Kentucky vs Louisville, Ohio State vs Kansas … it’s Final Four Saturday

The winners meet Monday for the National Championship

We started 18 days ago with 68 teams. Tonight, we’ll have the two survivors that will meet Monday for the National Championship. The fun starts with the battle for Bluegrass Bragging Rights as Louisville takes on Kentucky. The two met on New Year’s Eve with Kentucky (-10, 136) winning 69-62 in Lexington. Tonight in New Orleans, the Wildcats are 8.5 point favorites and the total 137 1/2. The tip is at 6:05 PM EST. Ohio State and Kansas is also a rematch, the Jayhawks (-1, 136) 78-67 winners in Lawrence back on December 10th. In that game, the Buckeyes were without All-American big man Jared Sullinger who will be 100% for this go around. Oho State is a 2 1/2 point favorite and the total is 136 1/2. The Buckeyes and Jayhawks tip a half hour after the conclusion of Louisville/Kentucky.

Louisville vs Kentucky (Kentucky -8.5, 137.5)

The 69-62 New Year’s Eve final is a bit misleading as the Cards hit two “act of God” three-pointers in the final eight seconds for the backdoor cover. Blue jumped out to a 31-16 lead and pretty much led throughout. Backup PG Russ Smith had his best game of the year with 30 points including eight treys. The two starting guards shot 4-23 from the field. In the past 25 years, the No.1 seed is 4-1 SU and ATS vs No.4 seeds. Since 1999, the No.1 seed is 7-1 SU and ATS vs three-seeds or higher. The 36-2 Wildcats lost the SEC final on this same floor just 20 days ago shooting just 36% from the field. Louisville is 8-0 ATS in neutral court games this year, the Cards are 12-1 under when they play teams allowing less than 64 ppg. Kentucky is 1-4 ATS with extra (6+ days) rest and the under is 8-2 in KU games vs teams allowing less than 64 ppg. All four Kentucky regional games went over the total.

Ohio State vs Kansas (Ohio State -2.5, 136.5)

As previously mentioned, Sullinger came up lame with back spasms and didn’t play in the first meeting. The Jayhawks shot a blistering 58% from the field. This only the second time, the first time since 1995, that two No.2 seeds have met in the final four. Over the last seven years, favorites are 9-5 in the Final Four but the dogs are 5-3 when getting three points of less. The Buckeyes are 6-1 SU and 5-2 ATS in their seven neutral court games this year. The over is 6-1 in those games. Ohio State is 14-7 in their L21 vs the points in March. OSU is just 3-6 ATS in their L9 vs the Big 12. All four Buckeye NCAA games went over the total. Kansas is 4-7 ATS in neutral court games. The Jayhawks are 3-0 under with extra (6+ days) rest, 36-14 low in this spot over time. The Jayhawks are 4-0 under in the role of a dog this year. Kansas leads the nation holding opponents to less than 40% inside the arc. Ohio State has won eight of nine, Kansas has won 13 of their L14.

Thanks to The Armadillo for a lot of the tournament history legwork

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Dirk’s 28 points and late jumper leads Mavs over the Magic

Dirk Nowitzki’s bank shot with 5.9 seconds left capped a furious Maverick comeback in a 100-98 win over the Orlando Magic. Dallas trailed 78-71 at the end of three quarters before capitalizing in poor Magic shooting and turnovers. The Mavs improved to 2-19 this season after being down after 36 minutes. In other games on the busy 12 game Friday night card, the Wiz shocked the 76ers 97-76 behind 20 points from Cartier Martin. Miami jumped out to a 10-0 lead over the Raptors and then cruised to a 113-101 over the Barneys in Toronto. Denver won the second half 47-37 in a 98-88 victory over the Charlotte Bobcats. The Hawks beat the Knicks 100-91 to spoil the return of Mike Woodson in his first trip back to Atlanta since being named interim coach of the New Yorkers.

The Milwaukee scored 71 first-half points enroute to a 121-84 blowout win over Cleveland. The Bucks shot a scalding 50-88 (56%) from the field including 10-16 from downtown. The Bulls beat the Pistons 83-71, crushing Motown 53-37 on the glass. Houston edged Memphis 98-91 in a key Western Conference head-to-head. Boston rolled over Minnesota 100-79 as KG had 24/10 for the winners. DeMarcus Cousins continued his strong play as the Kings won a rare road game at Utah by a point. New Jersey used a 32-16 4th quarter to take down Golden State 102-100 and the Clippers edged Portland 98-97 with Chris Paul leading six Clips in double figures with 20.

The Rangers are the first to 50 wins in the NHL

With just eight days left in the NBA regular season, teams are scrambling for the few remaining playoffs spots and playoff seeding. The New York Rangers became the first team in the league to his 50 wins with a 4-1 win over Montreal. The Broadway Blues took a commanding five-point lead over Pittsburg for top seed in the East and are one point better than St Louis with three games to play in the hunt for the President’s Trophy.

In other action on frozen pond, Winnipeg edged Carolina 4-3 in overtime. The Florida Panthers took a bad 4-1 loss in Columbus to the Jackets. Nashville routed Detroit 4-1 as the Wings continue to struggle at Joe Louis Arena since their long home win streak was snapped. Pittsburg bumped Buffalo 5-3 behind a goal and three assists by Sid the Kid. Colorado handed the Flames a killer home loss and the Kings took temporary control of the Pacific Division with a 4-1 win at Edmonton. Vancouver cruised at home vs Dallas.