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Las Vegas Expert Picks: March Madness

RJ Barrett #5 of the Duke Blue Devils reacts against the North Carolina Tar Heels during their game in the semifinals of the 2019 Men's ACC Basketball Tournament at Spectrum Center on March 15, 2019 in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Vegas veteran Benjamin Eckstein, author of America’s Line, brings three decades of experience to make weekly picks in his “Ecks & Bacon” column.

March Madness picks

LAS VEGAS — Gimme some Cal-Irvine +3.5 points over Kansas State. Actually, we took +5 when the line opened, and it’s now down to +3.5. So, I could take K-State -3.5 and shoot for the elusive middle, and pray for a four-point final margin. Maybe. But lemme tell you about Irving. Yeah, I call them Irving because that was my grandpa’s name.

And they have maybe my FAV nickname ever, the Anteaters. Once again, get that the Big 12 is WAY better than the Big West. However, Irving roars into the first-round matchup on a 16-0 straight-up run, and has covered nine of the last 10, with one push. Also, one of K-State’s best players, an All-Big 12 first-teamer for two years, F Dean Wade, is GONE. Eaters gotta EAT!

Quack Quack. Yeah, the Ducks, baby! Oregon lost my favorite college player, Bol Bol, yeah, son of Manute, back in January. But the Ducks do have one of the best coaches on this side of the Mississippi, Dana Altman. No matter where he goes, all he does is win. Altman posted a 68-54 record at Kansas State, 327-176 at Creighton, and is currently 235-95 at Oregon. This is not his best gaggle of ducks, sorry, had to throw gaggle in. Really, how many times do you get to use gaggle in a lifetime? Oops, never mind, that’s for geese. Ducks are a flock.

Back to biz. And we’re talking MONEY, baby! Oregon has come down the stretch like Secretariat, winning and COVERING eight in a row. Totally understand that the Big Ten is way better than the Pac-12, but Wiscy has been burning cash. The Badgers have covered only two of their last 10, and 20 percent doesn’t make it in my world.

Close it out down in Columbia, South Carolina, with Duke -27 over North Dakota State. Are we gonna see another HUMONGOUS No. 1 vs No. 16 upset? Not sure but we do have some numbers you might wanna look at. Talking Duke and North Dakota State. And talking a 27.5-point spread. That’s a whole lotta chalk. If you’re not a fan of the Summit League, then the Bison probably have not hit your radar screen. That’s why I’m here. NDSU has been a cash cow, or cash Bison if you will, covering nine of the last 13 overall, and five of the last six on the road.

As for the big picture, the Blue Devils’ overall spread log sits at 18-16, 9-8 on the road and 16-15 as a favorite. The Bison’s overall spread mark is 15-17, 7-12 on the road and 4-8 as an underdog. For you totals players, the Dookies have gone OVER only nine times, UNDER an AMAZING 24 times and pushed once, while Dakota has gone OVER 20 times and UNDER 12. Gonna tickle a Bison, and make a light play to the dog.

NHL pick

Before I let you go, skate onto the NHL ice with me, and grab the UNDER on the Islanders/Flyers game tomorrow night.

And plz, PLZ hit me on Twitter over the weekend, @vegasvigorish, just in case anything pops on the college hoop board.

Benjamin Eckstein is a nationally syndicated sportswriter/oddsmaker. His column, America’s Line, with the Ecks & Bacon appetizer, has run in the New York Daily News and over 100 other papers 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 picks the occasional loser. If you wanna piece of Eck, hit his email...ben@americasline.com.