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Michigan State vs. Louisville Pick NCAA – March 29th + Bonus Pick

We split our picks last night thanks to a late winner on a game for the ages. Notre Dame fought valiantly and came breathtakingly close to pulling off one of the legendary upsets in the modern history of the NCAA Tournament, but the Cats, somehow, someway, found a way to make one more play down the stretch to survive and advance to Indianapolis. Wisconsin awaits the Cats, and they have to feel confident after watching a blueprint to beat the unbeaten so beautifully laid out. The biggest difference is that Wisconsin won’t be completely helpless to stop Karl Anthony Towns on the block – and just watching last night’s games it is impossible NOT to think Wisconsin has a real opportunity for success. I am interested to see what Vegas has to say about the line…

Two more spots to complete the Final Four are on the line this afternoon. We’ve had a nice 5-1 ATS weekend of NCAA Tourney action, so let’s see if we can finish strong today with two more picks.

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Today’s Free Picks:

NCAA TOURNAMENT: REGIONAL FINALS (ELITE EIGHT):

Louisville Cardinals vs Michigan State Spartans -2.5

Here’s a good indication a team is ridiculously underseeded – when they are the Vegas favorite in every game they play in the NCAA Tournament. That’s the case with the Spartans who will once again be favorited tonight despite wearing the dubious mantle of “underdog” according to the seed line. And they are favored for good reason. They have more offensive firepower than the Cardinals and possess the type of physical defense that could (should) provide real problems for Montrez Harrell and Terry Rozier.

Michigan State has been led by the offensive play of senior point guard Travis Trice. He will be a real tough cover for the Cards’ freshman replacement point guard, Quentin Snider. Look for the Spartans to exploit that advantage most of the day.

The coaching matchup is legendary, so it is hard to give an edge to either Pitino or Izzo, but it is safe to assume both teams will be well-prepared and the team that shoots the ball better will win. I think it is fair to give that edge to Michigan State. As long as Brandon Dawson can give them anything and stay out of foul trouble, they can negate Harrell and should win the game.

I’m going with the dubious “Cinderella” to make it a second Big Ten team heading home to Indy.

Free Pick: Michigan State Spartans -2.5

 

Gonzaga Bulldogs vs. Duke Blue Devils -2.5

It is a testament to the Gonzaga program that today is simply viewed as a great game between two teams that could win a national title rather than the “David and Goliath” it would have been for most of the history of college hoops, save for the last decade. Still, it is hard not to find Gonzaga in the role of slingshot-toting hopeful as they search for the school’s first Final Four against the program that has defined college basketball success in the modern era. The Dukies are in their 20th regional final and their fourteenth under Coach K, the most of any active coach, and he has the squad and possibly the best player in the nation joining him.

SO can Gonzaga finally get over the hump? Can they once again become the underdog that could and crash the party with three bluebloods of college hoops in Indianapolis (no matter who wins the first game, it’s an elite premier program; the Ville or Sparty)?

I think they can. I picked Gonzaga before the tourney started and I picked them as one of the four best teams in the country in my preseason column, and nothing I have seen this entire tournament has swayed my opinion. They match up really well with Duke, whereas a Wisconsin or Kentucky would be a tough matchup. Gonzaga has the stretch big in Wiltjer and the sheer mass in Karnowski and Sabonis to activate Duke’s Achillies Heel – Okafor in four trouble. They also have excellent perimeter defenders in Wesley and Bell Jr. to contain Cook and Winslow. Tyus Jones could give Pangos a little trouble, but I think the same could be said conversely as well. It will be a good matchup to watch.

This is another game that could very well hinge on who makes more shots. Duke has better perimeter shooting guards, but Gonzaga has more reliable scoring options who can create offense. I’ll give the slight edge to the Zags and their many tough covers created by their unique size. Wiltjer is a really difficult cover size wise and Karnowski has better touch and sheer MASS than anyone Okafor has had to deal with. Can he root him off the block without fouling?? I’m not so sure.

I’ll take Gonzaga to round out the Final Four and cap off an amazing weekend of high-level hoops.

Free Pick: Gonzaga Bulldogs +2.5