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Las Vegas Expert Picks: Final Four, NBA, NHL

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Vegas veteran Benjamin Eckstein, author of America’s Line, brings three decades of experience to make weekly selections in his»Ecks & Bacon» column.
Final Four picks
LAS VEGAS — Can’t remember which one of the 279 sites where I read this, but that is the first time in 31 years that among those so-called Blue Bloods won’t 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 beat Kansas, North Carolina and Kentucky, back to back, to make it to their original EVER Final Four. That was VERY impressive. And the previous W against Kentucky was WITHOUT one of their best players, Chuma Okeke. Auburn rumbles to the celebration 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 outright upset, but would purchase the hook, push the lineup 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 over Auburn and also the points.
In the nightcap, we are gonna roll with Texas Tech +2.5 points over Michigan State. Of course, we WILL buy the hook and drive Tech to +3. What else can the Red Raiders do? They rolled into the Sweet 16 against the second-best defensive team in college hoops, Michigan, also blew the Wolverines off 63-44. Then they looked in the daunting task of facing the NUMBER ONE offense in the country in the Elite Eight, Gonzaga. You think the Raiders were worried? Nah. They held that the’Zags to ONLY 69 points, nearly TWENTY points under their season average of 87.6.
What about any other matchups with the Big Ten? Gotcha. Aside from the Michigan match, 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 on the court in Minneapolis working within an 8-0 spread PERFECTO on the street. It ain’t gonna be easy, but we’re backing the blossom, Chris Beard!!!
NBA select For your wagering pleasure, here will be some disperse stats of this day. The Nuggets might not grab the Warriors to the top seed in the Western Conference, but you know they’re gonna deliver some heat to this ESPN matchup from the Blazers. Denver has been on a sweet roll, winning nine of the last 13 up, but contrary to the spread, the Nugs have covered just four of the previous 12.
They’ve also been stingy with points allowed and have gone UNDER at 10 of the last 12 games. Portland brings a similar portfolio into the dining table, winning eight of the previous nine straight up, but have done WAY better from the spread, covering four of the last five. Looking at the big picture, the Nuggets’ in general spread log sits in 40-38, 24-15 at 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, also obtained a play on the Rangers into the Blue Jackets.
PLZ struck me Twitter over the weekend, even @vegasvigorish, only in case anything pops.
Benjamin Eckstein is a nationally syndicated sportswriter/oddsmaker. His column, America’s Line, with the Ecks & Bacon appetizer, has run in the New York Daily News and over 100 other newspapers since 1988. It is possible to follow him on line at www.americasline.com. He is beloved by many, when he picks winners, and detested by others, when he chooses the occasional failure. If you wanna bit of Eck, hit his email…ben@americasline.com.

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