Las Vegas Expert Picks: Final Four, NBA, NHL

Vegas veteran Benjamin Eckstein, author of America’s Line, brings three decades of experience to make weekly picks in his”Ecks & Bacon” column.
Final Four picks
LAS VEGAS — Can’t remember which one of the 279 websites where I read this, but this is actually the first time in 31 years that among those so-called Blue Bloods won’t be in the Final Four. We are talking North Carolina, Kansas, Kentucky, Duke, UCLA and Louisville. That’s THIRTY-ONE Decades! WOW!
Now for the winner of the 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 make it to their original EVER Final Four. This was VERY impressive. And the last W against Kentucky has been WITHOUT among their greatest players, Chuma Okeke. Auburn rumbles into the party 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 their previous 14, but contrary to the spread, the’Hoos have managed to cover just three of their previous seven. Not necessarily calling for the outright upset, but would buy the hook, push on the lineup to +6, and observe Sir Charles cry on national TV. Crying since, as all of us know,” Barkley is a ferocious sports bettor, and he’ll be over Auburn and also the points.
In the nightcap, we’re gonna roll with Texas Tech +2.5 points over Michigan State. Of course, we WILL buy the hook and push Tech to +3. What else can the Red Raiders do? They rolled to the Sweet 16 against the second-best defensive team in college hoops, Michigan, also blew 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 worried? Nah. They held the’Zags to ONLY 69 points, almost TWENTY points under their season average of 87.6.
What any other matchups using all the Big Ten? Gotcha. Aside from the Michigan game, 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 onto the court in Minneapolis working on an 8-0 spread PERFECTO on the street. It ain’t gonna be easy, but we are backing the blossom, Chris Beard!!!
NBA pick For your wagering pleasure, here are your disperse stats of this day. The Nuggets might not grab the Warriors for the top seed in the Western Alliance, but you know they are gonna bring some heat to the ESPN matchup against the Blazers. Denver has been around a sweet roll, winning nine of the last 13 up, but against the spread, the Nugs have covered only four of the last 12.
They have also been stingy with points allowed and also have gone UNDER at 10 of the previous 12 games. Portland brings an identical portfolio to the table, winning eight of the last nine straight up, but have done WAY better against the spread, covering four of their last five. Looking at the big picture, the Nuggets’ in general spread log sits in 40-38, 24-15 in the house and 29-26 as a favorite. The Blazers’ overall spread markers is 44-33-1, 21-18 on the street and 13-15 as an underdog. Light tickle to Portland.
NHL pick Also skating on the NHL ice, also got a play over the Rangers to the Blue Jackets.
PLZ hit me Twitter over the weekend, @vegasvigorish, just if anything pops.
Benjamin Eckstein is a nationally syndicated sportswriter/oddsmaker. His column, America’s Line, together with the Ecks & Bacon appetizer, has conducted in the New York Daily News and over 100 other newspapers since 1988. You can 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 loser. If you wanna bit of Eck, hit on his email…ben@americasline.com.

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