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 — Looking to bag a pair of winners, starting in Milwaukee with the Virginia Tech/Texas game. Love what Chris Beard has done at every stop of his coaching career, except his cup of coffee at UNLV. He took the UNLV job on March 27, 2016, then left on April 15, 2016, to take the vacant Texas Tech position. Other than that, the guy is a stone-cold winner with a lifetime 229-96 record (.705).
But his Longhorns are still a year away from a top-shelf team. They have won only two of their last six and have not covered a spread since mid-February (0-5-1). V-Tech storms into the Big Dance with the ACC championship in its luggage and 13 wins in the last 15 games. You can take +1.5 points with the Hokies in the tourney directly to the BANK!
March Madness Picks:
Would love to see a Hollywood ending for Coach K and watch him cut down the nets in New Orleans, but it AIN’T gonna happen. Not saying that Cal State-Fullerton is gonna bounce the Blue Devils in the first round, but at +18.5, the Titans are worth a wager. After a so-so start to the season, Fullerton ripped off 17 wins in the last 22 games and as a No. 15 seed will be loose and free.
As a 2 seed, Duke is ALWAYS under enormous pressure, and the most recent results have been just MEH. Sure, they’ve won a bunch – nine of the last 11 – but when it comes to the wallet, the Devils have covered only three of the last 10. This is not exactly the “Clash of the Titans” movie, but you can pencil in the Titans from Fullerton for the cover.
Baylor vs UNC
Tomorrow, gonna get you up early, especially all my people here in Vegas, for the North Carolina/Baylor game. Like the Tar Heels to keep the pressure on and stay close to the Bears. If you looked at the score of Baylor’s opening game against Norfolk State, an 85-49 blowout, you’re probably thinking the Heels are in trouble. Norfolk threw a zone at Baylor, and Carolina is gonna go tough man-to-man. And oh by the way, the Tar Heels blew away Marquette in their opener 95-63. Gimme Hubert Davis and the Heels for the money!
Saint Mary’s vs UCLA
Also looking at Saint Mary’s +3 against UCLA. The Gaels from Moraga AIN’T scared of the big bad Bruins from Los Angeles. Mary lost two games this month to Gonzaga, but then again EVERYONE loses to the Zags. Even UCLA, who got SMOKED by Gonzaga early in the season 83-63. The Gaels also AIN’T afraid of the Pac-12 and know how to beat teams from the Conference of Champions, just like they did Oregon (62-50) back in November. Tickle Saint Mary’s as long as you get at least +3.
And a little treat for Sunday’s F1 race in Bahrain. If you can find the matchups, we like Charlie Leclerc in the Ferrari to hit the podium and beat Ferrari teammate Carlos Sainz. VVRROOMMM!!!
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...email@example.com.
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