It turns out that U.S. President Barack Obama is a big fan of the March Madness Bracketology and has been filling a bracket for ESPN since he was elected as the President in 2009. Among his many interesting picks for this year’s NCAA Tournament, the one that stands out for me is his opening-weekend prediction of 12th-seeded Buffalo upsetting No. 5 West Virginia this Friday. Does the President know something that we don’t know? Or better yet, is it really worth wagering on the Buffalo Bulls to beat the West Virginia Mountaineers? Let’s analyze all these in the College Hoops Odds preview we’ve prepared for you below.
Bulls vs. Mountaineers March Madness Basketball Lines Preview and Analysis
Venue Nationwide Arena, Columbus, Ohio
Date: Friday, March 20, 2015
Time: 2:10 PM ET
Opening Line: West Virginia -4
Why Bet on Buffalo
Digging into the recent annals of the March Madness No. 5 vs. No. 12 seed matchups, there is a noteworthy trend of the 12-seeds winning an astounding 66 percent of games against 5-seeds over the last three years. With that precedence, there is certainly a lot of betting sense in leaning on Buffalo (23-9, 12-6 in MAC) to deliver an upset win over West Virginia (23-9, 11-7 in Big 12) this Friday.
Going further in the trends, Buffalo Coach Bobby Hurley (winner of two national championships as a player) and the Bulls are the 2014-15 MAC Champs and they enter this game on the back of eight straight wins (8-0 SU), making them a solid candidate to bag another SU at the expense of West Virginia. Additionally, though the Bulls lost 71-52 to Kentucky and 68-56 to Wisconsin in the regular season, they led 38-33 at halftime against Kentucky at the Rupp Arena and also led 27-26 at halftime against Wisconsin. Considering Kentucky and Wisconsin have arguably been the best two teams in the nation, leading both games by halftime says a lot about their character.
Moreover, Buffalo ranks impressively at No. 28 in the county with 75 PPG scoring and No. 16 in rebounds per game with 38.4 RPG. Added to the explosive talent of their two most dangerous players, junior Justin Moss (17.7 PPG and 9.3 RPG) and sophomore Shannon Evans (15.4 PPG and 4.7 APG), it goes without saying that Buffalo could be Friday’s hottest upset pick, and for very many good reasons at that.
But even with such a meticulous resume, there is no denying the well-known fact that West Virginia has been easily on of the most exciting teams to watch this season. In spite of playing in the giant-laden Big 12 Conference, the Mountaineers were able to survive the harsh tests, including wins over Big-timers like Kansas and Oklahoma.
Why Bet on West Virginia Mountaineers
Also, like Buffalo, West Virginia doesn’t have scoring problems, ranking at No. 36 with 73.9 PPG scoring. More impressively, the Mountaineers lead the country in both offensive rebounding (16.8 RPG) and steals per game (10.9 SPG), making them one of the most balanced good-offense-good-defense teams.
Of course, there has been the much-talked-about blemish in West Virginia’s season, where they finished the season by losing 3 of their last 4 games. But to their defense, they played those games without starter senior guard Gary Browne (sprained ankle) and their leading scorer Juwan Staten (knee injury). Both Browne and Staten (14.5PPG and 4.6 APG) are expected to be fit for Friday’s game, a factor that is likely to see the Mountaineers play better basketball than they did in their last four games.
With both teams having a lot of talent on both sides of the court, and a lot of history to back their NCAA Tournament credentials, this matchup could as well be the game of the weekend, featuring a heated dogfight between the two teams.
Key Betting Trends
• Buffalo is 5-0 SU and 4-1 ATS in its last 5 games
• West Virginia is 2-3 SU and 3-2 ATS in its last five games
• Buffalo is 2-6 SU this season as an underdog
• West Virginia 16-3 SU as favorite this season
• West Virginia 6-2 ATS in first round games since 1998
• The total has gone OVER in 3 of Buffalo’s last 5 games
• The total has gone OVER in 5 of West Virginia’s last 6 games
My Game Prediction and Pick
As much as I am never the type to trust politicians, I am afraid the President looks to have this game on lock, and I’ll be riding with him. After all, in his 2014 bracket, President Obama finished with 72.9 percent overall and had a whopping 87.4 percentile finish in 2011, so the basketball-loving president (plus his advisers) certainly know a thing or two about this March Madness stuff. My Verdict: Buffalo fights heartedly to claim a pulsating win (SU) and cover (ATS), with the scores going OVER in an exhilarating shootout performance.
Spoiler Alert! West Virginia’s Coach, who has racked up a mind-blowing 763 wins in 33 seasons as a head coach, had this to say about Buffalo: “They’re a good basketball team, but here’s a news flash for all those people–so are we!”