Bookie busters: Some betting plays for college hoops, NBA and even soccer

The NCAA Tournament has some playable games, including Texas Tech. Getty Images

This weekend is packed with action with the Sweet 16 and Elite 8 matchups tipping off, along with NBA and soccer matches from the world's top leagues. Let's jump into some lines where we see some value and place some wagers.

NCAA Tournament


West Virginia  +5 O/U 152.5


Texas Tech +2         O/U 137.5


Syracuse   + 11.5 O/U 133.5


Clemson   +5 O/U 142.5



                    CASH | TICKETS

Villanova      71%   80%

Texas Tech   80%  53%

Syracuse       77%   54%

Kansas          58%   68%


Villanova -5

Texas Tech +2


With under a five game separation between the 4th and 10th seeds in the Wild Western Conference, motivation and fatigue will be a key factor down the stretch.

Let's take a look at the Rockets and Blazers game for example.

The Blazers had their 13 game winning streak snapped, and the legs under the shots of the two Portland stars showed fatigue. The Dynamic duo of Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum combined to go 0-12 from the 3-point line netting only 28 points while on the court for over 70 minutes.

On the opposite side, Houston's hottest tandem blew up the scoreboard accounting for 64 points, going 10-17 from behind the arch. The key is the pair managed to do this in less court time (64 minutes) but contributed in all facets of the game tacking on 14 rebounds and 13 assists

The game clearly meant more to a Blazer squad carrying a double-digit win streak as well as jousting for playoff position. Both Lillard and McCollum are playing career highs in minutes this season, and that is something we will monitor down the stretch. Heavy legs are bad news for a team that relies on their two stars two push the pace and knock down jump shots.

Harden, on the other hand, is averaging his lowest minutes per game in three years. This year he is down to 35.5 MPG, just two years ago in 2016 he was playing 38.1 MPG, almost three entire minutes more per game. Staying fresh down the stretch will be key.

Friday 3/22

Suns vs. Cavaliers

The Cavaliers need to close the season out strong to guarantee themselves homecourt in the first round. They currently have a 1.5 game cushion for homecourt, with the Pacers and Wizards proceeding within a few games putting the pressure on LeBron James crew. The only issue is there is only so much he can do, and the defensive efficiency of the Cavaliers has taken a hit. In the last ten games, Cleveland's defense ranks 25th in the NBA (112.5). During those ten games, they are 6-4, and the offense has been carrying the team. The Cavaliers are third in offensive efficiency during the time frame and are top 10 in Net Rating, Assist%, Ast/TO ratio, all while leading the league in True shooting percentage 60.8%.  So, you ask yourself, why haven't they had more success? Rebounding is your answer, and Cleveland has been horrible as of late. In the last ten games, they are 27th in offensive and 26th in defensive rebounding. How do these numbers help us handicap Friday night's matchup? These teams faced off March 13th, and Cleveland lit it up dropping 129 points in a 22-point blowout. When looking at the final score one would think the game was completely lopsided, but that wasn't the case. The Suns fell behind 20 points in the opening 12 minutes but were only outscored by 4, 6 and 0 in the following quarters. The Cavaliers offense had significant success vs. a Phoneix team that accommodates the league's fourth worse defense in their last ten contests. We like to use this sample size as some teams are mailing it in while others are fighting for their postseason lives. This sample gives us a better measure of where these teams heads are at down the stretch.

The Cavaliers need to win and LeBron has thrown the team on his back as of late. In the last meeting, he had a triple-double, and the Cavaliers scored 68 first-half points followed by 34 points in the 3rd. They would cruise to the finish line, only tallying 27 in the closing 12 minutes for a total of 129. I expect the same from Cleveland at home in a contest they would like to blow wide open and rest legs down the stretch. Phoenix is in offseason mode dropping nine straight, and this matchup will be no different.


Cavaliers 1st half -7.5

Cavaliers Team total 1st Quarter over 30.5

Cavaliers Team Total Over 120.5

Over 228

(Projected spread)

Jazz +3.5 vs. Spurs Under 194.5

San Antonio is on an 8-1 under streak, scoring less than 98 points in 5 of the last 7 games. The Jazz have held opponents under 99 points in 11 of the last 13 games and are listed as a -3.5 underdogs.

Play Under 195

Nuggets vs Wizards Over 219

International Soccer

Friday 3/22 11:00AM

Brazil vs. Russia Over 2.5    

In a meaningless friendly fixture, look for both teams to play wide open soccer. The World Cup is being held in Russia this summer and leaving an exciting performance vs. one of the worlds elite is the perfect prescription for local fans to get behind their team leading up to the Cup. Imagine what a victory vs. Brazil can do for a teams morale. The Brazilians, on the contrary, will be looking to get past this match with minimal injuries, while always putting on the same offensive display as usual. Last time they were involved in friendly of the same nature, they played a thrilling 3-3 match vs. Spain in a game where defense was minimal, and both sides wanted to put on a show.  Look for the same Friday.

Play Over 2.5 goals

Official Plays

Villanova -5

Texas Tech +2

(Projected spread)

Cavaliers 1st half -8

Cavaliers Team total 1st Quarter over 30.5

Cavaliers Team Total Over 120.5

Over 228

Jazz vs. Spurs Under 194.5

Nuggets vs. Wizards Over 219

Brazil vs. Russia Over 2.5    

For any questions or comments reach me at @JerryBoKnowz on twitter.

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Houston plays Northern Kentucky on Thursday night. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images.

After winning the American Athletic Conference regular-season championship, Houston is heading back to the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament as a No. 1 seed.

The Cougars finished 31-3 overall and had a 17-1 record against conference opponents.

Even though they finished the season with a loss to Memphis, this team is still positioned to make another deep run thanks to some key players and head coach Kelvin Sampson’s excellent system.

Marcus Sasser’s injury status

Senior guard Marcus Sasser had his best season as a Cougar and was named to the Associated Press All-America First Team earlier this week.

The 22-year-old was Houston’s leading scorer averaging a team-high 17.1 points per game and led the team in field goals made, 3-pointers and free throws this season.

Sasser didn’t play in the final game of AAC tournament due to a groin injury he suffered during the team's previous outing against Cincinnati. His absence subsequently factored into Houston losing to Memphis. Without their leading scorer, the Cougars couldn’t seem to find any offensive rhythm, which led Memphis to take control of the game early on and never look back.

Sasser could have played, but was held out for precautionary reasons, so he could have more time to heal and prepare himself for the NCAA Tournament. The overall game was meaningless, for Houston would have been a No.1 seed if they won or lost to Memphis.

The Cougars know they can not win a championship without their star player, so limiting his action early on may be a way to save Sasser for the long haul.

The senior guard did practice on Wednesday but was not at full strength, according to reports. Sasser seemed optimistic whether or not he would be able to play in the Cougars first NCAA Tournament game.

“If I can play, I can play. Even through pain” Sasser said when asked if he could play. “You never know when your last game is. I'm not trying to miss the game for nothing. For the most part, if I can go, I'm going to go.”

As it currently stands, there has been no decision on whether Sasser will play against No. 16 Northern Kentucky. If he were to miss this game, it wouldn’t be detrimental, as the Cougars have a deep roster and can count on others to step up.

“Whether Marcus is here or not, we're still Houston.” coach Sampson said.

The rise of Jarace Walker

Freshman Jarace Walker came to Houston looking to be challenged and because he wanted to learn, develop and become a part of something bigger.

He has more than fulfilled these goals by showcasing his skills multiple times throughout the course of the season.

Walker is a perfect fit on this team as he is defensive-minded, can create his own shots, and excels at securing rebounds.

The 19-year-old has the potential to be one of the best players in this tournament and can take over a game at a moment's notice.

Walker scored double-digit points in half of the games he played, and was one of the nation's best defenders throughout the season.

If Sasser is to miss the first game against Northern Kentucky, look for Walker to become the primary scoring option and lead Houston past the Norse with ease.

Kelvin Sampson’s system

When head coach Kelvin Sampson took over, Houston basketball was an afterthought at best. Since then, he built this program from the ground up, and is on the verge of potentially leading his squad back to the Final Four and beyond.

Coach Sampson has taken the Cougars to five straight NCAA Tournament appearances and has crafted a winning formula that gets the most out of his players every year.

His system works by instilling a defensive first mindset into his players and making sure everyone knows their roles on the team. Take Jamal Shed, J’Wan Roberts and Tramon Mark as examples. All three of them started out as bench players and earned their spots as starters by playing with heart, hustle and becoming great defenders on the court.

Shed has become a great point guard and led the team in both assists and steals this season. Mark is a solid 3-and-D player and Roberts led the team in rebounds.

Coach Sampson always gets the most out of his guys on defense, which makes Houston one of the best teams in the nation.

Looking Ahead

As it currently stands, Houston is the betting favorite (6-1) to win the NCAA Tournament according to Caesars Sportsbook and seem to have a favorable bracket.

As previously mentioned, Houston opens with Northern Kentucky and should win that matchup with ease. They would then face either Auburn or Iowa in the next round.

The Cougars should be favored in those games and could see teams such as Miami or Indiana in the Sweet 16. When the Elite Eight rolls around, there is potential for a Texas-sized matchup between the Cougars and either Texas A&M or UT, which would be a spectacle in of its own.

Houston is a No.1 seed for a reason, they are one of the best teams in the nation and have all the necessary skills to go back to the Final Four and potentially win their first men’s basketball championship.

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