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Happy Monday! I hope the weekend treated you well, and I hope you're fully recharged and energized for the week ahead, because it is a big one. Not only do we have the Elite Eight taking place tonight and tomorrow, but MLB Opening Day is on Thursday. All of which will lead to the Final Four on Saturday and the national title game a week from tonight.

I just hope I make it that long, because there are a lot of late nights in my immediate future. Not only will the NCAA Tournament be keeping us all up until at least midnight Eastern the next two nights, but I'm in the unfortunate position of having the White Sox open the MLB season on the west coast against the Angels. Their first three games all begin at 10 p.m. ET, and even though I live in the Central time zone, that's going to cause some problems!

I'm not as young as Pete Blackburn. I can't stay up until 3 a.m. playing video games every day, surviving on nothing but beer and cigarettes. I need to eat some vegetables once in a while and get a good six hours of sleep, or I get cranky.

Now let's be elite for the Elite Eight.

All times Eastern, and all odds via William Hill Sportsbook


🔥 The Hot Ticket

No. 1 Baylor vs. No. 3 Arkansas, 9:57 p.m. | TV: CBS
The Pick: Baylor -7.5 (-110)
: If you've followed the tournament closely, you've likely noticed something. While there are plenty of good teams with outstanding players, when you watch Gonzaga play, it looks like they're a level above everyone else. You should probably experience that same feeling when you watch Baylor. The Bears enter this game coming off a 62-51 win over Villanova, and it was a win that showed you why Baylor is truly special.

The Bears entered the game as the best three-point shooting team in the country and proceeded to go 3-for-19 from deep in the game. And it didn't matter. They still won by double-digits because that's the elite teams can win in a myriad of different ways.

Tonight, the Bears face an Arkansas team that has been wonderful defensively but has struggled offensively in the tournament. Still, the pressure Arkansas can put on teams defensively doesn't worry me as much in this matchup because Baylor has one of the country's best backcourts. Plus, Baylor isn't likely to shoot so poorly from three again, and the Hogs have had difficulty defending the three-point line this season (opponents are shooting 33.2%, which ranks 138th nationally). The Hogs get called home tonight.

Key Trend: Baylor is 9-3 ATS in its last 12 neutral site games.

Here's what SportsLine is saying about the game: The Advanced Computer Model doesn't see a lot of value on either side of the spread here, but it's leaning pretty heavily toward one side of the total.


💰 The Picks

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🏀 College Basketball

No. 2 Houston vs. No. 12 Oregon State, 7:15 p.m. | TV: CBS
The Pick: Houston -7.5 (-110) --
If we were relying solely on trends and promises, I'd be all over Oregon State here. First of all, I swore an oath to never bet against Oregon State again after I bet against the Beavers in each of their Pac-12 Tournament games, and I lost every time. Considering they're playing in the Elite Eight tonight, it was a wise decision. Also, after going 3-1 ATS in the Sweet 16, double-digit seeds are now a remarkable 10-2 ATS on the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament since 2016. So if you want to take Oregon State tonight, I won't blame you.

I just won't be with you because I am breaking my oath. I'm sorry, Oregon State, but I see the run ending tonight. It's a bad matchup for the Beavers. Oregon State does a great job defending the perimeter, which will help them tonight against a Houston team that takes a lot of threes, but that perimeter defense kills Oregon State on the boards. Oregon State's defensive rebounding rate of 29.3% ranks 228th nationally. Houston ranks second nationally in offensive rebounding rate at 39.5%. We saw them kill Syracuse on the glass Saturday. I think we see a repeat tonight against the Beavs, and Houston's defense will finish the job.

Key Trend: Houston is 14-5 ATS in its last 19 games as a favorite.

🏀 NBA

Bucks at Clippers, 10 p.m. | TV: NBA TV
The Pick: Under 231.5 (-110) -- 
With all the big names in this matchup currently in line to play, I wasn't surprised to see the total achieve such heights. These teams have been strong over teams on the season, with the over going 27-17-1 (61.4%) in Milwaukee games and 27-19-1 (58.7%) in Clippers games. These are also two of the best offensive teams in the league, as the Clippers lead the NBA in offensive efficiency while the Bucks rank fifth.

They're both pretty good defensively, too. The Bucks rank eighth in the league in defensive efficiency, and while the Clippers are only 14th, they've been much better as of late and have been better defensively at home all season. I think we see both teams turn up the intensity a bit tonight, not unlike what we saw when they met at the end of February. Maybe you remember that game. The total closed at 231.5, and the game finished 105-100. Tonight's game should have more points, but not enough to push us over the total.

Key Trend: The under is 6-1 in Milwaukee's last seven games as an underdog.

🔒 SportsLine Pick of the Day: Matthew Severance, who is up almost $2,500 with his college basketball picks and is on a 134-99 run, and now Severance has locked in three confident best bets for the Elite Eight. If you parlay his picks, you could be looking at a strong 6-1 payout!


💸 The DFS Rundown

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Building Blocks

PG: Ja Morant, Grizzlies
SG: James Harden, Nets
SF: Jimmy Butler, Heat
PF: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Bucks
C: Rudy Gobert, Jazz

Value Plays

PG: Saben Lee, Pistons
SG: Ty Jerome, Thunder
SF: Justin Holiday, Pacers
PF: Jaden McDaniels, Wolves
C: James Wiseman, Warriors

Full lineup advice

Get winning NBA DFS picks from SportsLine pros Mike McClure and Jacob Gibbs. McClure has won almost $2 million in daily Fantasy, while Gibbs crushed the NBA last season, cashing around 65 percent of the time in cash games and nearly 45 percent of the time in tournaments. See their DraftKings advice and FanDuel lineups here.


 ⚾ MLB 2021 Season Futures

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USATSI

With MLB Opening Day on Thursday, I figure it's time we got some futures in before the season starts. So on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday this week, I'll be sharing my favorite futures plays on teams to make the playoffs, win their division and win the World Series. We'll start with teams to make the playoffs.

  • New York Mets -250
  • Minnesota Twins -145
  • Houston Astros -110
  • Milwaukee Brewers +170
  • Boston Red Sox +280