March for the cash: How Sweet it is, but can the Aggies be Elite?

Billy Kennedy and the Aggies hope to make it another round. Getty Images

If you made it out of the opening weekend with your bankroll still intact, consider yourself a winner.  The unpredictability of the historic meltdowns by numerous tops seeds followed by last-minute buzzer beaters that swayed sportsbooks wins and losses finally led to a Sunday bloody Sunday that featured a Bearcat collapse, and a top-seeded Xavier, blowing a 12 point second half lead.

The Sweet 16 brings us plenty of unlikely matchups due to all the upsets. The futures markets have adjusted and currently sit as follows:

Villanova 3/1
Duke 7/2
Gonzaga 7.5/1
Kentucky 8/1
Kansas 8/1
Michigan 12.5/1
Purdue 13/1
West Virginia 15/1
Clemson 37/1
Texas A&M 22.5/1
Texas Tech 25/1
FSU 70/1
Nevada 60/1
Kansas State 50/1
Loyola-Chicago 90/1
Syracuse 80/1
Futures according to 5dimes as of 3/20/18

Villanova and Duke lead the way and deservingly so from their performances in the first two rounds. Although both teams bolster inflated spreads because of seeding and public backing, Duke and Nova managed to go 4-0 ATS while beating their enormous spreads by +7.8 and +8.5 points.

Gonzaga is 1-1 ATS, and have looked less than stellar in both games. Kentucky has gained momentum because of the region they are in and the upsets that paved a favorable path for the Wildcats. You can get John Calipari's bunch for the same price as No 1 seed Kansas because the Jayhawks path to the final four involves beating Duke if both teams advance.

Another sleeper on peoples radar is Texas A&M. We say sleeper, but they woke up bettors quickly after putting a beatdown on the defending champions. The public was backing the Tarheels on over 70% of the bets placed. At 22.5-1 the Aggies might be the team to place a bet on, with chances to hedge if they get to the final four.

Speaking of a hedge, let's take a look at Loyola-Chicago, and the play the odds allow us to make. In the Sweet 16, Loyola is listed as a +2 point underdog. I will be on Loyola to win in this matchup making this an opportunity to buy out with a huge safety net if they can advance. In the elite 8, if they can manage to get lucky and face Kansas State which is listed as a +5.5 dog vs Kentucky, then you can place a future on Kansas State to win the National title which will be at huge odds, as they currently sit at 60-1. Having a guaranteed ticket with two teams at 90-1 (Loyola) or Kansas St whatever they will be at say in the 30/35-1 range, going into the final four, again allows you to buy into other favorable spots. If Kentucky wins, then you can money line Kentucky for a percent of the Loyola future virtually giving you a free ticket with some profit, or inflated odds in your favor if Loyola advances. It's a numbers game; you must learn to play it.

Christian Pina of SGP tweeted earlier this week this strategy with Nevada at 300-1 on a $100 wager. His safety net was $30,000, and he is holding that ticket with the chance of securing a 300-1 ticket on an elite 8 team also giving him the option to hedge on the opposing teams as he chooses. Check out Christian Pina on Twitter.

Your future tickets don't necessarily have to win the tournament for you to proift; one must know when to press eject at the right time.

Thursday games

Kansas State   +5.5 O/U 138.5

Loyola Chicago +1.5     O/U 143

Texas A&M    +3 O/U    136

Florida State +5.5     O/U 153.5

Official picks

PLAY OF THE DAY Texas A&M +3    2X

Kentucky -5  -120 (.5)
Loyola Chicago +2 (.5)

Moneyline Parlay Kentucky(-229)+Nova(-254)= +100

Peoples Parlay (half unit) Texas A&M+3/Kentucky-5/Texas Tech+1.5/Clemson+5

For any questions or comments reach me at @JerryBoknowz on twitter


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Rockets blast Thunder in home opener, 124-91

Rockets take care of business in home opener. Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images.

The Houston Rockets had an impressive outing versus the Oklahoma City Thunder after an embarrassing loss against the Minnesota Timberwolves Wednesday night. They took care of business at home on Friday night, which was a surprising blowout. The Rockets didn't have to worry about Karl-Anthony Towns screaming at Alperen Sengun or Anthony Edwards telling Coach Silas to call a timeout. Instead, they took their frustrations out on the Thunder (another younger core).

"We responded and bounced back from that game 1," Silas said. "I wouldn't say it was taking anything out. It was just learning and applying to what you learn and that's going to be us this year. Applying to what you learn and getting better and having some games like we had the other day. Veteran teams have some games when they don't play as well they want."

Christian Wood led the way, as he controlled the paint on all aspects with rebounding and putbacks. He played an incredible game after having a poor performance versus the Timberwolves. Silas showed complete trust in allowing Wood to open sets, as he walked the ball down the court several times, and in transition too. Wood became aggressive on the perimeter with open shooting and tough shots, and long strides towards the rim. He finished the night with 31 points and 13 rebounds off 66 percent shooting from the field.

The young core for the Thunder had a tough night defending Wood from every aspect. Hopefully, he keeps this play up. Silas loved the space that was created throughout the game for Wood, which included the help from Eric Gordon, as he continued to play better. Wood continues to develop underneath the Silas umbrella. He had a great feel for off-the-dribble shooting a few times. Wood becomes more dangerous when space is created on the court.

"It allows me to show what I can do. It allows the floor to be open and I can create for other guys and create for myself," Wood said.

As Gordon continues to impress, his teammate Kevin Porter Jr was amazed with his performance.

Gordon looked marvelous inside and outside of the paint, as it looked like a time ripple. The younger guards of the Thunder had a tough time staying in front of Gordon. His size and strength gave the Thunder a huge problem. Gordon is shooting the ball better too, as he is shooting the three-ball at 70 percent this season. Although it's a small sample size, Gordon is trying to overcome his shooting struggles from last year. Gordon finished with 22 points on 66 percent shooting versus the Thunder.

"EG is the biggest part of this squad," Porter said. He comes in and just scores. We need somebody off the bench to do that. He is our guy when me and J come out, it's EG time and he knows that, and comes in aggressive. So much energy on the bench, and we need that every night from him if we want a chance to win."

As I recently mentioned Porter, his facilitation did look better versus the Thunder than the Timberwolves. Porter had nine turnovers in his first game but managed to have two Friday night. He made great slip passes and found open teammates in the open corner. Porter forced a good number of passes versus the Timberwolves but looked more relaxed Friday night. The hardest position in the NBA is the point guard position, but Silas will not allow Porter to fail. Instead of nine turnovers, Porter dished out nine assists. Silas said:

"Bounce back right, going from nine turnovers to nine assists… I think he had two turnovers tonight, which is great. He is making plays for his teammates, and he was really focused."

Porter's shiftiness and creative ability allowed his teammates to get open looks near the rim. He had 18 points because of his step-back threes and first step going towards the basket. Thankfully, Porter is a great ball handler, which confuses defenders on different spots on the court. It's almost like watching a ballerina skate on ice in the Olympics. Hopefully, his confidence continues to get better throughout the year. Porter shot the three-ball at 50 percent tonight. Efficiency is key for Porter this year.

"I'm just trying to let the game slow down," Porter said. "I had a lot of turnovers last game and I just wanted to piggyback and learn from them and learn from some of my forced passes and reads. And sometimes I still force it a little bit. My guys hate that, and sometimes I'm still passive and I'm working on that. When to pass and score and bounce it out, and tonight I felt like I did a good job of that."

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