Elite 8 Match-up Breakdown: #7 Florida vs. #4 Louisville

Florida's freshman sensation Bradley Beal had little trouble with Marquette. Can he be equally effective against Louisville tonight in the Elite 8?

In the final weekend of NCAA Basketball before the venue changes to New Orleans, Louisiana for the Final Four, the two days of Elite 8 March Madness competition kicks off on Saturday with two fantastic pairings for the West and East Regional finals. With the 7th-seeded Florida Gators opening the action today against the 4th-seeded Louisville Cardinals, followed up with a fantastic #1 vs. #2 pairing with the Syracuse Orangemen battling the Ohio State Buckeyes, you can be certain to find close betting lines for both these outstanding match-ups, at one of the best online sportsbooks reviewed here. We’ll take a deeper look into the first game of the day between the Florida Gators and the Louisville Cardinals, the betting lines for the contest listed at one of the featured top sports betting sites, and make our pick for the eventual winner who will make their way towards destiny and the glory of participating in the 2012 NCAA Final Four.

Match-up Details for #7 Florida Gators vs. #4 Louisville Cardinals:

Tip-Off at 4:30 PM ET. US Airways Center, Phoenix, Arizona

Whether or not you expected either of these teams to be this far along in the tournament given their shortcomings this season, there’s no questioning whether these two programs are familiar with the territory, as Billy Donovan’s Florida Gators shoot for a 4th Final Four under his reign, while Rick Pitino and his Louisville Cardinals try to make the final showdown for the 6th time under his charge. The elder statesmen Pitino has historically owned this match-up, going 6-0 in meetings with Florida head-to-head, but with these two programs operating in entirely different fashion this year, all bets are out as to who will have the upper hand tonight. This is a classic teacher vs. student showdown, as Billy Donovan was once a player under Rick Pitino at Providence, and the two elite coaches share plenty of love between each other off the court. On the court however, it’s business as usual, and both coaches will be intent on handing the other a loss, with a respectful hug and handshake after it’s all said and done.

For Florida, tonight’s game is all about maximizing their talent on offense, and avoid collapsing on the defensive end of the ball. Freshman Bradley Beal (14.6 points, 6.7 rebounds/game) has entered the spotlight as a true NCAA star this season, and comes into today’s match-up off a fine 21 point performance to help the Gators past Marquette in the Sweet 16. Kenny Boynton (16.0 ppg), Florida’s leading scorer and floor general, and Erving Walker (12.1 ppg, 4.5 assist/game) manage the outside perimeter game for the Gators, while big talent lies within the paint courtesy of Erik Murphy (10.7 ppg, 4.2 rpg) and Patric Young (10.3 ppg, 6.4 rpg). There’s plenty of talent here with all 5 starters in double figures, however for tonight it’ll be how those players respond to a very well-coached Louisville team that has gotten by with oppressive defense in both the Big East and the NCAA Tournament thus far. Florida will have to get a better shooting night out of Kenny Boynton in the face of a quick Cardinals perimeter defense, as he was just 2-for-10 from the floor against Marquette, including 1-of-5 from 3-pt range. A bigger game from Patric Young would be a boost for Florida as well, as he’s yet to score in double digits in this tournament. The Gators do have a big of a size advantage over Louisville in the paint tonight, so it’s crucial for both Young and Erik Murphy to be on their best form against a Cardinals team that has been beating teams by being scrappy and playing each possession like it were their last.

Louisville on the flipside is not known for a talented scoring offense, and doesn’t shoot the ball particularly well (42.4 percent from the floor, 225th in the NCAA), but they do have a number of players that can help carry them to victory in this match-up with Florida. Peyton Siva certainly answered the call to step up in the Big East tournament, but has been ice cold shooting in his last two games, averaging just 5 points over two games while shooting a combined 4-for-15 from the floor and 0-for-3 from beyond the arc. That has to improve tonight against the relatively weak perimeter defense of Florida, which can be susceptible to the outside shot. Along those lines, team leader Kyle Kuric (13.1 ppg) also needs to improve his form, as he’s averaging just 8.5 points per game while shooting just over 40 percent from the floor. Without one of these two players contributing at an efficient level, Florida’s offense could have the ability to outpace and simply outscore the Cardinals, despite their best defensive efforts. That said, Louisville will also be looking to their freshman sensation Chane Behanan for scoring answers, as he’s coming off a near double-double in the win over Michigan State (15 pts, 9 rebounds), as well as Senegalese big man Gorgui Dieng (9.4 ppg, 9.1 rpg), who simply has to be a defensive standout against Florida’s Erik Murphy and Patric Young in the paint. Dieng hasn’t scored more than 6 points in the tournament, but his defensive efforts may perhaps be even more important tonight yet again, as he’ll be tasked with helping to gain an advantage in the rebounding department tonight.

These two contrasting styles of play will make for a very interesting match-up tonight, but one thing that has been noticeable in the NCAA Tournament thus far is that high-scoring teams have a tendency to become frustrated with defenses that prevent quick transition offense, and force shooting to the perimeter. For Florida, they are going to have to react well to the inevitable slowdown on offense created by the Cardinal D, which has yet to allow more than 64 points in a game in the last 5 contests. Florida thrives on high-scoring games, averaging over 76 points of offense on the season, gaining an advantage with their fast-paced style of play. That will likely be taken away from them tonight, as Rick Pitino’s Cardinals likes to run with a smaller, faster lineup that has the ability to get back quickly on defense, and force opposing teams to run set plays. In order for Florida to prevail tonight then, they’ll have to pick and choose good shots from the outside, and utilize their star freshman Bradley Beal along with their inside players to pound the ball towards the hoop. If left to shoot from the perimeter, Florida is going to struggle tonight, especially with Louisville playing well on the defensive glass. If they can get the ball inside and work in front of Gorgui Dieng (who is susceptible to foul trouble), Florida could find a way to chip away points against a smaller Louisville front court.

For Louisville tonight, a strong defensive effort should be a given, especially with Rick Pitino’s ability to make quick adjustments during games, and his player’s discipline under his expert tutelage. This is a smart basketball team that while short on scoring talent, has a good collective basketball IQ that has them focusing on their opponents’ weaknesses and poised to take the best possible shots on offense. Making their best shots count will be the difference in the game tonight for the Cards. Kyle Kuric needs to step up from the 3-point arc, an Peyton Siva needs to be a factor by driving to the lane and exploiting a Florida defense known to struggle with quick assignments. While Louisville can’t afford to get into a shoot-out with Florida, they can pick them apart by working off set plays, and penetrating towards the hoop. If there is anything the Gators truly lack, it’s the ability to play a complete defensive game against a well-run offense. Taking advantage of that weakness with good ball movement and contributions throughout the line-up will pay dividends for Louisville today.

Betting Lines for #7 Florida vs. #4 Louisville at Sportsbetting Sportsbook

Heading to one of the best online sportsbooks reviewed here at the Sportsbetting Sportsbook, we find the betting lines for this exciting match-up putting the two teams very close together, making for some tough betting decisions on the first Elite 8 match-up.

On the money line, Florida takes the slight favorite at -120 odds to win straight up, with Louisville trailing as a EVEN money option.

Against the spread, Florida is just a -1 point favorite at -110 odds, while the Louisville Cardinals get just 1 point to play with for underdog spread pickers.

The over/under for this game is split between the high-scoring aspects of the Florida Gators style of play, and the repressive defensive efforts of the Louisville Cardinals. With 131 points as the mark set, expectations are set for a mid-60 point effort for both sides. That would assume that Florida can score more than Louisville has allowed in a game over the last month, and also would assume that Louisville finally scores more than 60 points in a game this tournament.

Our Prediction:

With Florida relying on a faster-paced, higher scoring approach to win ballgames, it will be interesting to see how they react when faced with the best defense left in the NCAA tournament this year. Florida has however played much better defense down the home stretch of the season, allowing no more than 58 points in their last 3 games heading into tonight. Louisville as well has been outstanding on defense, so it seems to suggest that the team that can have more success shooting the ball tonight will have the upper hand. In that case, the signs seem to point towards Florida, with their more talented array of shooters, and better shooting percentage from the floor and from beyond the arc. You have to like the way Florida matches up inside the paint, and in a game where both teams are reasonably well matched in the rebounding category, the Gators via their size and depth may have an upper hand around the hoop tonight. While I fully expect Louisville to give a fantastic run at tonight’s game, I also expect the Gators to simply have too much offense, play a better defensive game than predicted, and pull away with a close victory in Phoenix tonight. The student finally gets the better of the teacher tonight, with a final score Florida 66, Louisville 62.

Elite 8 March Madness Sportsbook Bets, More NBA, NHL Action Ahead

After yet another exciting day of NCAA Basketball on Friday that closed the books on the Sweet 16 round of competition, we press on with more games in NCAA Tournament play on Saturday, with two contests taking place today in the Elite 8. Though unfortunately the hopes and dreams of three more low-seeded teams gave way to the expected winners yesterday and now leaves no team remaining higher than #7 in the tournament, today’s two games for the Elite 8 will offer another great challenge for online sports betting fanatics, and more likelihood of well-contested basketball contests as the teams become more balanced and the action even more exciting over the course of the weekend. For the first two wagers on the day, spot your best bets at the Sportsbetting Sportsbook), one of the best sportsbooks reviewed here on our website. Breaking ground on the top sports bets at one of the best online sportsbooks today, catch the best betting options on the games scheduled tonight, with the #7 Florida Gators taking on the #4 Louisville Cardinals, and later on check out a fine match-up of elite programs in the East Region as the #1 Syracuse Orangemen take on the #2 Ohio State Buckeyes. You certainly won’t want to miss out on the betting action around the Elite 8 round of play, as once these 4 games are gone this weekend, only the Final Four, and a total of 3 NCAA Basketball games remain alive for betting on sports!

Switching gears to NBA Basketball today, the race to the playoffs continue with 9 games on tap, with a couple of interesting match-ups potentially affecting playoff seeding. First up in the Western Conference, the Los Angeles Clippers host the Memphis Grizzlies, and try to regain form after dropping 3 straight games for the first time on the season. Relinquishing control of 4th place to the visiting Grizzlies, the Clips will be hell-bent on regaining their sole possession of 4th place tonight, especially with only a half-game separating 4th place from 9th place in the race for the playoffs. With under 20 games to go in the shortened season, every match-up counts, and this one in particular is critical for both these teams, as tie breakers may inevitably come into effect on the last day of the season. Next up for NBA Basketball sportsbook betting, look to another Texas-sized battle royale as the Houston Rockets play host to the Dallas Mavericks, with both these teams also entrenched in the Western Conference playoff conundrum. Dallas looks to avoid a 3rd straight loss of their own, while the host side Rockets will try for a 3rd straight win and a possible jump up to 5th place from 8th win a victory at home. Other playoff-affecting match-ups tonight include the Indiana Pacers at the Milwaukee Bucks, as well as the New York Knicks at home against the Detroit Pistons. As Milwaukee is on the upswing as well as New York, being separated by only a half-game for 8th spot in the East, both of tonight’s match-ups are crucial for these two improving teams, as they try to pull out from under .500 ball and gain entrance to the postseason once again. Though the match-ups may not be the best we’ll see this weekend, you can expect the intensity in each game to be raised as the lingering playoffs start to have a very tangible feel about them, making online sportsbook betting on NBA hoops even that much more exciting.

Switching to NHL Hockey options for betting on sports today, a number of excellent match-ups get underway, and as usual for the last two weeks of NHL play, each game inevitably has an effect on the Western and Eastern Conference playoff pictures. For starters, a huge game takes place in Los Angeles tonight, as the Kings host the Boston Bruins. The Kings, by virtue of a tie-breaker with Phoenix, sit in 3rd place in the Western Conference after being tied for 8th just two days ago. Boston on the other hand sits precariously on a 3 point lead in the Northeast division over Ottawa, and if they aren’t successful at fending off the surging Kings, winners of 6 straight, they could be looking at quickly falling to 7th place, where Ottawa currently resides. Spot other playoff-critical games tonight as the Calgary Flames visit the Dallas Stars with the two teams 2 points apart in a battle for the 8th seed, the Vancouver Canucks chase St. Louis for the NHL points lead against Colorado, another team deadlocked in the Western Conference playoff race, and the San Jose Sharks facing the Phoenix Coyotes in a match-up that will shake up the Pacific division rankings and the playoff standings. Back east, a number of great contests take place with Nashville hosting Winnipeg, Ottawa hosting Pittsburgh, and the Buffalo Sabres bringing in the Minnesota Wild. Another great day for sports fans and for online sports betting at the top sportsbooks reviewed here, check into the Sportsbetting Sportsbook for action from basketball, hockey, soccer and more each and every day, and as always good luck in all your wagers to come!

Sweet 16 Part 2: Friday’s Top Sportsbook Betting Action in March Madness

After an exciting first half of the 2012 NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 last night, Friday finds yet another set of 4 games for College Basketball fans to engage in, as the shot at reaching the regional finals comes into reach for 8 more teams taking to the hard court this evening. As the tournament closes out regional play on Saturday and Sunday this week before a break and a shift of venues to the Final Four in New Orleans, Louisiana, it’s time to knuckle up, put our money where our mouth is, and put down our wagers for all the remaining games left in what has been a fantastic NCAA Basketball season once again. Let’s do a quick breakdown of each of the games playing out tonight, look over some of the best betting lines available for each contest, and hopefully spot some advantages for betting at one of the best online sportsbooks reviewed here.

South Region Game #1: #3 Baylor Bears vs. #10 Xavier, Tip-off 7:15 PM ET at Atlanta, GA

The Baylor Bears were considered to be one of the better teams in the tournament talent-wise, but also one of the teams most likely to suffer an ill-timed setback due to their propensity for getting beat by much less talented teams. Put those thoughts aside now, because this Bears team is now just one victory away from reaching its second Elite 8 in just 3 years, further giving Baylor University reason to be called an elite athletic school. With stand-out players like Perry Jones III, the two Quincy’s Acy and Miller, and a hot-shooting Brady Heslip who is having a sensational tournament averaging 22 points/game while hitting 14-of-22 3-point shots, the Bears are most certainly a team on the upswing. In opposition tonight however is a team that deserves to lose the mid-major distinction that most would associate with a Cinderella story at this point in the Big Dance. Xavier has reached the Sweet 16 in 4 of their last 5 into March Madness, and has a talented cast of their own behind guards Tu Holloway and Mark Lyons. While they aren’t exceptionally big and don’t shoot exceptionally well, they have been knocking off teams from the six largest conferences time and time again with outstanding all-around team efforts, proving that their never one to be counted out in any match-up. A big question tonight for Xavier though remains with their freshman swing man Dezmine Wells, who averages north of 10 points per game, and could see limited action after suffering a sprained big toe in the win against Lehigh. The Musketeers will need all their depth to prevail against a Baylor team destined to prove their doubters wrong, and any cracks in the foundation could spell disaster in the face of a Big 12 school that is gaining steam as the tournament rounds progress.

Betting Lines for Baylor vs. Xavier at Betonline Sportsbook:

The Baylor Bears take the nod as the favorite to win tonight’s match-up with Xavier, getting -285 odds straight up on the money line. The Xavier Musketeers find themselves, as usual, as heavy underdogs at +240 odds.

Against the Spread, find 6 points separating the two teams tonight, -6 to the favored Baylor Bears, +6 on the underdog Xavier Musketeers (both options are at -110 odds). While Xavier is more than capable of winning this game tonight if they can play solid defense and shoot well from the outside, what is of concern for spread pickers is what happens when they lose. In the last 4 defeats for Xavier, they’ve lost by an average of 10.5 points. If Baylor, with their bigger inside presence and better depth can frustrate Xavier and control the lead throughout the contest, there’s a very good chance the Musketeers will fall off in the closing minutes to give Baylor spread pickers a leg up.

Lastly for the total points betting line, the over/under stands at 142 points, as neither team plays lockdown defense, and both average north of 70 points per contest on offense. Both teams are going to come out and try to push the ball in transition, and with Baylor’s height advantage in the paint, look for lots of quick buckets and second chances inside to drive the points total upwards and potentially beyond the 142 mark tonight.

Our Prediction: While Xavier is a proven tournament darling, Baylor is on a mission to prove everyone wrong for doubting their hustle and their intensity. Baylor comes out hot, stays hot, and earns their ticket to the regional final by knocking off the Musketeers 76-68.

South Region Game #2: #1 Kentucky vs. #4 Indiana, Tip-Off at 9:45 PM ET at Atlanta, GA

Hitting the court just after the end of the Baylor vs. Xavier game is undoubtedly the most anticipated Sweet 16 match-up for online sports betting fans, as a rematch between #1 seed Kentucky and #4 Indiana plays out between the two of the most winningest teams in College Basketball history, with a combined 12 national titles between them. This is the first time in nearly 20 years that the two schools have met in the NCAA Tournament, thus it’s safe to say there’s huge and longstanding bragging rights on the line for these two programs. The Hoosiers have already proven they can beat this year’s #1 ranked team, knocking off the Wildcats 73-72 on a buzzer beater from Christian Watford just before the New Year, but you’d be kidding yourself if you think John Calipari’s ‘Cats aren’t thinking about redemption for that loss. Make no mistake, the Wildcats leading scorer Anthony Davis will be first and foremost set on having a better game tonight with concentration on avoiding unnecessary fouls, as his absence due to foul trouble in the December loss was a huge reason why Kentucky couldn’t close the door on Indiana the first time around. Talent is all over the place in this match-up tonight, from Davis, Doron Lamb, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Marquis Teague for the Wildcats, and from Cody Zeller, Christian Watford, Jordan Hulls and Victor Oladipo for the Hoosiers. Both teams shoot lights out at around 49 percent from the floor on the season, and both teams are well-composed after tough schedules throughout the NCAA regular season.

One very important factor tonight for both teams is how they manage to stay composed on defense in the face of hot-shooting, talented players. Kentucky looks the most poised to dominate this game defensively, allowing just 59 points/game on the season, while Indiana (giving up 65.5 points/game on defense) likes to play more run-and-gun, relying on their offensive to outscore opponents especially into the final minutes. Kentucky has the advantage inside with bigger, more physical bodies occupying the paint, however if they focus all their attention inside on defense as well, they’ll be subject to a barrage of outside shooting from a Hoosiers team that hits an amazing 43.1 percent of their 3-point shots. It would most certainly be a horror story for Wildcats fans to see another last second shot with the game on the line fall via Christian Watford or Jordan Hulls, so expect Kentucky to be pressing and aggressive around the perimeter on defense. Indiana on the other hand has to find a way to stop the easy buckets from Anthony Davis, Terrence Jones, and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. These guys get to loose balls, frustrate with physical ability, and shoot the ball well when given open space for jump-shots. Indiana simply must have solid defensive efforts inside tonight, and avoid getting their big guys into foul trouble as well. That’s something Kentucky most certainly will be trying to do to pay back the Hoosiers for handing them one of only two losses suffered by the Wildcats on the season.

Betting Lines for #1 Kentucky vs. #4 Indiana:

Kentucky comes in as a huge favorite in this match-up tonight, as the bookmakers at Betonline Sportsbook certainly aren’t expecting this to be a close contest via their money line stance taking the Wildcats as -615 favorites to win. Indiana is the second biggest underdog of the Sweet 16 round at +485 odds, so if you’re feeling saucy on taking an upset bid, now’s a great time to do it.

All fantasies aside however, the best chance for backing the Indiana Hoosiers may line with the spread, as Indiana is a hefty 9 1/2 point underdog (-110 odds). Though Kentucky is certainly deserving of their 9 1/2 point favorite with better depth, bigger size and arguably more talent across the board, there is no question that Indiana is a team that puts up an incredible fight down to the last minute, and for a team that can pour in 3-pointers in clutch moments you can never count them out even when all appears lost. Look for Indiana to be intent on keeping this game close until the end, and cover the spread tonight.

Onto the total points line, the over/under sits at a lofty 144 points, as should befit a match-up between two very high-percentage shooting teams. However, as we’ve seen in years past when two very quality shooting teams meet up in later rounds, defense tends to stiffen up, transition offense becomes harder to score points with, and more inopportune shots come about as smothering defense is focused upon. While I do expect some late-game scoring to push the total right up near the line tonight, I’m looking for a better defensive effort from both teams, especially in the first half, to increase the likelihood that this game stays just under the mark for total points.

Our Prediction: Kentucky simply has the better team from position to position, and while Indiana will make a game of it via their impressive outside shooting prowess, in the end, Anthony Davis is going to be the X factor in tonight’s game, and will lead his Wildcats to the Elite 8 to come. Look for Kentucky to dominate inside the paint, play better defense around the perimeter, and prevent Indiana from having real success in multiple facets of their game. It’ll be a better dogfight than what’s predicted on the betting lines, but UK emerges with a solid 70-64 win to advance.

Midwest Region Game #1: #1 North Carolina vs. #13 Ohio

Oh, how we all love a good Cinderella story. It’s safe to say that no one would expect to see the Ohio Bobcats in contention for a spot in the Elite 8, after bumping off two defensive stalwarts in Michigan and South Florida, but it’s also safe to say that they haven’t seen an offense like North Carolina’s at any point along their MAC conference schedule. While you can never totally rule out an underdog, especially in this year’s tournament where we saw two #2 seeds go out in the second round, and a whole host of upsets in between then and now, you have to realize that this is one of the most lopsided match-ups remaining in the NCAA Tournament. While Ohio has some talent via D.J. Cooper (14.9 ppg) and Walter Offutt (12.0 ppg) and play pretty solid defense (allowing 62.4 ppg), they are horribly outsized against a North Carolina team brimming with supersized talent. In the rebounding category alone the Tarheels average 11 more boards per game (45 to 34), which could sum up this contest before it even gets started. From John Henson to Tyler Zeller to Harrison Barnes, UNC has the length to suffocate any team inside the paint, let alone a mid-major team that is just happy to be playing this late in the season. Don’t forget as well that UNC ranks second in the nation in scoring at 82 points per game, averaging 12 points more per contest than Ohio does. While we’re totally setting ourselves up for the possibility of an embarrassing upset, the stats and the talent paint a picture of a game with huge blowout potential, and one in which only UNC can truly beat themselves in.

Betting Lines for #1 North Carolina vs. #13 Ohio

Betonline Sportsbook has the Ohio Bobcats right where most would expect them; as huge underdogs on the money line, specifically at +530 odds to win. There’s very little point in chasing those astronomical underdog odds, or the -670 odds on North Carolina to win, unless you’re willing to wager massive cash for little gain backing the clear favorite Tarheels to win.

Against the spread, things start to get a bit more intriguing. Ohio is a 10 1/2 point underdog, but at such low odds (-110) as is typical for the spread, there’s little reason to chase a pipe dream of seeing another Cinderella story making this a close game. With North Carolina coming off a drubbing of the nation’s top shooting team in Creighton (87-73), expectations should be high that we’ll see a similar performance against a much less capable team in Ohio, and a very good chance that North Carolina simply runs away with this game from the get-go.

Another tricky pick here is the betting lines for total points, as the over/under stands at 143. Ohio has gotten past the first two rounds of competition on good defense, but despite averaging 70 points per game they’ve yet to show they have the offensive capabilities to generate enough baskets to get the total points anywhere near their half of 143. With Ohio desperate to slow the pace of the game down, and likely struggling to score point in the face of a very big North Carolina team, even a huge scoring night for UNC doesn’t look likely to push the points total over the mark tonight.

Our Prediction: North Carolina simply overwhelms the Ohio Bobcats, ending an exciting run for a team that at least got a shot to play three games on the national stage. No doubt Ohio will give their best efforts especially on defense, but in the end their lack of offense and rebounding will have UNC rolling through tonight’s match-up and into the Elite 8. North Carolina dominates in a 80-68 win.

Midwest Region Game #2: #2 Kansas vs. #11 North Carolina State

For the final game of the Sweet 16 in this year’s NCAA Tournament, a most intriguing match-up comes across the betting lines today, as the #2 seed Kansas Jayhawks try to avoid being bumped out of yet another tournament by an upstart #11 seed team. While on paper the N.C. State Wolfpack doesn’t seem to match up all too well against the Jayhawks, this is a team you somewhat have to throw the stats out on. Since the ACC tournament commenced, first season head coach Mark Gottfried’s Wolfpack have answered the call to step up their form, and show that they’re ones worthy of not only inclusion in the NCAA Tournament, but also ones to be worried about. Two impressive wins over San Diego State and Georgetown later, and N.C. State is certainly a team that is on the upswing, building confidence and not afraid to take on the likes of Big 12 powerhouse Kansas.

C.J. Leslie has without a doubt been the step-up player for the Wolfpack late in the year, emerging as a leader for N.C. State after getting called out for being a troublemaker earlier in the season. He has been on fire down the stretch hitting 59.6 percent of his shots while averaging 18.3 points/game over the last 10 contests, and is certainly a key factor for the Wolfpack getting over the hump and into one of the last at-large bids for the NCAA Tournament. Leading a ‘Pack team that features 5 players in double figures, N.C. State has plenty of potential scoring leaders which bodes well against a Kansas team whose only real crutch is their lack of depth. While you have to respect Bill Self’s KU squad via their exceptionally talented cast of starters including Thomas Robinson (17.8 ppg, 11.8 rpg) and TyShawn Taylor (16.9 ppg, 4.8 apg), there is definitely hope for a team with depth to contend with Kansas tonight, and make this an interesting match-up for online sportsbook betting.

What bodes even better for N.C. State is seeing what kind of struggles Purdue gave to Kansas in the Round of 32, losing by just 3 points after looking very likely to snag an upset win. The Boilermakers’ success on defense, holding the Jayhawks to just 33.9 percent shooting, is most certainly something the Wolfpack will want to emulate tonight. Along with that, putting attention first and foremost on Kansas’ big men Thomas Robinson and Jeff Withey has paid dividends for other teams this season, as controlling the scoring of one or the other inside KU players puts added pressure around the perimeter, where Kansas has not shot exceptionally well this in this year’s tournament (%31 vs. Detroit, %25 vs. Purdue). Here’s what looks good for a solid chance of a Wolfpack upset; against a good shooting team in San Diego State, N.C. State took the ball to the basket, and shot a scorching 58.5 percent from the floor. Against a defensive-minded and very physical inside team like Georgetown, N.C. State went outside and found success by hitting 46.7 percent of their 3-point shots, led by a 4-for-5 shooting night from forward Scott Wood. Another huge point to take away from both games? The Wolfpack won the battle of the glass, and very importantly against Georgetown held a 15:6 advantage on the offensive boards. If they can have similar inside success against the Kansas big men, N.C. State will be moving on to the Elite 8 as one of the best Cinderella stories in this year’s Big Dance.

Betting Lines for #2 Kansas vs. #11 N.C. State

#2 Kansas has a monkey to shake off their backs after being ousted by last year’s Cinderella story, then-#11 seed VCU. The bookmakers at Betonline have obviously not taken any historical failings by Kansas into account, and have given the Jayhawks a hefty -415 favorite to win on the money line tonight. N.C. State therefore makes for an intriguing pick at +345 odds, especially after playing well to overcome two teams that could have made a legitimate run towards the Final Four this year.

Against the spread, again the high odds in favor of Kansas to win favor going after a pick on N.C. State. An 8 point difference sits between the two sides tonight, with the Jayhawks forced to cover 8 points (-115 odds) as favorite, and the Wolfpack getting 8 points (-105 odds) to play with tonight. After seeing Kansas struggle with Purdue in a game they arguably should have lost, and watching N.C. State build confidence with each game under their belt, N.C. State has to be more than a passing interest for spread pickers in this match-up.

Lastly, the over/under on total points stands at a lofty 143 1/2 points for tonight’s contest. However, after seeing Kansas fail to surpass 65 points in both tournament games prior to this meeting, there has to be a sense of reluctance expecting a complete offensive turnaround for the Jayhawks, especially when the Wolfpack, typically a pretty poor defensive side (allowing 68 points/game to opposing offenses), held SDSU and Georgetown to 65 points or less, and also managed to keep North Carolina 13 points under their season average (allowing 69 points vs. UNC’s 82 average) in a close loss in the ACC tournament. In a game where defense will be critical, the under wager on total points looks to be a great option for online sportsbook betting tonight.

Our Prediction: This game has great potential to be a solid upset pick tonight, and there would most certainly be an excellent story to tell for N.C. State coming from being an ACC afterthought, to just barely squeezing in the tournament, to making a legitimate run for a national title. Though Kansas is a whole different monster compared to what N.C. State has faced thus far, their depth and confidence against a Kansas team that may be starting to doubt themselves after two lackluster performances, gives great reason to want to chase the Cinderella story here tonight. And so, for the sake of making things interesting, that’s exactly what we’ll do here. N.C. State goes for glory tonight, pulling off yet another #11 vs. #2 defeat over Kansas to send them packing early for a second consecutive year. Wolfpack 70, Kansas 68.

Enjoy all these great games for the final day of Sweet 16 competition in the 2012 NCAA Tournament, get those wagers placed as soon as possible at the Betonline Sportsbook or any of the best reviewed online sportsbooks found on our homepage, and get set for an outstanding weekend of College hoops ahead with even more action as the Elite 8 round of play comes knocking on the door!

Close out the Week with Sportsbook Betting on Sweet 16 NCAA Tournament Games

Four games have now gone the way of the Dodo in the Sweet 16 round of this year’s NCAA Tournament play, and with only 4 games left to play out this Friday before Elite 8 competition kicks off on Saturday, you’ll most want to take advantage of every opportunity available for online sportsbook betting on the remaining games in March Madness. After today there are only a total of 7 contests remaining for what has been another truly exciting and exhilarating season of College Basketball, so join me today down at Betonline Sportsbook, one of the best sportsbook betting sites reviewed here. Checking out the betting lines at Betonline Sportsbook today, find a number of wagering possibilities on tap as the early pair of games in the NCAA Tournament feature #3 Baylor taking on #10 Xavier, and #1 North Carolina battling it out with Cinderella story #13 Ohio. Later on the evening, catch another pair of highly watchable games as #11 N.C. State tangles with #2 Kansas, and #1 Kentucky gets a shot at redemption against #4 Indiana, one of just two teams that were able to beat the Wildcats this season.

Moving along to more bets on basketball today, NBA action features plenty of great options for online sportsbook gambling, as once again we find another in-state battle featuring two top-tier teams, with the Dallas Mavericks visiting the San Antonio Spurs for a showdown in Texas. San Antonio continues to be one of the most difficult teams in the league to play against at home, and with Dallas not on the best of form heading into this match-up, look out for the home team to pick up another victory as the Spurs continue to chase down the Oklahoma City Thunder for the top seed in the Western Conference playoff race. Another exciting match-up to wager on today finds a playoff race and a battle for the top spot in the Atlantic Division, as the Boston Celtics take on the Philadelphia 76ers. Boston comes off a solid victory last night against Milwaukee, stopping the Bucks 6-game winning streak, but with a veteran squad playing back-to-back nights, Philadelphia looks to have a slight advantage even despite their run of poor form (losers of 4 of the last 5 games) Expect stingy defense from both sides, and a close match-up to the finish as Philadelphia aims to get back on track while at the same time avoiding a Celtics takeover of first place in their division. Check out other great NBA match-ups for betting on sports at Betonline today as the Denver Nuggets travel to face the Utah Jazz, the Los Angeles Lakers host the Portland Trail Blazers, and the Minnesota Timberwolves head into a tough road match-up at Oklahoma City against the Thunder.

Switching gears over to NHL Hockey, with roughly 8 games left on each team’s schedule, the playoff action only intensifies as the days progress towards the postseason, so you’ll certainly want to join in the fun of wagering on some of the top remaining contests left before then. Big games to watch for tonight include the Winnipeg Jets and Washington Capitals, as both teams sit on the Eastern Conference playoff bubble, the Buffalo Sabres at New York Rangers, as the Sabres desperately try hold on to their chances of squeak into the postseason, and the New Jersey Devils vs. Toronto Maple Leafs, with the Devils looking to solidify their position as the 4th team from the Atlantic division to reach the playoffs this year. With both basketball and hockey action on tap to close out the week, and plenty of great upcoming sporting events set throughout the weekend, head on down to one of the best online sports betting sites today to take a shot at the best picks for your best chances to cash in on the exciting action taking place each and every day.

Sweet 16 NCAA Action, NBA and NHL Contests on Tap for Sportsbook Betting

My oh my it’s a good time to be a College Basketball fan! With Thursday bringing back March Madness action in the form of the NCAA Tournament’s Sweet 16, there’s little doubt that college hoops will make for the top options for online sports betting at the best reviewed sportsbooks found here, but with added options including great games in NBA Basketball and NHL Hockey to boot, Thursday is a fantastic all-around day to jump online, get your wagers placed, and prepare for a fine evening of sports action as we head into another weekend. With 4 games on tap in the NCAA Tournament tonight, including a pair of #1 seed vs. #4 seed match-ups as Michigan State takes on Louisville and Syracuse battles Wisconsin, make sure to join us down at one of the top sports betting websites, like our featured sportsbook of the day at TopBet Sportsbook, and take a look over all the best betting options on the evening. I’ve put down my wagers for these two opening games, as well as the later contests featuring #6 seed Cincinnati vs. #2 Ohio State, and #3 Marquette in action against #7 Florida, and you can always check out more analysis in our NCAA Basketball research section, as well as finding out more great information and statistics about match-ups provided by some of the top sportsbooks reviewed here.

With bets covered on NCAA action this evening, we’ll turn to options around NBA Basketball for some further betting choices, as a host of 6 games dot the online sports betting landscape tonight. Admittedly, the match-ups don’t look all too great in terms of great teams going head-to-head, but that never rules out the chance of picking up some good looking betting lines at one of the best online sportsbooks. Likely the best match-up of the evening pits the Portland Trail Blazers against the visiting Memphis Grizzlies, with the home side Blazers in desperate need of a win to stay in proximity to the 8th and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. While Portland has been relatively good at home this year, and the visiting Grizzlies have not fared as well away from home themselves (also Memphis has dropped 4 of their last 6 games), the turmoil faced by the Blazers over the firing of their coach and the transfer of some key players including Gerald Wallace has seen them most recently get blown out at Milwaukee 116-87 on Tuesday, and in their last 5 defeats they’ve lost by an embarrassing average of nearly 25 points. The betting lines for tonight’s match-up is tight, with Memphis a -1 point favorite, but expect a high-scoring game for both teams, as defense again goes out the window, and a Grizzlies win as Zach Randolph continues to improve in his 4th game back after his early-season ACL injury. Check out further betting lines on what will be a fast-paced contest between the Utah Jazz and Sacramento Kings, look for the Houston Rockets at home to cover the 8 points against the spread as they bring in the Monta Ellis-less Golden State Warriors, and I’ll take Boston as a +3.5 point underdog at Milwaukee, as they try to halt the 6-game winning streak of the newly Monta Ellis-plus Bucks.

On to action on the ice sheet, NHL Hockey continues the charge towards the playoffs with more exciting betting opportunities each and every day. 8 games are on tap for hockey fans tonight, including a tough turnaround game for the Vancouver Canucks vs. the Dallas Stars. Vancouver comes off a bitter overtime loss to Chicago, and may be without the services of leading goal scorer Daniel Sedin, who suffered a vicious elbow to the face in last night’s loss and is uncertain for tonight’s game. Dallas on the other hand has been picking up steam at a good time, with the Pacific Division completely up for grabs heading into the final 10 games of the season, and if they can overcome Vancouver for the 3rd time this season, they’ll keep hold of 1st place in the Pacific Division, at least for another day. Another huge game to check out in the West is the match-up between the surging Los Angeles Kings and the NHL points leading St. Louis Blues. This is a must-win game for L.A. at home, and with St. Louis playing back-to-back games after a loss at Anaheim last night, there’s a good chance that the improving Kings can steal away one at home from the top-rated defense in the league. Make sure to check out other great hockey games with playoff connotations as the Philadelphia Flyers host the Washington Capitals, the Pittsburgh Penguins bring in the Nashville Predators, and the San Jose Sharks take on the Boston Bruins. All-in-all it’s a huge day for sports and online sportsbook betting, so head on down to TopBet Sportsbook or any one of the best online sportsbooks reviewed here for a taste of all the exciting action to come tonight!

NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 Action Kicks off With 4 Exciting Contests

Syracuse's Kris Joseph pleads to the basketball gods for a victory over Wisconsin to reach the Elite 8.

After a long and drawn out wait for more NCAA Tournament games to continue on Thursday, the March Madness action is finally here, and no doubt ripe for more online sports betting options found at one of the best online sportsbooks reviewed here. Though we’ve done a number already on the available betting lines for the 4 Sweet 16 games featured tonight throughout the week, there’s still time to squeeze in a couple of bets before the games start, with the first contest between the #4 Wisconsin Badgers and the #1 Syracuse Orangemen in Boston as part of the East Region bracket starting just after 7 PM Eastern Time, and the second game at a similar time slot taking place in Phoenix for the West Region between #4 Louisville and #1 Michigan State. No doubt each and every single match-up is worthy of some online sports betting love from you today, as once these tournament games are over, you won’t find sports betting action like this for another year! For the best online sports betting available on tournament games, the TopBet Sportsbookis primed with the best odds for March Madness action and offers a solid 50 percent bonus opportunity for new deposits, making it a great destination for first-time online sports betting, or for you sports fans looking to switch over to one of the best online sportsbooks.

Getting started with the first two games on the evening, check out the tight lines for #1 Syracuse vs. #4 Wisconsin, as these two teams should be set for a defensive battle and a close finish in Boston tonight. Syracuse gets a 3.5 point favorite against the spread as well as -175 odds to win vs. Wisconsin’s +155 odds as underdogs, and the over/under on total points stands at only 120.5 points. This will certainly be an intriguing clash between competing defensive styles, as Syracuse’s 2-3 zone faces up against the quick and pesky Badger man-to-man scheme. Both sides have proven their defensive systems can win ball games on their own, but it will be interesting to see how a higher-scoring offense of Syracuse (generating 74.6 points/game), deals with one of the most oppressive defenses in the nation, as the Badgers have allowed just 52.9 points/game on the season, and have continued that trend through two games in the tournament (allowing just 49 points to Montana, 57 to Vanderbilt). While Wisconsin should be able to keep Syracuse’s top scorers in check, including Kris Joseph, Dion Waiters and Brandon Triche, and no doubt will get an inside advantage with Syracuse’s Fab Melo out of tournament action, it will be intriguing to see how the Badger offense is able to keep up, averaging more than 10 points less on offense per game than the Orangemen do. Wisconsin’s Jordan Taylor (14.7 ppg) has to be on point tonight for the Badgers to overcome the deeper talent of Syracuse, but in the face of an Orangemen D that should be up to the task of shutting down Wisconsin with their 2-3 zone, Syracuse looks in good position to overcome with their wealth of offensive talent, and squeak into the Elite 8 with a win.

For the second #1 vs. #4 match-up tonight, Michigan State stretches out a big bigger -5 point favorite against the spread, with -220 odds to win straight up against Louisville’s +180 odds as underdogs. Again, a low 125 points on the over/under depicts this game as being a low-scoring affair, with each side holding their opponents to right around 60 points per contest. No doubt the player to watch for Michigan State will by Draymond Green, Big Ten Player of the Year, who is a truly dominating force in the paint with 16.3 points and 10.5 rebounds per contest this season. Along with Derrick Nix and Adreian Payne, expect Michigan State to play very physical in the paint, especially with the two teams very evenly matched in rebounding capabilities (both teams share an indentical 38.2 rebounds/game). For Louisville, they need big games out of their big guys as well, as Gorgui Dieng (9.3 ppg, 9.1 rpg) has to stay out of foul trouble, and the youngster Chane Behanan (9.1 ppg, 7.4 rpg) has to be scrappy in the face of more physical and bigger Spartans talent. Another major factor in this contest will be outside shooting efficiency, which could be an area where the Cardinals could find an advantage. Louisville, while not shooting the ball very well from 3-pt range, does have a host of talented players that are quick and can penetrate into the lanes. Both Peyton Siva and Kyle Kuric have to be leaders around the perimeter, knocking down clutch shots, as without them having hot hands, Michigan State should have the depth to outscore Louisville tonight. I like the Cardinals to keep this game close for the duration, but come free-throw time in the waning moments, expect Michigan State to be on top, and push past the 5 points against the spread to cover.

For the later games in Sweet 16 action tonight, first find a great physical match-up between #6 Cincinnati and #2 Ohio State, as Yancy Gates of the Bearcats gets set to take on Jared Sullinger and the Buckeyes. Personally, I’ve been wanting this match-up to come across the table in the NCAA Tournament (despite picking Florida State over Cincy in the Round of 32), as both sides have plenty of speed, veteran talent, and the physical ability to win the whole tournament. While I like OSU’s consistency more than Cincinnati’s, especially with the Buckeyes shooting near 49 percent from the floor on the season vs. 42 percent for the Bearcats, don’t rule out the confidence of a Cincy team that could easily turn this game into a close contest down to the wire. The underdogs against the spread, Cincy is a tantalizing pick with +7.5 points to work with, especially if top scorers Sean Kilpatrick, Dion Dixon, and Yancy Gates have anything to say about it. With Ohio State a huge -365 favorite straight up, the money line certainly favors underdog pickers, as Cincinnati gets +305 odds to win, making even a small wager a possible big pay day for online sports betting. Again the 129.5 points against the spread takes into account two very good defensive basketball teams, which neither side allowing more than 61.2 points/game during the regular season, and in a game where defense will be key especially around the perimeter, I’ll actually side with the under wager on total points here, banking on the inability for each team to score a lot of points in transition. Though I expect Ohio State to be left standing at the buzzer’s blare behind the combined offensive and defensive talents of Jared Sullinger, William Buford and Deshaun Thomas, I also fully expect to see Cincinnati keep this one close, covering the spread tonight.

Lastly on the docket for online sportsbook betting on Sweet 16 NCAA Tournament games, check out what should be a high-flying, fast-paced showdown between #3 seeded Marquette and #7 seed Florida, as these two teams should be putting defense aside and pushing the ball in transition all night long. The Florida Gators, led by Kenny Boyton, are deep in scoring talent with 5 players in double figures, but certainly lack a defensive side, giving up 66 points per game. Luckily for them, Marquette is no better on defense, allowing 66.2 points/game, and with the two teams separated by just .4 points/contest on offense (76.3 points/game for Florida, 75.9 points/game for Marquette), we can very much expect a high-scoring exciting contest to wrap up the first of two days of Sweet 16 March Madness action. Look for Marquette to use their strength to dominate in the paint with Jae Crowder and Davante Gardner providing the physicality for the Golden Eagles, but expect Florida to counter from the outside with hot shooting coming from Kenny Boyton (41.5 percent from 3-pt. range) and freshman talent Bradley Beal (14.6 ppg, 6.5 rpg) and look to Erik Murphy and Patric Young to stand up to the challenge of shutting down Marquette’s big boys tonight. The betting lines are tight for this contest at TopBet Sportsbook today, with Marquette a -2 point favorite against the spread and getting -135 odds, but definitely don’t rule out Florida on a hot-shooting night to squeak out a win for the underdog pickers, as their getting +2 points against the spread, and +115 odds to win straight up. No doubt the bookmakers are rightly expecting lots of points tonight, with 147 listed as the over/under, and in a game where defense might give way to fast breaks and quick points in the paint, chasing after the rather lofty 147 points might actually end up to be a decent bet with both sides amassing an average of 152.2 points combined throughout the season.

With so much great action available for online sportsbook betting on the NCAA Tournament today and tomorrow, head on down to TopBet Sportsbook, one of the best online sportsbooks reviewed here on our website, and catch the best-looking picks for the best available betting lines on these 4 amazing basketball contests this evening. Make sure to stay tuned tomorrow for further analysis on the second set of 4 NCAA games for Sweet 16 action, and a look at another one of the top sports betting sites reviewed right here at CR.

NHL Hockey Breakdown: Vancouver Canucks at Chicago Blackhawks

As the NHL regular season surges towards the playoffs inevitably there are a few fantastic match-ups set-up within the final 10 games of the year, and tonight’s exciting showdown between the Chicago Blackhawks (41-25-8, 90 pts) and the Vancouver Canucks (43-21-8, 94 pts) is certainly one to watch out for, with a face-off between the two Western Conference foes taking place at 8:00 PM ET at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois.

The Chicago Blackhawks ride into tonight’s home meeting with their collective hair on fire. Winners of 4 straight and going 8-1-1 in the last 10 games, there is every reason to expect that the ‘Hawks will be a serious challenger in the Stanley Cup Playoffs to come. However, while Chicago has been excelling this season by getting big production out of their talented scoring lines, led by players like points leader Marian Hossa (29 goals, 73 pts), goal scoring leader Patrick Sharp (30 goals, 64 pts) and team captain Jonathan Toews (29 goals, 57 points, however out tonight due an ongoing injury), one notable weakness has remained on the defensive side of the puck, with the Blackhawks allowing 2.8 goals per contest (22nd in the NHL) and having one of the league’s worst penalty killing percentages (%78.8, 26th in the NHL). While defense certainly hasn’t been as big an issue in March, where the Blackhawks have lost just once in regulation, it does come into question against one of the league’s top power play teams like the Canucks, who coincidentally are tied with Chicago for 4th in scoring offense with 3.0 goals/game.

Perhaps luck for the Blackhawks is the fact that Vancouver hasn’t been on their best form on either side of the puck in the past couple of weeks. Losing 5 of their last 7 games, the Canucks have allowed an appalling 4.2 goals per game in those 5 losses, and have not much found consistency in net with either Roberto Luongo or Cory Schneider, two goalies who comprise arguably one of the best tandems in the NHL. After two straight starts for Schneider, who had played reasonably well in both the win at home against Columbus and the 2-0 loss against Minnesota, Vancouver will turn back to its’ starter Roberto Luongo for this match-up, who has been simply terrible in net as of late, going 0-3-0 with a 5.28 goals against average in his last four outings. That doesn’t inspire much confidence in looking for Vancouver to nab a road win against Chicago, especially considering that Chicago has outscored its opponents 18-7 during their 4-game winning streak, behind Corey Crawford’s impressive run of 79 stopped shots in 83 attempts during that run.

For Vancouver to keep pace with a surging Chicago Blackhawks team on home ice tonight, they’ll need better efforts from their top scorers first and foremost, which starts with getting the Sedin twins back on track. The last time out in Chicago, a 6-2 drubbing by the Canucks back in November 2011, Daniel and Henrik Sedin combined for 2 goals and 5 assists, but lately neither player has been playing at their typical level. Henrik Sedin, who leads the Canucks with 70 points, has gone 11 games without netting a goal, and Daniel Sedin, leading the team with 30 goals, has just 2 goals (both coming in Saturday’s game at league punching-bag Columbus) and 1 assist in the month of March. Without better contribution from the Canucks’ top offensive producers, there’s little chance of Vancouver stealing away their 3rd win in 4 games against the Blackhawks tonight. However, there’s no mistaking that the Canucks have plenty of scoring depth, with 9 players on the team sitting on 11 goals or more for the season. Chicago will most certainly look to containing the likes of the Sedins, along with center Ryan Kessler (22 goals), and top right-winger Alex Burrows (24 goals), and if they can prevent a resurgence in scoring from the Canucks 2 top lines, they’ll have a very good chance at pulling out their 5th straight victory tonight.

Betting Lines for the Chicago Blackhawks vs. Vancouver Canucks at Intertops Sportsbook

While the Chicago Blackhawks seem to have a heavy upper hand coming into this game with the Vancouver Canucks based on recent form, the bookmakers at Intertops Sportsbook don’t seem to think the current trajectory of the two teams plays much into tonight’s showdown, as the two teams are both sitting at -110 odds to win straight up on the money line. That might be a correct bit of prognostication, as the Canucks have reached a point where a turnaround is inevitable for an otherwise talented team in a bit of a slump. Nonetheless, with good odds on both teams to win, the money line wager is a great way to bet on this high-intensity showdown tonight.

Against the spread, the closeness of this match-up is exhibited once again, with very high odds on the Canucks covering the 1.5 goals against the spread (-330), and very low ones on the Chicago Blackhawks (+270) to beat the Canucks by 1.5 goals or more at home. However, there is an advantage here for Chicago pickers especially: With Roberto Luongo struggling to find form recently, and with Corey Crawford at the top of his game in net for Chicago lately, the chances of Chicago winning by two goals seems much higher, especially with a likelihood of Chicago leading late in the game, and possibly getting another empty-net goal as Vancouver desperately tries to go 6-5 in the closing minute of the game.

For the over/under tonight, 5.5 goals, the usual mark between NHL teams, is the points total to stay under or beat out. Despite Vancouver’s recent goal scoring woes, these are two of the top scoring teams in the NHL, and two of the meetings between these two teams this season have gone over that mark already. In a game where you can expect tons of shots on goal, chances look pretty good the over bet is going to be the safest way to wager on the over/under today at Intertops Sportsbook.

Our Prediction:

With everything on the line between these two teams in a rivalry game where both sides can’t stand each other, there is going to be plenty of hard-hitting, fast-paced action that will make for an outstanding NHL hockey game. For Chicago to prevail, they are going to have to shore up their defense especially on the power play, and for Vancouver to win, they must have their top scorers step out of their current funks and put the puck in the net. With the Blackhawks holding all the momentum coming into the match-up, and confident in front of their goalie Corey Crawford who has been standing on his head lately, you have to like Chicago’s chances of a 5th straight win in this game. However, don’t discount Vancouver’s impressive road form this season, which has seen them go 22-11-4 away from home, and you can certainly expect the Canucks to be fighting in desperation mode to get a win against one of their most hated foes. We’ll look for a close finish tonight as defense plays a big role for each team in the face of talented scorers on the opposing side, expect a turnaround game for the Canucks, and take the visitors to walk out with a sneaky 3-2 win in Chicago tonight.

Midweek Online Sportsbook Betting On NBA, NHL Action, Upcoming Sweet 16 NCAA Games

As the middle of the week approaches and anticipation for the resumption of the 2011 NCAA College Basketball tournament builds even larger ahead of tomorrow’s scheduled Sweet 16 games, the excitement over betting on sports at one of the best online sportsbooks reviewed here is almost palpable, and the once-annual chance to wager on the most exciting sports tournament in the world should have you drooling at the chance to get your bets down before the games start tomorrow evening. Featuring action lined up like #1 Syracuse vs. #4 Wisconsin and #2 Ohio State vs. #6 Cincinnati in the East Region, as well as #1 Michigan State vs. #4 Louiville and #3 Marquette and #7 Florida in the West Region, a nice variety of match-ups will make for a great day of tournament excitement and likely even more surprises that have once again been indicative of the college hoops finale each and every year. Speaking of variety, today’s top sports betting website the Intertops Sportsbook, one of the most diverse, well-established, and wide-ranging betting platforms we’ve ever reviewed. Whether it be traditional wagers, proposition bets, or any number of the wildest and wackiest betting set-ups you can imagine, you will be able to find it across this simple, if comically archaic betting website.

For online sports betting on action taking place today, a full boat of 10 NBA games gets underway later this evening, and no doubt will make for some nice setups for online sportsbook betting. First up, find a great match-up between two 2011 NBA playoff foes as the Dallas Mavericks get set to host the Los Angeles Lakers tonight. The Dirk Nowitzki and the Mavericks go for their 5th straight win in a row, while Kobe Bryant and the Lakers try to avoid a 3rd straight loss after winning 5 straight themselves. Scoring hasn’t been an issue for the Lakers, who averaged 101.5 points per game in the last two losses, but against a surging Dallas team, they’ll have to pick up the defensive form in order to stop the Mavs from handing them yet another road loss. Sticking with another L.A. team for betting on sports today, turn to the Clippers, who are in action on the road against Oklahoma City Thunder, in what should be a high-scoring, exciting match-up between two of the most intriguing teams in the NBA this year. With neither team playing at top form heading into this contest, this will be a critical game for both teams, but expectations should be high on OKC to emerge victorious as they start a 3-game home stand against Lob City, a team that was handily defeated last night in Indiana, 102-89. Find other good match-ups for the best online sports betting opportunities as the New York Knicks try for 5 wins in a row in the last meeting of the season with the Philadelphia 76ers, the San Antonio Spurs at home look to be too much to handle for the visiting Minnesota Timberwolves, and the Orlando Magic host the Phoenix Suns in a favorable match-up for Dwight Howard’s squad on home court.

Last up for wagers at one of the best online sports betting websites at Intertops, switch over to NHL Hockey, where a flock of 5 games feature plenty of playoff connotations for both the Eastern and Western Conferences. Starting off with a great rivalry match-up, the Chicago Blackhawks play host to the Vancouver Canucks, in a no-love-lost showdown between the #2 and #6 seeded teams in the West. With Chicago picking up steam and looking for its 5th straight win, the Canucks will have their work cut out for them on the road, but should throw down in a great fight as they come in as one of the NHL’s best road teams this season. In the second of two top-seeded playoff-bound teams, the #1 seeded New York Rangers out of the East take on the #5 seeded Detroit Red Wings out of the West for a battle at Madison Square Garden tonight. A classic match-up featuring two Original Six hockey teams, check out the tight betting lines on this game, with Detroit especially desperate to avoid a sixth straight loss in one of the toughest arenas to play in. It’s a great day for online sports betting in general, so check out the wide range of sportsbook betting options at Intertops.com right now, and get ready for more great sports action tonight and for the days to come!

NBA Basketball Leads Charge Into Online Sports Betting at Bovada

With the NCAA Tournament’s Sweet 16 competition still a few days off, today’s options for betting on sports at the top reviewed online sportsbooks remained relatively muted, save for the fact that both the NBA Basketball and NHL Hockey seasons are storming towards the playoffs, and each day along that path great bets can be found in these two top leagues right now. For a trip into the online sports betting action today, let’s head down to one of our favorite sites at the Bovada Sportsbook, a relatively new addition to the top sportsbooks list, but one that comes with a well-known and trusted parent under the Bodog family of gaming sites. With a bevy of 7 NBA contests set up for tonight, along with a grip of 9 NHL Hockey games ready to hit the ice, let’s take a look at some of the best looking online sports betting choices out there today, and hopefully pull together some additional cash for upcoming games in the NCAA Tournament starting up against on Thursday.

For the NBA tonight, first take a look across the betting lines for a great match-up between the Los Angeles Clippers and the Indiana Pacers, two teams firmly entrenched in the hunt for the playoffs. While both squads have been somewhat off in form lately, with each posting records at or below .500 in their last 10 games, this should be a great contest tonight as the Pacers try to shed their recent 2-game slide by finding their footing at home, while at the same time preventing the Clippers from reaching a third straight victory in a row. With the Pacers having dropped 6 of their last 8 games though, the Clippers, rallying back after a rough start to their six-game home stand (where they lost 3 of the first 4 games before winning the final two), it’ll be down to which team is able to have the better shooting night, and get their offense clicking on all cylinders. Blake Griffin will certainly be one to watch for tonight, as he comes off his career high points total (47) in the last meeting between these two teams in January. For the Pacers, Leandro Barbosa, newly-acquired by the Toronto Raptors, will also be a focal point for tonight’s game. A quick and capable scorer, Barbosa could be a spark for the struggling Pacers in his debut this evening, so I’m interested in taking Indiana to cover the 3 1/2 points in a bounce-back game at home tonight. Looking along the betting lines for more exciting NBA action, find the Houston Rockets in a good match-up with the Los Angeles Lakers, check out the Utah Jazz hosting the Oklahoma City Thunder, and the Miami Heat holding home court advantage over the visiting Phoenix Suns.

As the NHL Hockey season winds down, the final playoff spots in the Eastern and Western Conferences become highly contested, and there’s no better example of a tight race than the one for the 8th playoff spot in the West. Tonight’s game between the San Jose Sharks and the Los Angeles Kings, two teams deadlocked at 82 points, is one of the most important games for both teams down the stretch, with just 10 games remaining for each side. With just 1 point separating 4 teams in the Pacific Division, and with all those teams in action this evening (7th place Phoenix hosts Pacific division leaders Dallas, 8th place Colorado hosts Calgary, who’s also just 2 points back of the 8th spot), tonight’s action is a crucial time for the bottom half of the playoff race, with everything on the line. The Kings are one of the hotter teams coming into tonight’s showdown with the Sharks, winning 4 straight and 7 of their last 10, while San Jose has been struggling at 3-4-3 in their last 10-game set. Los Angeles has found increased scoring, and at home, look for them to be aggressive, defensively savvy, and likely to pull out a close win on home ice tonight. As the Phoenix Coyotes and the Dallas Stars get ready for a showdown as well with each team sitting on 83 points, the Pacific division pole position is on the line, with Dallas showing signs of slowing after a blistering run of form, and the Coyotes desperate to add to their win total after losing 7 of the last 10 outings. Check out a couple other top match-ups on the ice sheet as the Pittsburgh Penguins take on the Winnipeg Jets, and the Philadelphia Flyers host the Florida Panthers, with both match-ups having an effect on the current seeding for the playoffs in the East. With these games a plenty more options at the Bovada Sportsbook today, check out all the best lines and the most exciting match-ups for a great opportunity to jump into the exciting world of online sports betting!

March Madness Third Round Action: Top Sports Betting Options on Sunday

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!