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Las Vegas Expert Picks: NCAAB Conference Tournaments, NBA

Ben Eckstein breaks down his top picks for this weekend's sports action in his Ecks & Bacon column.

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

Big East Pick

LAS VEGAS — Gonna roll into Madison Square Garden for some Big East action and start with Seton Hall over Georgetown. Somehow, some way, the Hoyas were able to knock Villanova out of the tournament last night, and we applaud Patrick Ewing and his kids.

But, and it’s a big one, ’Nova was playing without Collin Gillespie, “the heart and soul of the program,” according to head coach Jay Wright. And that was a YUGE difference. The Pirates from New Jersey just knocked off St. John’s and should be able to advance to the championship game.

And that’s where they’ll find Connecticut. Dan Hurley has been feeding UConn some secret sauce and MAN is it working. The Huskies were kinda shuffling along at 8-5 back in February, then the floodgates opened.

They have won seven of their last eight and are on a FIVE & OH run against the spread. And they’re not just winning, they’re WINNING by an average of EIGHTEEN points per game. Think that might be just enough to cover in this spot with the line at a pick’em.

ACC Pick

Now a quick trip to Teaser City for a 6-point two-teamer. Gonna look at the ACC, take North Carolina, and bump the Tar Heels up from +3 to +9 points against Florida State. Then move out to Indianapolis for the Big Ten tourney, and drop Illinois from -8 to -2 points against Rutgers.

NBA Pick

On the NBA board tonight, gonna dance down in New Orleans and take the Pelicans over the Cavaliers. Last night, the Pels were embarrassed, humiliated, blown out – all three apply – by the lowest of the low, the Minnesota T-Wolves. The final was 135-105, and NO ONE likes to get SMOKED by THIRTY points.

Head of the X’s and O’s, Stan Van Gundy, ripped his team in the post-game presser. “Look, I understand it’s on me and what we’re putting out there defensively is embarrassing, quite honestly,” Van Gundy said.

“We’ve all got to take ownership of it. A lot of it is me and a lot of it is our players, and they’ve got to take some ownership. We didn’t compete tonight, and that’s the bottom line. We didn’t compete. We didn’t help each other. We didn’t play together on either end of the floor. A really embarrassing evening for us tonight.”

So, that’s why we’re ALL OVER the Pelicans tonight, and maybe the LARGEST bet of the NBA season will be New Orleans minus ANY NUMBER to win the first quarter. The actual 1st Q spread looks like it’ll be close to Pelicans -2. Scoop up all the cash you can get, dip into the kids’ college fund if you have to, ’cause this is my BEST BET, BAABBBEEE!!!

And if you’re missing me during the week, I’m doing quick 15-second picks at www.instagram.com/vegasvigorish!

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.