College hoops fans are getting to the very end of the week before the NCAA tournament, with the brackets now very close to being revealed. What new doses of sportsbook drama are in the offing?
Pittsburgh Panthers vs. Virginia Cavaliers
Saturday, 1:05 PM ET
College Basketball Betting Odds: Virginia -3.5
The Pittsburgh Panthers came to the ACC Tournament needing at least one win, and probably two, to feel relatively comfortable about getting into the NCAA tournament this season. Coach Jamie Dixon has dealt with a very agonizing and trying few months in ACC play. His team has lost close games to good teams on a consistent basis. Pittsburgh fell just short against Syracuse twice. It lost to North Carolina in a close game. It lost to Florida State by a small margin. It also lost by a narrow margin to Virginia, the team that went 16-2 in the ACC regular season and is the top-seeded team in this tournament. Virginia is a balanced team and a patient team. The Cavaliers take good shots and are unrelenting on defense. Pittsburgh did have to play a second-round tournament game on Thursday, so this will be the Panthers’ third game in three days. Virginia will probably have more energy in the second half, and that will make the college basketball betting difference for the Cavaliers.
Ohio State Buckeyes vs. Michigan Wolverines
Saturday, 1:40 PM ET
College Basketball Betting Odds: Michigan -2.5
The Ohio State Buckeyes trailed the Nebraska Cornhuskers by a 48-30 margin in the second half of Friday afternoon’s Big Ten quarterfinal game in Indianapolis. The Buckeyes looked dead and buried. They had no energy, and they were missing almost every shot they attempted, both from the field and from the free throw line. Then, however, a few steals led to some easy baskets, and the Buckeyes were able to make a 9-0 run that quickly got them within nine points of the lead. Ohio State then chipped away at Nebraska’s smaller advantage and overtook the Huskers in the final minutes, grabbing a win that puts the Buckeyes in the Big Ten Tournament’s semifinal round for the sixth straight season. Ohio State will have a lot of confidence, but the Buckeyes will be playing their third game in three days. Michigan survived its own close call against Illinois. The Wolverines should have fresher legs and will probably play this game the way they want to in the second half.
Tennessee Volunteers vs. Florida Gators
Saturday, 1:05 PM ET
College Basketball Betting Odds: Florida -6
The Tennessee Volunteers have a better and better chance of getting into the NCAA tournament, because they haven’t lost over the past two weeks. However, they haven’t been beating quality teams. If Tennessee wants to feel safe about its tournament chances, it can beat a Florida team that’s going to get a top seed in the NCAA tournament. The matchup Tennessee has to exploit is in the paint. Jarnell Stokes is a powerfully built low-post player who is a very tenacious rebounder. He can play one-on-one against Florida big man Patric Young, and not many other pivots in the SEC can say that. Tennessee can compete with Florida on the glass, and it can play a physical game with the Gators yet not back down. The other thing to establish here is that Tennessee has more to play for than Florida does. In all probability, the Volunteers will try harder for this game when it really counts. This is a great spot in which to bet on an upset.