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All about 'covers'

Mar 11, 2008 6:00 PM

College 101 by Mark Mayer | This week major conferences engage in tournament play, which means most of the matchups are unknown.

So we will try to single out "cover teams" in the major tournaments – those that could do damage and pay dividends at the betting window.

For good measure, we’ll throw in a couple of matchups already set. Remember our lines are early and approximate. Closing lines count.

Tuesday, March 11

Penn +2½ at Princeton: Usually this game decides the Ivy League. Now it’s a matchup of the last two teams Cornell defeated. Penn won the first meet 70-65 in Philly, but is just 3-6 away from The Palestra. Princeton is 3-0-1 ATS in its last 4 and has incentive. PRINCETON.

WAC

La Tech +5 vs San Jose St: Nothing like familiarity! These teams just met, with La Tech winning 87-83 as a 1½-point road underdog. Tech is a lowly 6-23, but a surprising 12-12 ATS. Meanwhile, the Spartans are 0-5 ATS in their last five and 0-5 as a favorite. LA TECH.

HORIZON

Cleveland St. +10 vs Butler: Butler is a stellar 28-3 and assured of an NCAA bid no matter how the conference title game comes out. Not so for Cleveland State, which split two close games with Butler and has covered seven in a row. CLEVELAND ST.

Teams worth betting:

New Mexico (22-7 ATS): The Lobos can use a good showing in the Mountain West tourney to further influence the selection committee, although they are probably good to go.

Clemson (16-13 ATS): The Tigers have two bitterly fought losses to UNC. A strong ACC performance could boost their seeding in the Dance.

NC Charlotte (19-8 ATS): Xavier and UMass are probably going to the Dance, so Charlotte needs to go all out in the Atlantic 10 tourney. The 49ers have won and covered their last three.

Oklahoma St (11-11 ATS): The Cowboys are peaking, going 4-1 ATS in their last five. OSU is 14-13 overall meaning the Big 12 tourney is all or nothing.

Syracuse (14-15 ATS): The spread record reflects the Orange plight, but Boeheim’s bunch enters the Big East tourney off a huge win over Marquette. Cuse always tough at the Garden.

Kentucky (14-12 ATS): The Wildcats come into the SEC tourney off a vital win over Florida. Big Blue is 10-3 ATS in their last 13 and is playing for an NCAA berth.

Wisconsin (14-12 ATS): The one top-seed that can gain support by winning its conference tourney. The Badgers ride a 7-game Big 10 win streak, covering the last 5.