Updated: Mar 11
In this week's Out of the Vault newsletter...
Duke Blue Devils vs North Carolina Tar Heels🐏
Arizona Wildcats vs UCLA Bruins 🐻
Michigan Wolverines vs. Indiana Hoosiers 🔱
Matchups and picks🏀
NCAA college basketball action has now entered the month of March. For college basketball and sports betting fans, it only means one thing: The madness has officially arrived.
March Madness is the time of the year when high-stakes basketball is played and spots in the big dance at the NCAA men’s basketball tournament are clinched. This is the moment when basketball prospects put up huge numbers for their teams and NBA mock draft positions, and unheralded players come out of nowhere and create their legendary college basketball moments.
In the realm of sports betting, March is when seasoned sports bettors double down on bets on their favorite basketball team, knowing these teams aren’t going to play slack. Because from here on out, every single college basketball game to be played will have a huge bearing on their positioning, and, for other programs, their chances of entering the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.
This weekend will feature a jampacked lineup of exciting matchups, including a huge rivalry game at Chapel Hill. Also, Saturday Night college basketball gets a little more electrifying with two heavyweights from the Pac-12 locking horns in what many analysts believe is a preview of the Pac-12 tournament championship game. The focus then will shift to America’s Heartland on Sunday as two decorated basketball programs battle it out in a regular-season finale that carries a significant implication in the positioning for the upcoming Big Ten tournament.
Duke Blue Devils vs. North Carolina Tar Heels – Saturday 6:30 PM at Dean E. Smith Center
The second regular-season showdown between two ACC bitter foes, Saturday’s Duke vs. North Carolina match, offers another chance for these two decorated basketball programs to write another chapter in their incredible college basketball rivalry.
Unlike the previous years, where both teams were battling neck-and-neck for the top spot in the ACC standings, Duke (22-11) and North Carolina (19-11) have just roamed in the middle of the pack for the majority of the regular season. Knowing the need to come through with a string of massive wins moving forward to leave an impression with the NCAA tournament selection committee, expect these teams to throw everything they've got to secure a massive win before they kick off their respective ACC tournament campaigns.
Duke is riding a five-game winning streak with wins over Louisville, North Carolina State, Virginia Tech, Syracuse, and Notre Dame. North Carolina, meanwhile, is also on a winning streak of three games, during which they pulled off a huge 71-63 upset win over Virginia, the 13th-ranked team in the nation.
BetMGM betting lines are not upbeat on the possibility of the Blue Devils at -3.5 (-105) to repeat against the Tar Heels, whom they beat, 63-57, in their first conference meeting of the season roughly three weeks ago on their home floor. The total that BetMGM has set for this game is 142.5 points, which is three points lower than the 145.5 points total that the last Duke-UNC game went UNDER.
55 percent of the public feels North Carolina is going to cover the point spread, with 67 percent of the money leaders at Covers.com believing the Tar Heels will win by more than three points. As for the total, the OVER is a huge hit with the public, as 73 percent of the voters think the game’s total will go OVER 142.5 points.
On February 4, Duke and UNC faced off in a close game that Duke won in the end. As the two teams prepare to meet again, it wouldn't be surprising if the game followed a similar script. In the time since their last matchup, Duke has been performing better than UNC in terms of offensive and defensive efficiency as well as overall power ranking, according to T-Rank.
Duke's recent success can be attributed to their five-game winning streak and eight wins in their last ten games. During this time, Jeremy Roach has become one of Duke's most reliable scorers and a key part of their wins. In the first meeting between the two teams, Roach recorded 20 points, and UNC has shown some defensive lapses in their recent 4-5 run.
Despite the likelihood of another nail-biter at Chapel Hill, Duke possesses better offensive weapons and has shown steadiness in the execution of its plays late in the game. UNC will have to be at its best defensively to contain Duke's offensive prowess, especially with Roach's scoring ability. Ultimately, it will be an exciting game to watch, but Duke has a slight edge going into this matchup.
Prediction: Duke 81, North Carolina 75
Spread: +3.5 (-110) / -3.5 (-110)
Total: o/u 142.5(-110)
Moneyline: +150 /-170
(9)Arizona Wildcats vs. (4) UCLA Bruins – Saturday 10:00 PM ET at Pauley Pavilion
Arizona will try to make it two in a row against PAC-12 standings leader UCLA on Saturday at Pauley Pavilion. With a conference record of 14-5 (25-5 overall), the Wildcats no longer have a shot at the regular-season championship, which the Bruins (17-2) (26-4 overall) locked up weeks ago. However, a win on Saturday would definitely send a strong message to the Bruins and the rest of the field in the upcoming Pac-12 tournament.
Scoring 83.5 points per game, the Wildcats own one of the most explosive offenses in the nation. Led by Azuolas Tubelis (19.7 PPG) and the vastly improving Oumar Ballo (64.8 FG%), Arizona is playing like a team that is poised for a deep run in the PAC-12 tournament and NCAA men’s basketball tournament.
The Bruins, on the other hand, have embraced their identity as a scrappy, defensive team that relies on the craftiness of Jaime Jaquez Jr on the offensive end of the floor. This team is holding most of their opponents under 60 points per game, or 59.7 points allowed per game, which is the 6th best in the nation.
The odds are out for Arizona vs. UCLA game, and it is looking like many are high on the Wildcats to score another convincing win over the Bruins in the regular-season finale. The two teams played each other last January 21, which saw Arizona clamp down UCLA in a low-scoring affair, 58-52. In that game, Ballo and Tubelis combined for 30 points and made it difficult for Jaquez and Clark to have their way in the paint.
The Wildcats are out to sweep the Bruins on the road, where they are 6-3 this season. According to Covers.com, 62 percent of the public expects Arizona to cover the +5 point (-110) spread), with 67 percent predicting the game’s total to go OVER `148 points. The Wildcats are 7-1 ATS in their last 8 games vs. a team with a winning percentage above.600, while the Over is 4-0 in the team’s last 4 road games. As for the Bruins, they are 5-1 ATS in their last 6 Saturday games.
UCLA and Arizona, the top two teams in the Pac-12, will close the regular season against each other. UCLA has already clinched the regular-season title, while Arizona has secured at least a share of second place and the No. 2 seed in next week’s Pac-12 Tournament. UCLA has won nine games in a row since losing to Arizona, which is one of only two conference losses they have this season. Moreover, UCLA has the nation's longest home winning streak of 24 in a row and has defeated Arizona in their last four meetings at Pauley Pavilion. Taking everything into account, my money is on the Bruins to win outright and cover the -5-point handicap.
Prediction: Arizona 54, UCLA 64
Spread: +5.0 (-110) / -5.0 (-110)
Total: o/u 148(-110)
Moneyline: +180 /-220
Michigan Wolverines vs. (13) Indiana Hoosiers – Sunday 4:30 PM ET at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall
The No. 15 Indiana Hoosiers (20-10, 11-8 Big Ten) will face off against the Michigan Wolverines (17-13, 11-8 Big Ten) at Assembly Hall in a highly anticipated matchup between Big Ten rivals. The game is scheduled to start at 4:30 p.m. ET.
Indiana has a record of 14-15-1 against the spread, while Michigan's is 16-13-1. In terms of hitting the over in their games this season, both teams have a record of 17-13-0. Looking at their performance in the past 10 games, Indiana has a 5-5 record against the spread and a 6-4 overall record, while Michigan has a 7-3 record against the spread and a 6-4 overall record.
The Wolverines will be trying to erase the memory of that painful one-point defeat, 62-61, at the hands of the Hoosiers last February 11. Coming off a 91-87 loss to Illinois, Michigan understands the need to score a convincing win over a ranked team to keep them in the hunt for an NCAA tournament berth ahead of the Big Ten tournament.
The Hoosiers have been inconsistent since that win against Michigan, winning just two in their last five games, though one of those wins came against No. 5 Purdue. Nevertheless, their recent defeat to Iowa, 90-68, is an alarming sign that this team is still figuring out how to consistently play at a high level.
All eyes will be on Michigan’s Hunter Dickenson and Indiana’s Trayce Jackson-Davis. Jackson-Davis has been big-time for the Hoosiers all season long, as he is the team's leading scorer, rebounder, and assist provider while also being a solid defensive player with 0.7 steals and 2.8 blocked shots per game. His shooting percentage of 57.6% from the floor is also impressive and shows his efficiency on offense. Meanwhile, Dickinson is the Wolverine's double-double machine, leading his team in scoring and rebounding with 18.0 points and 8.9 rebounds per game.
Prediction: Michigan 81, Indiana 73
Spread: (-110) / - (-110)
Total: o/u (-110)
NCAA College Basketball has now entered March Madness, offering tons of opportunities for sports bettors to score big wins from betting on their favorite teams.
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