Las Vegas Expert Picks: March Madness

Las Vegas Expert Picks: March Madness

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

LAS VEGAS - A few words about where the dollars are going.

Casino Winnings

Just in case you were wondering, here's a list of the Nevada casinos' net winnings in February according to the Nevada Gaming Control Board. And as usual, PENNIES RULE! 

  • Penny slots: $221.6 million.
  • Blackjack: $68.1 million.
  • Baccarat: $51.0 million.
  • Sports: $31.8 million.
  • Craps: $26.8 million.
  • Roulette: $18.0 million.

March Madness Picks


Still a day away from the Sweet 16, but gotta jump on Oral Roberts +11.5 points before the line changes. We might be missing something, but ELEVEN & A HOOK? Are you KIDDING ME?

These teams played back in December, AT Arkansas, and the Razorbacks posted an 87-76 win, but the Golden Eagles had NO trouble covering the 19.5 point spread. Again, the game was AT Arkansas.

Now, the game is on a neutral court, the spread is 11.5, and Oral is playing its best ball of the season. The Golden Eagles have won seven in a row, and bring a 6-0 spread perfecto to the Sweet 16. Roberts beat a No. 2 seed, Ohio State, a No. 7 seed, Florida, and were not in awe of either the Big Ten or the SEC.

We don't doubt that the Hogs are the better team, but they have not impressed so far. They beat a tube of toothpaste, Colgate, 85-68, then struggled with a Texas Tech team (68-66) that was offensively challenged all year. And when we say challenged, we're talking CHALLENGED. The Red Raiders were 139th on the offensive charts this season. Yea, ONE HUNDRED THIRTY NINE!

One thing about these Eagles from Tulsa, they AIN'T offensively challenged! They checked in at No. 12 with an 81.5 points per game average. And oh, by the way, they have the LEADING scorer in the ENTIRE country, Max Abmas, averaging 24.5 points per game. And his running partner, Kevin Obanor, is lighting it up in Indy, scoring 58 points in the first two games.

Not predicting an outright upset, but at YO ELEVEN plus the hook, we're gonna put our hands together and say a little prayer for the cover. 

Oregon State +7

As you know, we had Oregon State as a BEST BET in last week's column, easy Sportsbook, and we gotta swim with the Beavers again. They're getting a TD, and at +7, it's worth a tumble. While we love everything about Loyola, there is only one word to describe the kids from Corvallis...MONEY!!!

Oregon State closed the season with eight wins in its last nine games, including the Pac 12 title and two NCAA Tournament triumphs. But the real story is the BULGING bank account. The Beavers have covered 12 of the last 13, which, my calculator tells me, works out to 92.3%. Did I just say NINETY TWO POINT THREE PERCENT? Oh YEA!

Totally understand that 101-year-old Sister Jean will be praying for her Ramblers, and sure they have a great shot at advancing to the Elite Eight, but it's Beavers for the money. BOOK IT!

Sweet 16 Dogs Barking

In the other two games, kinda lean to Villanova, but not prepared to open the wallet at +7.5, and also lean to Syracuse at +6.5, but not sure if Buddy Boeheim is gonna continue to scorch the nets. However, we would not get mad if you dropped both into a two-team 6-point teaser. Take 'Nova from +7.5 to +13.5 points against Baylor, and bump 'Cuse up from +6.5 to +12.5 points against Houston.

And if you’re missing me during the week, I’m doing quick 15-second picks at!

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 He is beloved by most, when he picks Sportsbooks, and detested by others, when he picks the occasional loser. If you wanna piece of Eck, hit his