-50 win) didn’t impress many onlookers, with them shooting 46.1 percent from the floor and just 31.3 percent from 3-pt range, they are in prime position for an improved game tonight with one tournament contest under their belt.
Against the spread is where this match-up gets interesting, as Kansas must cover 8 points as favorites while Purdue gets a healthy 8 points to play with as the underdog. Based on the way these two teams match up however, especially with Kansas having a huge size advantage in the paint and being a much better shooting team, the Jayhawks are a good looking pick to cover the 8 point spread at -110 odds.
For the over/under on total points, 142 points is the mark listed at Oddsmaker Sportsbook. Both teams do score well, each averaging over 72 points per game, but with defense showing to the be key in tournament games this year, expect a slower pace, as well as a low-percentage shooting effort for Purdue, to keep the under bet looking like the best wager on the total points line.
Our Prediction: Kansas uses its’ size, shooting ability and star players Thomas Robinson and Tyshawn Taylor to overwhelm the Boilermakers from the get-go. The Jayhawks roll on to the Sweet 16 with a 74-60 victory.
Best Head-to-Head Match-Up: #3 Florida State vs. #6 Cincinnati
This, without a doubt, is the best-looking match-up on the schedule for Sunday’s third round of tournament competition. Florida State, winners of the ACC tournament, got a big scare from #14 St. Bonaventure in the second round on Friday, just squeaking by with a 66-63 win on a late 16-2 run down the stretch. Cincinnati on the other hand saw the Texas Longhorns rally in the second half, after getting dominated in the first half of a game that looked to be primed as the worst blowout thus far in the tournament only 10 minutes in. This game therefore will be a battle of which team can close out in the final minutes of the game, as both sides showed in the first game that no lead built in the first half is enough to win a game in the NCAA tournament. Florida State and Cincy match-up very well from a defensive perspective, averaging 62.9 and 61.2 points to opposing offenses respectively. However, the two go about their defense in much different ways. The Seminoles are reactive, adjusting during the game to account for hot shooters, and excel at keeping opposing shooters to low shooting percentages. Cincinnati likes to play physical ball, forces bad shots around the perimeter, and switches up defensive packages from man-to-man to zone with ease. With both teams having good ability to adjust, and both of them proving throughout the season to have the intestinal fortitude to weather an opposing teams’ hot streaks, this contest should be a fantastic battle, if not a tough call for online sports betting today.
Where Cincinnati needs to be on point in this match-up is with their guard play. Dion Dixon, Sean Kilpatrick and Cashmere Wright all have the ability to be elite players, but inconsistency in shooting can be a problem. Kilpatrick and Wright both have to have good games from outside the perimeter, as with them shooting well the Bearcats are tough to stop. Cincy also likes to play small and fast with their guards, so getting points in transition is essential for them to have success. Not to be left out of the conversation, Yancy Gates, Cincinnati’s most physical and powerful inside presence, will have to have success down low against a formidable opponent in FSU’s Bernard James. This match-up between two strong, athletic players will be a great focal point in this game, especially with both squads very evenly matched in rebounding capability.
For Florida State, Michael Snaer is the difference maker in this game. The 6’5″ junior guard has a match-up advantage around the perimeter against Cincinnati, and will be looking to improve his game after a horrific 0-7 shooting night against St. Bonaventure in the second round. Shooting nearly 41 percent from 3-pt range, and also very capable at the charity line at 84.6 percent, Snaer must contribute near his season average of 14.5 points/game in order to FSU to contend with a Bearcats team that is much, much better than the Bonnies’ team they faced on Friday. The Seminoles will also need someone outside their top-3 scorers to step up and provide points against Cincinnati. The 6’8″ Okaro White could be due for a stand-up game with Yancy Gates and Bernard James going toe-to-toe, as could Luke Loucks, a 6’5″ guard who has scored in double figures 4 times in his last 5 games. Loucks isn’t a great shooter at under 40 percent for the year, but if he turns it on tonight, Florida State will have the scoring depth they need to push past into the Sweet 16.
Betting Lines for #3 Florida State vs. #6 Cincinnati
Florida State has the edge on the money line for today’s match-up with Cincinnati, getting -140 odds to win as favorites while Cincinnati comes in as +125 underdogs. That makes the Bearcats a sexy pick in this match-up where two teams are very evenly matched-up in terms of talent and defensive capabilities.
Against the spread, the Seminoles get a slight 2.5 point favorite, with Cincy getting the 2.5 points as cushion for underdog pickers. As tournament games thus far have rarely been inside 3 points at the final buzzer, as tight games has seen the free-throw game pushing the score up in favor of the team with the lead, the spread may only be the way to go if you’re picking FSU to win, considering the lower odds taking them straight up on the money line.
The total points line for this match-up finds 127.5 as the over/under mark, which is just over the combined season average these two teams are allowing on defense. With both sides not great at shooting the ball, and both adapting well on defense, transition basketball, thus quick and easy points, will be infrequent throughout the game. Again, this points towards a higher likelihood of this game siding with the under total points pickers, especially as there’s a good probability one of these two teams does not have a good shooting night from the perimeter in the face of good defensive guard play.
Our Prediction: While this contest could be best picked with a coin-flip, given how closely matched the two teams are, Florida State looks to be the team with the better chance of success, given their more consistent play down the stretch of the season up to now. They are bigger in the paint, and have a size advantage around the perimeter, and are known for their hounding defense on outside shooting the frustrates opposing teams’ guards especially late in games. Expect this one to be close folks, but look for the Seminoles to have the closing ability to send the Bearcats packing. FSU 67, Cincinnati 63.
With a host of other great looking games available for March Madness sportsbook betting at one of the top reviewed sportsbooks found on our website, make sure to look over all the options on these two featured games, as well as the plethora of options for the 4 other contests taking place throughout the afternoon and evening today. Find great online sports betting lines at Oddsmaker Sportsbook today for NCAA Tournament basketball as #8 seed Creighton stands ready for an upset challenge against #1 seed North Carolina in Midwest Region play, #7 Florida will try to avoid being the next major victim of #15 Norfolk State, #10 Xavier and #15 Lehigh make for an intriguing match-up, and #12 South Florida clashes with #13 Ohio State, a team that has already proved their worthiness in the tournament by knocking off #4 Michigan. Anything goes as always in NCAA Tournament basketball, so do your homework, find the best betting odds at the top sportsbooks reviewed here, and hopefully come out a winner on the last day of the opening weekend of the biggest tournament in the world!