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I made a last minute trip to Louisville last week to watch some of the games in person, so I did not take the time to make 2 round picks. My round 1 total was 28-27-1 for a 2.8 unit loss. Not acceptable, but not worth apologizing for. Below are my write ups and predictions for the sweet 16 games. I am not sure if I’ll have time to make Elite 8 picks Friday night, but I’ll try.
Wisconsin vs Syracuse (-3.5 o/u 120.5)
I heard a lot of early predictions that Wisconsin should like this match up because they shoot a lot of 3′s. I don’t see it that way. The way to beat Syracuse is to penetrate the zone and that’s not a strength of Wisconsin. Since the Badgers rely on the perimeter so much, Syracuse won’t miss Fab Melo much in this one. Syracuse does a great job defending the 3 with their length. I think Syracuse wins easily, but Wisconsin’s defense is good enough to keep this a low scoring affair.
Prediction: Syracuse -3.5 (4 units) under 120.5 (2 units) 0-2 -6.6 units
Louisville vs Michigan St (-5 o/u 125)
Battle of two successful tournament coaches. The teams have contrasting styles. This is a tough one to judge for me. I like the fact that Louisville is on a roll after their big east tournament run and last weekends success. Louisville has been pushing the pace and Michigan St can run with them. I’m surprised the total is so low, even though both teams can play good defense.
Prediction: Louisville +5 (2 units) over 125 (3 units) 1-1 -1.3 units
Cincinnati vs Ohio St (-7.5 o/u 129)
One thing is guaranteed. The state of Ohio will not be undefeated after this one. Ohio St is so talented and balanced. Cincinnati is well coached and has been playing over their heads. Ohio St needs to get out front early and then this will be a blowout. If Cincy gets confidence and hangs around early, they have a chance for the upset. Sullinger will get Gates in foul trouble and Craft will create turnovers on the other end. I’m going for the blowout scenario.
Prediction: Ohio St -7.5 (4 units) under 129 (2 units) 1-1 +1.8 units
Florida vs Marquette (-2 o/u 146.5)
This should be the most exciting game of the night. Both teams are very athletic and like to push the pace. It’s hard for me not to go with my home team (Marquette). However, if Boyton, Beal and Walker shoot well Marquette will be in trouble. I love the fact Marquette is coming off a road win against a team that only had 1 loss. Florida didn’t get much of a test from Norfolk St.
Prediction: Marquette -2 (2 units) under 146.5 (1 unit) 1-1 -1.2 units
Xavier vs Baylor (-6 o/u 141.5)
An intriguing matchup between the great guard play of Xavier and the long athleticism of Baylor. In the NCAA I always go with the better guard play. I still don’t trust the freshman point guard of Baylor. Jackson loves to jack up shots and his decision making is questionable. I am a little leary because Xavier has dug themselves a big hole early in their last 3 games. If they fall behind early again on Friday, they may not have the fire power to fight back. Guards win, so I have to stick with the X men.
Prediction: Xavier +6 (5 units) over 141.5 (2 units)
Ohio vs North Carolina (-10.5 o/u 143)
My guess is that UNC will rest Marshall in this one to give him 2 extra days rest. UNC is too big and athletic for this gritty Ohio team. I don’t think this one will be close, unless UNC’s guards can’t handle the pressure and get the ball to the bigs.
Prediction: UNC -10.5 (3 units) under 143 (2 units)
Indiana vs Kentucky (-9 o/u 145)
Indiana got lucky once, but not twice. Kentucky is almost unbeatable. They are so athletic and long that it’s hard to get shots off against them. Lately, the wildcats have been hitting their 3′s, which probably won’t continue, but makes them impossible to beat. I think Kentucky will come out fired up and will be up 20 by half time.
Prediction: Kentucky -9 (5 units) under 145 (3 units)
NC State vs Kansas (-8.5 o/u 142.5)
I liked NC State to make it this far coming into the tournament. They have most of the ingredients needed to make a good run. They have a sharp shooter in Wood and they have NBA talent in Leslie. I feel their run ends here as they don’t play good enough defense to play with Kansas. This is a big number, so I wouldn’t be surprised if NC State covers, but I’d be shocked if they win.
Prediction: Kansas -8.5 (1 unit) over 142.5 (4 units)
Sweet 16: 3-5 -7.3 units
Round 1: 28-27-1 -2.8 units
Tournament: 31-32-1 -10.1 units
I don’t have time to do write ups on these games right now, but here are my picks. If I have more time I’ll put in the reason behind my picks.
Texas vs Cincinnati – Texas +2 (1 unit) under 129.5 (1 unit) 1-1 -.1 unit
NC State vs SD State – NC State -2 (2 units) over 137 (1 unit) 2-0 +3 units
Alabama vs Creighton – Creighton +1.5 (2 units) under 132.5 (2 units) 2-0 +4 units
Virginia vs Florida – Florida -3.5 (1 unit) over 121 (1 unit) 1-1 -.1
St Bonaventure vs Florida St – Florida St -6.5 (1 unit) under 130.5 (2 units) 1-1 +.9
Belmont vs Georgetown – Belmont +4 (2 units) over 133.5 (1 unit) 0-2 -3.3
Norfolk St vs Missouri – Norfolk St +21 (2 units) under 144.5 (1 unit) 1-1 +.9
St Louis vs Memphis – St Louis +3.5 (1 unit) under 129.5 (2 units) 2-0 +3 units
Lehigh vs Duke – Lehigh +12 (1 unit) over 148 (2 units) 1-1 -1.2 units
Ohio vs Michigan – Ohio +5.5 (3 units) under 125.5 (3 units) 2-0 +6 units
Purdue vs St Marys – St Marys -1.5 (2 units) over 140 (1 unit) 1-1 -1.2 units
LIU Brooklyn vs Michigan St – LIU Brooklyn +20 (1 unit) over 154.5 (2 units) 1-1 +.9 units
Xavier vs Notre Dame – Xavier +2.5 (2 units) under 124 (1 unit) 1-1 +.9
Detroit vs Kansas -Kansas -14.5 (2 units) over 142 (3 units) 1-1 -1.3 units
Today: 17-11 +12.4 units
Round 1: 28-27-1 -2.8 units
Tournament: 28-27-1 -2.8 units
Last season I had a very good 21-11 record in round 1 games and won almost 10 units. For the entire tournament, I went 39-26, but only won 3 units as most of my confident picks lost in the later rounds. Here are my thoughts on the Thursday match ups:
Colorado St vs Murray St (-4.5 o/u 135.5)
This should be a fun game to kick off the true tournament. Two fast paced teams who both have the same weakness…rebounding. Murray St may have small home court advantage being in Kentucky and they have the best player…Isaiah Canaan. This should be a close game until the end and with good ft shooting by Murray ST (73% on the season), I expect them to cover the 4.5 and the total should go well into the 140′s.
Pick: Murray St -4.5 (1 unit) over 135.5 (3 units) 1-1 -2.3 units
Southern Miss vs Kansas St (-5.0 o/u 134)
Southern Miss has played poorly in March. Kansas St seems to play up/down to their competition and with people already talking about them knocking off Syracuse in round “3″, they may easily over look Southern Miss. However, Frank Martin’s teams are known for playing stingy defense and Southern Miss is not a good shooting team to begin with. This will be one ugly game with Kansas St coming out on top thanks to their defense.
Pick: Kansas St -5 (2 units) under 134 (1 unit) 1-0-1 +2 units
Davidson vs Louisville (-7.5 o/u 139)
This is one game I don’t have a good feel for. Louisville wins by creating a hectic pace and getting turnovers. Davidson is a balanced scoring team that is below average defensively. Louisville is such a streaky shooting team, that it’s hard to confidently predict one of their games. I lean towards Davidson and the over in this one, but I just have a hard time reading Louisville.
Montana vs Wiscsonsin (-9 o/u 118.5)
Wisconsin is a well coached team that lives and dies by the 3 ball. Jordan Taylor has been far from his pre-season all-american status. He’s probably the 3rd or 4th best player on the team. Montana’s strength is perimiter defense, which gives them a good chance to win this game. The question is, will Wisconsin be patient enough to use their height advantage inside with Evans and Berggeren? The first one to 50 will win this ugly match up.
Pick: Montana +9 (1 unit) under 118.5 (3 units) 0-2 -4.4 units
BYU vs Marquette (-6 o/u 154)
BYU pulled off the miracle last night coming back from 25 down. The key was going to a trapping zone which Iona could not solve. It didn’t seem like a great defense and although Marquette struggles against the zone, I expect BYU to start in a man defense and this time they won’t be able to overcome the big deficit. The first session in Louisville is going to be filled with points and fast paced basketball. Glad I’ll get to see these games in person!
Pick: Marquette -6 (1 unit) over 154.0 (3 units) 2-0 +4 units
NC Asheville vs Syracuse (-15 0/u 147.5)
Asheville will be undersized and out matched in this one. Syracuse is not a great offensive team, but Asheville is not a good defensive team and they rely on trying to out score teams rather than stop them. They give up a lot of offensive rebounds, which should allow Syracuse to safely win this one, even without Fab Melo.
Pick: Syracuse -15 (1 unit) under 147.5 (2 units) 1-1 +0.9 units
Long Beach St vs New Mexico (-4 o/u 137)
This is one of a few great 5/12 or 4/13 match ups. New Mexico has been playing great for Steve Alford in March. Long Beach is built for the tournament with three athletic, scoring guards. Even though he’s expected to play, I’m not sure how healthy Larry Anderson’s knee is. If he was 100%, I’d take LBSU in a heart beat. Because they are playing better now, I lean towards New Mexico.
Pick: over 137 (2 units) 1-0 +2 units
Harvard vs Vanderbilt (-5.5 o/u 122.5)
Vanderbilt is a team built to win it all. However, their past tournament failures leave a bad taste in my mouth. The Commodores started off slow this season, but when Festus Ezeli returned from suspension, this team took off starting with a blowout win at Marquette. This team plays very good defense. They have multiple scoring options, and they are an experienced team. A recipe for tournament victories. Harvard has under achieved for me this year. They will have a tough time scoring and will be out classed in this match up.
Pick: Vandy -5.5 (3 units) under 122.5 (3 units) 1-1 -.3 units
Western Kentucky vs Kentucky (-25 o/u 136)
This should be a blowout, as the line suggests. I rarely lay more than 20 points no matter how big the mismatch. I guarantee Western Kentucky hasn’t seen an athletic defense like kentucky’s. If Kentucky played their hardest on defense the entire game, I bet Western KY wouldn’t score 40 points. I can’t guarantee Kentucky will have the intensity for 40 minutes, so I will just take the under and hope Kentucky doesn’t score 95+.
Pick: under 136 (1 unit) 0-1 -1.1 units
VCU vs Wichita St (-6.5 o/u 135)
Two teams that I feel got under seeded and it makes for one of the most exciting first….err….second round games. Wichita is clearly the class of the mid major schools. VCU has the experience and coaching to make another run. Unfortunately for VCU, they got a 12 seed instead of the 10 I thought they would. Now they must face a superior team in Wichita, who I like to reach the sweet 16 because of their nice draw.
Pick: Wichita St -6.5 (1 unit) Over 135 (2 units) 0-2 -3.3 units
West Virginia vs Gonzaga (-1 o/u 133)
This should be another excellent round 1 match up to watch. Gonzaga is a very talented team, but a very young team. West Virginia looks like a final 4 team at times and an NIT team at other times. I like Huggins as a coach, and he’s had some success in the tournament. The key to West Virginia is the decision making and shot selection of Darryl Bryant. if they are patient and work the ball inside to Kilicli and Jones, they will win easily. However, I expect this to be a close game with the difference being the relentless offensive rebounding of Thomas Jones and crew. West Virginia is my sleeper team to reach the final 4. Talent with heart goes a long way as Kemba Walker showed last year.
Pick: West Virginia +1 (3 units) over 133 (2 units) 0-2 -5.5 units
South Dakota St vs Baylor (-7.5 o/u 140)
Baylor is too long and too athletic to lose to the Jackrabbits. Nate Wolters is a great talent, but he will have trouble finishing against Baylor. Their only hope is to get red hot from 3 pt range. However, I think the rebounding edge and defensive edge that Baylor has is too much to over come for SDSU.
Pick: Baylor -7.5 (2 units) over 140 (1 unit) 1-1 +0.9 units
UConn vs Iowa St (+1.5 o/u 136)
UConn is the defending champion and they finally decided to play defense in the Big East tourney and the results showed that. Having Calhoun on the bench is a great asset which they missed much of the regular season. I still don’t like the chemistry on this team. Iowa St has nba talent and senior guard Scott Christopherson has turned into a scorer, not just a shooter. I like the Cyclones to pull off the upset.
Pick: Iowa St +1.5 (1 unit) under 136 (1 unit) 1-1 -.1 unit
New Mexico St vs Indiana (-6 o/u 154)
One of the many 13 seeds a like in this years tournament. Tom Crean did not fair well in the tournament with more talented teams than he has now. Only Duwayne Wade could get him past the 2nd round. New Mexico St will push the pace and points will be a plenty. The fast pace could take Cody Zeller out of the game if Indiana’s guards get caught up in the run and chuck game. I just don’t Indiana’s defense and the fact they lost their emotional leader their last game and must now play without him. NMSU wins this one outright.
Pick: New Mexico St +6 (3 units) over 154 (2 units) 0-2 -5.5 units
Loyola MD vs Ohio St (-17.5 o/u 129.5)
This is just a mismatch in every way. Loyola isn’t a good shooting team, which is what a small school needs in order to knock of a big school team with plenty of NBA talent. Look for OSU to be focused and on a mission. This game will be over early.
Pick: Ohio St -17.5 (1 unit) under 129.5 (2 units) 1-1 -1.2 unit
Colorado vs UNLV (-5.5 o/u 135)
How Colorado got an 11 seed, I have no idea. The Pac 12 was horrible this year and they were not near the top of the conference, but got hot in the tournament. VCU is a much better team than this Buffalo team, yet they are a 12 seed and have to play a tough Wichita St team. Enough venting. Plain and simple…UNLV has talent and are experienced and will win a low scoring game.
Pick: UNLV -5.5 (3 units) under 135 (2 units) 1-1 -1.3 units
Round 1 record: 11-16-1
Tournament record: 11-16-1 -15.2 units
Well…today ends our quest for 53%. It’s not going to happen. We were unsuccessful in making money this year, but the good news is we’ll be over 50%, so the damage is minor.
North Carolina -6 Loss
Vanderbilt +7.5 Win
Ohio St -1.5 (play of the day) Loss
Xavier -3.5 Loss
NC St +9 Win
Michigan St -4 (play of the day) Win
Kentucky -9 Loss
Florida St +2.5 Win
Missouri -3 Win
St Louis -5.5 Loss
Akron/Ohio over 135 Loss
Getting back on another roll. Finally had a fortunate win with Notre Dame getting a lucky late cover.
North Carolina -15 Win
Iowa +11 Loss
St Joseph -1.5 Loss
NC St +3.5 Win
Florida -3.5 (play of the day) Loss
Indiana/Wisconsin over 122 Win
Michigan -5.5 Loss
Dayton +3 Win
Ohio St -7.5 Win
Oregon St +2.5 Loss
Miami/Florida St under 127.5 Loss
Missouri -5.5 Win
California -6 Loss
Iowa +2 (1030 am) Win
UConn +6 Win
Indiana -13.5 Win
Georgetown -2.5 (play of the day) Loss
Idaho -5 Loss
UCLA -3 Loss
Louisville +3 Win
Missouri -11 Win
Minnesota +2.5 Win
Purdue -9.5 Win
Notre Dame -2 Win
Ohio -11 Loss
Another rough day yesterday. Starting to get closer to 50% rather than 53%.
West Virginia +1 (11 am) Loss
Stephen F Austin -8.5 (noon) Win
Lehigh +4.5 Win
Oklahoma -1.5 Loss
Louisville -4 (play of the day) Win
LIU Brooklyn +1.5 Win
UCLA -12.5 Win
Colorado -13 Loss
A shot to the gut. We had as many wins yesterday as LaBron has championship rings….ZERO! Took away all the profits we had on Sunday.
UConn -8.5 (11 am) Win
St Johns +5.5 (2 pm) Loss
George Washington +10 Loss
Duquesne +5.5 Loss
Penn +3.5 Loss
Valparaiso -2 (play of the day) Loss