Thursday’s South Region Sweet 16 betting preview

The NCAA Tournament’s South Region takes the stage for their Sweet 16 action Thursday in Louisville. The opening game will feature no. 3 Miami (Fla) battling no. 2 Villanova and the late game will see no. 5 Maryland taking on no. 1 Kansas.

Games to be played at KFC Yum! Center, Louisville, KY

No. 3 Miami-Florida Hurricanes vs. No. 2 Villanova Wildcats (-4, 140.5)

Villanova was one of the more impressive teams over the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament, while Miami (Fla.) squeaked out a pair of victories en route to the Sweet 16. The South Region opponents square off Friday in Louisville with a berth in the Elite 8 on the line.

The second-seeded Wildcats and third-seeded Hurricanes are barely distinguishable on the seed line, but their play last weekend left a clear difference between the two programs. Villanova topped UNC Asheville by 30 points before putting up 54 first-half points in a comfortable 19-point triumph against Iowa. Meanwhile, Miami nipped Buffalo and Wichita State by a combined 11 points behind two big performances from senior guard Angel Rodriguez. The Wildcats also got a lift from their senior guard last weekend, as Ryan Arcidiacono eyes another strong effort after averaging 15 points on 10-of-15 shooting (including 6-of-9 from the arc) in the first two rounds.

TV: 7:10 p.m. ET, CBS

LINE HISTORY: Villanova opened as five-point favorites and was bet down to -4 by mid-week. The total debuted at 141.5 and dropped slightly to 140.5. Check out the complete line history here.

WHAT BOOKS SAY:

WHAT SHARPS SAY:

MATCHUP CHART:

ABOUT MIAMI (27-7, 19-13-1 ATS, 16-17 O/U): Rodriguez has the look of the classic college basketball senior point guard who simply won’t let his team lose, having compiled 52 points, nine rebounds, nine assists and seven steals in the first two games “He has great confidence in himself, and when he’s focused, he has the ability to play at a very, very high level,” coach Jim Larranaga said of Rodriguez, who averages 12.6 points, trailing only backcourt mate Sheldon McClellan among the team leaders. “His biggest challenge is he needs competition. When the competition is at its highest, he’s at his best.” McClellan has averaged 19 points in this tournament, although fellow senior Tonye Jekiri (7.8 points, 8.7 rebounds) has been limited to a total of seven points and 10 boards in two games.

ABOUT VILLANOVA (31-5, 17-17-1 ATS, 18-16-1 O/U): The Wildcats followed their regular formula against Iowa, as their four top scorers all registered double-digit points – and combined for eight 3-pointers – while big man Daniel Ochefu took care of the rebounding (11) and the shot-blocking (three). “We definitely can go all the way as long as we stick to what we do,” said Arcidiacono, who averages 12 points, putting him behind Josh Hart (15.4) and Kris Jenkins (13.3) on the squad. Hart, Jenkins, Arcidiacono and freshman Jalen Brunson have combined to take nearly 700 3-pointers this season and each shoots at least 35 percent from the 3-point line, not to mention at least 74 percent from the foul line, as well.

TRENDS:

* Miami is 4-1 ATS in its last five games versus a team with a winning percentage above .600.
* Villanova is 1-5 ATS in their last six versus Atlantic Coast conference opponents.
* Over is 9-2 in Miami’s last 11 NCAA Tournament games.
* Over is 8-1 in Wildcats last nine games following a SU win.

No. 5 Maryland Terrapins vs. No. 1 Kansas Jayhawks (-6.5, 144.5)

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LINE HISTORY: The no. 1 seeded Jayhawks opened as seven-point favorites and the spread has dropped slightly down to -6.5. The total opened at 146 and has been bet down to 144.5.

WHAT BOOKS SAY:

WHAT SHARPS SAY:

MATCHUP CHART:


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TRENDS:

* Maryland is 1-4 ATS in their last five NCAA Tournament games.
* Kansas is 8-1 ATS in their last nine neutral site games.
* Under is 7-1 in Maryland’s last eight games following an ATS win.
* Under is 25-7 in Jayhawk’s last 32 NCAA Tournament games.

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