Las Vegas Expert Picks: Final Four, NBA, NHL

Vegas veteran Benjamin Eckstein, author of America’s Line, brings three years of experience to make weekly selections in his”Ecks & Bacon” column.
Final Four picks
LAS VEGAS — Can’t recall which one of those 279 sites where I read this, but that is the first time in 31 years that among those so-called Blue Bloods will not be at the Final Four. We’re talking North Carolina, Kansas, Kentucky, Duke, UCLA and Louisville. That is THIRTY-ONE YEARS! WOW!
Now for the winner of this 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 previous 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 last 10.
Tony Bennett’s Cavaliers come in with an impressive resume too, winning 13 of the previous 14, but against the spread, the’Hoos have managed to pay only three of the last seven. Not calling for the outright upset, but might buy the hook, push on the line to +6, and observe Sir Charles cry on national TV. Crying because, as we all know, Barkley is a ferocious sports bettor, and he will be all 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 purchase the hook and drive Tech to +3. What else can the Red Raiders do? They rolled into the Sweet 16 from the second-best defensive team in school hoops, Michigan, and hauled the Wolverines off 63-44. They then looked at the daunting task of facing the NUMBER ONE crime in the Nation in the Elite Eight, Gonzaga. You think the Raiders were nervous? Nah. They held the’Zags into ONLY 69 points, nearly TWENTY points under their season average of 87.6.
What about any other matchups using all the Big Ten? Gotcha. Besides the Michigan game, Tech stomped on Nebraska 70-52. More? OK. TT has won 13 of the previous 14 straight up, covered seven of the previous eight, and steps on the court in Minneapolis working on an 8-0 spread PERFECTO on the street. It ain’t gonna be easy, but we’re backing the beard, Chris Beard!!!
NBA pick For your wagering pleasure, here are some disperse stats of this day. The Nuggets might not grab the Warriors for the top seed in the Western Alliance, but you know they’re gonna bring some heat to the ESPN matchup from the Blazers. Denver continues to be on a sweet roll, winning nine of the past 13 straight up, but contrary to the spread, the Nugs have covered only four of the last 12.
They have been stingy with points permitted and have gone UNDER in 10 of the last 12 games. Portland brings an identical portfolio into the table, winning eight of the last nine straight up, but have done WAY better against the spread, covering four of the last five. Taking a look at the big picture, the Nuggets’ in general spread log sits at 40-38, 24-15 in the house and 29-26 as a favorite. The Blazers’ overall spread mark is 44-33-1, 21-18 on the street and 13-15 within an underdog. Light tickle to Portland.
NHL select Also skating onto the NHL ice, also obtained a drama on the Rangers to the Blue Jackets.
PLZ hit me Twitter over the weekend, @vegasvigorish, just in case anything pops.
Benjamin Eckstein is a nationally syndicated sportswriter/oddsmaker. His column, America’s Line, with the Ecks & Bacon appetizer, has conducted in the New York Daily News and over 100 other papers since 1988. It is possible to follow him online at www.americasline.com. He is 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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