Vegas veteran Benjamin Eckstein, author of America’s Line, brings three years of expertise to produce weekly picks in his”Ecks & Bacon” column.
Final Four picks
LAS VEGAS — Can’t remember which one of the 279 websites where I read this, but that is the first time in 31 years that among those so-called Blue Bloods will not be in the Final Four. We’re talking North Carolina, Kansas, Kentucky, Duke, UCLA and Louisville. That is THIRTY-ONE Decades! WOW!
Now for the winner of the very first game on Saturday between Virginia and Auburn. Talking of Blue Bloods, Charles Barkley’s Tigers conquer Kansas, North Carolina and Kentuckyback to back to back, to make it to their first EVER Final Four. That was VERY impressive. And the last W against Kentucky has been WITHOUT among the greatest players, Chuma Okeke. Auburn rumbles into the party on a 12-0 straight-up PERFECTO and has covered eight of the previous 10.
Tony Bennett’s Cavaliers come in with an impressive resume too, winning 13 of the last 14, but contrary to the spread, the’Hoos have managed to cover just three of the previous seven. Not necessarily calling for the upset, but might buy the hook, push the line to +6, and watch Sir Charles cry on national TV. Crying since, as we all know, Barkley is a ferocious sports bettor, and he’ll be over Auburn plus the points.
In the nightcap, we are gonna roll with Texas Tech +2.5 points over Michigan State. Of course, we’ll buy the hook and push Tech to +3. What else can the Red Raiders do? They rolled to the Sweet 16 from the second-best defensive team in college hoops, Michigan, also blew the Wolverines off 63-44. They then looked in the daunting task of confronting the NUMBER ONE offense in the country in the Elite Eight, Gonzaga. You think the Raiders were worried? Nah. They held the’Zags to ONLY 69 points, nearly TWENTY points below their season average of 87.6.
What any other matchups with the Big Ten? Gotcha. Aside from the Michigan game, Tech stomped on Nebraska 70-52. More? OK. TT has won 13 of the last 14 up, covered seven of the previous eight, and steps onto the court in Minneapolis working on an 8-0 disperse PERFECTO on the road. It ain’t gonna be easy, but we are backing the blossom, Chris Beard!!!
NBA select For the wagering pleasure, here are some spread stats of this day. The Nuggets might not grab the Warriors to the top seed in the Western Conference, but you know they are gonna deliver some heat to this ESPN matchup from the Blazers. Denver has been on a sweet roll, winning nine of the last 13 straight up, but contrary to the spread, the Nugs have covered only four of the last 12.
They have also been stingy with points allowed and also have gone UNDER at 10 of the previous 12 games. Portland brings an identical portfolio into the table, winning eight of the previous nine straight up, but have done WAY better against the spread, covering four of their last five. Looking at the big picture, the Nuggets’ overall spread log sits at 40-38, 24-15 in the house and 29-26 as a favored. The Blazers’ overall spread mark is 44-33-1, 21-18 on the road and 13-15 as an underdog. Light tickle to Portland.
NHL select Skating on the NHL ice, and got a drama over the Rangers to the Blue Jackets.
PLZ struck me on Twitter over the weekend, even @vegasvigorish, just if anything pops.
Benjamin Eckstein is a nationally syndicated sportswriter/oddsmaker. His column, America’s Line, together with all the Ecks & Bacon appetizer, has run in the New York Daily News and over 100 other newspapers since 1988. You can follow him on line at www.americasline.com. He’s beloved by most, when he picks winners, and detested by others, when he chooses the occasional failure. If you wanna bit of Eck, hit on his email…ben@americasline.com.

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