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BTB: First Saturday


I should really stop gambling. Like now. By my estimation, I have bet $1,800 on tournament games and I haven’t had a single shred of fun yet. The biggest oversight in my attempt to mentally create what it would be like to wager on all 67 NCAA games in Vegas is that I would be stone cold sober for most of it, and sitting at my desk watching George Washington unnecessarily foul with less than a second left (blowing what seemed like a sure cover) is a lot more bearable when relaxing in a sportsbook as opposed to being confined to an office (where no one should hear you scream). I’m sure my continual losing has nothing to do with it.

After another horrendous day, we are going to keep things simple and go with the gut. Or maybe against the gut? I don’t know anymore. I  just want this to be over.

Record: 14-21-1

Bankroll: ↓ $438.39 🙁

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Pittsburgh vs. Florida (-5.5)

The Mighty Gators were less than inspired against Albany in their second round game against the Great Danes. Pittsburgh looked NCAA-worthy in their dismantling of Colorado. Florida is the best team in the field, Pittsburgh has done all they could. Gators get back on track, winning by double-digits against the Panthers.

Saint Louis (+10) vs. Louisville

Realizing that Manhattan has better athletes than Saint Louis, but there might be something to the “Louisville hasn’t really beaten anyone” school of thought. The Jaspers were successful in pushing the ball against the Cardinals, something I’m not sure the Billikens can emulate as effectively given their personnel. Still, SLU has plenty of steady players and after being gifted a victory by Mark Gottfried on Friday night, should be playing with a rather loose mindset.

Texas (+5) vs. Michigan

I don’t put faith into any Big Ten team not coached by Tom Izzo. However, I have to consider the fact that Rick Barnes is on the other sideline. There doesn’t seem to be too much separation between the two programs, hence I’m taking the points.

North Dakota State vs. San Diego State (-4)

I’m selfish, I want Dayton to be the underdog story going into the Sweet 16. That means North Dakota State has to exit stage left. North Dakota State has absolutely no depth and went to overtime against Oklahoma. San Diego State is certainly capable of losing this one, but the Aztecs can’t be worse defensively than Oklahoma, right? Right?

Dayton (+7) vs. Syracuse

Lots of similarities to the Ohio State matchup for Dayton. Although Syracuse offers more difficulties defensively, UD should get good looks from the perimeter. Second-chance points and getting out on the break will be essential for the Flyers. Not calling for the upset, but I think Dayton has more than enough offense to keep it respectable. Cooney opened the game up for the Cuse against Western Michigan, I’m assuming the UD staff will make closing out on him a priority.

Oregon vs. Wisconsin (-5)

I loved the sick pleasure of watching vintage Wisconsin slowly suck the life and fun out of basketball games. Now the Badgers are routinely 70-80 points on their unsuspecting opponents. Much of that has to do with Bo Ryan’s personnel — Kaminsky, Brust, Dekker, Jackson are all capable of scoring from just about anywhere on the floor. Kaminsky and Dekker, in particular, have the ability to spread the floor, opening up lanes of penetration for the guards. Wisky doesn’t grind games out anymore, they now put pressure their opponents with their ability to score. Quite a change, but the results remain the same.

Harvard vs. Michigan State (-7.5) 

Tom Izzo vs. Tommy Amaker — just like old times. Amaker was 3-9 against Izzo when he was the head man at Michigan (to be fair, Amaker was probably 3-9 against a lot of Big Ten coaches) and Michigan State, particularly Adreian Payne, seems to be firing on all cylinders right now. Payne might be the most unguardable player in the tournament right now, and I don’t think the Crimson have anything resembling an answer for him.

Connecticut vs. Villanova (-4)

My initial reaction is that UConn’s guard play will absolutely stymie Nova’s backcourt on both sides of the court, but Jay Wright has several guards more than capable of containing them. The Wildcats admittedly looked like shit in their opening game with Milwaukee, shooting just 17% from three on twenty-three attempts (Nova relies on the three for 34% of its offense, the highest percentage of any team left in the tournament). On the plus side, Nova is one of the best rebounding teams in the tournament and the Huskies rely on Shabazz Napier too heavily offensively. An classic Big East matchup ends in a Villanova victory. Or so I would have you believe.


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