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FBI Probes NBA Referee’s Alleged Betting

I probably worked a handful of games with him overall, just a handful.”

NEW YORK –  The FBI is investigating allegations that veteran NBA referee Tim Donaghy bet on basketball games over the past two seasons, including ones in which he officiated.

Defense attorney John Lauro confirmed Donaghy is under investigation but refused to comment on the allegations or the case.

Although asked by the government not to comment, Stern said the naming of Donaghy prompted a fuller statement.

Nevada gambling regulators were not involved in an investigation and had no information about the allegations, said Jerry Markling, enforcement chief for the state Gaming Commission and Gaming Control Board.

Markling, in Las Vegas, said he learned of the probe from news accounts.

“As we previously stated, we have been cooperating with the FBI in their investigation of allegations that a single NBA referee bet on NBA games that he officiated,” commissioner David Stern said in a statement Friday afternoon.

“We haven’t seen anything like that in the NBA that I can remember,” he said, “and we haven’t been contacted by anybody.”

“We would like to assure our fans that no amount of effort, time or personnel is being spared to assist in this investigation, to bring to justice an individual who has betrayed the most sacred trust in professional sports, and to take the necessary steps to protect against this ever happening again.”

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According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Donaghy officiated 68 games in the 2005-06 season and 63 games in 2006-07. … The official, who did not identify the referee, is familiar with the investigation but was not authorized to speak publicly about the ongoing investigation.

“The allegations were new to us,” said Mark Clayton, a control board member. He also worked 20 playoff games, including five last season.

The investigation first was reported Friday by the New York Post.

NBA commissioner David Stern had long objected to putting a team in Las Vegas because it permits betting on basketball, though earlier this year allowed Mayor Oscar Goodman to submit a proposal to owners on how the city would handle wagering on a team if it moved there.

The referee had a gambling problem, according to the official, and was approached by low-level mob associates through an acquaintance.

“At this point, it’s too early to know if any games were affected,” Avello said, adding that no regulators or investigators had contacted him about the case.

The law enforcement official, who spoke to the AP on Friday on condition of anonymity, said the referee was aware of the investigation and had made arrangements to surrender as early as next week to face charges. Clayton cited a 2005 estimate by the National Gambling Impact Study Commission that found $380 billion is wagered on illegal sports betting, compared with $2.25 billion in legal sports betting in Nevada.

Benson said he didn’t work with Donaghy much.

“We’re the only regulatory agency in the world that really looks at unusual activity as far as the movement of the line and that type of conduct,” he said. “However, we will continue to monitor them to ascertain whether there is any connection to Nevada’s licensed sports books.”

Goodman argues that legalized gambling, monitored by the Nevada Gaming Commission, prevents these types of suspicious activities.

According to a law enforcement official, authorities are examining whether the referee made calls to affect the point spread in games on which he or associates had wagered.

Veteran oddsmaker John Avello, at the Wynn resort on the Las Vegas Strip, said that without specific information it would be difficult to identify wagering irregularities over the last two seasons.

“Whispers would have happened on the street, and we would have heard something,” Kornegay said. “I think it’s a good thing that Las Vegas has the type of regulation that makes sure that bad things don’t happen.”

“You have a lot of acquaintances and very few friends. The NBA, for example, discusses gambling at rookie orientation, even bringing in former mobster Michael Franceze to speak.

Kornegay said legal sports betting in Nevada represents a fraction of sports betting worldwide, with 98.5 percent of all action taken outside the state. Other arrests are expected, the official said.

The law enforcement official said the bets involved thousands of dollars and were made on games during the 2005-2006 and 2006-2007 seasons.

“I’m shocked, terribly shocked,” said Gary Benson, an NBA official for 17 years who retired two years ago because of knee problems. “Those are people that you work with and that you literally — you spend more time with those people than you do with your family.”

Jay Kornegay, executive director of the sports book at the Las Vegas Hilton, said he had never seen any unusual activity in NBA betting, and was surprised not to have heard about an investigation until Friday.

Gambling long has been a problem in sports, and leagues have made a point of educating players of the potential pitfalls. “Any type of suspicious or unusual movements, you usually hear in the industry. We’re so regulated and policed, any kind of suspicion would be discussed.

The FBI probe, which began recently, also involves allegations that the referee had connections to organized crime associates

The world’s largest concentrated solar plant

Morocco’s environment minister Hakima El Haite walks in front of a solar array in 2015 that is part of the Noor 1 solar power plant, which opened in February 2016.

A new concentrated solar plant in Morocco will be the world’s largest when completed.

The steam produced from this process drives a turbine and generates electrical power.

Morocco bets on solar power

Morocco bets on solar power

Solar mirrors at the Noor 1 concentrated solar power plant outside the central Moroccan town of Ouarzazate slowly follow the sun as it moves across the sky during the day. It could produce enough energy to power over one million homes by 2018 — lowering carbon emissions by an estimated 760,000 tons per year. A cylinder full of salt is melted by the warmth from the mirrors, and stays hot enough when the sun goes down to provide up to three hours of power.

Morocco bets on solar power

This plant is expected to increase the share of renewable energy in total electricity generation from 13% to 42%. .

Morocco bets on solar power

Morocco bets on solar power

Morocco bets on solar power

Morocco bets on solar power

Morocco bets on solar power

Morocco bets on solar power

Morocco bets on solar power

On the edge of the Sahara desert the sea of metal mirrors capture the sun’s rays and use it to heat a liquid which, when mixed with water reaches 400 degrees Celsius.

Even at night, the plant will be able to provide energy, thanks to the power of salt.

Morocco bets on solar power

The plant uses concentrated solar power technology which is more expensive to install than photovoltaic panels, but able to store energy for nights and cloudy days.

The complex, opened in February 2016, is the first of several phases. The construction of the plant cost $765 million and is expected to have a capacity to generate 160 MW. Morocco is investing heavily in renewable energy to reduce its dependency on fossil fuels

2015 NCAA tourney betting guide

No. No. 5 Arkansas Razorbacks vs. 16 Lafayette Leopards

Lange: Arguably the best attribute to have with a double-digit underdog in the NCAA tournament is high-caliber shooters, and on paper, Northeastern has just that. The Wolfpack are a tough matchup for a lot of teams with their three-guard attack of 6-3 junior Trevor Lacey (15.8 PPG, 4.4 RPG), 6-5 senior Ralston Turner (13.2 PPG) and sophomore Anthony Barber (12 PPG). 4 Louisville Cardinals vs. Indiana

Maryland minus-4 vs. (Note: I am considering playing Georgia State plus-4.5 in the first half, though that still seems a little short.

Tuley: Everyone loves picking No. Stephen F. 4 seed, though it’s a moot point since they’re on a collision course with Louisville regardless).

Tuley: Gonzaga is hardly even considered a mid-major anymore; instead, it’s the poster child for programs like North Dakota State, which upset Oklahoma last year in the Seattle subregional. 6 Butler Bulldogs vs. 16 Coastal Carolina Chanticleers

Best and worst coaches to bet on

Tuley: Well, this region is looking rather chalky so far, but I believe that ends here (though I do have some trepidation as Eastern Washington is becoming such a trendy pick). They also have a tremendous amount of size, with a frontcourt that features players standing 7-3, 6-10, 6-9 and 6-8. minus-6 vs. 13 Eastern Washington Eagles

Tuley: A lot of people are picking this game as this year’s mega-upset (like Mercer over No. 12 seed). 3 Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs. North Carolina has every possible edge, but the Tar Heels don’t always show up, and they were just 14-13-1 ATS before finishing the season 5-2 ATS. When facing a winning team this season, UCLA was 17-6 hitting the under. Ohio St. Oklahoma State has excellent balance with 6-7 senior Le’Bryan Nash (17 PPG, 5.4 RPG) and 6-8 senior Michael Cobbins up front, plus junior Phil Forte III (15 PGG). No. 12 Stephen F. Aztecs vs. If bettors are willing to take a 12-seed over a 5-seed straight up, it makes sense that they would also be willing to bet the 12-seed getting points.

In last week’s conference tournament betting guide, we detailed a system that focuses on large underdogs in low-scoring games, and explained how public betting patterns change during the postseason. 7 Michigan St.

Westgate line: NC State -1

PickCenter consensus pick: 64 percent picked NC State

No.

Perhaps bettors consider all tournament participants to be upper-echelon teams and are content taking the points regardless of opponent.

Our theory posits that when an underdog pulls off an unlikely upset, square bettors have difficulty accepting the team’s new role as a favorite. The state of college basketball — slower, and lower scoring — makes it so “superior” teams aren’t always asked to cover big numbers. They have a similar profile to the Mountaineers with poor outside shooting (31.9 percent 3-pointers) but the ability to hit the offensive boards (36.5 percent). Austin

No. 2 offensive team in the nation. No. WVU’s Juwan Staten (knee) and Gary Browne (ankle) are still nursing injuries, but expected to play. But I’m going contrarian here. I will have some on Harvard plus-525 over North Carolina and Belmont plus-1200 over Virginia, but I’ll probably pass on Texas Southern and Lafayette at plus-2500 apiece over Arizona and Villanova.

Jay Kornegay’s top public teams

Westgate line: West Virginia -4.5

PickCenter consensus pick: 52 percent picked West Virginia

No. 14 UAB Blazers

This is a high total — the third highest on the board in the opening round. Big 12 opponents. No. 13 Valparaiso Crusaders

Note: Picks marked with an asterisk (*) are best bets. No. Below is a list of the best and worst coaches to bet on in the NCAA tourney this year and their corresponding ATS tourney records.

No. A year ago at this time they played American in the opening game and won 75-35, allowing only 29 percent shooting.

ATS pick: NC State -1*

NCAA tournament teams, 2014-15 records

No. 5 West Virginia Mountaineers vs. 11 BYU/Ole Miss winner

Texas Southern plus-21.5 vs. +1*

Midwest Regional

No. Buffalo

Wisconsin minus-18 vs. Coach Lon Kruger is outstanding, knowing how to get his team focused and prepared, and he’s very strong at in-game adjustments. No. SMU held opponents to fewer than 60 points per game this season — ranked in the top 20 in the nation. They have great balance, with a strong frontcourt, while 6-4 junior Buddy Hield (17.5 PPG, 5 RPG) and 6-4 junior Isaiah Cousins (12.2 PPG, 5 RPG) run the backcourt and lead the team in scoring. Kansas

10. SMU

Davidson plus-2 vs. The Great Danes lost 64-60 to Providence and 75-59 to UNLV. The Bulldogs held a plus-7.3 rebounds-per-game edge in Big East play — 3.9 rebounds per game better than second-best Providence. This is one of those instances, and it provides a very strong favorite laying a very reasonable price.

Wunderdog: Gonzaga (18-1 at Westgate, bet down to 15-1)

. The Ducks allowed 54.5 percent shooting the last game, an 80-52 loss to Arizona, and are 2-6 ATS following a loss of more than 20 points.

ATS pick: San Diego St. And Mick Cronin’s absence won’t be as magnified with Purdue playing a nearly identical brand of basketball. 16 Hampton/Manhattan winner

No. North Carolina

VCU plus-2 vs. Lafayette did play at Villanova in last season’s opener and was tied with eight minutes to play before losing by 16 points (75-59). Michigan State

9. It took time, but Maryland’s offense looked improved the back half of the campaign. Notre Dame

2. However, I think what gives Belmont a chance to at least cover is that Virginia’s leading scorer,  Justin Anderson, is coming back slowly from a broken finger and an appendectomy. In the end this is a very even matchup, but I think the Bearcats are still the play, even being bet to favoritism.

Andrew Lange: Bettors are faced with handicapping a dreaded “non-boarded” team here, as New Mexico State won the oddball WAC. The Red Storm will really miss suspended 6-10 shot-blocker Chris Obekpa. No. At the time of publication, OSU was receiving just 24 percent of spread bets.

ATS pick: TBD

ATS pick: Gonzaga -16.5

Westgate line: Arizona -21.5

PickCenter consensus pick: 58 percent picked Arizona

The first would be that instead of betting the fixed-odd futures to win the title, bet the money line in the first game your team plays and roll over your winnings through all six games. 15 Texas Southern Tigers

ATS pick: Cincinnati -1

East Regional

To be added after the BYU-Mississippi “First Four” game on Tuesday in Dayton, Ohio.

Westgate line: Gonzaga -16.5

PickCenter consensus pick: 54 percent picked North Dakota St. They challenged themselves in nonleague play with games at Wichita State, Wyoming, St. Gonzaga

8. The higher the spreads go, the less convinced I am that the underdog will win outright, plus the more the books will shave off the true odds, so I won’t bet as much on the money line. Arizona

Harvard plus-8.5 vs. SEC Player of the Year Bobby Portis (yes, he won over all those Kentucky blue-chippers) and his teammates love to run, and I just don’t see Wofford keeping pace.

No. The Wolfpack match up well with an LSU squad that is on a 6-4 SU run, bowing out fast in the SEC tourney (a 73-70 OT loss to Auburn as a 9-point favorite). -2

PickCenter consensus pick: 58 percent picked Ohio St. No. Albany

NC State minus-1 vs. Bison

Maddux Sports:

ATS pick: Louisville -9

No. 7 Iowa Hawkeyes vs. 3 Baylor Bears vs. No. 14 Northeastern Huskies

ATS pick: TBD

ATS pick: UCLA +2*

Tuley: Georgia State is an interesting underdog as it plays well on the defensive end, holding 11 opponents under 30 percent shooting this season. 9 Purdue Boilermakers

Tuley: This line climbed from UNC minus-9 to minus-10, and I liked it more and more — until it got bet back to 8.5. I say they caught a break by facing super-soft Indiana and a likely date against a reeling Kansas squad in the second round. The same can be said for Purdue’s two 7-footers, Isaac Haas and A.J. 16 North Florida/Robert Morris

Westgate line: SMU -2

PickCenter consensus pick: 67 percent picked SMU

No. 5 Northern Iowa Panthers vs. 9 St. And while the level of competition in the Colonial (the 19th-rated conference, according to Sagarin) wasn’t all that stiff, Notre Dame isn’t known for its defensive prowess (1.07 points per possession allowed vs. With public support shifting, we theorized that there would be value fading these so-called “trendy underdogs.”

No. No. Notre Dame can score, but both teams play solid defense, allowing points in the 60s. Austin is justifiably getting a lot of support as a live underdog, as it upset VCU last year in this round and a lot of people remember that and are looking for a repeat. Arizona

3. No. Unfortunately, this system would also include teams that were an underdog during their last conference tournament game. Gonzaga 6-foot-10 freshman Domantas Sabonis (9.5 PPG, 7 RPG), 7-1 junior Przemek Karnowski (11 PPG) and 6-10 junior Kyle Wiltjer (16.7 PPG) anchor an NBA-like frontcourt, while senior guard Kevin Pangos (11.5 PPG, 5 APG) gets things moving. 1 Kentucky Wildcats vs. The Tigers have to be feeling the role of Cinderella, and I think they can stay within the huge number.

Utah would be the only tourney future I see to hold a little bit of value. The Terrapins rely an awful lot on Dez Wells and Melo Trimble, and I would expect Valpo to play some zone. No. The American has some weak teams, but I give the Bearcats small edges on both sides of the ball. Valparaiso

No. All that stuff aside, we can only handicap the games in front of us, and while SMU is a solid team, I am convinced that if UCLA plays like it did against Arizona in the Pac-12 semifinals, the Bruins will be able to pull the upset here.

No. Neither team will shy away from the transition game, but the opportunities will be limited, especially for Purdue as the Bearcats boast one of the best transition defenses I’ve seen this season. 7 seed and Ohio State at No. The oddsmakers certainly think so, as they made Ohio State the favorite despite the seedings. -12

PickCenter consensus pick: 54 percent picked Iowa St. This team is 312th in the nation in assists and its top rebounder is 6-6 Sam Rowley. As much as I and most bettors despise Rick Barnes, it’s important to recognize that the Longhorns have the better personnel in this matchup. Oregon leans too much on offense, as the Ducks were 10th in the Pac-12 in points allowed and ninth in rebounding defense this season.

What this guide contains:

Lange: First thing’s first: Can Buffalo hang on to the basketball and rebound on the defensive end? No team in the MAC comes close to resembling West Virginia’s chaotic ways. If anyone asks if I think my dog has a chance to win outright, I’m going to say, “Of course!” On most of my plays, I’ll add a little something on the money line. Arkansas won 10 of its last 13 games, and two of those losses were to Kentucky. No. Georgetown

UCLA plus-2 vs. 8 Oregon Ducks vs.

Westgate line: Xavier -TBD

PickCenter consensus pick: TBD

No. The Badgers come into the tourney fresh off a Big Ten title, winning every game by double digits. When dealing with mid-major teams, I’m hesitant to put much stock into nonconference play as a vast majority of games against power conference foes are played on the road. 10 Ohio State Buckeyes

Tuley: Here’s another 5-12 matchup, with the public looking to the underdog to pull an upset. Oregon

Oklahoma minus-12 vs. 1 Duke Blue Devils vs. underachiever (Texas). Interesting side note in that for all the flack Barnes and the Longhorns have taken, they have an identical 17-13 ATS record as Butler. It’s that lack of depth that has me looking to play against them in the next round, but not in this one.

Westgate line: Notre Dame -12

PickCenter consensus pick: 60 percent picked Notre Dame

ATS pick: Arkansas -6.5

The table below summarizes the results of our analysis.

Mark Few has had a lot of great players and teams at Gonzaga, but this may be his best. 11 seed and pretty far removed from the bubble). -1.5

PickCenter consensus pick: 65 percent picked San Diego St. The Bulldogs have more than enough talent to hang with Duke and Kentucky.

Westgate line: Kansas -11

PickCenter consensus pick: 60 percent picked Kansas

Westgate line: Northern Iowa -7.5

PickCenter consensus pick: 60 percent picked Wyoming

Westgate line: Maryland -4

PickCenter consensus pick: 69 percent picked Maryland

Westgate line: Arkansas -6.5

PickCenter consensus pick: 58 percent picked Wofford

Tuley: As we’ve all seen over the years, when an underdog is live during March Madness, they often pull the outright upset instead of just covering. Sure, the Super Bowl may take a larger handle than any individual game, but the cumulative number of bets taken during March Madness dwarfs even the mighty beast known as the NFL playoffs.

Tuley: I liked Iowa State last year and was bummed when the Cyclones ran into another hot team that I was in love with (UConn) in the Sweet 16. The Cowboys lost their previous game against Oklahoma and opened as a 1-point favorite against Oregon. Wisconsin is tops in the Big Ten in points allowed, second in free throws, second in field goal shooting and rebound margin. Kansas is at its best in transition, and I would expect it to push the pace and pull New Mexico State along.

ATS pick: Oklahoma St. Georgia was on the bubble and secured its spot in the field by beating South Carolina in the SEC tournament, then sat second-leading scorer Kenny Gaines in the next game against Arkansas. Cyclones vs. No. Spartans vs. Austin +6

Using Sport Insights’ Bet Labs software, we found that tournament favorites that receive less than 50 percent of spread bets have gone 86-65 ATS (+16.24 units won, 10.8 percent ROI) over the past 10 years. Coastal Carolina

Westgate line: Wisconsin -18

PickCenter consensus pick: 65 percent picked Wisconsin

Wunderdog: You know what you’re going to get out of Oklahoma. 12 Buffalo Bulls

Lange: It’s the time of year when identifying the better defensive team in a short-lined game puts you in solid position to cash tickets. The Badgers are 42-20-1 ATS in nonconference games and 20-8-1 ATS in their past 29 neutral-site games. No. Villanova

Belmont plus-16 vs. Besides, a lot of people think the Hoyas are overseeded; in fact, the BPI had them as a No. Texas Southern comes in with 11 straight wins and covered the first two games in the SWAC tourney before winning but failing to cover in the title game, though that was a weird case (their opponent, Southern, was put on probation so the Tigers were going to be going dancing regardless of the outcome).

South | West | Midwest | East South Regional

No. Michigan St. 6 Xavier Musketeers vs. It almost always yields a better payoff, plus it gives you the option along the way to pull out profits or to stop altogether if there’s a key injury or something.

Tuley: Davidson has its best team since Stephen Curry led it to the Elite Eight in 2008, and this team might be even better overall. They also scored a favorable venue with Omaha and a short four-hour drive north from their campus.

Westgate line: Oklahoma -12

PickCenter consensus pick: 56 percent picked Oklahoma

No. John’s Red Storm

No. 6 Providence Friars vs. 14 Albany Great Danes

Cincinnati plus-1 vs. No. 6 SMU Mustangs vs. Coach Mike Brey is 11-3 hitting the under in NCAA tournament games at Notre Dame.

ATS pick: Harvard +8.5*

1. Since Butler left in 2011, the last three Big Dance participants from the Horizon lost by margins of 15, 11 and 20 in the first round.

Westgate line: Ohio St. This addition leads to a 12-2 ATS record with +9.45 units won and a 67.5 percent ROI.

To summarize our handicappers’ best bets (lines are from the Westgate SuperBook as of Tuesday morning):

ATS pick: Oklahoma -12*

Wisconsin minus-18 vs. Furthermore, they’re playing their best basketball of the season right now, winning the Atlantic 10 title, and they will be taking on a turnover-prone Buckeyes team.

ATS pick: Davidson +2*

Lange: From a betting perspective, the Terrapins went from underrated heading into Big Ten play (4-2 ATS start) to overrated after sweeping Michigan State (which went on a 1-8 ATS slide), and then back to underrated following six straight covers heading into the Big Dance. For short-priced dogs, I might just bet only the money line with Davidson plus-120 over Iowa, VCU plus-145 over Ohio State or UCLA plus-150 over SMU, as I’m basically picking them because I believe they will win.

Andrew Lange:

Westgate line: Georgetown -7.5

PickCenter consensus pick: 73 percent picked Eastern Washington

ATS pick: Notre Dame -12

As the spreads get higher, the points are more likely to come into play and I’ll bet a smaller percentage on the money line: Georgia plus-210 over Michigan State and Eastern Washington plus-280 over Georgetown. Iowa

Lafayette plus-23 vs. This isn’t your typical Valpo team, as the Crusaders play at a plodding pace and win with defense (0.94 points per possession allowed). Hammons. The team was 1-3 SU and 2-2 ATS in their absence. minus-1 vs. No. Virginia

Georgia plus-4.5 vs. 10 Davidson Wildcats

Tuley: This game is a contrast in styles, as St. If Harvard can dictate the pace, the experienced Crimson could pull another upset or at least keep this within the spread.

Selvaggio: Utah (75-1 at CG Technology; 60-1 at Westgate)

The second is specific to this NCAA tournament, with such a huge favorite in Kentucky. They’ve lost two games all year: an OT loss at Arizona and a 3-point loss to BYU, the No. We’ve asked our experienced group of wiseguys, including Dave Tuley, Andrew Lange, Dave Solar, Geoff Kulesa of Wunderdog Sports and Sal Selvaggio what they’re looking at when handicapping the bracket and picking tourney games.

The 10 teams, according to Kornegay, lead bookmaker at the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook, and his staff, that are the most popular teams to wager on as the tourney begins.

ATS pick: Georgia +4.5*

Westgate line: Kentucky -TBD

PickCenter consensus pick: TBD

Enjoy and good luck.

ATS picks for every game

No. Not one I’m going to overthink here, as Butler is worth a play as an underdog, preferably at plus-2.

Cincinnati plus-1 vs. However, the one thing in Butler’s favor is its ability to win the battle on the boards. 2 Kansas Jayhawks vs. Larry Krystkowiak is one of the best coaches in the game and will hold an advantage over most on the sidelines. -1.5

West Regional

Westgate line: Utah -6

PickCenter consensus pick: 59 percent picked Stephen F. Wyoming made a nice run through the Mountain West Conference to steal a bid, but Northern Iowa has moved beyond that “Cinderella” category into a team that wouldn’t be a shock if it made the Sweet 16 (in fact, an argument could be made that the Panthers should be the No. 8 Cincinnati Bearcats vs. O’Brien. 7 Wichita State Shockers vs. And I like the public dog, too. 5 Utah Utes vs. 2 seed Duke last year). The issue is that Northeastern hasn’t faced an offense even remotely close to that of the Irish. Austin team in the first round, but the Utes play a very good brand of basketball that fits the tournament setting.

No.

To be added after the Boise State-Dayton “First Four” game on Wednesday in Dayton, Ohio.

Westgate line: Iowa -2

PickCenter consensus pick: 53 percent picked Davidson

Westgate line: Texas -1.5

PickCenter consensus pick: 62 percent picked Texas

ATS pick: Stephen F. However, I’ve seen this before where a team sneaks into the tournament and vindicates the selection committee (most notably VCU in 2011). No. 2 Arizona Wildcats vs. 11 Boise St./Dayton winner

No. However, it troubles me that this line is so short (years ago, this would be well into double digits) and I’m just afraid that in the end, Baylor will win out. A lot of NCAA underdogs have used a stellar defense to pull upsets or cover spreads against more athletic teams. Utah can play with anybody sans Kentucky in this field.

Lange: How is either team going to score? Both squads are tremendous at packing the paint, contesting shots and rebounding. The Utes are underseeded by most respected metrics, and the committee didn’t do them any favors matching them up against a tough Stephen F. -12

Tuley: I have two things to say about betting futures.

Pick: over 131

ATS pick: Butler +1.5

Lange: This is a classic case of overachiever (Butler) vs. Offensive rebounding and garbage points are musts for Butler, because Texas is a fairly strong defensive team in the half court. No. Purdue

Notre Dame minus-12 vs. No. The Zags just won the West Coast Conference by winning two games 79-61 and 91-75. 9 Oklahoma State Cowboys

Wunderdog: Northeastern/Notre Dame: under 141

By David Solar, SportsInsights.com

No. The WAC was one of the slowest conferences in the country, with the “fastest” team averaging 61.6 possessions per game in league play. Iowa has a big size advantage, but unless Davidson goes stone cold, I don’t see the Hawkeyes being able to use that enough (at 2 points at a time) to keep up with the Wildcats.

No. You’re going to run into situations in the tournament where hot shooting beats good defense, but in this instance, I want my money on the far more complete basketball team. 7 VCU Rams vs. While managing egos seems to be the largest challenge for NBA coaches, imparting fundamentals and turning five talented individuals into one cohesive unit are just two of the struggles facing college coaches. We all know the Harvard kids are smart, but Crimson have also won opening-round games each of the past two years. UC Irvine has twin towers in 7-6 Mamadou Ndiaye and 7-2 Ioannis Dimakopoulos, but Louisville still has the matchup’s two best players in Terry Rozier and Montrezl Harrell despite all the players the Cardinals have lost. Albany got here by winning the America East, but didn’t step up in competition much. 8 NC State Wolfpack vs. Iowa State

5. 11 Texas Longhorns

ATS pick: Lafayette +23*

Below are the ATS records for every NCAA tournament team this season, along with each team’s SU record and average margin of cover.

ATS pick: Iowa St. Now, it’s a sliding scale. 9 LSU Tigers

No. 1 Wisconsin Badgers vs. 2 Virginia Cavaliers vs.

Eastern Washington plus-7.5 vs. This is a long-winded way of saying that the committee put VCU in at a No. If he’s not fully back in form (and he didn’t look like it in 26 scoreless minutes in the ACC tourney, including a miss on the possible game winner against North Carolina), that opens the door more for the Bruins.

ATS pick: Northern Iowa -7.5

More money hits the market during the NCAA tournament than any other time in the sports betting calendar. Seven-footer  Frank Kaminsky, 6-7 Nigel Hayes and 6-8  Sam Dekker are a handful for any frontcourt and will overmatch Coastal Carolina, whose top rebounder is 6-7 Badou Diagne. I’m not buying this one. However, the Wildcats are only 2-3 ATS when laying 20 points or more, so this seems to be the tipping point. 4 Maryland Terrapins vs. 2 Gonzaga Bulldogs vs. 8 San Diego St. When this team was also an underdog in its previous game, the number of past matches is reduced dramatically, but we’re left with a 27-11 ATS record (+14.5 units, 38.2 percent ROI).

ATS pick: Maryland -4

One reason for this phenomenon may be that bettors are used to taking upsets in their brackets, making them more likely to gravitate toward the underdog. NC State is also 31st in the nation in rebounds. To eliminate these teams, we focused solely on teams that won their previous game. 2 Duke in 2008, but this year’s team was 25th in the nation from the floor at 47.6 percent, and won its last seven games, including an upset of Murray State to steal the OVC’s automatic bid. 3 Oklahoma Sooners vs. I don’t think Buffalo will be overwhelmed, as they held halftime leads on the road at Kentucky and Wisconsin, but West Virginia is an extremely hard team for which to prepare. No. Northeastern

Wichita St. The Tigers turned it over 17 times to Auburn’s attacking guards, and this is an equally tough backcourt matchup.

Tuley: Every year, there are a few teams that get snubbed or a few teams that get overseeded or underseeded and cause heated discussions. 10 Indiana Hoosiers

Tuley: This isn’t like one of the Louisville teams we’ve grown accustomed to seeing in recent years, and they look fade-able, but it looks like the committee did the Cardinals a favor with this seeding and matchup. No. The Bulldogs obviously missed him on both ends of the floor, and it probably kept them from winning that game and finishing second in the league tourney to Kentucky. 15 North Dakota St. ACC opponents). If you’re playing any other team and don’t want to parlay game to game (maybe you’re betting in Vegas and won’t be back after the opening weekend), bet the odds to win the regional (see below) instead of the odds to win the whole thing. That worked out well for me, but this year I’m hoping to be able to back Iowa State on a deeper run with Georges Niang & Co. No. Mary’s, Baylor and Colorado State (average loss: 8.8 PPG). Wisconsin is 4-0-1 ATS in its past five NCAA tournament games. Duke

7. Belmont is probably most known for nearly beating No. The reason for this is if your team gets to the Final Four and you want to hedge, you’re gonna be paying a huge price to hedge with Kentucky on the money line.

Most profitable tournament coaches since 2005

Westgate line: Wichita State -6

PickCenter consensus pick: 55 percent picked Wichita St. While bettors overwhelmingly tend to take the favorite during the regular season, the NCAA tournament is a rare time when the public jumps all over the underdog.

Westgate line: North Carolina -8.5

PickCenter consensus pick: 68 percent picked North Carolina

Westgate line: Providence -TBD

PickCenter consensus pick:

No. Purdue

West Virginia minus-4.5 vs. It’s a veteran team, too. But I don’t expect Arizona to rack up a ton of points and run up the score, either. -4.5

PickCenter consensus pick: 70 percent picked Michigan St. 12 seeds against No. 1 Villanova Wildcats vs. But for the Aggies, it’s really all we have to go off considering they haven’t played anyone even remotely capable since beating UC Irvine at home in early January.

No. Villanova obviously has the talent edge, but it’s not a size mismatch like we usually see with 1-16 matchups. 15 Belmont Bruins

No. No. It all looks so easy that I hope it’s not one of those things that are too good to be true.

With so few past system picks on the third tier of this system, it’s no surprise that there are no current game matches for the opening-round games. For all of Texas’ length and size, the Longhorns were a solid, but hardly impressive plus-3.9 rebounds per game vs. Austin Lumberjacks

No. John’s will likely stick with its four-guard lineup and push the pace while San Diego State will try to slow it down and control the game with its huge front line — especially compared to SJU with just 6-foot-6 Sir’Dominic Pointer to match up with 6-10 Skylar Spencer, 6-8 Winston Shepard and 6-7 J.J.

To be added after the Hampton/Manhattan “First Four” game on Tuesday in Dayton, Ohio.

ATS pick: Texas Southern +21.5*

ATS pick: Baylor -7

Westgate line: Cincy -1

PickCenter consensus pick: 61 percent picked Cincinnati

I think it’s important not to punish NMSU too much for its conference affiliation, as the program recruits well and has been on solid footing throughout the Marvin Menzies era. Wisconsin

6. However, we do have a Tier 2 match on Oklahoma State. As a team, the Huskies shoot 52.9 percent from 2, 38.8 percent from 3 and 72.4 percent from the free throw line. Albany is on an 0-5 ATS run and will get stomped by the talented and well-coached Sooners.

No. As an underdog under Steve Alford, the Bruins are 17-7 hitting the under.

With more than 9.2 quintillion possible NCAA tournament brackets, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. Cincinnati chews up tons of clock trying to get the ball in the paint to Octavius Ellis. 12 Wofford Terriers

Coaching is a huge part of any sport, but particularly in college basketball. No. No. 13 Harvard Crimson

Westgate line: Louisville -9

PickCenter consensus pick: 53 percent picked UC-Irvine

Westgate line: Duke -TBD

PickCenter consensus pick: TBD

ATS pick: Wisconsin -18*

ATS pick: Eastern Washington +7.5*

Dave Tuley:

ATS pick: Belmont +16*

Westgate line: Oregon -1

PickCenter consensus pick: 60 percent picked Oregon

No. Anyway, the added rest should help Gaines and put Georgia as a live underdog.

ATS pick: TBD

ATS pick: VCU +2*

During the regular season, a majority of public bettors take the underdog in just 17.65 percent of games; that figure reaches 23.82 percent for the NCAA tournament. The Mountaineers’ success in the “first meetings” in Big 12 play (6-3 SU/ATS) suggests we look their way.

UCLA/SMU: under 134

Westgate line: Michigan St. Whatever the reason, our historical archive reveals a distinct change in public betting behavior.

Tuley: Villanova is for real, and hard to bet against at 24-9 ATS. Kentucky

4. 12 Wyoming Cowboys

ATS pick: Wichita State -6

Wunderdog: Wisconsin got off to a great start this season and hasn’t slowed down. However, this puts Shaka Smart and his VCU program in the underdog role, where they’re more comfortable. 11 UCLA Bruins

Tuley: I’m conflicted on this game. The Terps aren’t built to win by big margins, but this price appears cheap. No. 15 New Mexico St Aggies

Bettors can also use the public betting trends available on ESPN Chalk’s Live Odds page to track favorites receiving less than 50 percent of spread bets.

Wunderdog: NC State is on a nice 6-2 SU run coming into the Big Dance. Northern Iowa

Wunderdog Sports:

Teams I would consider: Iowa State at 9-2 to win the South and Baylor at 10-1 to win the West.

Fading the trendy underdog

Tuley: I don’t expect Texas Southern to give Arizona too much of a scare as they’re overmatched talent-wise and don’t have a superstar or even a true big man. Tyler Kalinoski was the Atlantic 10 Player of the Year, but he’s far from the lone gunman as Davidson averages more than 10 3-pointers made (hitting at better than 40 percent from long range) and more than 80 points per game. He will not get outcoached. On offense, they are strong in free throw shooting (76 percent), which is always a plus when games are close. 3 Iowa St. 14 Georgia St Panthers

Least profitable tournament coaches since 2005

No. No. Oftentimes, those “snubbed” teams go on to lose right away in the NIT and the “overseeded” teams live up to their billing, while “underseeded” teams put in disappointing showings. In nonconference play, a number of NMSU’s games were in the high 60s to low 70s, possession-wise. No. No. The Cowboys come in off a bad offensive game against Oklahoma, but they are 6-1-1 ATS after scoring fewer than 50 points in their previous game. 4 Georgetown Hoyas vs. 5 (and for good reason), but I think the oddsmakers had this right when they opened Northern Iowa as a 7.5-point favorite.

o picks for every NCAA tourney game on Thursday and Friday

o ATS records for every tourney team

o the best 2015 NCAA title value bets 

o Vegas handicappers’ best ATS bets, upset picks and over/under bets

o the best system bets from David Solar of Sports Insights

o the best and worst coaches in the tourney to bet on

o the top 10 public teams according to Jay Kornegay of the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook

Westgate line: Baylor -7

PickCenter consensus pick: 59 percent picked Baylor

UCLA averaged more than 80 points per game at home this season, but just 62.7 on the road — a difference of more than 18 points per game. 4. No. Some will say the Shockers are being punished for losing to Illinois State in the Missouri Valley semifinals. SDSU’s inside game and stubborn defense (the Aztecs allow just 53.1 points per game, ranked second in the nation) should get the job done.

Wunderdog: Defense is key in March and Oklahoma State has it, as the Cowboys finished fourth in the Big 12 in points allowed, and fifth in field goal shooting percentage allowed this season. However, I’m really high on Utah with its inside-outside tandem of guard Delon Wright and 7-foot center Jakob Poeltl, and this number looks a little short (again, because of the support for SFA as an ever-popular No. 13 UC Irvine Anteaters

No. The public has mostly bet against UCLA, as this line opened SMU minus-2 at several books and is up to 3.5 at most books and even 4 at a few as of late Monday night. But fear not: ESPN’s Chalk college basketball betting experts are here to help. Against the spread, I’ll stick with a recommendation on the Lumberjacks plus the points, but I’m not sure I’ll play it myself, so I can’t make it a best bet.

Westgate line: Virginia -16

PickCenter consensus pick: 58 percent picked Belmont

Tuley: UCLA’s inclusion by the selection committee was the most vilified decision on Selection Sunday (especially when the Bruins were given a No. LSU

ATS pick: West Virginia -4.5

No. 10 when a lot of people would argue those should be switched. MAC opponents), but struggled to keep opposing teams off the glass. Statistically, the Bulls are fairly sound in the turnover department (15.2 percent vs. This is the best and most balanced Gonzaga team yet, playing in its backyard, so I can’t get on the NDSU bandwagon.

Westgate line: Iowa St. 6 seed instead of a No. Another thing working for the underdog is that Lafayette coach Fran O’Hanlon is a Nova alumnus and there’s a chance the Wildcats won’t want to embarrass O’Hanlon by running up the score.

Westgate line: Villanova -23

PickCenter consensus pick: 53 percent picked Lafayette

Championship title odds

Best title value bets

To be added after the North Florida-Robert Morris “First Four” game on Wednesday in Dayton, Ohio.

Westgate line: San Diego St. I don’t see any potential matchup where I’ll be fading them, starting with the opener, as UAB needed the home court to win the Conference USA tournament as the fourth seed to earn its dance ticket. But except for Lawrence Alexander, NDSU is far inferior to the team that nearly made the Sweet 16 last year, and frankly, it wouldn’t be in the field if it hadn’t won the Summit Conference tournament. This team is 18-7-1 ATS after a loss, and 23-9-1 ATS on neutral courts. The Sooners are also on a 10-3 SU run, and are 23rd in the nation in rebounds. 4 North Carolina Tar Heels vs. Everyone is buying into the hype of the nation’s leading scorer, Tyler Harvey (22.9 PPG), and that the Eagles get to play in their home state while Georgetown has to travel all the way across the country from the “other” Washington. Indiana is a smoke-and-mirrors team that beat up on the weak and shot its way to wins at home — not a recipe for postseason success. 10 Georgia Bulldogs

ATS pick: TBD

Tuley: This line has risen from 4.5 to 5.5 since wagering opened Sunday night, which isn’t too surprising as everyone knows how MSU coach Tom Izzo gets his teams to improve as the season progresses (and we all saw how the Spartans took Wisconsin to OT in the Big Ten title game). Coastal Carolina

Oklahoma St