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August 29, 2014

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NCAA Tournament by the Odds: Vegas picks for the Sweet 16

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ASSOCIATED PRESS

Wisconsin players celebrate as time expires during the second half of an NCAA tournament third-round college basketball game againt Vanderbilt, Saturday, March 17, 2012, in Albuquerque, N.M. Wisconsin won 60-57.

Time is running out for bettors to boost their bankrolls during the NCAA Tournament.

With 50 games down, only 15 remain. It’s no longer so easy to shake off a bad beat or an ill-advised wager early in the day. The comfort of a daily card full of games is gone.

Luckily, the purpose of this entry is to help with the Sweet 16’s elevated stakes. The blog has found a fair amount of success thus far on the NCAA Tournament, going 6-0 in top-confidence plays. To take it further, we’ve posted a respectable 11-7 mark in games listed in the top three in confidence.

Of course, all of this is pointed out first to mask the 24-24 overall record. Despite failings in the games listed further down, we’ll continue to pick every contest and provide a quick explanation why.

Check below for Sweet 16 picks presented in order of confidence.

No. 4 Wisconsin (+4) over No. 1 Syracuse Oddsmakers are criminally under-rating the Badgers, a team that has covered four of their last five. Consider that Kansas State was only getting one more point than Wisconsin against Syracuse in local sports books. A money line wager on Wisconsin to win straight-up at +170 is even worthwhile.

No. 7 Florida (+1.5) over No. 3 Marquette The Gators have beaten their first two NCAA Tournament opponents by a combined 62 points. That’s impressive no matter the competition. The wrong team might be favored. Florida just might sneak into the Final Four at +500 to win the region currently.

No. 1 North Carolina (-10.5) over No. 13 Ohio Tarheels ran over a more formidable opponent in Creighton last weekend. North Carolina has gone 12-8 against the spread this season when favored by 10 points or more.

No. 2 Ohio State (-7.5) over No. 6 Cincinnati Still waiting for the uber-talented Buckeyes to put it all together with a dominant performance from start to finish. It’s worth a gamble that the Sweet 16 is where that happens.

No. 3 Baylor (-6) over No. 10 Xavier Picked against Xavier, 13-18-2 against the spread, at every opportunity this year. Would feel wrong to stop now against a clearly superior team.

No. 11 North Carolina State (+8) over No. 2 Kansas The Wolfpack hasn’t lost a game by more than eight points in a month. It’s tough to imagine them beating the Jayhawks. But it’s even more difficult to see them not keeping it close throughout.

No. 1 Kentucky (-9) over No. 4 Indiana Let’s call it like it is: No one competes with Kentucky when it plays at its best. The problem is, the Wildcats rarely play their best. It’s possible a shot at revenge against the one team who handed them a regular-season loss could be motivation enough.

No. 4 Louisville (+4.5) over No. 1 Michigan State One of the toughest Sweet 16 games to call, but it seems the Cardinals aren’t getting the attention they deserve for reeling off six straight wins and covers. This one comes down to the final minutes either way.

Case Keefer can be reached at 948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at twitter.com/casekeefer.

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