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No. 11 Xavier Vs No. 1 Gonzaga Elite Eight Odds, Pick & How To Watch

2017 NCAA Basketball Tournament Round 1 Sleeper Picks

As always, Round 1 in the NCAA Tournament should produce plenty of against the spread betting upsets. While very few Cinderella teams actually have a shot winning the NCAA Basketball national title, they offer great betting value in the earlier rounds. Happy hunting!

2017 NCAA Basketball Tournament Round 1 Sleeper Picks

Why should you bet on underdogs in the NCAA Basketball tournament?

  • Since the tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985, No. 1 seeds are 14-5 ATS against 16 seeds when the line is 19.5 or lower, including 7-1 over the past 10 seasons.
  • Over the past four NCAA tournaments, top seeds are only 6-10 against the spread in this round.
  • No. 14 seeds that are at least 12-point underdogs against No. 3 seeds are 6-2 ATS over the last three seasons.
  • Over the past three seasons, No. 4 seeds are 11-1 outright against No. 13 seeds but only 5-7 ATS. 
  • Since 2009, No. 12 seeds are just 11-21 ATS versus No. 5 seeds, including 5-11 since 2014.
  • Since 2009, No. 11 seeds are 19-13 ATS against No. 6 seeds, but not all of those games have come as an underdog. 
  • No. 7 seeds are 11-5 outright against No. 10 seeds since 2013, with favorites going 10-6. No. 7 seeds that were favored have been even more successful, going 10-1 outright and 7-4 ATS in that span. 
  • Since 2009, the No. 9 seed is 20-9-3 ATS against the No. 8 seed.

There are three games in Round 1 that I believe deserve upset status. What’s going to happen when Florida Gulf Coast battles Florida State on Thursday? Also on Thursday, is Xavier or Maryland going to come out on top? Then, on Friday, can Oregon keep Iona’s players from driving to the rim without their top enforcer?

#14 Florida Gulf Coast vs #3 Florida State
When:  Thursday, March 16
Where: Amway Center, Orlando, FL
Odds: Florida Gulf Coast +14

Analysis: Florida State is a good team. But, the Seminoles proved in their loss to Notre Dame that they can get sloppy with the basketball. Not only that, but Florida Gulf Coast can run with the Seminoles.

Florida Gulf Coast averages 79.4 points per game. They allow less than 69 points at 68.8 per. What it means is that FGC plays tough defense while running and gunning on offense. Florida State is used to being the team that presses the pace.

What’s going to happen when they meet a team that’s more than happy to oblige? Florida State should win outright. But, it won’t be easy.  

NCAA Tournament Round 1 Sleeper Pick: Florida Gulf Coast +14

#11 Xavier vs #6 Maryland
When:  Thursday, March 16
Where: Amway Center, Orlando, FL
Odds: Xavier +2

Analysis: Maryland could get hot. Melo Trimble is a terrific player while Damonte Dodd is a strong presence in the middle. But, I love how Xavier played in the Big East Tournament.

The Musketeers were a three-point shot away from tying the game versus Creighton in the semifinals. At one point during the season, early on, Xavier was ranked in the Top 10. They’re a talented bunch who got a chance to battle it out in the Big East.

Maryland’s conference, the Big Ten, was sort of down this season. Although the Big Ten sends plenty of teams to the NCAA Tournament, only two of those teams, Wisconsin and Purdue, were ranked in the Top 25 at the end of the regular season.

I think Xavier wins this outright.  

NCAA Tournament Round 1 Sleeper Pick: Xavier

#14 Iona vs #3 Oregon
When:  Friday, March 17
Where: Golden 1 Center, Sacramento, CA
Odds: Iona +14.5

Analysis: Oregon will be without top inside player Chris Boucher for the NCAA Tournament. The Ducks are loaded with talent, but Boucher was arguably their best inside player.

Does that mean Iona has a chance at upsetting Oregon straight up on Friday, March 17? Not at all. Iona isn’t good enough to beat Oregon straight up. But, the Gaels are good enough to keep the game close.
Iona averages over 80 points per game. Iona starts 4 guards and a 6’ 8” forward. All the guards can shoot and drive to the basket. Their 6’ 8” forward, Jordan Washington, averages 18 points and 7 boards per game.

The Gaels are a good small ball team. Oregon should win, but beating Iona by 15 points might be tough.

NCAA Tournament Round 1 Sleeper Pick: Iona
Bet Western Michigan Vs Wisconsin Cotton Bowl

Bet Western Michigan Vs Wisconsin Cotton Bowl

The eighth-ranked Wisconsin Badgers will look to avoid the upset against the unbeaten 15th-ranked Western Michigan Broncos when the two teams throw down in the 2016 Goodyear Cotton Bowl.

The Badgers are solid 7.5-point Cotton Bowl spread betting favorites to win beat the Broncos in this intriguing affair. Kick-off takes place on Monday, Jan. 2, 2017 at 1:00 PM ET, live from AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas while airing on ESPN.

Western Michigan Broncos Vs Wisconsin Badgers Cotton Bowl Odds

Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic
Who: No. 15 Western Michigan Broncos (13-0) vs No. 8 Wisconsin Badgers (10-3)
When: Monday, January 2, 2017
Start Time: 1:00 PM ET  
Where: Arlington, TX
Stadium: AT&T Stadium
Spread: Wisconsin -7.5
Moneyline: Western Michigan +265 vs Wisconsin -295
Game Total: 54
Watch: ESPN
Stream: Watch ESPN
Listen: Western Michigan vs Wisconsin

Why Bet The Western Michigan Broncos

Western Michigan (13-0 SU, 9-4 ATS) averages a stellar 43.5 points per game this season while simultaneously limiting their opponents to just 19.5 points per game defensively. The Broncos beat Ohio 29-23 in a hard-fought matchup to win their conference championship despite failing to cover the spread as 16.5-point favorites.

Quarterback Zack Terrell has a stellar season in completing a blistering 70.8 percent of his passes while throwing for 3,376 yards with 32 TD passes and just three interceptions.

Unheralded running back Jarvion Franklin had a banner season in rushing for 1,300 yards and 12 scores while wide receiver Corey Davis caught a team-high 91 passes for 1,427 yards and 18 touchdowns.

Why Bet The Wisconsin Badgers

Wisconsin (10-3 SU, 9-3-1 ATS) jumped all over Penn State early in their Big Ten championship matchup, but couldn’t hold off the determined Nittany Lions and ended up on the wrong side of a humbling 38-31 loss to their conference rivals while failing to cover the college football betting line as a 2.5-point favorite.

Backup quarterback Bart Houston has completed 65.1 percent of his passes for 1,086 yards with five touchdowns and three interceptions after replacing injured starter Alex Hornibrook.

Running back Corey Clement rushed for a team-high 1,304 yards and 14 touchdowns while wideout Jazz Peavy and tight end Troy Fumagali combined for 74 catches for 1,132 yards and six scores.

Cotton Bowl Pick & Final Score Prediction

I’ve been a huge Wisconsin backer all season long, but right now, I like the motivation factor that Western Michigan has and I believe they’re going to stun a lot of folks by giving the Badgers all they can handle and then some.

Wisconsin has won six of their last seven games while going 11-3-1 ATS over their last 15 games, but Western Michigan has compiled a robust 11-4 ATS mark in its last 15 games and has an offense that is very difficult to keep in check, even for an elite defensive team like the Badgers.

60 percent of public bettors likes Wisconsin to win and cover, but I like the Broncos cover the college football ATS spread as a value-packed 7.5-point underdog in a thriller.

Wisconsin 28 – Western Michigan 27

Bengals Vs Texans Spread, ATS Pick & How To Watch

Bengals Vs Texans Spread, ATS Pick & How To Watch

The 72 Million Dollar Man just lost his job to an unknown who makes 70 times less. It’s the best Christmas present for the underdog.

Tom Savage will make his first career start as the Houston Texans host the Cincinnati Bengals this weekend. The Week 16 NFL Cincinnati Vs Houston spread favors the Bengals by 2-points. Kick-off is this Saturday, December 24th at 8:25 PM ET on NFL Network from the NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas.

Cincinnati Bengals Vs Houston Texans Seahawks Spread & ATS Pick

What: Cincinnati Bengals (5-8-1) at Houston Texans (8-6)
When: Saturday, December 24, 2016
Start Time: 8:25 
Where: Houston, TX
Stadium: NRG Stadium
Spread: Bengals -2
Game Total: 42
Watch: NFL Network
Listen: Cincinnati vs Houston

Why Bet The Cincinnati Bengals To Beat The Texans

The Bengals won’t make the playoffs this year. That doesn’t mean they won’t want to enjoy Christmas with their sixth win of the season. They are 5-8-1 SU and 4-9-1 ATS this season. They average 20.4 points per game (23rd) and allow 20.9 points per game (11th).

Cincinnati averages 248.6 passing yards per game (15th). QB Andy Dalton (3712 yards, 16 TDs & 7 INTs) has had a pedestrian season. Dalton threw two touchdowns and zero picks in two of the last three games. Last week, against the Pittsburgh Steelers, he threw one interception and zero TDs. His team lost 24-20. WR A.J. Green (66 rec, 964 yards, 4 TDs) could be back this week. He has missed the last four games with a hamstring injury. The Bengals average 111.9 rushing yards per game (11th). RB Jeremy Hill (215 car, 831 yards, 9 TDs) ran for 43 yards and one touchdown against the Steelers last week. He’s dealing with a knee injury.

The Bengals have the 21st-ranked total defense in the NFL. They allow 242.0 passing yards per game (13th) and 117.5 rushing yards per game (26th). Cincinnati has 26 sacks this season (24th). Vontaze Burfict has 101 tackles, and Carlos Dunlap has 7.0 sacks.

Why Bet The Houston Texans To Beat The Bengals

The Houston Texans lead the AFC South going 8-6 SU and 6-7-1 ATS. They beat the Jacksonville Jaguars 21-20 last week. They average 17.7 points per game (28th) and allow 21.0 points per game (12th).

The Texans average 198.4 passing yards per game (30th).

After a dreadful first half Sunday, QB Brock Osweiler (2704 yards, 14 TDs & 16 INTs) was benched. His backup, Tom Savage, came in and promptly led Houston to a 21-20 comeback win after Osweiler had spotted the Jaguars 13 points. Savage (260 yards, 0 TDs & 0 INTs) will start after saving the Texans’ season last week.

"I got the little dry mouth at first," Savage admitted after the game. "I was kind of in shock, but other than that, just shook it off and kind of went out there and tried to execute my job."

Osweiler signed a four-year, $72 million contract with the Texans this offseason, though only two years and $37 million is guaranteed. This year, Osweiler had a $12 million signing bonus and is set to make $9 million total between his base salary and roster bonus. By comparison, Savage is on the final year of the rookie contract he signed in 2014, which will pay him $300,584 this season.

WR DeAndre Hopkins (68 rec, 788 yards, 4 TDs) could be in for his breakout game of the season after being ignored by Osweiler for most of the season. Houston averages 122.7 rushing yards per game (5th). RB Lamar Miller (268 car, 1073 yards, 5 TDs) reached the 1000-yard mark for the second time in his career. He is questionable for this game.

Houston has the best total defense in the NFL. They allow 204.0 passing yards per game (2nd) and 103.0 rushing yards (16th). The Texans have recorded 24 sacks this season (29th). Benardrick McKinney has 121 tackles, and Whitney Mercilus has 5.5 sacks.

If You Still Can’t Decide Who To Bet On:

  • Cincinnati is 4-10-2 ATS in its last 16 games
  • Cincinnati is 2-4-1 SU in its last 7 games
  • Houston is 1-4 ATS in its last 5 games
  • Houston is 6-1 SU in its last 7 games at home
  • Houston is 7-1 ATS in its last 8 games when playing Cincinnati
  • Houston is 6-1 SU in its last 7 games when playing Cincinnati

Expert ATS Pick & Final Score Prediction

When picking a winner, I hate not knowing what to expect with a new QB under center and when in doubt, I take the points.

My final score prediction is Cincinnati 17, Houston 14.