Tuesday, March 26, 2019

NCAA tournament outlook after the first weekend

            The NCAA tournament did not disappoint. The 84 hours between Thursday at 9 am and Sunday at 9 pm once again provided enough intense entertainment to leave this fanatic exhausted.

            No matter if your favorite team lost or is going on to the sweet 16 and no matter if your bracket is busted or not, the first weekend of March madness is Christmas for sports fans. Every game is a new present to open. The fattening cookies, sweet treats, and eggnog are replaced with fattening pizza, hot wings and beer. When done right, it's the quality time spent and conversations had with family and friends that make both occasions so great. I would like to extend a personal thank you to my friends Tim, Rob, and Aaron along with my sister, brother-in-law, and dad for humoring me in my nonstop texting which made my first four days of March madness 2019 special. The only thing that could have made it better is if our Iowa Hawkeyes could have completed that feverish comeback against Tennessee.

            What makes the tournament my much preferred holiday is the bracket competitions and gambling excitement. I hope my attempt last Tuesday to give you a tournament present of a perfect bracket was a success for you or at least close. As predicted we had one 13 seed or higher get a win, three of the four 12 seeds got a victory, and you made out just as well flipping a coin to pick the eight versus nine match-ups as I did. Because of the three 10 seeds and four nine seeds pulling out the not so incredible upsets, the number of upsets overall was a little above average this year. However, if you stuck to the top four seeds in each region overwhelmingly making it to the sweet 16, as I advised, you should be looking at a fairly clean bracket going into the second weekend. Here on out is crunch time and where each team has real value. Most contests give 10 points per first-round win, 20 for a sweet 16 correct pick, 40 per elite eight pick, 80 per final four pick, 160 per championship game participant, and 320 for picking the champ. Because of this, even after going 24-8 in the first round and 10-6 in the second, my bracket still has a chance to make some noise with seven of my elite eight picks still live, and my entire final four still intact.

            As for the headlines of this weekend, we all knew about the Duke freshman coming into the tournament, but I think three players not as hyped as Zion made their presence felt and may do so at the next level. Ja Morant got his team as a 12 seed to the second round. At the next level, he will be a solid starter and multiple time all-star. His game compares to Chris Paul, but we'll see if he can achieve that level of greatness. Tacko Fall is a freak of nature who without foul trouble may very well have put an end to the unstoppable force that is Duke. He also seems to be more mobile and sturdy than the seven and a half footers we have previously seen in the NBA making him an updated version of Shawn Bradly. Naz Reid has yet to really put his stamp on this tournament but still has his team alive. He has shown that he has the natural abilities and the right mentality to do the dirty work necessary to make a good team great, ala Draymond Green.

            For those of us who enjoy sports betting it was a great weekend for money line parlays on the favorites. Now it's time to move on to week two. After my initial glance at the money line prices for this Thursday and Friday, there appears to be some cash to be made on three large underdogs. It jumps off the page that the sports books are giving great value to the money line bets on Florida State at +230, LSU at +210 and Oregon at +270. I wanted to wait until I had a bet I felt extremely confident with before I put out my first public betting strategy on my blog, but I honestly feel the value offered in these three long shots is too good to pass up. My preferred way to bet in 2019 is in-game but if you aren't doing that yet, one option I was initially looking at was the North Carolina versus Auburn over. The problem is, now this total has already been bet up a couple of points to 164. If you're comfortable at that inflated number, I would grab it now because I expect it to continue to rise until game time. That being said, if you really want to feel good about your money, I suggest you start in-game betting. My biggest two strategies in the sweet 16 will be waiting for a lull in the action before betting the UNC game over 160.5 and the over in the Purdue versus Tennessee game, if it drops to 140.5 or lower. However, I make it my personal policy to not make a bet at -121 or worse unless I feel it is a true lock. If these numbers don't reach the goal numbers I suggested, or the numbers you set for yourself, remember, it is better to not make a bet that would have won than to settle for a bad number and lose.

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