Month: March 2019

2019 Power Ratings By Region: South

First of all, buy the sheet: http://spreadinvestor.com/2019/03/11/march-madness-sheet-rico/

If you don’t know the origin of the FFI ratings and care to know, read this and this

South

Rankings are in order of the FFI. We’re going speed round on this one.

16. Gardner Webb (16 seed / 45.2)

I’m not calling another upset, but the Bulldogs are the best 16 seed and won a couple road games at ACC schools this year.

15. Old Dominion (14 seed / 55.6)

Ahmad Caver and BJ Stith make a nice 1-2 punch in the backcourt for the Monarchs. They’re not the most efficient team, but those two specifically could get in a rhythm against a loose Purdue perimeter defense and make things interesting. With that said, they hang their hat on the defensive end.

14. Colgate (15 seed / 57.7)

I don’t think Colgate can match the physicality of Tennessee, but they’re fairly long in the frontcourt for a Patriot League team. Jordan Burns showed how terrifying he can be when he gets hot in the Patriot League championship. He went for 35 on 16 shots, added 6 assists and 3 steals and also ripped my heart out and spit on my Bucknell future.

13. UC Irvine (13 seed / 66.3)

The Anteaters seem to be a trendy upset pick and for good reason, I might add. 30 wins regardless of what conference you’re in is pretty impressive. Russell Turner is a great coach and his program always defends. They’ve got a talented backcourt, but they’ll have their hands full trying to score on Kansas State.

12. Oregon (12 seed / 70.8)

The big flaw in the FFI is that it measures a whole season and misses a bit on how teams have been trending lately and I think Oregon is a perfect example. Plainly, they sucked for a while early in the year, but they’ve been great at both ends of the floor the last month or so. Payton Pritchard is playing like a star and he’s surrounded by a factory line of 6’9″ athletes that bring a variety of skills.

11. Cincinnati (7 seed / 76.3)

The Cats had their best win of the season in the last game of the season, but I’m not totally buying it. Houston had some foul trouble and Corey Davis was close to not even playing. Otherwise, I wasn’t overwhelmed with their season and they were just okay in the other two AAC Tournament games. Jarron Cumberland is a stud, but the rest of the crew is a little too streaky for me to totally believe that they can make the second weekend.

10. Ole Miss (8 seed / 78.8)

The Rebels are a little streaky as a team, but it’s hard to bet against Kermit Davis and their guards can make plays. They didn’t have any particularly bad losses this year and they were able to score wins at Auburn and Mississippi State. If they get through Oklahoma, they could make things interesting against Virginia.

9. Saint Mary’s (11 seed / 80.2)

Villanova isn’t the best matchup for the Gaels because the Wildcats have the personnel to switch all of their screens. But the Gaels still have Jordan Ford and several viable weapons around him.

8. Iowa (10 seed / 80.2)

They don’t play any defense.

7. Kansas State (4 seed / 80.5)

The Wildcats have had so many of their top guys in-and-out the last month or two that they almost seem uniquely equipped to handle Dean Wade being out, especially since they played the tournament without him last year. They play a lot of rock fights, but I still believe in their guards late in games even though they don’t shoot great percentages.

6. Villanova (6 seed / 81.2)

I don’t know what to think of the Cats because even though they won both Big East titles this year, there’s not really any good teams in the Big East so what does that really mean? They lost their last five road games. Yes, they won the conference tournament, but none of those wins are over Top 50 teams and they were all close games. They just don’t rebound well and you can shoot on them. They can make the second weekend, but it’s hard to envision them beating a team like Tennessee.

5. Oklahoma (9 seed / 82.6)

Uh, I’ll just say I disagree with the numbers here. They get a big boost from their schedule, but it doesn’t really mean much if you can’t beat the best teams on their schedule.

4. Purdue (3 seed / 94.8)

They can be really good when Carsen Edwards isn’t in hero ball mode, but as soon as they get down like, five points he starts to go to hero ball mode. And Edwards has the rare trait of shooting more when he’s missing. It’s kind of amazing they’re still Top 5 in offensive efficiency with as many games as he’s submarined lately.

3. Wisconsin (5 seed / 100.8)

I disagree. Wisconsin can defend, but I think they have a terrible matchup with Oregon in the first round. With all of the length that the Ducks have, I think the Badgers are going to have to win with their perimeter players and they’re a little hard to trust.

2. Tennessee (2 seed / 104.7)

The Vol defense might be the most confusing aspect of this whole college basketball season. They were elite last year, brought all of the important pieces back this year, and have just been good, not great. Their defensive performances have been A LOT better at home this year than anywhere else, which is pretty concerning going into a neutral court tournament. But they have a ton of experience, a bunch of weapons offensively, and can score in basically every way possible.

1. Virginia (1 seed / 118.7)

There’s a big difference in the Cav offense from a year ago and this year. There’s also a big difference in De’Andre Hunter playing and not playing, which he did not against UMBC last year. As good as they are, I do think there’s something to their methodical style lending itself to more upsets. It’s kind of like a sample size. The larger the sample size, the closer it is to the truth. UVA games give you the smallest sample size possible in college basketball with the amount of possessions they have in a game and it gives them less of a chance to prove how much better they are than the opponent. They can still blow teams out, but it’s like they put a restrictor plate on themselves.

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2019 Power Ratings By Region: Midwest

First of all, buy the sheet: http://spreadinvestor.com/2019/03/11/march-madness-sheet-rico/

If you don’t know the origin of the FFI ratings and care to know, read this and this

Midwest.jpg

Ranked in order of the FFI.

16. Iona (16 seed / 36.0)

I’m not going to make fun of Jordan Cornette again for saying the Gaels had the look of a second weekend team just because they rolled 14-21 Monmouth in the MAAC Championship because I like Iona.

They’re a fun team, but every year they get matched up with a super athletic team in the NCAAT. It stinks because I think they could make things interesting if they ever got matched up with some team that isn’t very athletic and wants to slow the game down. But instead they get UNC, who will gladly play at Iona’s fast pace and run them into submission.

15. Abilene Christian (15 seed / 46.0)

Abilene prides themselves on defense and it’s worked well for them thus far, but they also pride themselves on discipline off the floor apparently and it means they had to kick two of their best players off the team.

14. Georgia State (14 seed / 57.4)

I’m a Georgia State guy. They defend, they’ve got a lead guard – D’Marcus Simonds – that can fill it up, and they’re just tough. I’d auto-bet them to cover against Houston, but I still remember the horrific beat they suffered against Cincinnati last year (look it up) and I also love Houston this year.

13. New Mexico State (12 seed / 61.3)

Well, the Aggies have won 19 games in a row. They have a deep rotation. They rebound everything. They took Kansas to the wire in Kansas City. I want to believe in them, but I’m a little gun shy after they haven’t come close in the last couple years.

12. Northeastern (13 seed / 66.3)

Vasa is great, they’ve got guys all over the floor that can shoot it, and Shawn Occeus is back in the lineup and he looks good. It’s hard not to bet the farm on the Huskies against Kansas. The only games they’ve lost recently have come on the road and they’ve been by a very small margin.

11. Seton Hall (10 seed / 72.5)

I seem to like the Pirates more than the efficiency numbers do, but they’ve beaten Marquette twice this month, beat Villanova, and lost to Villanova in a nailbiter at the Big East Tournament. I believe that Myles Powell is going to hit every big shot he takes. I hate that I have to cheer against them in the first round. If they get past Wofford, they get Kentucky again, who they beat in MSG back in December.

10. Washington (9 seed / 76.3)

I don’t hate the Huskies, but there aren’t many big wins to hang your hat on. I think they’re capable if they play offense like they were in the middle of the season, but Jaylen Nowell is the only consistent scorer they have. Their defensive numbers look good, but they’ve only played three Top 20 offenses all year and those defensive numbers did not look good.

9. Utah State (8 seed / 76.8)

Well first things first, Sam Merrill is awesome. That’s understood. But the Aggies have a few other shooters around him that can get hot and a few guys down low to give them second chances. Freshman Justin Bean has helped a lot in the latter department the past month or so. Washington is no walk over, but they’ll need those hot shooters and busy rebounders if they’re gonna have a chance to pull the upset over UNC.

8. Ohio State (11 seed / 78.3)

The Buckeyes just don’t really have any great wins to make you believe in them and they had plenty of chances. They’re good enough to cover the spread, though.

7. Wofford (7 seed / 81.0)

Let’s be clear about something: Wofford did not get “killed” every time they played high major teams. I know some national media can be unrelentingly ignorant and arrogant, simply look at a final score, and form an opinion, but it’s not true. The Terriers were up 12 in the second half against Mississippi State. The 11-point result was the most they were down all game. They were down one at Oklahoma with 10 minutes to go. They were down 3 to UNC with 10 minutes to go. They were down 5 with 10 minutes to go at Kansas. They beat the 4 seed in the SEC – South Carolina – by 20 on the road.

All of those games – except UNC – were on the road against high-major teams in buy games. Do you think they were catching many calls late in those games?

Nothing personal against Seton Hall, but I have to pull for Wofford out of principle.

6. Houston (3 seed / 85.4)

I’m higher on the Cougars than the ratings here. All we ever talk about is how guards win games in March and Houston has them in spades. They don’t have a ton of size in terms of height, but Kelvin Sampson is willing to throw out four guys at the five and it keeps them fresh. They can all rebound and Brison Gresham is a decent shotblocker. Remember they were a Jordan Poole miracle away from beating Michigan in the first round last year.

5. Auburn (5 seed / 88.0)

Auburn’s on a tear right now, winning their last eight, obviously concluding with the SEC Tournament championship. Maybe the most impressive part of that Tennessee game was the fact they did it mostly without the usual services of Jared Harper, who was sidelined with foul trouble.

The Tigers like to run and gun, and that championship game was basically peak Auburn basketball. But we haven’t seen that a ton this season. Outside of beating Tennessee twice in a 9 day span, the Tigers really haven’t won any of their other games against the best teams on their schedule. Just something to consider if you’re thinking about taking them to beat UNC.

4. Kansas (4 seed / 88.9)

It’s Kansas and it’s Bill Self, but I wouldn’t expect a typical run for the Jayhawks. The losses from the roster have been too great. I think it’d be a bit of a surprise if they made it to the second weekend.

3. Iowa State (6 seed / 98.6)

I’m not sure what to believe with the Cyclones. Obviously their efficiency numbers are pretty good and they just won the Big 12 Tournament. However, they lost 6 of 8 to end the regular season and things broke pretty nicely for them with Baylor being banged up, Dean Wade out for Kansas State, and Kansas with its issues.

I like a lot of their players, but I don’t see how they overcome a glaring rebounding issue when they might have to go through Kentucky and UNC, who crush people on the glass.

2. Kentucky (2 seed / 101.0)

Kentucky fits the “Top 20 on offense and defense” profile that everybody’s looking for, but I’m a little skeptical because I just don’t know if they can make enough shots from the perimeter. I’d be surprised if they lost before the Elite 8, but once they start to play other elite teams that can keep them off the offensive glass a little bit, I’m not sure they can make enough from the outside to compensate.

1. North Carolina (1 seed / 103.3)

Their streakiness shooting the ball scares me a little bit, but I love the Heels. I love Coby White. I love Cam Johnson. I love the way they rebound, a consistent staple of Roy Williams teams. And I love that somehow Ol’ Roy still doesn’t get enough respect as a coach. Back to the shooting, part of that is Luke Maye and Kenny Williams have both shot 29% this season. Obviously that’s a season’s worth of data to go on, but they were also above 40% last year, so you know they’re still capable of getting hot. I wish they were a little deeper, but everyone outside of Garrison Brooks has done a pretty good job of staying out of trouble most of the time.

2019 Power Ratings By Region: West

First of all, buy the sheet: http://spreadinvestor.com/2019/03/11/march-madness-sheet-rico/

If you don’t know the origin of the FFI ratings and care to know, read this and this

West

Rankings in order of their FFI.

18. Prairie View (16 seed / 22.9)

The Panthers come in to their First Four game having won 21 of their last 22. Of course, the SWAC isn’t exactly the pinnacle of basketball and none of those wins came against anyone in the Top 200 of KenPom. Most Prairie View games involve a ton of free throws, a fast pace, and a lot of turnovers. It’s a wild ride.

17. Fairleigh Dickinson (16 seed / 44.0)

FDU started 1-4 in the NEC, but won 14 of their last 16 games. They’re down a starter right now, but the Knights have shooters all over the floor. Lead guard Jahlil Jenkins has been on a tear lately and big man Mike Holloway is capable of some monster games.

16. Montana (15 seed / 53.8)

I don’t think this Grizzly team is as good as the one a year ago due to the loss of Jamar Akoh, but they’re still a fun offense and one of the most experienced teams in the country. They draw Michigan again. The Wolverines beat them by 14 last year in a 3/14 matchup.

15. Vermont (13 seed / 54.5)

Anthony Lamb is the real deal and I’m excited to see what he can do against the never-ending length of Florida State. Lamb can do it all, but he’ll need a lot of help from their guards knocking down shots from the perimeter. The Mounts competed for a half against full-strength Kansas and half of a half against Louisville earlier this year.

14. Northern Kentucky (14 seed / 57.8)

The Norse have a pleasing offense to watch and it served them well in the Horizon League this year, but they drew the most disruptive defense in the country. If they’re able to pull off the upset, it’ll be because they were able to handle the Red Raider pressure and find the open shooters. NKU oftentimes has five of them on the floor at the same time.

13. Arizona State (11 seed / 59.8)

I’m not sure the Sun Devils are really any good or if they even deserve to be here, but they’re at least entertaining to watch sometimes.

12. St. John’s (11 seed / 64.8)

Ditto.

11. Syracuse (8 seed / 73.7)

The good news is that Tyus Battle is expected to be back for the Baylor game. The bad news is that even with Battle, the Orange still have some trouble scoring. They have a tendency to chuck and pray from the perimeter, which is a tough thing to rely on when you don’t have even one consistently great shooter. Oh, and they play a zone defense, in case you hadn’t heard.

10. Baylor (9 seed / 74.8)

The Bears somehow ended up being the most efficient offense in the Big 12. The formula was pretty simple: shoot threes at a high rate and if you miss ’em, just rebound it and try to put it back in. Makai Mason is the star of the show, but he’s been in and out of the lineup and it’d be a little surprising if he was able to repeat his tourney performance from a few years ago at Yale.

9. Murray State (12 seed / 75.5)

The Racers aren’t all Ja Morant because it’s impossible to rack up all of his assists without somebody on the receiving end, converting the play, but Morant still carries a heavy majority of the offense. Morant prefers to drive most of the time and he’ll be challenged by a big-time rim protector in Theo John for Marquette. The Racers chances greatly improve if John picks up a couple fouls early. Murray also has a chance to pull the upset because of how much pressure they put on shooters. If they can get into a Marquette team that can be a little soft, they can disrupt the Eagle offense.

8. Nevada (7 seed / 80.7)

I liked Nevada to go on a run last year because I thought their offense was great and they were in a region with a lot of defensive-minded teams. I don’t like them as much this year because I don’t think they have the same level of perimeter shooting they did a year ago, but they are trending up in that department. Cody Martin shot 44% in MW play after shooting just 26% in the non-con. And once again, they’re in the defensive grinder portion of the bracket, so maybe they do repeat last year’s Sweet 16 run.

7. Florida (10 seed / 82.8)

I don’t know if the Gators can score enough to do that much damage, but they pretty much always have a chance to win games because they give such a good effort defensively. They’ll have to get Nevada out of their comfort zone in the opening round because the Wolfpack are typically incredibly careful with the ball.

6. Marquette (5 seed / 84.9)

The season ended with a resounding thud, but the Big East Tournament wasn’t all bad. They destroyed St. John’s and dropped a close one in a wild affair against Seton Hall. As an aside, not sure I’ve ever seen somebody go 1-15 and score 21 points like Markus Howard did against the Pirates.

Anyway, if you get mid-season Marquette that was scoring on everybody, they can go on a run. If you get end-of-season Marquette with a hurt Markus Howard, they’ll probably lose in the opening round.

5. Buffalo (6 seed / 86.9)

They’re old. They’re tough. They’re legitimately talented. They’ve won a game in the tournament before. The one flaw that may stick out if you look at their efficiency stats is the three-point shooting numbers. It looks bad, but it’s really not. They have plenty of guys that can shoot. Their team number is dragged down by Jeremy Harris continuing to chuck every game and shooting 25.6% in the process. He attempts 6.4 a game and is shooting 25%. It’s understandable why Harris is under the belief he can shoot. After all, he was the best shooter in the MAC a year ago, but he’s been incredibly streaky this year. When Harris is on, they’re close to a Top 10 team in the country.

4. Florida State (4 seed / 87.0)

The Noles seem to be flying under the radar a little bit. They started off 1-4 in ACC play, but won 14 of their last 16, including that win over Virginia in the ACCT. Their 26-man rotation makes me a little nervous, but clearly it’s worked for them and it worked last year when they got to the Elite 8. And there was nothing cheap about that run.

Shooting can be a great equalizer in basketball, but so can length and athleticism and FSU has that in spades. I wouldn’t be shocked to see them take their run a weekend further this time around.

3. Texas Tech (3 seed / 97.5)

I’m sure you’ve all seen the stat by now about every national champ being Top 20 in both offensive and defensive efficiency. It’s true, but the fine print on that is those numbers are AFTER the tournament has concluded. 2015 Duke was 37th on defense, but played a lot better in the dance and ended up 11th by the end of it.

I say that because Texas Tech has the #1 defense. The red flag has always been the offense. At one point I think they were in the 140s. (Just fact checked myself: they were 141 at one point, great job by me.) They are now up to 35th less than two months later and have one of the best scoring guards in the country with Jarrett Culver. Just something to think about.

2. Michigan (2 seed / 113.3)

At this point the Wolverines are on a regularly scheduled loss every third game so congratulations to who(m?)ever their opponent is in the Sweet 16.

The offense is trending in the right direction for Michigan, but I think at this point we can say definitively that they’re just not a very good shooting team. Their defense is outstanding, but I think with that you have to mention that the Big Ten as a whole was a much better defensive league than offensive. The average OE ranking of the league is 60.4 and the average DE ranking of the league is 38.2 nationally. MSU is one of the few great offenses in the league and the Spartans went 3-0 against them. All those games were close heading into the last 5 minutes of the game, but Michigan wasn’t able to make many plays late and the Spartans did. That trend has to be a concern as the Wolverines start to play better teams in the tournament.

With that said, John Beilein is one of the best coaches in CBB and it’s hard to bet against him.

1. Gonzaga (1 seed / 119.1)

I’m not overly concerned with the WCC championship game. It’s just one game and was such an outlier from every other conference game they played, but it does show what can happen if they have a poor shooting night against a team that can keep them off the glass.

I do think they need Killian Tillie to be good if they’re going to make the Final Four. Zach Norvell is a big-time shooter, but Corey Kispert has been a lot less productive in the second half of the season and Josh Perkins hasn’t really shot it that well consistently for the past couple of months. I think they need Tillie to make some shots if they’re going to make it to Minneapolis.

Defensively, we’ll see. They were dominant in the WCC, but there’s not any other great teams in the league this year. In the non-con, they gave up 103 to UNC in 84 possessions, 87 to Duke in 72 possessions, 79 to Washington in 67 possessions, 92 to Creighton in 76 possessions, and 76 to Tennessee in 68 possessions.

What I’m trying to say is the defense was not great when they were playing tournament-level teams.

2019 Power Ratings By Region: East

First of all, buy the sheet: http://spreadinvestor.com/2019/03/11/march-madness-sheet-rico/

If you don’t know the origin of the FFI ratings and care to know, read this and this

East

Ranked in order of the FFI.

18. NC Central (16 seed / 23.6)

The Eagles have become a regular in the bracket, unfortunately they get stuck in a First Four game every year and haven’t been able to find their way out. NCCU was the best rebounding team in the MEAC on both ends of the floor. Unfortunately, I don’t think that’ll matter if they make it to Duke.

17. North Dakota State (16 seed / 41.1)

The Bison were the surprise winner of the Summit after South Dakota State got bounced early. They shoot a ton of threes and they don’t play much defense, so they can make for an entertaining game. Their 42-point loss to Gonzaga earlier this year doesn’t inspire much confidence for their chances against the Blue Devils.

16. Bradley (15 seed / 46.7)

The Braves have been hot, winning 9 of their last 11 games. There’s nothing flashy about the way they win, as they only eclipsed 80 points on four occasions this year. PG Darrell Brown is probably the only player you’d consider exciting on the team, but he’s as streaky as they come.

15. Saint Louis (13 seed / 55.3)

The Billies have more talent than your typical 13 seed, although it doesn’t usually show itself on the offensive end of the floor. In his three years, Travis Ford has been able to recruit more talent than you’d expect from a program of their stature and he’s brought in a few high-major transfers. They defend at a high enough level that things could get uncomfortable for Virginia Tech.

14. Liberty (12 seed / 64.3)

Ritchie McKay’s group is pretty solid all-around. They’ve got guards that can shoot it and a pair of guys down low in Scottie James and Caleb Homesley that – while undersized – have been really productive players. James has been surging at the end of the season and also might be the best actor in the tournament.

13. Temple (11 seed / 65.6)

You’re going to hear a lot about this being Fran Dunphy’s last season on Tuesday night. Fran’s a legend and a great coach, but he hasn’t made it to the second weekend of the dance in 16 tries. Shizz Alston can go and they’ve got some decent pieces around him, but they take a lot of dumb shots, if you ask me.

12. Yale (14 seed / 70.5)

I’m sure Yale will surprise some people on Thursday if they’re expecting your stereotypical Ivy League roster and playing style. Miye Oni is an NBA Draft prospect and the Bulldogs love to get up and down the floor. They’re more likely to play a game in the 90s than they are the 60s.

11. VCU (8 seed / 73.9)

I guess Marcus Evans is supposed to play for the Rams, but I don’t know for sure. If he doesn’t, it’s going to be a very short stay for VCU. If Evans does play, they have a decent chance to get a win. They’re ridiculously good defensively, but their best offensive performance of the year will be needed to beat Duke.

10. Belmont (11 seed / 76.5)

It’s been nothing but great news for the Bruins over the last 36 hours. They were granted one of the last four bids in the field and they got big man Nick Muszynski back from injury. Dylan Windler is one of the best mid-major players in the country and is super efficient. You’d probably hate him if he was on Duke, but he’s on scrappy Belmont, so everybody will love him.

9. UCF (9 seed / 77.3)

The best and worst thing about March Madness is the unique stories that the media latches on to with teams. The Knights have two obvious ones: Aubrey Dawkins transferring in to play for his father and “TACKO IS SO TALL!” But BJ Taylor is really the one that makes UCF go. If he doesn’t play well, neither will they.

8. Minnesota (10 seed / 82.0)

Sometimes the Gophers are awesome and sometimes they look like they should be in the CBI. There’s really nothing that consistent about them besides Jordan Murphy being an animal out there. Amir Coffey can give you 30 and be the best player on the floor or he can give you 5 and you hardly notice he was out there. They have guys that can make shots, but a lot of times they don’t hit any at all.

7. LSU (3 seed / 84.2)

The ratings don’t seem to like the Bayou Bengals very much and they don’t even know that LSU doesn’t have their head coach and there’s a cheating scandal hanging over their head. It’s hard to picture this team losing early with how much talent they have, but there’s a lot of things working against them right now.

6. Louisville (7 seed / 87.6)

The Cardinals really haven’t gotten much accomplished since the beginning of February, but Chris Mack has pulled an upset or five in this tournament. Louisville wasn’t supposed to be as good as they looked for the first few months of the season, so maybe the late season slide was a little predictable. Outside of Jordan Nwora, the roster lacks a lot of punch.

5. Maryland (6 seed / 90.3)

The Terps have a lot of young talent and a great point guard to lead the show. All of their efficiency numbers look pretty good, but then you notice that they just weren’t very good against the best teams on their schedule. I could see them making the Elite 8 and I can also see them getting bounced in the first round. I know that’s helpful.

4. Virginia Tech (4 seed / 91.3)

There’s a lot of reasons to be interested in the Hokies. First off, they get Justin Robinson back at PG, which is huge. I think he’s their most important player and the straw that stirs the drink, to be cliche. Hopefully he’s able to fit seamlessly back into the rotation. They also have a possible Sweet 16 matchup with Duke. They beat the Blue Devils when Zion was out – so was Robinson – so I’d think they’d be pretty confident they can win again. Confidence has never been an issue with the Hokies. Oh, and there’s the little side story that Buzz Williams is likely to take the Texas A&M job after the year.

3. Mississippi State (5 seed / 92.5)

Similar to Maryland, the Bulldogs had a nice season and have nice players, but they didn’t really beat the best teams on their schedule. The best team they beat away from home was probably Clemson on a neutral floor. They’re also down a Weatherspoon.

2. Duke (1 seed / 115.9)

There’s a big asterisk next to the Duke number here. They were the head-and-shoulders number one team in the ratings before Zion missed six games. At the end of the day, the Blue Devils only lost one game when fully healthy and it was on a neutral court to another much more experienced #1 seed back in November.

The obvious red flag is the three-point shooting and I can’t do much to tell you that’s not a big concern for this team. Based on their current 30.2% mark, they’d be the worst three-point shooting team to make the Final 4 since KenPom was started in 2002. Of course, no one has ever had Zion on their team.

1. Michigan State (2 seed / 118.3)

The Spartans just keep taking injury hits and it hasn’t seemed to matter much so far. They lost Josh Langford and still won a share of the Big Ten. Nick Ward was out for the last five games, as well, and played sparingly in the BTT. They still won that, too. Kyle Ahrens has been in-and-out of the lineup, but now appears to be out for good. Can they survive all of it? Maybe. As long as Cassius Winston is on the floor, they still have a chance.

2019 Ivy League Tournament Betting Preview

THE FORMAT

Only the Top 4 make the field. Two day event on Yale’s home floor. The semis are on ESPNU. Championship game is on ESPN2 early on Sunday.

THE BRACKET

THE ODDS

Favorite

Yale -165

Other Contenders

Harvard +425

Penn +425

Darkhorse Candidates

Princeton +1350

Unfortunately Irrelevant

None.

WHO TO BACK

NCAA Bracket Maximizer

If nothing else, Yale probably maximizes the seed level based on their whole season, even if there isn’t a huge difference from a talent/potential level between them and Harvard and Penn. I think they could all pull an upset in the first round, but Yale is probably the only one that could get up to the 13 line.

Best Bet

Harvard +425

The Crimson have been banged up all year and Penn rates higher in the analytical rankings, but I think Harvard has proven itself to be the better, more consistent team  since Bryce Aiken has come back and they’ve been dealing with those injuries the whole time. AJ Brodeur is a great player, but so is Aiken and I’ll take the team with the dominant guard over the dominant big man.

Your -165 favorite has lost three of their last five.

2019 American Tournament Betting Preview

THE FORMAT

All 12 teams make the field, Top 4 get byes. Games are all played on Memphis’ home floor. Games start on Thursday and end Sunday.

First round is on ESPNU. Second round is on ESPN2 and ESPNU. Semis on ESPN2. Final on ESPN.

THE BRACKET

THE ODDS

Favorite

Houston +105

Other Contenders

Cincinnati +220

UCF +450

Temple +600

Memphis +800

Darkhorse Candidates

Wichita State +1700

UConn +5000

SMU +5000

Tulsa +6000

USF +6000

Unfortunately Irrelevant

Tulane +10000

East Carolina +30000

WHO TO BACK

NCAA Bracket Maximizer

Excluded: Houston, Cincinnati, UCF 

Temple is the closest right now to making the field and that would be a fun story with it being Fran Dunphy’s last year. The Owls have some talented guys and I can’t hate on them.

But it’s hard not to back Memphis here. The Penny factor is huge. Not just because he’s Penny Hardaway, but the resentment he seems to elicit from fellow coaches kinda makes me pull for the guy because most coaches kinda seem like assholes, if we’re being honest. The Tigers also never stop running, are always on the attack, and play with a bit of reckless abandon out there. Is it the purest form of basketball? Not really, but it’s entertaining as hell.

Best Bet

Wichita State +1700

I mean, it’s just staring you right in the face, isn’t it? The Shockers have had a down year like they were expected to after all they lost last year. But it’s starting to turn around. They’ve won 9 of their last 11, only dropping a close game at home to Memphis and a road game at Cincinnati. The team can’t shoot to save its life, but they’ve saved themselves by getting second-chance opportunities and taking care of the ball.

The draw sets up pretty nicely for them. They can only play one of the favorite (Houston) or the home team (Memphis). Their first round game should be no problem with ECU. They lost their only matchup with Temple, but that was back in early January. The season started to turn around a month later. Cinci would be a tough matchup in the semis, but the Bearcats have not been playing their best basketball at the end of the season. The Shockers have had convincing victories over both SMU and Tulsa recently.

It’s his worst team in a while, but Gregg Marshall has proven himself to be one of the best coaches in the country and he’s accomplished a lot in March, especially at a mid-major program. Put a small amount on it and let it ride.

2019 Big West Tournament Betting Preview

THE FORMAT

8 of 9 teams make the field. Cal Poly was the odd man out and they fired Joe Callero, which was stupid. All games played in Anaheim. The field is reseeded after the quarterfinals, which can make things tough to predict. They start on Thursday and end with the Saturday night/Sunday morning 12 am EST, degenerate special.

You can see the TV schedule below.

THE BRACKET

THE ODDS

Favorite

UC Irvine -165

Other Contenders

UCSB +435

Hawaii +900

Fullerton +1050

Darkhorse Candidates

Long Beach State +2200

UC Davis +2500

Cal St. Northridge +3500

Unfortunately Irrelevant

UC Riverside +12500

WHO TO BACK

NCAA Bracket Maximizer

Irvine is the obvious pick with how dominant they’ve been. Anteater basketball can be dreadful to watch sometimes, but the offense has started to come along quite nicely. Their penchant for slowing things down and playing stingy defense doesn’t always make for the most entertaining basketball, but it could add some drama to the NCAAT. They nearly won a 4/13 matchup against Louisville a few years ago.

Fullerton and Long Beach would probably be the preferred alternatives just because they play fast and chaotic and they’ve got some of the best players in the league.

Best Bet

Long Beach State +2200

They’re worth like a 0.1 unit flyer. They’ve won their last five and they’re the only team that’s beat Irvine in conference play and they did it on the road. They proved it wasn’t a fluke because they nearly beat the Eaters again at home. I’m guessing most don’t know that Irvine/Long Beach is a big rivalry in those parts and that puts some added pressure on the heavy favorite should that matchup occur.

Obviously they’ve got their issues or they wouldn’t be 22-to-1. One of them being that they got swept by their first round opponent, Hawaii. But they’ve got one of the best scorers in the league in Deishuan Booker and the Finnish sniper Edon Maxhuni looks like he’s starting to heat up again.

2019 WAC Tournament Betting Preview

THE FORMAT

8 of 9 teams make the field. Cal Baptist isn’t eligible for the postseason, so they have to sit out. Standard bracket otherwise, with games starting on Thursday and finished by Saturday in Las Vegas. First couple rounds are on ESPN+ with the championship being shown on ESPNU.

THE BRACKET

THE ODDS

Favorite

New Mexico State -230

Other Contenders

Utah Valley +410

Grand Canyon +500

Darkhorse Candidates

UTRGV +1700

Seattle +2500

CS Bakersfield +3500

Unfortunately Irrelevant

UMKC +10000

Chicago State +500000

WHO TO BACK

NCAA Bracket Maximizer

It’s a very strong Top 3 for the WAC, but New Mexico State is the pick. The Aggies are a legit team. They’ve won 15 in a row. They nearly beat Kansas in Kansas City back in December. They’re one of the best rebounding teams in the country. The Aggies have made six of the last seven tournaments.

Grand Canyon obviously has the Thunder Dan Majerle factor and with that comes the Thunder Dan Majerle Tan factor.

Best Bet

Utah Valley +410

Not only is NMSU the best team here, but they essentially get a bye with Chicago State.

But UVU has won seven straight and 10 of their last 11. Their last two losses have been to NMSU, but both of those were tight games and they should’ve won at home, but let it slip away. The Wolverines can shoot it all over the floor, but turnovers can be their downfall.

Grand Canyon’s not a bad option either, but they come in losing their last three and just haven’t been as steady as UVU. They also have a more loseable first round game against Seattle.

Speaking of Seattle, they’d probably be my pick for a darkhorse. They’ve won five of six heading in, but in order to win the thing they’d probably have to beat all three of the Top 3 and they’ve gone 1-5 against them this year.

 

2019 SEC Tournament Betting Preview

THE FORMAT

All 14 teams make the field, Top 10 get byes, Top 4 get a double bye. Starts on Wednesday, ends on Sunday. All games played on a neutral floor in Nashville, obviously an advantage for Van…haha, just kidding, Vandy is terrible.

You can see where to find the games below.

THE BRACKET

THE ODDS

Favorites

Kentucky +185

Tennessee +215

Other Contenders

Auburn +500

LSU +625

Darkhorse Candidates

Mississippi State +1350

Florida +1750

Ole Miss +4500

South Carolina +5000

Arkansas +8500

Alabama +8500

Unfortunately Irrelevant

Texas A&M +20000

Missouri +20000

Georgia +25000

Vanderbilt +75000

WHO TO BACK

NCAA Bracket Maximizer

Excluded: Kentucky, Tennessee, LSU, Mississippi State, Auburn, Ole Miss

There’s a few decent options here, but I’d most like to see Arkansas probably., even though they’re the furthest from actually making the NCAAT. If I have to live with another mediocre high major team in the tournament, at least give me one that plays with an element of chaos. The Hogs create a lot of turnovers, they foul a lot, and they want to get out and play in transition.

Another option is their opening round opponent, Florida. I pretty much hate the Gator offense, but they guard their asses off and I can at least respect that. If Jalen Hudson can keep up on this upward trajectory, they become a much more dangerous team. Big if, though.

I wouldn’t hate to see Alabama because they have so much raw talent, but the offense can be pretty brutal at times.

Best Bet

Auburn +500

The Tigers have been rough lately in the SEC Tournament, but they come in playing better than they have recently. They were the 1 seed last year, but were on a slide heading in. This year they’ve won 6 of 7 and the draw sets up perfect for them.

Their opening round is against Missouri or Georgia. Please. They then would get South Carolina, who has one remotely impressive win away from Columbia this year. In the semis they would get LSU, Florida, or Arkansas. Not saying any is easy, but they’re better than Florida and Arkansas and LSU is just chaos right now.

We’ll see how the other side of the bracket shakes out, but Auburn is capable of taking out either of the two favorites.

2019 A-10 Tournament Betting Preview

THE FORMAT

All 14 teams make the field, Top 10 get a bye, with the Top 4 getting a double bye. Games start on Wednesday and conclude on Sunday.

The first round is on ESPN+, second and third rounds are on NBCSN, semis are on CBSSN, and the championship game is on CBS.

THE BRACKET

a10.jpg

THE ODDS

Favorite

VCU +100

Other Contenders

Dayton +350

Davidson +460

Darkhorse Candidates

St. Bonaventure +925

Saint Louis +2000

George Mason +2850

Rhode Island +4000

Duquesne +9000

St. Joseph’s +10000

Unfortunately Irrelevant

La Salle +22500

UMass +22500

Richmond +30000

GW +75000

Fordham +75000

WHO TO BACK

NCAA Bracket Maximizer

Excluded: VCU

It has without a doubt been a down year for the league, but Dayton and Davidson are still about the same quality of team that you see on the current bubble, they just missed some opportunities early in the year.

You’re not going to get a ton of points with either team because of their slower pace, but they both move the ball really well and have two of the better halfcourt offenses out there. Plenty of good guards and wings to choose from on either team. Obviously both have been in the tournament quite often in the past decade or so, which doesn’t hurt with the average fan.

Best Bet

VCU +100

I mean it just seems highly unlikely that the Rams lose before the championship. They’re likely to play Rhode Island in their first game, who they just beat by 34. Their semi matchup is likely either the Bonnies or GMU. They beat the Bonnies by 30 on the road in their only matchup. They just beat GMU by 35 on the road like a week ago.

Does any of that make you nervous? At that point, you can hedge them in the final to guarantee a profit or you can just roll with them because they’ve clearly differentiated themselves as the best team in the conference.

Davidson and Dayton are decent enough, but they’ve both proven that they’re untrustworthy. Davidson has lost multiple times to teams in the “Unfortunately Irrelevant” category. Dayton has lost multiple home games to middling teams in the league.