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Las Vegas Expert Picks: NCAAB Round of 32

Gonzaga Bulldogs Johnathan Williams NCAA Basketball 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 — So, I’m at the skin doctor yesterday, which is the reason there was no column. Thought I would be able to hit the dermatologist, jump back to the office, and fire away. Nope. Not gonna delve too deeply into the specifics, but they had to cut something off. NO, NO, NOT THAT! They gave me a shot to numb the area which was rather painless. But then, you know you’re in trouble when the other nurse comes in and gives you a long stick, with a cotton ball at the end of it, that smells like vanilla. Not the ice cream, just a vanilla aroma. So, I’m thinking, nice. How thoughtful. Then she tells me some people like to keep the scent by their nose so they don’t smell the BURNING FLESH! WHAT! Lord knows what and how deep they’re gonna cut, but damn, at least I got some vanilla wafting into the nostrils. YUCH!

With the exception of a little slip on the ice, last week’s column spread cheer and cash all over North America, and certain parts of Croatia and Brazil.

NCAAB PickS

Looking to extend the roll, my main action is coming up later. All my metrics point to Gonzaga but the teeny tiny point spread (-3 or -3.5) is getting me nervous. The Zags destroyed the Buckeyes back in November on a neutral court in Portland in the PK80 - Phil Knight Invitational, 86-59. So, it was closer to Spokane than Columbus, but STILL a neutral. And STILL a 27-point blowout. Yes, it was back in November and NO doubt that the Bucks have improved, but are they three TDs better than they were in the first matchup? Don’t think so. Then we looked at the last three wins for O-State, and nothing spoke to me. They beat Rutgers (14-19), Indiana (16-15) and the South Dakota State Jackrabbits (24-7). Who? Exactly my point. Mark Few’s Bulldogs have a winning pedigree. They roll in on a 15-0 overall run, have posted a dozen straight road wins and know how to two-step at the Big Dance. After all, they DID play in the final last year against North Carolina. So, back to why I’m nervous. How come only -3? All the ratings geeks, like Sagarin and KenPom, have the Zags around 3 better than the Bucks. Mine are a little higher, and I’ll ride Gonzaga to the Sweet 16.

Tomorrow, gotta look at UMBC. I’m seeing a +10.5 against Kansas State, and why not buy the Retrievers? These kids are on a magic carpet ride, and it might just take ’em to the Sweet 16 in Atlanta. Since when does Kansas State deserve to be a double-digit favorite over ANYONE? Not on my board.

And PLZ hit me on Twitter over the weekend, @vegasvigorsih, ’cause ya never know when we’ll find a gem 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.

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