I hope everybody enjoyed Thursday’s second round action. We had a lot of overtime games, and a few upsets as well, so I hope some of you took my advice about the dog in either Ohio State vs. Dayton – a thriller that the Flyers pulled out 60-59 – or on Harvard getting the upset over Cincinnati 61-57. I won’t go so far as to say I’m a great prognosticator though and in fact I may skunk the entire day on Friday. What I can tell you is that upsets do happen every year, and while they ruin office pools left and right, a savvy player looking for someplace to lay his money can find a bracket buster to lay down their bread and spread that mustard. I’d start by keeping my eye on 11 seed Nebraska in the West playing the 6 seed Baylor. Like I always say, it’s not the high/low seeds that pay – a #1 seed has yet to go out in their first game of the tournament (though a few have had close calls). Baylor was middling at best in Big 12 conference play with a 9-9 record, and though they gave Iowa State a good fight in the Big 12 finals, they ran out of gas in the second half. A 19-12 Nebraska looks underwhelming at first, but in a tough Big Ten field they finished 11-7, and they ran off 3 straight wins before losing a close 71-67 game to OSU in their conference tournament after leading early. They haven’t been to the big dance since 1998, so energy and enthusiasm are running high. The money line is slim at +160, but Baylor is only a -185 favorite. In the East region there’s also an upset chance with 11 seed Providence playing 6 seed North Carolina. Providence earned their spot in the Madness with a surprising defeat of Creighton in the Big East tournament finals, and Creighton still garnered a 3 seed in the West based on their overall record and strength of schedule. Providence figured out one important thing in that game – how to shut down a potent offensive player like Doug McDermott. If they can put the squeeze on Marcus Paige and/or James McAdoo, they have the potential to surprise the sports world again. In a familiar refrain the money line is +160 and North Carolina is the favorite at -185. Perhaps you can put these two together on one ticket and really shock your braggadocious basketball buddies. As always I like to take a look at the “safe bets” and see where the really long odds might just tempt you to throw down on a Rottweiler. Arizona is a HUGE favorite in the West at -7000 over the dog Weber State at +3000. Sit Ubu, sit. Good boy. 3 seed Duke is fairly strong as well in the Midwest at -1100 with Mercer coming in at +700. That’s a little more tempting but I’d still play the favorite. And I’ve already gone out on a limb on Eastern Kentucky in yesterday’s preview, so I’m not going to tell you to do the same for play-in team Cal Poly (+1250) over Wichita State (-2000). They’ve got the mother of all underdog stories as a 19 loss team, but #1 seeds just don’t lose. They don’t. Please remember that my previews are for entertainment purposes only and that if you bet you should always wager what you can afford and no more. Enjoy the Madness!