The Elite Eight is just around the corner, as Friday provides college basketball bettors with their final roadblock with a four-game betting slate.
That inches us one step closer to the Final Four, but before you get there you may need to figure out what happens in the semifinals. Just one of Friday’s games boasts a point spread greater than -4.5, so this promises to be a very interesting day of March Madness betting.
While every game could be worth a look based on the opening lines, possibly the most interesting game could go down between the Texas Tech Red Raiders and the Purdue Boilermakers.
The East region has thus far worked out largely as expected. Villanova is still alive as the #1 seed and in potentially the game of the night, Texas Tech and Purdue give fans the #2 versus #3 battle many expected (or at least hoped for).
One big caveat exists, of course. Purdue isn’t 100% healthy.
The Boilermakers have long been seen as viable title threats, but once big man Isaac Haas went down with an elbow injury in the first round, Purdue’s Final Four plight took a significant hit.
Purdue was able to survive a tense battle (76-73) with the 10-seeded Butler Bulldogs, but with Haas almost certainly sidelined (barring an engineering miracle), are bettors foolish to again back Purdue?
Vegas doesn’t think so. The top March Madness betting sites still like the Boilermakers (-1.5 favorites at 5Dimes) and if you’re simply going off of the team that looked dominant coming into the tourney, then there is logic supporting that pick.
That being said, there is a very good reason the top sportsbooks are crediting the Red Raiders here and there’s also plenty of optimism for a Texas Tech upset. Let’s dive deeper into this matchup to see which site your bet should fall on:
There is fine value here, no matter who you like. Both teams are priced at -120 or better as straight up bets at 5Dimes and this spread offers solid value as well.
Purdue is a very good team that is arguably one of the most balanced squads in the country. They can tear you apart offensively, but also tend to put up solid resistance on the other end.
Purdue took a hit in terms of size and interior defense when star center Haas went down, but they still have good size, can defend and shoot the lights out from long range.
The Boilermakers did seem to take a hit defensively without Haas around in their last game and I think that could be problematic. Purdue ranked 2nd in the nation in outside shooting on the year and remain hot (11 three’s against Butler) but this will not be an easy matchup on paper.
Texas Tech ranked 13th in scoring defense on the year and flexed their defensive muscle through the first two rounds. An explosive and athletic Gators team only managed 66 points in a round two defeat, while a potent S.F. Austin offense scored just 60 points on this defense.
The Red Raiders ranked 42nd in allowed three-point percentage (32%) on the year and that could prove useful against a very dangerous Boilermakers offense.
This is a blend of competing styles, but the disadvantage falls on Purdue in this one. Obviously losing Haas is huge for a variety of reasons, but it puts even more pressure on Purdue’s exterior offense.
Going up against a stingy defense, Purdue could be in a very tough spot. After barely surviving against a far less impressive Butler defense, I think this is a spot where the Boilermakers could have some difficulty.
Purdue could easily come in hot and advance, but the value here lies with a Texas Tech team that has a stingy defense and is about as balanced as anyone.
I like the upside with them (+110 at 5Dimes) and with a huge impact player down of the count, I think Purdue’s tourney run ends here.
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