Vaughn Dalzell breaks down how to bet the American East and Big Ten Tournaments between UMass Lowell vs Vermont, plus Penn State vs Indiana.
Virginia vs. Duke (-2.5): O/U 123.5
These teams only met once this season (Feb. 11) and Virginia won in OT at home, 69-62.
In that game, the ACC had to apologize for how the game went into OT because there was not an obvious foul called on Duke, which held the Blue Devils back from winning that game. Duke remembers.
Duke rides in on eight-straight wins since that loss and rank as the No. 9 team in Barttorvik since Feb. 14. In that same span, Virginia is No. 75. Duke turned the ball over 22 times against Virginia and only average 10 turnovers per game since then.
On the season, the Cavs shoot 69.9% from the free-throw line (260th) and struggles to offensive rebound (266th). Duke hits 77% of their free-throws (27th) and ranks 3rd in offensive rebounding percentage (36.7%).
I think those two areas could be the difference in what should be a great game, along with Duke's athleticism.
I added Duke ML at -150 as an official play. Let's go 2-1 after Indiana's blunder! This game starts at 8:30 PM ET.
Pick: Duke ML (1u) -- added at 6:36 PM ET
Penn State vs. Indiana (-3): O/U 140.5
Will we see Ohio State or Penn State in the Big Ten Championship Game?
After Penn State upset Northwestern in OT yesterday, they face another tough test with taking down Indiana.
Penn State trashed Indiana 85-66 at Penn State earlier in the season in a game where the Hoosiers did not have Race Thompson. Indiana only led 4-0 at the most, so Penn State probably feels good about this spot.
However, Maryland beat Indiana like that at home and the Hoosiers handled business against the Terps yesterday. This is a spot where I see a similar result versus lower Big Ten competition.
The Nittany Lions are streaking in their last eight games with a 7-1 record and five of those wins coming by five or fewer points. Penn State has been a bit lucky (or good) and at the end of games and I mean, tis the season, but I don't expect it to continue.
What I expect is Penn State to struggle in one key area today and that's offensive rebounding. Penn State ranks dead-last in the country with an 18.6% offensive rebounding percentage and at Indiana's tempo (354th), the Hoosiers should win the rebounding battle and owns a major size advantage (21st to 250th in average height).
I played the Hoosiers ML at -145 odds and would go to -155 or take the -3 if you want lower juice.
Pick: Indiana ML (1u)
UMass Lowell at Vermont (-5.5): O/U 140.5
This game will between UMass Lowell and Vermont will be at Vermont due to how the American East Conference Tournament is conducted.
Vermont is 11-1 at home this season with a lone loss to Toledo. Vermont beat UMass Lowell at home, 93-81, and has since won five-straight home games by at least 11 points. In the 11 home wins, Vermont won by at least six points in all 11.
UMass Lowell beat Vermont 80-65 at home earlier this season in a game the Catamounts couldn't buy a bucket in the first half. Vermont was also down one starter and one key bench player in that matchup, both are active here.
In Vermont's two conference tournament games, the Catamounts beat NJIT by 27 points (84-57) and Binghampton by 22 points (79-57). In UMass Lowell's two, they beat Maine by 31 points (85-54) and New Hampshire by 11 points (75-64).
Both teams have routed their opponents thus far but Vermont has been at home for both and now UMass Lowell makes the short road trip to take on the Cats.
This will be close at times, but I expect Vermont to pull away at home with turnovers and rebounds being the difference. Vermont ranks 9th in the nation with a 14.4 offensive turnover percentage compared to UMass Lowell who ranks 302nd at 20.1%.
The Cats are one of the worst offensive rebounding teams in the country (358th) but one of the best defensive rebounding squads (3rd) compared to the opposite for the River Hawks who are 11th in offensive rebounding and 133rd in defensive. I believe Vermont can neutralize UMass Lowell on the boards and win the turnover battle.
I played Vermont -5.5 at -110 odds and would go to -7. They are on a 14-game winning streak that is the 3rd-longest in the country. The last time Vermont lost was at UMass Lowell on Jan. 11.
Pick: Vermont -5.5 (1u)
VCU ML (-175) vs. Saint Louis
Saint Louis has been an underdog or pick-em in five games this season and went 0-5 on the ML. I already have a ticket on VCU to win the A-10 at +200 and +220, so I have VCU in lunch money parlays today. If you are betting this game, I think VCU wins. The Rams are 54-11 on the ML as a favorite in the past two seasons.
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