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Sweet 16 East Betting – Our Picks For The East Region

Posted by Washington Tucker on 2/6/2014 2:34:59 AM

Online betting players witnessed one of the wildest opening weekends in recent memory, and now you should be gearing up for the second weekend, which begins on Thursday. We’re going to look at the East region of the Sweet Sixteen, and the East games will be played in Newark on Friday. The top two seeds are headed for the Elite Eight, but one of them are going to be pushed to the limit.

Marquette North Carolina Betting – Friday, 7:15 PM ET

The second-seeded Tar Heels are favored by 4.5 points in Newark against the 11th-seeded Golden Eagles, who are one of two Big East teams from the 11 that started the NCAA Tournament, and this is going to be a matchup of teams that like to get out and run. North Carolina is 17th in the country in points scored and has averaged 94 points in wins over Long Island and Washington. Marquette is 33rd in points scored, but their average of 66 points in wins over Xavier and Syracuse is below their season average of 75.5 points. But the Golden Eagles have done a good job at adapting their game to the Tournament, in that they’ve made some stops when they needed to and they’re hitting the offensive glass to get second-chance opportunities.

But the Tar Heels look to be a more athletic version of the Orangemen, and Marquette’s defense will have to play the game of their lives. North Carolina can go inside to Tyler Zeller and John Henson, who may be the best big man in the Tournament so far (even with his brain cramps at the end of the Washington game), while Harrison Barnes has continued his strong play on the outside, and Kendall Marshall has averaged 12 assists over the first two games. However, North Carolina is going to have to tighten the screws on defense a little bit, because the Golden Eagles will try and run with them.

These two programs have met twice, back in January 2001 when the Tar Heels trounced Marquette by 30 points, but in the meeting before that, the Golden Eagles beat the Tar Heels by eight points to win the 1977 championship. We’re going to stick with North Carolina to come away with this win because if it turns into a track meet, and we feel it will, we think the Tar Heels’ talent will come out on top. When the game slows down a bit, the Tar Heels have the edge inside with Zeller and Henson, and even though the Golden Eagles did a good job with a bigger Syracuse team, they had faced the Orangemen before. They have seen a team like North Carolina yet this season, and the Tar Heels have too many weapons, so take them in your NCAA basketball betting picks.

Betting Edge: North Carolina Tar Heels -4.5

Kentucky Ohio State Betting – Friday, 9:45 PM ET

In the nightcap in Newark, the top-seeded Buckeyes are a 5.5-point favorite over the fourth-seeded Wildcats, who have been pushed pretty hard in wins over Princeton and West Virginia. Ohio State has been the most impressive team in the Tournament to date, although they’ve rolled over the likes of Texas-San Antonio and George Mason, and they’ve done it beyond the arc. The Buckeyes lead the nation in three-point percentage, and Ohio State has hit 28 of their 50 three-point attempts over the first two games. With Jared Sullinger down low, the Buckeyes ask their opponents to pick their poison: either leave Sullinger one-on-one, or leave one of their gunners open. Neither way has really worked out for anyone that Ohio State has played this season.

However, the Wildcats are far more athletic than either of the teams that the Buckeyes have played in the early rounds, and possibly, all season. This means they can get out on the three-point shooters while still harassing Sullinger. Kentucky is 105th in three-point defense, but you can bet that will be on the practice itinerary this week. But Ohio State’s defense has to worry about the Wildcats’ offense as well, and it all starts with point guard Brandon Knight, who hit the game-winner against Princeton, then dropped 30 in the win over West Virginia. Terrence Jones is a probable NBA lottery pick, but the key to it all may be Josh Harrelson, who has averaged 15 points and nine boards over the first two games. Harrelson may put some pressure on Sullinger on the other end of the floor, which can only help the Wildcats’ NCAA basketball betting chances.

Overall, we think the Buckeyes are going to come away with the win, but it’ll be tighter than the 5.5-point spread in your sportsbook. We think Ohio State is just a little bit deeper and has more experience, and it’s always tough to go with a team with as many freshmen as Kentucky has (see last year’s Wildcats, who sent five freshmen to the first round of the NBA draft). But the Buckeyes haven’t been tested yet, and Kentucky will be ready from the jump ball. Take Ohio State on a straight-up bet, but go with the Wildcats to cover the sports betting spread.

Betting Edge: Kentucky Wildcats +5.5

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