I’m gonna do this blog because I love doing this blog and giving my opinion on every team, but if you’d like picks, upset potential, fade material, please visit http://spreadinvestor.com/march-madness-sheet/
It’s $9.99. That’s like two beers at the bar, one if you’re on the coast. The picks are included there, but trust me, the spreadsheet/NFW list/historical trends is where the value is really at. I’m never going tout – although the @mlparlays Venmo is open – but this is a once a year thing that myself, @Return_of_RB, @THold42, and @spreadinvestor have put a lot of time into. For the OGs, you’ve gotten free material for three years now. This is a small ask. As always, thanks for reading.
Ranked in order of their MLP Final Four ranking. Number in parenthesis is their score.
16. UMBC (16 seed / -71.48)
Things could get fun if UMBC is able to give Virginia a game for a while late Friday night and the nation discovers KJ Maura.
15. Wright State (14 seed / -28.08)
It’s not often that a team takes off when they lose one of their best scorers, but the Raiders did just that after Justin Mitchell left the team in January. Offense isn’t the calling card for Scott Nagy’s group, but he’s molded them into the best defense he’s ever had. Nagy is an extremely experienced 51-year old head coach, already in his 23rd year at that level. He took South Dakota State to the dance three times in his last five years there after transitioning them from D-2.
14. Georgia State (15 seed / 12.53)
Ron Hunter’s back. That’s fun. He brings with him our second-highest ranked 15 seed ever. Cincinnati’s going to make it a grind, but it could be interesting.
13. Buffalo (13 seed / 30.88)
Buffalo and their upset potential is going way under the radar because the country is currently enamored with DeAndre Ayton. That seems unwise. The Bulls can really score and they’re more athletic than your typical mid-major.
12. Davidson (12 seed / 39.09)
Rhode Island and St. Bonaventure had the NCAA Tournament resumes all along, but Davidson was just as good of a team all along and earned their bid the hard way. I don’t know that they have the horses to really challenge Kentucky, but it helps if Jarred Vanderbilt doesn’t play.
11. Kansas State (9 seed / 47.47)
K-State is kind of a milk toast team normally, but that’s especially true if Dean Wade isn’t healthy. Bruce Weber is a good coach, but it’s been a while since his teams have done anything significant in March.
10. Loyola Chicago (11 seed / 55.40)
The Ramblers are rated the highest among the 11 seeds, which is due to them being so great defensively. And the committee did them a big favor by giving them the 6 seed that really struggles to score at times.
9. Nevada (7 seed / 56.97)
Nevada stock is at an all-time low, but I think there’s still reason to buy. The Lindsey Drew loss has hurt, but they’re still the best offense on their half of the region. The San Diego State blowout was humbling, hopefully it helps the Pack refocus and not go the other way and crumble.
8. Miami Florida (6 seed / 59.54)
This would be the 6 seed that struggles to score. It doesn’t help that Bruce Brown is still unexpected to play in the opener. With that said, they did score 91 in a win at North Carolina two weeks ago so…
7. Creighton (8 seed / 60.20)
Creighton can rack up the points and I think a potentially hampered Kansas State is a pretty good draw for them because the Wildcat offense isn’t going hurt them too bad. Don’t think they have what it takes to take out Virginia, however.
6. Texas (10 seed / 64.65)
No offense to Texas, but I’ve seen enough Texas basketball this season. I can’t watch Dylan Osetkowski anymore. I just can’t.
5. Tennessee (3 seed / 68.97)
The Vols are probably one of the five or so most physically imposing teams in the country, but they might actually rank third or fourth just in this region. That’s well known, as is their elite-ness defensively. But the underrated part about beating Tennessee is shutting their water off from three.
4. Arizona (4 seed / 71.75)
If I had Zona stock, I’d sell it. They played one KenPom Top 25 team all year and lost by 25. They’re a below average 4 seed that’s getting 10-1 odds to win it all. It’s outrageous. If I’m wrong, you can rub it in my face.
3. Kentucky (5 seed / 74.20)
Kentucky’s definitely trending in the right direction, but Vanderbilt’s potential absence is a big deal for them and it’s tough to ride a horse to win it all if you think they have a semi-decent chance of losing their first game.
2. Cincinnati (2 seed / 82.98)
Do I think Cincinnati is going to the Final Four? No. But it’s crazy to me not one of the thousand national media guys out there aren’t picking them to go to San Antonio. If you’re looking for a semi-safe contrarian play in a big bracket pool, I’d put the Bearcats to make it out of the South.
1. Virginia (1 seed / 97.80)
The Cavs just have terrible injury luck almost every year. I don’t think De’Andre Hunter’s absence is a deal breaker for UVA, but it certainly doesn’t help matters. He’s a next-level type of athlete on a team that doesn’t have very many. But they’re still going to be an elite defense, they’re still going to be able to shoot, they’re still going to be able to take care of the ball and control the game. Hunter’s a nice player, but he ranked 4th on the team in points, 4th in rebounds, 6th in assists, 6th in blocks, and 5th in steals. He played less than half of the minutes for the Cavs this year. If you’re selling because Hunter’s out, I’m inclined to believe that you were just looking for a reason to do it anyway because you probably doubted UVA all year and were just forced to accept their greatness because all they did was keep winning in the deepest conference in the league.