Bettors Insider
www.bettorsinsider.com
Houston players celebrate after their second-round victory over Ohio State (Charlie Riedel)
Houston players celebrate after their second-round victory over Ohio State (Charlie Riedel)|Associated Press
Boop

NCAA Friday: Staff Selections for the Sweet 16

Regional Semifinals, Day 2

Bob Vetrone

Bob Vetrone

MARK ECKEL

> Best Bet
North Carolina (-5.5) over Auburn
> Best Bet of the Other Three
Virginia Tech (+7) over Duke
> Best Under Bet
Virginia Tech-Duke (143.5)
> Second Best Under Bet
Houston-Kentucky (134)
> The Skinny
North Carolina
might be on a run to another national title and Auburn, which is 1-4 in its last five games against the ACC, isn’t going to get in the way of that. The Heels are also an impressive 20-8-2 ATS against the SEC . . . Virginia Tech has beaten Duke two of the past three times they have played. Granted Zion Williamson wasn’t with Duke for the two Tech wins, but the point is the Hokies won’t be intimidated. They will be able to keep it within the generous spread. And here’s my favorite stat on that game: Virginia Tech is 7-0 on Fridays, while Duke is 0-4 on Fridays. So TGIF . . . The last 17 times the Hokies and Blue Devils have met the Under has come in 13 times. So why buck that trend?

MIKE KERN

> Best Bet
LSU (+6) over Michigan State
> Best Bet of the Other Three
Duke (-7) over Virginia Tech
> Best Over Bet
Kentucky-Houston (134)
> Best Under Bet
Auburn-North Carolina (165)
> The Skinny
Duke lost at Virginia Tech on Feb. 26, 77-72, without Zion Williamson. VT’s only Elite Eight appearance came in 1967. This is the first time the Hokies have made it this far since then . . . Auburn’s only trip to a Final Eight was in 1986 . . . LSU has made it past the third round once since 1987. That was 13 years ago . . . Kentucky coach John Calipari is 11-3 in this round. One of those losses was last year . . . This is the first time Houston has been past the second round since 1983, when it lost in the title game . . . Michigan State’s Tom Izzo is 11-4 in this round. This is the first time the Spartans have gone this far since 2015 . . . North Carolina’s Roy Williams is 13-5 in this round, 8-1 with the Tar Heels.

BEN GEIER

> Best Bet
Michigan State (-6) over LSU
> Best Bet of the Other Three
Duke (-7) over Virginia Tech
> Best Over Bet
Houston-Kentucky (134)
> Best Under Bet
Auburn-North Carolina (165)
> The Skinny
LSU hasn’t been spectacular. They nearly blew their 16-point lead versus Yale and barely survived Maryland. Coach Tom Izzo has managed to refocus Michigan State after a scary first-half against Bradley in the opening round. MSU seems just more of a known quantity coming into Friday night . . . Coach Krzyzewski said it best that “UCF was deserving to win” in their previous matchup. Duke was exposed to some degree, but there won’t be another Tacko Fall in the tournament. The Blue Devils will be bringing their A+ game as they take on a Virginia Tech team which beat them earlier in the month . . . Houston versus Kentucky is a defensive matchup, but each are averaging 77 PPG on offense in the tournament . . . You can make the argument that Auburn and North Carolina have the best offenses left in the tournament. However, I think UNC’s defense has the potential to slow down Auburn. It will still be a high-scoring game.

ROBERT MIMS

> Best Bet
Duke (-7) over Virginia Tech
> Best Bet of the Other Three
Auburn (+5.5) over North Carolina
Houston (+2.5) against Kentucky
> Best Over Bet
Duke-Virginia Tech (-143.5)
> Best Under Bet
Auburn-North Carolina (165)
> The Skinny
Duke was without Zion Williamson the last time they played -- and lost -- to the Hokies. Can you spell revenge? . . . Houston is playing well and Kentucky cannot shoot from distance. Corey Davis will keep this game close . . . Auburn and Carolina will be a track meet that has both teams in the 70s, but 165 is a tad high to reach.

GREG FRANK

> Best Bet
Virginia Tech (+7) over Duke
> Best Bet of the Other Three
Houston (+2.5) over Kentucky
> Best Over Bet
North Carolina-Auburn (165)
> Best Under Bet
Michigan State-LSU (148)
> The Skinny
I continue to believe Duke will not cover a single game in the tournament and so far the Blue Devils are 0-2 ATS in the dance. Justin Robinson’s presence for Virginia Tech in this game is being overlooked because Zion Williamson also didn’t play when these two teams played in Blacksburg. Virginia Tech wins outright . . . Houston has been waiting for a game like this against a blue blood all season after running circles around the rest of the American. With PJ Washington’s status up in the air, the Wildcats won’t be able to advance any further . . . If Bruce Pearl said to take the over in North Carolina-Auburn, then you should probably take the over in North Carolina-Auburn . . . Michigan State wears down LSU and keeps the game in the low 70s to advance to the East Regional final.

HOWARD GENSLER

> Best Bet
Houston (+2.5) over Kentucky
> Best Bet of the Other Three
Michigan State (-6) over LSU
> Best Over Bet
Virginia Tech-Duke (143.5)
> Best Under Bet
North Carolina-Auburn (165)
> The Skinny
Houston Coach Kelvin Sampson
has been doing this a long time with a lot of good teams and has only gotten two of them past the Sweet 16. I think his team’s experience will make it three, but Kentucky Coach John Calipari and grad transfer Reid Travis makes me nervous. . . . The Spartans are rolling, LSU is just getting by. . . . Virginia Tech is going to try to slow it down, Duke is going to try to avenge a Feb. 26 loss in Blacksburg. That game put up 149 points. Just sayin’ . . . I don’t care if Auburn Coach Bruce Pearl would take the Over, Auburn hasn’t played a game over 165 in months and UNC hasn’t gone over 165 in their last seven games and only twice in their last 14.

BOB VETRONE JR.

> Best Bet
Virginia Tech (+7) over Duke
> Best Bet of the Other Three
Houston (+2.5) over Kentucky
> Best Over Bet
Virginia Tech-Duke (143.5)
> Best Under Bet
Houston-Kentucky (134)
> The Skinny
Since 2000, Duke is 4-5 SU as the No. 1 seed in the regional semifinal round. The Blue Devils may squeeze by here, but I do not see them covering a touchdown in a high-scoring game . . . You have to love the all-around game of Houston’s Corey Davis, but there is also a part of me that wants to see Fran Dunphy’s last season contain a win over the eventual National Champion . . . Ohio State fouling down double-digits with under 30 seconds to go is the only reason the Cougars are not looking at five straight Unders. UK us 11-20 O/U on the season.