Category Archives: Game Predictions

Tonight’s Picks…

As always, there’s got to be a gambling aspect to make everything a little more interesting, right? Here is how each of us see the game going tonight. Let’s make some money…

Mayo

I’m definitely taking Butler getting +3.5, and I love the +145 money line for them. I also love the Under 128.5 in this one. UConn and Kentucky played to a 111 total score. That’s the kind of feel I have for this game. In general, games tend to slow down in high-pressure situations. Down the stretch, if this game is close, I expect a lot of long possessions for both teams. There is no doubt that Kemba Walker will be the best player on the floor in this game, and there is always the possibility he wins the game by himself. When it comes to college hoops though, I tend to lean towards squads that play with more of a team concept, and that is what Butler does.

Del

As I said in my earlier post, Kemba is not letting his team lose, this tournament goes to the better dog. I got the Huskies -3.5 and over 128.5. Shelvin Mack is great, but Jeremy Lamb is going to shut him down tonight.

Murph

UConn has to cover 3.5 and burst through that tiny 128.5 over/under, right? I’m not falling for the bait.  Those who bet against Butler in big time games lose their money (including last year’s Final versus Duke).  Butler is going to force UConn into a slow-man’s game and grind out another win according to the same formula.  Not to be overlooked is Butler’s significant advantage in terms of experience over UConn (I never thought I’d say that). I’ve got Butler winning it all (forget the points), and under 128.5.

Gib

I’m with Murph and Mayo on the spread. Even if UCONN pulls this out, Butler will make this a close, low-possesion game. Matt Howard and Mack have been making the key shots and grabbing the 50-50 jump balls whenever their team has needed it the most all tourney long. So give me the points. I also think Brad Stevens emphasizes ball possession and transition D, so I’m taking the under.

So, 3 Butler picks and a UConn. Given our track records, that might mean UConn wins by 20 tonight. Buyer beware.

How can you cheer against Blue II?!?

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Kentucky-Uconn Final 4 Preview: SEC-Big East Champ Showdown!

Line: Kentucky (-2.5)

In the second game Saturday, 4-seed Kentucky takes on 3-seed Connecticut, coached by John Calipari and Jim Calhoun respectively.  Both coaches, having much experience in the Final Four, will play a huge role in the result of this game.  Calhoun, the only coach in the Final Four who has won a championship, will go up against a very athletic and fast paced Calipari Wildcat team.  Calipari has now taken three different universities (U Mass, Memphis, UK) to the Final Four.  His first two, however, were vacated by the NCAA due to recruiting violations.  Jim Calhoun, very much like Calipari, doesn’t quite have a clean slate himself either.  Calhoun, in his fourth Final Four with Connecticut, was cited earlier in the season by the NCAA  for failing to create an atmosphere of compliance within his program and was suspended for the first three Big East games during the 2011-12 season. So before I start talking about this match up, let me just say, may the better crook win!

Bonnie and Clyde

The last time these two teams matched up was back on November 24th in the Maui Invitational Championship game where the Huskies prevailed 84-67.  Now, here we are 4 months later, and these two teams are still standing and playing for something a little bit more than a trophy from Chaminade.  Both the Wildcats (29-8) and Huskies (30-9) are on tremendous winning streaks.  The Wildcats, led by leading scorer Brandon Knight, haven’t lost a game since February 23rd, which was a 1-point deficit to Arkansas in overtime.  They have won 10 straight games including an SEC Championship.  On the other side, Connecticut, similarly, won their conference championship as they took down the nets at Madison Square Garden for Calhoun’s seventh Big East Title. The Huskies, having won nine straight, are led by All-American, Kemba Walker who averages 23.5 ppg and 4.3 apg.  This guy alone is the reason I’m taking Connecticut. He has it all, quickness, defense, great ball sense, strong first step, you name it! He reminds me of Allen Iverson in college, the way he just goes right past people and makes every teammate better on the court.  Not to mention his step back jump shot is a killer!  Every now and then there is player who can carry a team on their back and take them all the way, and Kemba is that type of player.  Freshman swing man Jeremy Lamb has played a large role as compliment to Walker averaging 11 ppg and leads the team in 3pt%.  He certainly doesn’t play like a freshman!  With Connecticut’s ability to slow it down when necessary and run in fast break situations, it’s going to be very tough for Kentucky to be able to run their offense.

With Kentucky’s young team, I think that if they get down early they will panic and start taking freshman shots (not good shots). Unfortunately, that’s just what Kemba does, hits you fast and early.  The last time these two met, Connecticut went on a 22-7 run (Kemba scored 29 points) and never looked back midway through the 2nd half holding Brandon Knight  to 3-15 shooting and only 6 points. Now, if Kentucky has any chance, that cannot  happen! Unless lone senior Josh Harrellson can keep his troops intact, I think this could be a long night for the Wildcats.  I’m taking the Huskies in this one. I think the women will win too!

KEMBA!

Pick: Uconn +2.5 OVER 140

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Butler-VCU Final 4 Preview: Eerily Similar to 2006

Will they continue?

VCU has followed in the ’06 Patriots’ footstepes thus far…

 

Line: Butler (-3)

 There’s a program called AccuScore that inputs all of the information and statistics about two teams and through whatever algorithms and formulas they have simulate the game over 10,000 times to project a winner. Not surprisingly, this game came out almost dead even—Butler at 50.3% winning percentage and VCU at 49.7%. Basically, people view this game as a toss-up, and for good reason. Butler has only had one game in this tournament that has been more than a three-point differential—that includes an overtime game,  a game-winning free throw with less than a second remaining, and a buzzer-beater. VCU, interestingly enough, has only played one game that has been close in their one-point overtime victory over Florida State, adding wins of 18, 18, and 10 over Georgetown, Purdue, and Kansas, respectively.

 What is going to be interesting in this game is which team sets the tempo. Both teams seem to be able to play different styles when needed, but at their best Butler likes a grind-it-out defensive battle, whereas VCU tends to push the pace whenever they can. Obviously, Butler has been there before, and while at times I think tournament experience can be a bit overrated, when you get down to the Final 4 I think it could make a big difference.

 When George Mason made their famous run the national semifinals, their road wasn’t all that different from VCU’s. Mason took out one-seed UConn in the Elite 8, just as VCU took out one-seed Kansas. Then, the Patriots went up against an experienced Florida team in the Final 4 and ran out of gas. I think VCU is going to make this game a little closer than Florida’s 15-point win over Mason—especially because as much as I believe in Butler, they are not that Florida team of ’06 an ’07. Having said that, I see VCU’s Cinderella run ending much the same way.

 Butler, at worst, is going to have two of the best three players on the court on Saturday night in Shelvin Mack and Matt Howard–with VCU’s Jamie Skeen . If VCU stays hot from beyond the three-point arc then you never know, but between their experience, their talent, their ability to slow the game down, and the  unflappability in late-game situations—the pick has got to be Butler here, and I’m taking the points as well. Shaka Smart has led his team on an impressive run, and he’ll be a hot name for some coaching vacancies this summer, but I trust Brad Stevens more in this one.

 Pick: Butler -3, UNDER 130.5

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