College Basketball March Madness – First Round Action

march-madness-2014If you’re a sports junkie, March Madness is the kind of event you live for. It’s a smorgasbord of excitement, of highs and lows, of Cinderella stories and perennial powerhouses. All of the debating about who should get in, who SHOULD have gotten in, and potentially how many more teams the field should expand to is over. In fact by the time you read this preview the much debated “First Four” round will be over as well. There are no prizes for the winners of these games – for example the winner of Hampton vs. Manhattan will have to go on to play the #1 seed in the Midwest – the 34-0 Kentucky Wildcats. Would YOU want to play Kentucky? Let’s put that aside for now and look at some lines of interest for Thursday. The East’s #1 seed Villanova is a heavy money line favorite at -8500, which makes their #16 opponent Lafayette an equally lopsided +3500 underdog. This makes sense on paper – a 32-2 team going against a 20-12 team – but let’s give the Patriots a small amount of credit for winning the Patriot League tournament. Unfortunately it doesn’t compare to winning the Big East Tournament in terms of quality opponents, and Lafayette got blown out in a match with Kansas. ‘Nova is a pretty safe bet, but big dogs are always tempting. Favorites are favorites for a reason though – the bigger the spread, the bigger the chances they’ll go all the way to a national championship. You can see who the favorites are by reading the lines. Iowa State is a -1250 favorite over UAB (+800) in the South, though if they have to come back from ANOTHER double digit deficit their fans may have a meltdown. Virginia comes in at -2300 over Belmont (+1350) in the East, although they’d have to play ‘Nova at some point if both kept winning. No shortage of love for #2 seed Arizona in the West at -7000 to Texas Southern at +3000, a spread of sizable girth to say the least. Wisconsin is -5000 over Coastal Carolina at +2500, and Gonzaga is -4000 over North Dakota State at +2000… but THIS is a line to keep an eye on. Yes Gonzaga is a #2 seed in the South and deservedly so at 32-2, but the Bisons busted many a bracket last year by beating the Oklahoma Sooners. Returning senior Lawrence Alexander averages 18 PPG and he’s a factor – he’s the kind of player who can carry a team on his shoulders. If we’re not talking fantasy though and you want lines that are close enough to give you something solid to believe in, it’s the 7/10 and 8/9 games where you should lay your action. Iowa is a small money line favorite over Davidson, -145 to +125. Oregon is a SMALLER favorite over Oklahoma State, -123 to +103. These are the kind of games where dogs hunt and parlays profit. Look for the greatest statistical probability of an upset – the teams closest together in the rankings. No #1 seed in the men’s tournament has fallen to a #16, and in the women’s tournament it has only happened ONCE. Check the lines, find your skinny size gaps, and if you want to roll the dice those are your best bets to come out ahead. As always though remember these previews are for entertainment purposes and that if you gamble to only wager what you can afford. Enjoy March Madness and we’ll be back for Round Two!

Written by Stevie J

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