College Basketball Bettor's Saturday Outlook - March Madness

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by Sportsbook Advisor - 3/6/2009 10:19 PM Share

The number one team in the country has had a hard time wearing that crown all season and top-ranked Connecticut will have as stiff a challenge as anyone, going to Pittsburgh, who has yet to lose at home and has tagged the Huskies already this season. The outcome matters to Louisville, who could be playing for top seed in the Big East tournament, should UConn fail to win. The Washington Huskies can win first basketball title since the league was called the Pacific Coast Conference and Kansas is positioned to be the surprise winner of the Big 12 regular season. Kentucky and Florida are playing just to be taken seriously, with poisonous finishes to the year. Check for the latest numbers on these contests.

Connecticut at Pittsburgh 12:00ET, CBS

Coach Jim Calhoun has been thru a lot lately. He lost a terrific starter in Jerome Dyson, got baited into an embarrassing public discussion about his income and notched his 800th coaching victory. Now he will try and lead his team to no worse than a tie for a Big East regular season title and extract a little revenge against Pittsburgh. Calhoun is still fretting as neither Craig Austrie nor Kemba Walker has set the world on fire trying to replace Dyson. The frontcourt players like Stanley Robinson and Jeff Adrein have shown a desire to perform better. The Huskies (27-2, 13-12 ATS) are 13-0 and 9-4 ATS away from Storrs.

Pittsburgh (27-3, 16-8 ATS) has not handled the No.1 hot potato well dropping games the week after being listed at the top of the charts. This is an influential week for the Panthers, after defeating Marquette and having UConn at home. The upset loss at Providence jeopardized their No. 1 seed possibility and they must knock down a pair of wins to restore luster and still have outside chance to force three-way tie for first place, should Louisville falter at West Virginia. The Pitt guards have to do a better job with the ball and DeJuan Blair will likely have to make a few adjustments after ruling Hasheem Thabeet in last encounter.

Something will have to give with the Panthers 18-0 (8-4 ATS) at the Petersen Events Center and Connecticut 9-0 (6-3 ATS) in true road games. Pittsburgh is 10-2 ATS versus teams outscoring opponents by eight or points and has split last six meetings with UConn at home.

StatFox Power Line - Pittsburgh by 2

Kentucky at Florida 2:00 ET, CBS

These are two struggling teams trying to fake they are among the best 65 teams in the country. Are Florida (21-9, 9-14 ATS) and Kentucky (19-11, 12-12-1 ATS) really deserving of NCAA bids, possibly, based on the history of the conference, but both have more flaws than what Republicans in the House and Senate think of the new President's budget plans. The Wildcats have two star players in Jodie Meeks and Patrick Patterson and three warm bodies on the court. No regular contributions have been forthcoming from others, unless you count missed shots and turnovers as part of the total package. This is why Kentucky has three wins in last 10 games (2-8 ATS). Essentially, Meeks and Patterson are like an archipelago and the rest are just drowning in futility. Kentucky is only 2-6 ATS with two days rest this campaign.

Florida is 16-1 (5-6 ATS) at the indoor Swamp (O'Connell Center) and backers have come to understand the Gators. Besides Nick Calathes, on any given night, some different player or players may be a factor on the floor or they may not. Coach Billy Donovan has developed a sore neck, shaking his head back and forth, trying to find any sort of consistency from game to game.

Beating Kentucky in hoops is always a big deal to Florida and they are 7-4 and 6-5 ATS at home. The loser of the SEC showdown might well be headed to the NIT unless they win the conference tournament.

StatFox Power Line - Florida by 6

Texas at Kansas 4:00 ET, CBS

I have not always been a big fan of Bill Self as coach, dating back to his days at Tulsa. Always thought he was one of the top recruiters in the country, but his teams always left you wanting more until they won it all last season. If Kansas would have 17-12 record coming into this week, nobody would have raised an eyebrow with the personnel losses the Jayhawks suffered. Yet here we are, Kansas (24-6, 17-7-1 ATS) can win the Big 12 crown and this bunch of youngsters, who have listened to their coach, are one of the few Top 25 teams in the country that is better today than they were a month ago. With lesser expectations, bettors have profited handsomely, with the Jayhawks 13-5-1 ATS as favorites.

While coach Self deserves accolades, it has been a curious campaign for Texas (20-9, 11-15 ATS). A.J. Abrams has been more up and down then expected, the Connor Atchley of the previous two seasons has disappeared and the defensive intensity coach Rick Barnes teams are noted for, has been blown away like wind witches out on the Texas prairie. At least they seem to have found a point guard in Dogus Balbay, who has added a rhythm to the offense and placed players back in normal positions. Texas is only 3-12 ATS against defensive clubs like Kansas in the latter part of the season.

Kansas is 16-5-1 ATS in last 22 Big 12 contests, however the underdog is 4-1 against the number in this Big 12 skirmish.

StatFox Power Line -Kansas by 9

Washington State at Washington 5:30ET, FSN

Based on how the universities football programs performed, the two schools from the Apple State as thrilled to be included in national conversations concerning basketball. The Huskies (23-7, 16-10-1 ATS) are attempting to hunt down a Pac-10 title, their first in 24 years, while still trying to win the whole thing for first time since 1953. For seniors Jon Brockman and Justin Dentmon, this season has been especially gratifying, after being picked to finish in the middle of the Pac-10 pack. Washington has been far from dogs at the home with 17-1 and 9-6 ATS record, preparing to face in-state rival Washington State, whom they walloped 68-48 on Jan.3.

This hasn't been the kind of season the Cougars (16-13, 11-16 ATS) had hoped for, never really meshing as a team until late, having won last three league contests. Too little scoring and not enough execution at critical times, has turned too many potential wins into losses. Besides the upset wins of UCLA and Arizona State recently, preventing rival Washington from being outright conference champs would be a tremendous way to close the regular season. Washington State is just 3-8 ATS after allowing 50 or fewer points.

Wazzou has covered seven of last 11 in Seattle.

StatFox Power Line - Washington by 9

Louisville at West Virginia 9:00 ET, ESPN

By the time Louisville's Big East battle commences, the Cardinals (24-5, 17-12 ATS) will know what they are playing for, the outright conference crown or a portion of it. Since being knocked silly at Notre Dame, Louisville has played better defense and taken better shots, improving shooting percentage significantly, in winning six straight (4-2 ATS). Finally, after much harping, the Cardinal players look to have bought into coach Rick Pitino's wisdom and are playing with the passion and smarts he has been seeking. They will be traveling to a really challenging environment in Morgantown; however they are 7-1 SU and ATS in true road outings.

West Virginia (21-9, 13-14 ATS) has again exceeded preseason presumptions and could cap a super close to the season with an upset of Louisville. The Mountaineers had early season backcourt injuries, which forced coach Bob Huggins to play freshmen Devin Ebanks, Kevin Jones and point guard Truck Bryant. Playing in this Big East laboratory was a test this year and all three have come thru with passing grades. The three ooze confidence and have helped the ‘Teers forge 23-13 ATS record in home games.

It is really difficult to bet against Louisville, with its 38-13-1 ATS mark in the Big East.

StatFox Power Line - West Virginia by 2

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