BettorsInsider staffer Bob Vetrone Jr. (left) and Guest Selector Bill Rushton are shown discussing NCAA regional semifinal action at some point in the 1980s
BettorsInsider staffer Bob Vetrone Jr. (left) and Guest Selector Bill Rushton are shown discussing NCAA regional semifinal action at some point in the 1980s|Bill Rushton

NCAA Thursday: Guest Selectors for the Sweet 16

Regional Semifinals, Day 1

Bob Vetrone

Bob Vetrone


(Penn Hall of Fame Player)
> Tennessee (-1) over Purdue
Iowa pushed Purdue hard and you have to respect the Big 10 style both played. The Boilermakers are overly reliant on the Three Ball and I think that Tennessee’s length and athleticism will cause problems. Could be best game of the day, but Vols find a way.
> Florida State (+7.5) over Gonzaga
Everyone is taking the lumber with FSU but that should not be seen as a slight on Zags. Gonzaga has talent to win it all, but 7.5 is too much to lay against one of the few teams that match up physically with GU.
> Texas Tech (+2) over Michigan
Spent $250,000 on UM education for my daughter, but that’s not important now. John Bielein does a great job, as evidenced by last year’s final four run, and Isaiah Livers has become a fourth scorer that has taken the Wolverines to the next level. But their bench is too short to combat the waves of pressure from Tech. Jarrett Culver will neutralize Charles Matthews and maybe Iggy Brazdeikis and Red Raiders will move on.


(Former Temple player)
> Florida State (+7.5) over Gonzaga
I love Florida State’s athleticism. They are long at every position and I think that will present problems for Gonzaga. The Zags very well may win the game, but I think FSU keeps it close.
> Purdue-Tennessee (Under 146.5)
In a typical December game I could easily see these team playing a game in the 80s. But this isn’t your typical December game. It will take five minutes to get acclimated to the surrounding and the end-of-game situations are a different animal. Every possession at this stage is magnified. That will catch up to one or both of these offenses.


(Co-owner High Tides Restaurant)
> Tennessee (-1) over Purdue
A lesser team cracks after blowing a 25-point lead in an NCAA Tournament game, but not the Vols, who were No. 1 for four weeks and have been in the Top 10 all season. The Boilermakers maybe should have saved some of their made threes from Saturday for this one.


(Co-owner Chick's Deli)
> Tennessee (-1) over Purdue
Purdue was on fire Saturday when it played Villanova, but I don't see that happening again against a much better defense in the Volunteers.
> Gonzaga (-7.5) over Florida State
The Zags’ size will be too much for Florida State. The revenge angle is in play as the Seminoles took out Gonzaga in this very round last year.


(Host of South Jersey Sports Talk on
> Gonzaga (-7.5) over Florida State
Florida State smashed the spread against Murray State in the second round with a 28-point win after the Seminoles didn’t cover the 10.5 it laid against Vermont in a 76-69 win in the first round, so there is no tourney trend to favor. Still, FSU showed it won’t allow one man to beat them as they kept Racers star Ja Morant from keeping the game close. But what tilts the spread in Gonzaga’s favor is the Zags aren’t a one-man show. FSU coach Leonard Hamilton doesn’t have the better talent over Mark Few as the Noles did in the first two rounds. Gonzaga isn’t Vermont or Murray State.
> Purdue (+1) over Tennessee
Three rounds and three picks now against Tennessee. In the first round, Colgate led in the middle of the second half despite being 17.5-point dogs before the Vols came back to win and it took Tennessee overtime after blowing a 25-point lead against Iowa for coach Rick Barnes to survive. Barnes rotates eight players and the Vols boast the top offense in the SEC and the second-best defense, but Purdue is better than Colgate and Iowa and could be peaking after crushing Villanova, so the Boilermakers getting a point is the play.
> Texas Tech-Michigan (Under 119.5)
Texas Tech swamped the -3 line with a 20-point win over Buffalo in the second round after barely covering the 14.5-point spread against Northern Kentucky in a 15-point win in the first round. But, more important than the spread, the Red Raiders and coach Chris Beard boasts perhaps the nation’s best defense and can keep this game under 119. Michigan didn’t cover the 15.5 number in the 74-55 opening round against Montana and did cover the modest 6.5 spread against Florida in a win by 15. So the Wolverines can win a tight game or a runaway and Michigan can also win a low-scoring game, too.
> Virginia (-8.5) Oregon
Virginia edged the spread by a half point in a 12-point win over Oklahoma after the Cavaliers overcame a 14-point first half deficit to Gardner-Webb to win by 15, but the Cavs didn’t cover the generous 23.5 points against the Bulldogs. Meanwhile, the Ducks showed they are capable of keeping the game tight against Virginia as evident by an impressive 19-point win over UC Irvine in the second round as a 5.5 favorite. No matter, Virginia is favored by a snowman-and-a-hook for a reason and can win by double digits.

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