March Madness is officially underway with the NCAA Tournament kicking off around the country this weekend with games played in Dayton, Pittsburgh, Buffalo, Milwaukee, Indianapolis, Greenville, Fort Worth, San Diego, and Portland. Let’s take a look at a few games to find bets that could pay off- and pay out.
#4 Arkansas vs #13 Vermont
One of the more interesting match ups of the weekend, the Catamounts are currently five-point underdogs to the Razorbacks. Vermont steamrolled their conference this year with a 17-1 record, en route to a 28-5 mark overall, but runs into an Arkansas group that’s far more talented than any team they had to face in the America East.
Arkansas is one of the most athletic teams in the country, and that is something Vermont could use to their advantage. Vermont is at their most dangerous when they’re shooting well, and if they can start hot from the floor they could get Arkansas to turn up the aggression and draw lots of fouls- where head coach Eric Musselman is known to sit players liberally when they’re in foul trouble. To be fair both teams will have to watch their fouls as both are near the top of the country in making free throws as a team, at 75%.
With 86% of the money on Vermont, the market doesn’t seem to believe in the Razorbacks. But starting the month, Arkansas got a nice boost on their odds to win the tournament from +7500 to +5000.
#6 Texas vs #11 Virginia Tech
This is a pretty close match up as Virginia Tech are only a one-point dog to the Longhorns, the reason likely being that both teams play at a methodical pace and match up quite well to each other’s strengths and weaknesses.
Texas plays excellent defense, ranked 13th in the country on that side of the floor, and rebounds well which could be an issue if Tech has a cold shooting night. The Longhorns offense has been spotty all year and couldn’t maintain consistency even inside the Big 12, where they held a 10-8 record. Overall they are well coached and more than capable of harassing Virginia Tech out of their rhythm with a stifling defensive effort.
Virginia Tech has a pretty good scoring offense but sub-par defense has kept them from consistency all year, up until recently when they went on a run of great play and claimed the ACC title. The momentum from that victory makes them dangerous, but they’re very much a team that lives and dies by the three pointer. They’re ranked third in the nation in three point shooting percentage but their 12 losses closely align with their less-efficient nights from behind the arc.
With 57% of the money on Virginia Tech, this game appears to be a true pick’em, and you have to imagine the team with the more consistent defense will be able to survive a scrap in the early rounds.