The opening week of the NCAA Tournament comes to a close in the East Region with a pair of games Sunday. Jason Logan breaks down the March Madness odds for Central Florida-Duke and Liberty-Virginia Tech and gives his best bets and predictions.
Odds: Duke -13, 143 at FanDuel Sportsbooks
Start Time: 5:15 p.m. ET, Colonial Life Arena, Columbia, South Carolina
If there’s one thing Duke doesn’t do well is shooting from outside. The Blue Devils rely on triples for just 26.2 percent of their total offensive output, which has something to do with them shooting a dismal 30.5 percent from beyond the arc.
And if there’s something Central Florida does well, it’s be big. The Knights are among the tallest teams in the nation, including 7-foot-6 gatekeeper Tacko Fall, who plugs up the middle and forces opponents to the outside.
In fact, Duke and UCF look very similar on the defensive end. Both teams have shot-blocking/shot-changing interior defenses, and both plug up the passing lanes while getting their hands on any lazy flat passes.
It may seem too easy, but I’ve got to think Under in this one. Duke remains the best Under bet in basketball, with all that firepower skewing the total for what is a premier defensive team, and Central Florida had stayed Under in four straight before playing Over versus VCU Friday.
I’m betting Under 143 Sunday.
Odds: VT -9, 126 at FanDuel Sportsbooks
Start Time: 7:10 p.m. ET, SAP Center, San Jose, California
At first glance, this is a matchup between two of the slowest-paced teams in the land, with Liberty and Virginia Tech ranking Top 17 in lowest tempos. And we’re seeing that in this diminutive total of 126 points.
However, if you peel back the layers on these programs you see an offensive shootout just about ready to boil over – Over the total that is. Ha ha ha…
Liberty is one of the most efficient offenses in the country and shoots a blistering 37 percent from deep. The Flames buried 12 triples in the upset win over Mississippi State and record an average of 8.5 3-point buckets an outing.
The Hokies are just as dangerous from distance, shooting 39.4 percent from downtown (8th best in the country) and tally 9.4 3-pointers per outing. Virginia Tech attempted only 10 shots from the perimeter in the win over Saint Louis Friday – making four – but didn’t have to lean on those long-range shots, scoring plenty in transition off 18 forced turnovers.
Given that these two teams can catch fire from deep, I see excellent value in the Over 126 Sunday night.
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