Brandon A. Quick | Thu 22/03/2018 - 04:41 EDT

2018 March Madness Midwest Regionals Predictions

2018 March Madness Midwest Regionals Predictions

Resetting the Midwest Regional

With few safe assumptions in this year's tournament so far, Kansas and Duke took care of business in the first two rounds. Kansas survived a close game against 8th-seeded Seton Hall in the second round and Duke breezed past a pair of overmatched opponents.

Now, things will get more difficult for the marquee programs as they try to capture the midwest regional and advance to the Final Four. 

Outside of Kansas, the remaining teams in the midwest hail from the ACC conference, building a unique set of circumstances based around familiarity. Duke will play Syracuse in the round of 16 - a team it defeated by 14 in late February the only time the two teams met during the regular season. Kansas will square off against a Clemson team that is plenty capable of giving the Jayhawks fits.

By the odds  

Kansas -4.5 (O/U: 143) vs. Clemson Friday, March 23 @7:07 ET

Kansas did its usual damage in conference this year, winning the Big 12 for the 14th consecutive season. The Jayhawks enter the Sweet 16 at 29-7, but like virtually every team in NCAA basketball this season, have appeared vulnerable at times. It's also worth questioning just how good the Big 12 was in 2018. 

Clemson may not be getting enough respect in this spot despite throttling Auburn by 31 points in their second round game. The school known for its exploits on the gridiron could be the team lying in the weeds as most Joe Public bettors will stick with the traditional college basketball power. Clemson matches up favorably with Kansas in terms of length and athleticism and can disrupt what the Jayhawks do offensively. I like Clemson outright in this spot and will certainly take the 4.5 points. 


Duke -11.5 (O/U: 133) vs. Syracuse Friday, March 23 @9:37 ET

Conference mates and legendary programs led by Hall of Fame coaches dominate the storyline in this unexpected matchup. Syracuse was the last time in the tournament according to the selection committee, but the Orange have made it count, winning the 11-seed play-in game before upsetting TCU and Michigan State. Unfortunately, the advantage this under-talented Cuse team had against those, it likely won't benefit from against Duke. Boeheim's patented 2-3 zone is exotic for teams unused to seeing it, but Duke and Mike Krzyzewski have sent it more than anyone over the years. 

Duke is the far better squad here and should easily handle a Syracuse team playing with house money. The question is what to make of this 11.5-point spread? On the surface, this margin seems about right. Cuse can make teams play ugly, limiting Duke to just 60 points in their last matchup, but even that wasn't enough to keep the game close.

A lot of bettors will shy away from laying the wood here, but that's going to be my approach as it seems this line is begging people to play the underdog. 


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