#1 USA Sportsbook: Visit Bovada.lv

NCAA Tournament East Regional Picks and Value Futures Bets

TBD() @ TBD()

  • Where: Various. New York, Buffalo, Orlando, Greenville, Tulsa
  • When: March 14, 2017 6:40 pm EST
  • Moneyline: Villanova (+160) Duke (+250) Virginia (+800) SMU (+800) Baylor (+900) Florida (+1000) Wisconsin (+1200) South Carolina (+2500) Marquette (+4000)

Never count out Coach K.

The Duke Blue Devils men’s basketball team was considered a day late and a dollar short by most pundits (including this one) headed into the ACC Tournament. Mike Krzyzewski’s team was short in bench numbers, coming off a disappointing late regular-season run and faced with the task of winning four games in as many nights if they were to emerge victorious in the tourney.

A 75-69 title win over Notre Dame later, and Duke is not only a surprise post-season champion but a (+250) co-favorite to make the Final Four. Freshman forward Jayson Tatum scored 19 points in the ACC final, blocking a lay-up attempt before going coast-to-coast with 1:33 left to give the Blue Devils a lead they would not relinquish.

The defending NCAA-champ Villanova Wildcats lurk as a possible Elite Eight opponent alongside a host of dangerous upstarts in the East region. Should cash players be drawn to Duke magic? Or will a thin roster finally be too much to overcome in the bracket of 68?

Use the bonus code “NEW2500” at BetOnline to claim a $2500 March Madness betting bonus. There is also a free March Madness bracket contest at BetOnline with $10,000 in cash prizes.

When coaching is still “K” number one

2017 NCAA Tournament East Regional PreviewThe legendary Krzyzewski out-coached Mike Brey, his former assistant, in the win over Notre Dame. Coach K’s legendary defensive tactics also helped the squad shut down North Carolina and Louisville in the final minutes of thrilling comeback wins in the ACC quarters and semis. The poise, fundamentals and mystique of the Duke program – last week’s ACC title was their 14th under Krzyzewski – cannot be overlooked.

The emergence of Tatum gives the Blue Devils a fresh scoring punch. Sophomore guard Luke Kennard is a steady hand with an excellent long-range shot, and 6’5″ junior Grayson Allen emerged from a slump with three double-digit scoring games in a row to cap off the ACC tourney.

But if Duke has a weakness apart from a short bench, its their draw. They’ll begin by facing Troy, a team that just won six games in a row, in Greenville. Should they arrive in the Sweet Sixteen, they’ll face the SMU Mustangs – MSB’s dark-horse pick to win the region and possibly the tournament.

Villanova – Rare continuity from the ’16 champs

In an era where talented freshmen and sophomores are often snatched up by the NBA, ‘Nova is competing with four seniors and three juniors. One of those seniors is Josh Hart, a 6’6″ shooting guard. Hart is plus-50% from the field in ’16-17 and has added 200+ rebounds and 100+ assists on the season.

Analysts are quick to point out that no team has repeated as NCAA champs since Florida a decade ago. But the baskets don’t know that, only the people making predictions. HC Jay Wright steered Villanova flawlessly through the entire bracket in 2016 and returns a roster of nearly-unmatched seasoning. Still, there are signs that the (+160) region-winner money line could be a little too generous for the Big East champs.

In late January, the ‘Cats lost to Marquette, giving up 19 points to unheralded guard Katin Reinhardt and blowing a double-digit lead. The 2016-17 team has also lost to Butler twice, an opponent called “Villanova-lite” by critics. The dogged defenders from Indianapolis held the Wildcats to their worst shooting performance of the year on January 4th, with a sub-25% mark from beyond the arc.

SMU – Dark horse, hot horses

Fittingly for their nickname “Mustangs,” there is no hotter dark-horse contender in the NCAA Tournament than Southern Methodist. SMU lost to then #22-ranked Cincinnati by a lone bucket on January 12th, and have gone undefeated since then. Shake Milton, a 6’6″ sophomore guard from Oklahoma, is a sensation.

The squad’s paltry region-odds at (+800) may reflect the notion that SMU won a weak conference (the AAC) but also the team’s diminutive stature. As Shooter Flatch put it in Hoosiers, the Mustangs “got no head-toppers” with inxperienced German forward Leo Kontopoulous (at 6 feet 9 inches) ranking as the team’s biggest player.

But if Golden State can transform the NBA with running, shooting and finesse, there is no reason the same revelation cannot happen in college. In the words of NCAA analyst Eamonn Brennan, “Tim Jankovich’s Mustangs shoot the lights out, rebound their own misses, don’t send opponents to the free throw line, and do pretty much everything else on a basketball court either well or very well.”

The Mustangs enjoy a favorable first-round draw, playing a less-fresh Providence or USC team out of the First Four late this week. But their odds – and seemingly insatiable hot streak – are where the value lies.

Wager for the windfall with SMU


Consider three somewhat-likely wager outcomes in the East. A bettor could bank on Coach K and Duke to continue their against-all-odds momentum, and win enough for a nice night out on the town. Or, a player could put up a unit or two on the defending champs to prevail, and win a small stack of petty cash.

But in the third scenario, the gamble is on Southern Methodist to continue out-shooting and frustrating opponents all the way to the Final Four. And a winner pays for a lot more than a few drinks.

The Mustangs’ high-payoff ML odds create a rare opportunity to wager on a searing-hot team at exactly the right time. Duke or Villanova could run the table, but you will never find a more viable (+800) pick than SMU. Take the risk and reap the rewards.

Kurt BoyerThis article was written by Kurt Boyer

A freelance sportswriter from Missouri, Kurt has covered court, gridiron, rink and ring for 10+ years. He muses about High School football on social media as The Gridiron Geek.

Related Posts

More Free Betting Picks