March Madness odds, predictions: Oklahoma State the pick

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I have a friend. He’s an old friend, a close friend. He likes sports, but mostly he likes gambling. He has a problem. It’s a familiar one. He bets too haphazardly and too heavily. He loses too much and too often to be fazed by it anymore. He also can’t be bothered to support my career and buy a copy of The Post or click on the links, so he’ll often text me to ask which games I like. Just before I sat down to write this, he checked in again to ask about my picks.

It’s ridiculous. Tickets for the fade train aren’t free.

Oklahoma State (-6) over Oregon State: I’ve sold off some of my shares in Cade Cunningham replicating a Carmelo Anthony-like run, but I’m not abandoning the stock entirely. Clearly, the pressure of the NCAA Tournament, the expectations attached to the projected No. 1-overall NBA draft pick and Liberty’s pack line defense played a role in Cunningham’s worst shooting performance of his season. But the star freshman has been otherwise dominant in recent weeks and will breathe easier in his second tournament game.

West Virginia (-3.5) over Syracuse: One impressive performance doesn’t erase the inconsistency the Orange — who should have probably been forced to appear in a First Four game — have displayed all season. Buddy Boeheim has been incredible, and a run with his dad would make for a riveting Sweet 16 storyline, but the sharpshooter doesn’t have enough help to keep pace with the Mountaineers’ balanced and efficient attack. Jim Boeheim’s past runs as a double-digit seed aren’t relevant with a roster that bears little resemblance to those teams.

Rutgers (+8.5) over Houston: The Scarlet Knights weren’t just content to be in the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 30 years, and they won’t be satisfied with the program’s first such win since 1983. Other than Gonzaga, the Cougars have been as consistent and dominant as any team in the country, but their greatest struggles have come against defense-first foes, like Rutgers. With another low-scoring matchup and Rutgers’ refusal to take one play off, taking the points is the play.

Oral Roberts (+8.5) over Florida: It was an upset, but it wasn’t a fluke. The 15th-seeded Golden Eagles are riding high after stunning Ohio State in overtime, and their poise against the Big Ten power bodes well in a matchup against the often underwhelming Gators. Oral Roberts’ incredible perimeter shooting — no team in the nation has hit more 3-pointers — will put another shocker in play.

This season: 15-19
2011-20 record: 261-223-9

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