How to Bet Friday's March Madness Games

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How to Bet Friday's March Madness Games
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Upsets and heart-stopping action were typical of Thursday’s NCAA men’s March Madness games.

Among other surprising finishes, the St. Peter’s Peacocks of Jersey City, New Jersey, defeated one of college basketball’s storied programs, the Kentucky Wildcats.

Are bettors in for more of the same on Friday? asked a professional bookmaker, Casey Lewless, for his take on Friday’s games. Lewless is a veteran Nevada oddsmaker now managing the sportsbooks at Penn National’s riverboat casinos in Louisiana.

Here is how Lewless breaks down some of the games going into Friday’s action.

The Bookmaker’s Analysis

Ohio State vs. Loyola: Ohio State is limping into the tourney. Loyola, with rookie coach Drew Valentine, has it all, veterans, great guard play, a scrappy team. Ohio State is inconsistent, but E.J. Liddell will be the best player on the floor. Coach Holtmann is not great in tourneys. This seems like Loyola easy, 61-54, maybe.

Auburn vs. Jacksonville State: Jacksonville State is a bit of an unknown. It left the Ohio Valley this year and didn’t make it to the final of their conference tourney. Auburn is not great on neutral floors or on the road, but expect the Tigers to roll to as much as they want to here and to advance. Not a very interesting game to play for me.

Texas Tech vs. Montana State: Texas Tech at -15½ might be high. They are one of the best defensive teams in the country, but at times they struggle to put the ball in the basket. There is a different skill level, though, compared to the Big Sky Conference, which was down this year. A pass for me.

Purdue vs. Yale: Purdue kind of limped into this tournament. They have as much talent as anyone but always seem to play down to their competition. It’s not unrealistic to put Purdue in your Final Four. Too much height on Purdue and too much Jaden Ivey. Purdue 80-64.

Villanova vs. Delaware: Clear mismatch. What Villanova Coach Jay Wright does in March and April is special. Delaware is the best of a garbage conference. Villanova’s Collin Gillespie came back for this opportunity. Nova can name the number. If Delaware can score some points, then over 133½ is an option. It just looks like a pass to me. Maybe Nova first half.

USC vs. Miami: USC will be the popular play here. Miami is scrappy and won at Duke earlier this year. USC struggles at the free throw line, and unless Boogie Ellis helps Evan Mobley, they might not be able to keep up. I like the 10-seed, Miami, to advance. Miami’s Jim Larrañaga is a great coach when it comes to X’s and O’s. Take the 1.5 points. I have no interest in the total.

Texas vs. Virginia Tech: Best matchup of coaching minds, Mike Young of Virginia Tech vs. Chris Beard of Texas. Texas struggled to score in the much-tougher Big 12, but Beard is a wizard at this time of the year. Texas 69-62.

Illinois vs. Chattanooga: Illinois is Final Four good in my eyes. They have it all. Chattanooga will stay in this for a while and might be a stylish underdog play. I don’t think the points come into play here, as it’s a Chattanooga upset or a double-digit loss. If you like Illinois, you might consider the Over. If they cover, it likely goes over 135. Leaning towards Illinois, 76-65.

Duke vs. Cal State Fullerton: A David vs. Goliath matchup. Duke was gifted a 2 seed and didn’t deserve it over Tennessee. The lineup is 5-star loaded, and the Big West entrant is always a question mark. The referees will take care of Duke the best they can to get Coach K as far as possible. Game is a pass for me.

LSU vs. Iowa State: Will Wade not coaching may be a blessing. LSU plays like bunch of individuals anyway. Every year there is one game where you’re surprised a team is there, and this year it is Iowa State. They have nothing going in the right direction, but they have 40 minutes to prove otherwise. LSU’s Darius Days and Tari Eason are good. LSU’s defense is fantastic, so this should be low-scoring, so a slight lean to Iowa State plus 4 or more. Not interested in a low-scoring game that should be around 126 or so.

Houston vs. UAB: Tremendous coaching matchup, UAB’s Andy Kennedy vs. Houston’s Kelvin Sampson. Kennedy has a great two-year record at UAB. Everything points to this game being over 136. Both coaches have athletic teams. The only thing that stops you there is a four-minute drought either way. It won’t be a surprise if Houston makes the Elite Eight. Expect it to be close, but Houston pulls away late, by like 8-12. Feeling a 74-65 type game.

Wisconsin vs. Colgate: On paper, it looks like a mismatch, but Colgate can flat-out score the basketball. A Wisconsin total in these games would normally be around 128, so the fact that the total is 139 says a lot. Expect Colgate to stick around, but this has to go over 139. Expect something like 84-75, and maybe a small play on Colgate moneyline.

Michigan State vs. Davidson: An interesting development, as Foster Loyer transferred from MSU to Davidson and now gets to play against his former team. Both teams are well coached. MSU’s struggles this year have been turnovers and the lack of a leader at clutch time. Davidson shoots really well. The play seems to be over 140.

Seton Hall vs. TCU: TCU got a lot of mileage with a couple of solid efforts vs. Kansas. Is TCU that good or Kansas that mediocre? I suggest Kansas is what they usually are. TCU struggles to shoot the ball, and Seton Hall is stingy. The size matchup is about even. This is a great coaching matchup between TCU’s Jamie Dixon and Seton Hall’s Kevin Williard. I expect this to be ugly. It might look like first-half under, but for the game, expect something like Seton Hall 61-55, but I wouldn’t be surprised with a one- or two-point TCU win.

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Larry Henry

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