Bucks and Ducks Battle Tonight for the NCAA Football Title

Marcus Mariota's legs may be more important than his arms tonight.

You’ve probably heard this little trivia tidbit by now but in case you haven’t here it is… Following the first-ever NCAA Basketball Tournament in 1939, the two teams that met for the title were Oregon and Ohio State. The Ducks would claim their one and only national championship in men’s basketball.

Now, these same two universities meet in the first-ever college football playoff title game and again, the Ducks enter having won zero national championships in football. Both teams enter at 13-1 and both won their respective conference titles.

Each school offers intriguing storylines as the game kicks off tonight. Who do I like and why? Read on.

College Football National Championship

Ohio State (+7) vs Oregon (O/U 75)

By the Numbers: Points per game Ohio State 45.2, Oregon 46.3… Points allowed per game Ohio State 21.2, Oregon 22.5

The Ducks will look to frustrate Cardale Jones early tonight in Dallas.

Why Ohio State Wins: As good as Oregon Head Coach Mark Helfrich has been, Urban Meyer is a master game-planner who rarely is out-prepared by his opponent. Meyer’s experience heading into this game is significant as well and should be an advantage to the Buckeyes.

The defensive line for OSU has been dominant all season and eventually overwhelmed the Alabama offensive line. The Oregon offensive line is very good and is more aggressive than they are given credit for so this should be an excellent match-up.

I think the Buckeyes defensively have recognized the fact they will give up yards to Oregon but can they limit the Ducks in the red zone where Oregon has had some struggles? I think the Buckeyes can also bank on the fact that they aren’t going to turn the ball over as many times as Florida State did and that’s important for their confidence.

Why Oregon Wins: There is going to be no secret as to what the Ducks are going to do. They will go at a high rate of speed and they will not relent. If they can find some success early running the football against a good OSU defense then that will make Marcus Mariota all the more dangerous.

The loss of wide receiver Darren Carrington due to suspension is going to hurt a lot but if the Ducks can find someone to step up that isn’t necessarily expected to then the Ducks will be fine. That’s a tall order however and I’m worried about this situation which is why I think they look to the ground game even more often.

Defensively, the Ducks must stop the run and force the game into the hands of Cardale Jones. Alabama was unable to do that and what was even worse is that the Tide weren’t able to contain Jones when he ran either. If Oregon can force Jones into some early mistakes and force him to play from behind then things can swing in their favor dramatically.

Trends: Ohio State is 5-0 straight up in their last five games… Oregon is 5-0 SU in their last five games… The total has gone OVER in 12 of Ohio State’s last 13 games… The only common opponent for each team is Michigan State and both trailed by at least a touchdown before coming back to win by double digits.

Key Injuries: OSU QBs Braxton Miller and J.T. Barrett/OUT, Oregon CB Ifo Ekpre-Olomu/OUT

The Pick: I was liking the Buckeyes all week but now I like them even more with Carrington out for Oregon. Don’t be surprised to see a defensive game for most of the first half before the offenses settle in but either way I love Ohio State and the UNDER.

Oregon vs. Ohio State Line, Trends and Prediction

Monday night, the inaugural College Football Playoff Championship Game, will kick off from AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

The Oregon Ducks led by Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota will face the Ohio State Buckeye led by quarterback Cardale Jones.

In its semifinal game, Oregon defeated the Florida State Seminoles 59-20, easily covering the spread. At the same time, Ohio State defeated Alabama 43-35, winning outright as an underdog.

The last time the two teams met was in the Rose Bowl in 2010 with Ohio State winning 27-16 and covering a 4.5-point spread by winning outright as the underdog.

This is the first time in eight seasons that no SEC team will by for the national championship.

Oregon on the season is 13-1 straight up and 10-4 against the spread. Ohio State is 13-1 SU and 9-5 ATS.

The over-under for Oregon this season is 7-7 and for Ohio State 12-2.

Oregon is 9-0 SU and ATS, since is only loss earlier in the regular season to Arizona. In each of the 9 games, the Ducks covered a spread of seven points or more on eight occasions.

According to Bovada and betonline, Oregon is 5-1 SU against schools from the Big 10 since 2007.

Ohio State ended the season with a run of 8-3 ATS and since 2007 is 13-2 against the number while an underdog and covering six straight when receiving 7 points or more.
According to topbet and sportsbook.com, the line opened at Oregon -6.5 and has fluctuated between there and -7.5 the past 10 days.

The point total opened at 72.5 on most sites, but has gone as high as 75.

Offensively, Oregon has the nation’s No. 2 offense scoring 47.2 points per game against the No. 27 ranked defense of Ohio State that is allowing 22.1 points per game.

The Ducks passing game averages 311 yards a game, while the Buckeyes allowed 191.5 yards per game through the air.


  • Ohio State has covered the spread in 8 of its past 12 games overall.
  • Ohio State has won 5 consecutive games straight up.
  • Oregon has won straight up and covered the spread in each of its past 9 games overall
  • Oregon is 4-0 against the number in its past four bowl games.
  • The OVER has cashed in 12 of the past 13 games played by Ohio State.


 Both teams will score and often. The OVER even though it seems high, looks to be a good play.

Between the teams, they average 92 points per game, which should make for fireworks on the offensive side.

The Ducks do not matchup as well with Ohio State as they did with Florida State. The spread seems high. I like the OVER and Ohio State covering.

Saturday Bullets for the First Weekend of 2015

Kobe Bryant's comments about AAU basketball are accurate and need to be heard.

How in the world do I settle on just one or two topics with so much going on? My bullets are back and it’s time to pull the trigger!

-Kobe Bryant recently ripped on the AAU basketball program saying that European players are more skillful than are kids who come from the American feeder system. “Teach players the game at an early age and stop treating them like cash cows for everyone to profit off of,” he said. “That’s how you do that. You have to teach them the game. Give them instruction,” said Bryant. I could not agree more.

-Rajon Rondo returned to Boston for the first time since being traded to Dallas. He tossed in 29 points in the Mavs’ 119-101 win over the Celtics.

Chip Kelly has more control of his players in a shake-up in Philadelphia.

-Following the Philadelphia Eagles’ late-season collapse, the team has re-structured the front office with Head Coach Chip Kelly gaining control of player personnel and General Manager Howie Roseman has been elevated to Executive Vice-President of Football Operations. Rarely do these situations work well when a coach is given so much power. Wonder if the team has an Assistant to the Traveling Secretary?

-As of right now, Oregon is a seven-point favorite over Ohio State in the National Championship Game and I like the Buckeyes getting those points. I just don’t see the Buckeyes making the same mistakes that Florida State did in the Rose Bowl and I think the OSU offense can be more dynamic than the Seminoles.’

-Speaking of the College Football Playoff I think there are a couple of important notes coming out of the first-ever semi-final games. The television numbers were outstanding for both games and I’ll get to the point on that in a second, but where the “powers that be” need to focus on is time. The Rose Bowl,which was a blowout, scored better ratings than the Sugar Bowl which was a highly competitive game. What this proves is that people just won’t stay up until 1am Eastern no matter how important or good the game.

-The second part of the CFB Playoff scenario is that it’s popularity across the country means that playoff expansion is coming. I think we are about five or six years away from an expansion to eight teams but the TV numbers were just too good not to discuss it. The one issue here is where to play the games. The Rose Bowl had trouble filling seats and I think an argument could be made to play these games on campus in the first-round at least.

-I had no idea former Buffalo Bills’ coach Doug Marrone was such a hot commodity. Days after opting out of his contract, he’s rumored to a favorite in several cities. His Bills took a step forward by going 9-7 this year behind an aggressive defense but the offense was really flat. Not sure what the draw is here.

-For all the dislike of Jameis Winston because of his off-field problems and immaturity, my concern about his potential pro career is his pocket presence and long delivery. Seems to me that he gets very discombobulated in the pocket when there’s any significant pressure and his throwing motion is not what I’d call “quick and efficient.” Almost reminds me of Byron Leftwich.

-One note on the National Hockey League’s Winter Classic… I think the NHL has to consider moving the game for two reasons. Number one is that it can’t compete if college football continues its’ playoff semi-finals on the same day. Also, the NHL should re-consider the start time as well to get a more optimum viewing audience. I love the Winter Classic but the NHL has to do a better job of making its’ stars available at better times.

Mariota a Deserving and Welcome Sight as Heisman Winner; Jobs Still Open

Mariota is a humble and deserving winner of the Heisman Trophy.

Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota deserved the Heisman Trophy. Anyone denying that is an Alabama or Wisconsin fan or has no clue what they are talking about. I would have been more than glad to listen to arguments for either Amari Cooper or Melvin Gordon but at the end of the day, the correct selection was made.

Personally I could not have been more happy with his selection. I am not an Oregon fan and I’m not a fan of their plethora of uniform changes and styles either. What I’m a fan of is guys who play hard, take success in stride and aren’t a consistent problem off of the field for their university.

I know right? What an unbelievable concept!

Last year’s Heisman Trophy celebration featured Florida State’s Jameis Winston wining the award. While his on-field success was more than worthy of the award, his issues off the field were troubling and continue to be so today.

The man who won the award the year before Winston did was Johnny Manziel. Again, a guy whose accomplishments on the field of play were more than enough to warrant him getting the award. but like Winston, he was less than a true role model off of it.

I don’t expect every guy that plays college football to be an angel. I don’t have that expectation at all and not even the Heisman Trust has stipulations on character or being a perfect gentleman off the field in its’ award document either. I do however think if we are going to be presented with the best college football player in America it would be nice if they were in fact deserving for overall conduct.

Mariota's win is refreshing in light of recent Heisman winners Winston and Manziel.

Go back and watch the video of Mariota accepting the stiff-arming trophy and then compare it to video of Manziel and Winston receiving their trophies. In Mariota you’ll see a humble and almost embarrassed looking young man who can hardly believe what he is achieving while with the other two you say faces of kings being crowned.

Mariota can be demonstrative on the field but he doesn’t have a signature “money” sign like Manziel does because he acts like he’s been in the end zone before. I have no problem with guys celebrating but do it with teammates. Having your own “look at me” celebration is pathetic.

I’m glad that Mariota won the Heisman and for the record, both Gordon and Cooper would have been worthy winners as well based on everything I’ve seen and heard of them. Whether Mariota’s Ducks go on to win the title or whether he goes on to NFL stardom doesn’t matter – what matters is that good guys can finish first.

Michigan, Wisconsin Remain Open

Two big college football vacancies remain open today in Ann Arbor and in Madison but I think you’ll start to see some movement as early as this week however. For Michigan, their number one target is of course Jim Harbaugh. Despite reports that he wants to stay in the pro ranks, word has it that Michigan isn’t going to away quietly.

With Harbaugh’s 49ers officially out of the playoffs now, look for some more information to come out this week. One way or another, Michigan cannot wait to long for Harbaugh because they have to get back to business sooner or later.

Further West in the Big Ten, it looks like Wisconsin is ready to bring former offensive coordinator Paul Chryst back to take over. Chryst has been running things at the University of Pittsburgh where he hasn’t exactly gotten anyone excited for college football. The Panthers continue to draw pathetic crowds and fans are less than pleased with Chryst’s coaching and recruiting.

Either way, don’t be surprised if Athletic Director and former coach Barry Alvarez goes with the familiar Chryst although I don’t think it will be a warm welcome.

Oregon Ducks 23-Point Chalk at Home Against Arizona

Thursday night college football heads to the Pacific Northwest, when the Oregon Ducks host the Arizona Wildcats in a Pac-12 showdown.

Last season, the Wildcats upset the Ducks 42-16 and the Ducks will be looking to take their revenge.

The line has Oregon favored by 23 points on Bovada and topbet, while on betonline and sportsbook.com the point total is sitting on 79.

Arizona enters this matchup at 4-0 SU and 1-3 ATS. The Wildcats are 6-3 SU over the past 9 head-to-head games with Oregon.

Arizona is 1-4 against the number over its past 5 games as a road dog.

Oregon is also 1-4 against the spread in its past five home games as a favorite. The Ducks are also 2-7 ATS over their past 9 games overall.

In point totals, the OVER is 4-1 over the past five games Oregon has been the favorite at home.

Last season when the two met, the Ducks had been defeated by Stanford two weeks earlier and did not have an opportunity for a perfect season.

Marcus Mariota the talented Oregon quarterback will be looking to dissect the Arizona secondary and put up a number of points on the board.

The Arizona rushing offense is strong and with quarterback Anu Solomon coming off a five-touchdown effort on September 20 against Cal.

Two seasons ago, the Ducks defeated Arizona at home 49-0 as a favorite by 20 points.

Nick Wilson the talented freshman running back for Arizona helped the Wildcats to their Hail Mary win over Cal 49-45. He leads the Pac-12 in rushing.

However, Arizona on the road following a bye is 1-4 SU and ATS. The only ATS win in that stretch was against the Ducks in 2010 when the Wildcats lost 48-29 but covered an underdog spread of 20.5 points.

Oregon is coming off a September 20 win of 38-31 over Washington State, but they failed again to cover a 21.5 spread as the favorite.

At home, following a bye, the Ducks are 10-0 SU in their past 10 and 6-2 ATS over their past 8.

With both teams only covering a combined 2 of 8 games this season, the advantage of playing at home could be big for Oregon.

Some believe Arizona will score and kept it within the 23-point spread, but I think differently I am taking the Ducks in a lopsided 55-21 win.

NFC North Rivals Clash While Arizona and Oregon Highlight the College Schedule

With no Adrian Peterson, the Vikings will have make do with a rookie QB and an unknown running game.

Thursday night once again offers us some great games in both college and professional football.

Minnesota (+9) at Green Bay (O/U 48) – The good news for both teams is that they each won games last week. The bad news is that Rookie QB Teddy Bridgewater has a gimpy ankle for the Vikes and the Packers gave up three sacks and nearly 400 yards offense. It looks like Bridgewater is a ‘go’ for tonight at Lambeau.

Green Bay is 28th in defense so with all due respect to Aaron Rodgers and his “relax” comment, there are issues on this team. The Vikings have problems too and that’s why I would expect a sloppy game. I fully expect Packers’ defensive coordinator Dom Capers to ring up all kinds of different looks and blitzes in an effort to confuse the rookie Bridgewater.

Trends: The Packers are 7-2-1 in their last ten games against the Vikings… Minnesota is 1-4 against the spread in their last five games at Green Bay… The Packers are 0-3-2 ATS in their last five home games… The total has gone OVER in five of Minnesota’s last seven game at Green Bay.

The Pick: The Packers are too explosive on offense to lose but I like the Vikes and the points and I like the OVER.

Rich Rod
Rich Rodriguez brings his Wildcats to Oregon as 23-point underdogs.

Arizona (+23) at Oregon (O/U 77) – It’s pretty unusual to see two 4-0 teams go at it and one of them is a 23-point underdog but that’s exactly what we have tonight in Eugene, Oregon.

Neither team has what I’d call a dominant defense which I have to believe means you’re going to see some serious scoring in this game. The Ducks will go as QB Marcus Mariota goes and last week he rallied Oregon to defeat a very game Washington State on the road in Pullman.

Arizona Head Coach Rich Rodriguez has seen these unbeaten starts before only to see his teams falter once conference play got rolling. Freshman QB Anu Solomon has been pretty good so far throwing for 13 touchdowns and just three interceptions. Playing in Autzen Stadium however will be a new experience for the youngster.

Trends: Arizona is 1-7 straight up in their last eight games on the road at Oregon… The Ducks are 3-6 against the spread in their last nine games against Arizona… The total has gone OVER in four of Arizona’s last six games when playing the Ducks… Last season, Arizona beat Oregon 42-16 in Tucson. That was their first win at home over the Ducks since 2007.

The Pick: The Ducks will remember what happened in Tuscon last year and I think they take advantage of an average defense and they’ll cover. I also like the OVER.

Central Florida (+3) at Houston (O/U 53) – Central Florida is 4-1 against Houston with the Cougars only win coming back in 2006. Both teams have had their share of good opponents and bad already in 2014. The Cougars best game may have been a loss at BYU while the Knights lost to Penn State on a field goal at the gun.

Trends: UCF is 2-4 against the spread in their last six games on the road… The total has gone UNDER in eight of Houston’s last nine games… The Knights are 7-1 straight up in their last eight games on the road… The Cougars are 2-4 ATS in their last six home games.

The Pick: The UCF roster has big game experience so I like them getting the points and I like the UNDER.


Pac-12 Football Looking Strong for 2014

The Pac-12 Conference in 2014 should be quite competitive from top to bottom. This season the level of talent should be at its highest since the conference went from 8 to 12 teams. Last season, 9 teams from the conference played in a bowl game, one more than in the 2012 season.

On NFL Draft day, 34 players for the conference were selected, the third highest of any conference in college football. Over the past two seasons, 62 players have been drafted by the NFL, which is also third most of all the football conferences.

Leading the way with players being drafted was the UCLA Bruins with five.

While having starters return from the prior season is a good way to gauge for the potential of the team the next season, a better indicator is arguably the condition of the team’s offensive line.

Looking into that even further, the number of returning offensive line starters is likely the best barometer in determining future success.

According to data pulled from Bovada and sportsbook.com, Oregon has 107 game starts on the offensive line returning this season, while Stanford has just 15. However, leading the Pac-12 is Washington with 124. UCLA has a high number at 89, while USC has just 53.

Summer recruiting camps have become popular for schools as a way to bring in recruits to impress them and a way for the assistant coaches in the program to earn some extra cash, but the amount of monies invested in those camps have become a controversy.

North Division

The North Division of the Pac-12 will likely be ruled by the Oregon Ducks. The Ducks will have 9 starters returning on offense and 5 on defense. Oregon lost running back De’Anthony Thomas and wide receiver Josh Huff, who both moved on to the NFL.

Marcus Mariotta the starting quarterback returns from a season of 4,380 total yards. In addition, Byron Marshall who ran for over 1,000 yards will return with Bralon Addison a wide receiver who caught passes for 900 yards.

Even more impressive, five starters from the offensive line return.

The Oregon defense held opponents to just 16 points or fewer in 7 of the 13 games Oregon played.

Last season Oregon was second to last in time of possession in the nation, as their offense was explosive and quick scoring.

North teams to watch: Stanford, California, Oregon State, Washington State

South Division

The South division of the Pac-12 will be very competitive but the likely frontrunner this season will be the UCLA Bruins.

UCLA returns 8 starters on both offense and defense. Brett Hundley the talented and versatile quarterback, who threw for 24 touchdowns last season, while rushing for 11 others, returns for his junior season.

On defense, Myles Jack a linebacker played both ways last season. He rushed for 4 touchdowns versus Washington.

Other South division teams to watch: Arizona, Arizona State, USC

Oregon looks to keep faint National Title Game hopes Alive

The Oregon Ducks meet the Arizona Wildcats in a Pac-12 showdown with Oregon trying to keep faint national championship hopes alive, while Arizona looks to play the spoiler role.

The Ducks lost their only game of the season two weeks ago to Stanford and enter this matchup 9-1 SU and 7-3 ATS. On the road, Oregon is 3-1, while the OVER has cashed 6 times and the UNDER 4 times in their 10 games.

Arizona is 6-4 SU and 4-6 ATS. The Wildcats are 3-2 at home, while the OVER has cashed 3 times and the UNDER 7 times in the 10 Arizona games this season.

Oregon’s quarterback Marcus Mariota says his team must first win their remaining games and see what happens when December rolls around.

One example was when Oregon defeated Utah 44-21 they kept pace with Stanford, which turned around and lost to USC 20-17. The loss for Stanford put Oregon back atop the North division in the Pac-12 and in contention to battle of the conference championship.

If Oregon can win their next two conference games they will earn that right to play in the championship game and have a chance to play in the Rose Bowl.

Mariota’s knee looked to be injured against UCLA in early November and then he seemed to be limited in movement with a knee brace on in their 26-20 loss to Stanford.
That loss knocked Oregon from a direct route to the national championship game and appeared to knock them from the conference championship game. Appearances however can be very deceiving.

Oregon does not discuss player injuries, but Mariota did not have mobility in their win against Utah, but they won anyone. However, playing Utah is not the same as Arizona.

Arizona lost at home last weekend to Washington State 24-17, on a late touchdown pass by the Cougars. Ka’Deem Carey had two touchdowns on the day for Arizona and recorded his 13th straight 100-yard rushing game. Carey is second in the nation in rushing at 150 yards a game.

Stanford plays California and is favored by seven touchdowns, before ending their season playing Notre Dame.

After Arizona, the Ducks play in-state rival Oregon State in the year’s annual Civil War game.

The Ducks are favored against Arizona by 20.5 points, with the over under point total sitting on 67.5; however check with online sites Bovada, topbet, betonline and sportsbook.com prior to kickoff for the most up to day odds on the game.

Pick: Pick Oregon 58-21

Reviewing College Football’s Week Six

Something isn't right in my opinion in regards to Clowney's behavior this season.

It’s always interesting how some weeks in college football the action that doesn’t take place somehow trumps the action the does. While there were once again some epic games across the college football landscape, a couple of stories that have little to do with on-field action are taking the cake. Let’s start in South Carolina…

Gamecocks’ Head Coach Steve Spurrier has seen plenty in his playing and coaching career but even he was taken aback by superstar Jadeveon Clowney opting not to play on Saturday against Kentucky. Clowney apparently went to the coaching staff just prior to the game and announced his ribs were too sore to play.

This isn’t the first time Clowney has had issues. Earlier this season he had a significant virus that kept him out of action and during the offseason there was talk of him sitting out junior season entirely in an effort keep himself healthy for the 2014 NFL Draft.

This whole situation reeks of outside influences. I could be completely wrong and it wouldn’t be the first time, but I have this feeling that people have the ear of Clowney right now and are telling him to play as little as possible. The fear of course is that he’ll get hurt and lose millions in the draft. These same people probably remind him Marcus Lattimore who lost money because of his horrific injury last fall.

Something just doesn’t smell right here. If it is in fact outside influences that are keeping him on the field then this is exactly the type of thing the NCAA has to clean up.

Does any team deserve to go to a bowl game in the Bahamas let alone those that are .500?

Do we really need more bowl games? It seems every time we think the NCAA is halting the expansion of more bowl games a few more pop up and it needs to stop. By adding games in Miami, Boca Raton and the Bahamas, yes, the Bahamas, this brings the total number of games to 39. If I do the math, two teams per bowl game multiplied by 39 equals 78 teams going to a bowl game.

There are approximately 124 teams in the Football Bowl Subdivision of college football so that means over half will be playing in post-season games. These new games are an agreement between five conferences, the American Athletic, Mid-American, Mountain West, Conference USA and the Sun Belt.

The bowl line-up is already ridiculous without these games but now they will only increase the number of teams who have .500 records. These teams should not be rewarded for finishing in the bottom half of their conference. Enough already.

There are many in the college football world who believe second-ranked Oregon should be the top team. Hard to argue considering the butt-kickings they been giving but they will now be a man short as tight end Colt Lyerla has left the team.

Lyerla claims he is preparing to enter the NFL Draft but his situation in recent months has probably been heading towards this. He did not travel to Colorado this past week and has had issues with Head Coach Mark Helfrich. While not exactly a guy that will make or break this year’s team, his presence on the field was important in the running game.

Lyerla gained some unwanted attention after he suggested via Twitter that the Sandy Hook Killings may not have happened as the media claimed. He claimed he was just offering information of a different viewpoint but was cast as a ‘conspiracy theory’ guy who may have some issues.

We sometimes forget these young men on the football field are not all designed to be the robots fans and coaches expect them to be. Hopefully Lyerla gets the help or environment he needs.

Friday Sweet 16 Games

College hoops fans and bettors were treated to four incredible Sweet 16 games yesterday and the tournament will provide four more for them today, completing the Elite Eight. Which four teams will advance to play this weekend and which four will fall? Let’s take a look at the match-ups and figure it out.

(12) Oregon Ducks +10.5 at (1) Louisville Cardinals -10.5

The Cardinals have proved why they were named the tournament favorite before all this madness began and they’ll have a significant edge again today in their Sweet 16 match-up against the Ducks.

Oregon has also impressed by winning each of its first two games – which were technically upsets – by double digits, but it hasn’t encountered a team with the type of athleticism that Louisville possesses.

Based on what we’ve seen from each squad in the tourney so far, Oregon should be able to compete, but as a team that turns the ball over too frequently, the Ducks will likely struggle against the ball-hawking Cardinals, who lead the nation in turnovers forced.

The Ducks may fall behind early and if they do, look for the Cardinals to continue to apply the pressure and stretch the lead. Look for Louisville to cover -10.5 in this one.

(4) Michigan Wolverines +2 at (1) Kansas Jayhawks -2

Michigan has passed the eye test with flying colors through its first two games, while the Jayhawks have certainly not looked like a No. 1 seed.

Still, the Jayhawks bring a talented, experienced and more than capable team of winning a title into this match-up with the streaky Wolverines.

Both teams have strong inside games, although the Wolverines found theirs most recently, and both teams also can hit outside shots. Kansas was thought to have the edge defensively, but as we’ve seen during the tournament, Michigan can turn the screws tight on the defensive side of the ball as well.

This game should come down to the wire, but stick with the hotter team and take Michigan to cover +2 in the win.

(3) Michigan State Spartans+2 at (2) Duke Blue Devils -2

Though the match-up above is expected to be extremely close, the hardcourt war between Michigan State and Duke will undoubtedly be the most highly contested game of the day.

Both teams play the inside-out game extremely well, so the game will likely come down to who outshoots the other and who has the least unforced turnovers. Duke has looked a little bit sloppier in its first two games, but it has shot the ball fairly well, while Michigan State has been effective in all areas of the game.

Both teams are very experienced and well-coached, so there likely won’t be any surprises or tricks up the sleeves. Look for Michigan State to barley edge out Duke in what will likely be the closest game of the day. This one might even go to overtime, but take the Spartans to cover +2.

(15) Florida Gulf Coast Eagles +14 at (3) Florida Gators -14

The Florida Gulf Coast Eagles have enjoyed an incredible run and we’ve enjoyed watching them dance their way through the first three rounds of the tournament, but we have to be realistic about their chances in this match-up against the Florida Gators.

With one of the best defenses in the country and an athletic, balanced offensive attack, the Gators will undoubtedly have the upper hand today against the Eagles. Still, based on what we’ve seen from FGCU so far during the tournament, we can reasonably expect it will come out swinging and give its new in-state rivals a good game.

Look for Florida to earn the win, but for Florida Gulf Coast to cover +14 in defeat.