Time to dance for Spartans, Tar Heels

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The big conference tournaments go this week as teams get ready to make a play to rock and roll into the Big Dance.

We will take a little look at a few of them and try to get started with some brackets.


The ACC gets underway at Verizon Center in Washington, DC with last year’s conference tournament winner, Notre Dame, looking to be an outsider.

Duke will be looking for a rematch with North Carolina but after watching them get outrebounded almost 2 to 1 we just don’t think the Blue Devils can beat the Tar Heels. If we do see a rematch we will lay the 3 with the Heels.

The other two teams that could make it to the final table on Saturday are Virginia and Miami. The Cavaliers crushed Louisville this past Saturday, 68-46. The Hurricanes at times can play a huge game, but their crushing loss this past Saturday at Virginia Tech, 77-62, as a 6.5 point road chalk is worth concern.

Our play is for North Carolina to get a second win over Duke if they hook up. One team we will be on early as a dog will be the Pitt Panthers.

Note: The Irish, who won this last year, beat Miami, North Carolina and Duke. We will be against them if they meet any one of those three.


The Pac 12 gets underway with their conference tournament right here at the MGM Grand Arena. We see Arizona or Utah making it to the final table on Saturday. If these two meet we will take the dog if any points are available as the puppy has covered 7 of the last 9 PAC 12 Championship games.

California will be very competitive with the top two as we make them just a 3-point dog on a neutral court. Oregon would be just a 4-point dog against Arizona or Utah on a neutral court. Here in Vegas we see Arizona and Utah as home town favorites who will be getting a lot of fan support at the MGM.

Our team to win this though will be Arizona, which looks to be coming into this in top form.

Note: California has been horrible in this tournament of late going 2-10 ATS as dogs.

The Big 12 will also be rock and rolling in Kansas City at Sprint Center. On the surface this is Kansas’ tournament to lose. The Jayhawks are 5 points better than their nearest rival on a neutral court and they showed a lot of grit in a comeback win vs. Iowa State this past Saturday. They could meet the Cyclones again.

West Virginia can play with anyone and we see them going deep in this tournament. The Mountaineers come off a huge road win vs. Baylor this past Saturday. Oklahoma has big talent that sometimes does not show up. The Sooners went just 3-10 ATS this year as conference favorites; that makes us take a pause.

If WVU meets Baylor we must take a few points with the Bears as a revenge dog play. If Kansas meets up with Iowa State, again, they won’t overlook them and we will lay the points.

The Big Ten gets underway at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis as Michigan State looks to waltz their way to the Big Dance, but it will not be an easy task. We will be all over the Spartans if they get Purdue, who beat them 82-81 in West Lafayette.

Maybe the toughest game for the Spartans will be if they meet up with Indiana, who they crushed 88-69 on Feb 14 in East Lansing. If they play in Indy the game will be much closer.

Note: Our best bet would be the Spartans vs. Purdue a matchup we will be hoping for. Izzo is great in revenge games and we see him taking the Spartans all the way.

The Big East begins their slow dance at Madison Square Garden. Villanova is the cream of this conference with Xavier, Butler and Seton Hall behind them. The two matchups we will be looking for will be Xavier facing either Villanova or Seton Hall.

Xavier beat Nova, 90-83, in Cincinnati. Also, if we see Seton Hall vs. the Musketeers we will be on Xavier, which got caught in a sandwich job having to visit the Pirates after beating Nova. We would be on Xavier as a small favorite vs. the Hall and Nova as a small chalk vs. the X-men.

Note: We do think Nova wins the Big East tourney and makes it to the Final Four if they get a good draw. We will cover that next week when the brackets come out for the Big Dance.

Matchups we like

Pitt/Miami saw the Panthers lose in Miami by just 2 points when getting 8. We would take Pitt as a dog if they meet again.

Also WVU/Kansas. The Mounties lost to KU in Lawrence by 10. We would take WVU if the points are right.

Derby dirt

Looking ahead to the Kentucky Derby, we had the $400k Gotham this past Saturday at Aqueduct and the 6/5 favorite Shagaf was a very game winner for trainer Chad Brown. There was not much behind him so we will wait for his next start to see who he faces but we did like his finish and his gameness.

One for Thursday

After last week’s winner we ran our record to 4-2. Not knowing the matchups in college we will need to take a shot at the NBA. Take Chicago on the road at San Antonio. The Bulls have gone 11-2 ATS as a double digit road dog vs. non-conference teams. Meanwhile the Spurs, a likely double digit chalk, have gone just 1-5 ATS in their last six Thursday home games. BULLS.

There’s lots happening in Vegas this week so get off that couch and make your way to one of the venues where tournament games are being played. Make a bet as you just could be walking around lucky and not even know it!

Richard Saber, a former director of race and sports at the famed Stardust book, is GT’s horse racing and sports handicapper. Twitter: @SabesBet. Email: [email protected].

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