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2018 CFB Picks: Week 10

Picks were posted on Monday night, but thought I’d add a little here.

5 Units

OLE MISS (pick) over South Carolina

This is the battle of the supremely average SEC teams, but I’m of the opinion Ole Miss is slightly less average (better) than South Carolina, they’re at home, and they’re coming off a bye.

I’m counting on the Ole Miss offense to put up a bunch of points. They’re among the best in the country – going for 70+ on two occasions this year – and the only times they’ve been held under 37 points have come against Top 20 defenses. USC ranks 54th, according to S&P+. They gave up 490 yards to Missouri and 458 to Texas A&M.

The secondary for the Gamecocks has several guys with injuries and they’re going against one of the best WR corps in the nation. Maybe the best feature of USC’s entire team is that they haven’t given up big plays in the pass game. With a weakened secondary going against an explosive Ole Miss team, it could be a recipe for more deep balls for the Rebels.

On the other side of the ball, South Carolina has been pretty blah since the first few weeks of the season. They haven’t put up 400 yards of offense in a game since Week 4.

They haven’t shown a propensity for the big plays like Ole Miss. If they get themselves in a shootout with the Rebels, I don’t think they can string together a bunch of long drives to keep pace without making mistakes. The Cocks are 104th in turnover margin this year, while Ole Miss is 21st.

And I grant you that the Ole Miss is a terrible defensive team, but Tennessee is nearly as bad and USC was only able to put up 27 points last week at home, coming off of a bye.

4 Units

Air Force (+7) over ARMY

Everyone knows I’m an Army guy, but I think it’s Air Force here who’s better equipped to win the battle of the option (or at least more equipped to cover the spread).

The Air Force defense is 18th against the run, while Army comes in at 93rd, according to S&P+. And the Falcons have been much more battle tested. Every offense they’ve played so far this year is in the Top 75 in rushing efficiency, with the exception of FCS Stony Brook. Army, on the other hand, has faced just one opponent in the Top 75 all year.

The only offenses to have a decent amount of success against Air Force this year have done it through the air. Army has thrown it 68 times all year.

Of course there’s a lot of familiarity between the two and that should help out the Army run defense, but familiarity has favored the Falcons in this matchup. They’ve won 18 of the last 21 against Army and covered 16 of them.

3 Units

OREGON STATE (+14) over USC

Unfortunately for me, but good for you, you can get the Beavs at +16.5 right now thanks to JT Daniels’ injury status being upgraded.

This is mostly a fade against USC. Their average performance away from home the past two years is that of, well…an average FBS team. When they’re at the Coliseum, they play like a Top 25-30 team. I thought they had turned a corner a couple weeks ago and took them at Utah, but there doors were blown off by much more than the 41-28 score indicated and Daniels was bad in the game.

It helps that a young Oregon State team under first year coach Jonathan Smith was able to break through with their first Pac-12 victory in a dramatic comeback at Colorado. Three of the last four times USC has made the trip up to Corvallis, the Beavs have walked away with outright victories. Twice they were more than two touchdown dogs.

NORTHWESTERN (+9.5) over Notre Dame

I don’t know the exact figure, but I’m sure you’ve heard it/can find it if you try hard enough, but ND’s record ATS after Navy is bad.

They’re also coming back from a long road trip out to San Diego and now have to go on the road again. Evanston doesn’t provide the most intimidating of environments typically, but I’m sure Ryan Field will be alive with a night kick and the Irish in the stadium. Here’s hoping the majority of the crowd is wearing purple.

And it helps that it’s also November. Northwestern is an annual “grower”, frequently peaking as the season comes to an end. They’re 12-4 ATS in their last 16 November games.

I don’t know how much the Wildcats can score, but I do think they can slow down the Ian Book show. NW has only given up 300+ on one occasion this year and it took 51 attempts to get those 329 yards.

2 Units

BAYLOR (+8) over Oklahoma State

Letdown spot for the Pokes and Baylor should be at their best after a drubbing to West Virginia last Thursday and the need for two more wins to reach bowl eligibility, a goal I imagine is pretty important for them after last year.

VIRGINIA TECH (+2) over Boston College

Bounceback week for the Hokies after last week’s debacle. On the other side, BC is coming off a big win in the Red Bandana game and they’ve been underwhelming on the road this year.

Ohio (pick) over WESTERN MICHIGAN

The Broncos have been giving up big plays all year and Ohio might be the most explosive offense in the league. It’s Solich time.

LOUISIANA MONROE (+7.5) over Georgia Southern

Monroe had a disappointing start, but they should be in prime form after two wins and a bye week to prepare for the GSU option attack.

Southern is coming off the biggest win the program has had in a few years and next week they’ve got a matchup with their other big Sun Belt East foe in Troy. Dangerous spot for the Eagles.

SMU (+13) over Houston

Houston’s terrifying, but SMU is getting better as the season progresses under Sonny Dykes. They’ve had some really good defensive performances the past month. The run game has hit the skids for the Mustangs, but Ben Hicks has been prolific lately and pass defense is where you can hurt the Cougs. Just have a feeling SMU keeps it close with a bowl within reach and a night home game against one of the best teams in the league.

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2018 CFB Week 1 Picks

It’s the first week, so I’m not going to get too crazy here. All picks are just for a unit. My best advice I can give you is to not shoot your wad the first couple of weeks of the season.

Picks

UCONN (+24) over UCF

As much as anything, this is a bet on coaching. That’s not necessarily a slight against Josh Heupel, but his OC history suggests the Knights might start slow as do some other situations.

The big fear you have if you’re on the Huskies here is that they’re just going to get blown out of their own stadium because UCF is scoring every possession. However, Heupel was the OC the last two years at Mizzou and Utah State for one year before that. The Tigers lit it up last year in the opener, but that was against 3-8 FCS team Missouri State team that gave up 38 PPG. The next three games – all at home – Mizzou only managed 10 PPG. The year before they started with an 11-point outing. In his one year at USU, the Aggies started the first three games averaging 14 PPG, which included a 12-point effort against Southern Utah.

Of course Heupel has Mackenzie Milton at QB to help the situation this year, but it’s still a new offense to Milton and Heupel had Drew Lock to work with last year, too. Milton is also replacing two of his big playmakers at WR/TE.

There’s also the fact that we have no idea what Heupel can do as a HC. It was a bit of a curious hire and he’s replacing Scott Frost, who couldn’t possibly have done a better job. If you look at Group of 5 teams trying to replace big-time coaches last year, it was quite a drop-off.

  • PJ Fleck went 13-1 in 2016 at WMU, who went 6-6 last year under Tim Lester
  • Tom Herman went 22-5 in two years at Houston, who went 7-5 last year under Major Applewhite
  • Jeff Brohm went 22-5 his last two years at WKU, who went 6-7 last year under Mike Sanford

So yeah, I’m betting against UCF being nearly as dominant as they were last year with the change in coaching and the loss of quite a bit of NFL talent. I also believe Randy Edsall is a really good coach and will field a more competitive UConn team this year. I think the line is a rollover from last year and less of a projection for this year.

New Mexico State (+21.5) over MINNESOTA

This line has predictably jumped after NMSU looked pretty miserable in Week 0 against Wyoming at home. Gotta be honest, doesn’t really bother me that much. For one, I really liked Wyoming heading into the season. Secondly, I think it’s an advantage for NMSU to have a game under their belt. Their flaws were exposed and now they have tangible things to work on this week. And finally, of the four teams that lost in Week 0 last year, three of them won the next game. I realize that’s kind of a meaningless stat without context, but those three teams that bounced back with a win were Oregon State, Rice, and San Jose State. Here’s context: THOSE THREE TEAMS COMBINED FOR A TOTAL OF FOUR WINS LAST YEAR AND THREE OF THEM WERE THE GAME AFTER WEEK ZERO.

So yeah, I think it’s an advantage for NMSU.

Also an advantage, Minnesota is starting a preferred walk-on at QB, who also happens to be a true freshman. And I realize that Zack Annexstad had scholarship offers to play at mediocre programs, but at the end of the day he’s still a two-star true freshman starting at QB for a Big Ten team. Not good. He’s going up against a veteran defense that can apply a lot of pressure.

NMSU might only need to score a single touchdown to cover this game.

Florida Atlantic (+21) over OKLAHOMA

Obviously I’m pretty high on the Owls this year. I won’t rehash everything again, but with 10 starters back you have to think the Owls will be ready to go against Kyler Murray in his first start in Norman.

On the other side of the ball, RB Devin Singletary (1,920 rushing yards, 32 rushing TDs) could be a big problem for a Sooner D that had a lot of holes last year. FAU has to start a new QB, but all their options have a ton of talent. Jason Driskel was decent last year, but he wasn’t asked to really do all that much.

UTSA (+19) over ARIZONA STATE

I would think this would be a pretty low-scoring game. Arizona State has the potential to be explosive, but UTSA was a Top 20 defense nationally last year. The Roadrunners have a lot to replace offensively, but they weren’t good to begin with. Last year they won at Baylor. The year before they nearly beat this Sun Devil team in the Alamodome. Since Frank Wilson took over in San Antonio, UTSA has only lost by more than two touchdowns on one occasion.

And, yes, I’m going to continue to bet against ASU until Herm proves he has any idea what he’s doing as a college HC.

Central Michigan (+17) over KENTUCKY

CMU always seems undervalued and matchup-wise I think RB Jonathan Ward versus an atrocious Wildcat run defense could be big for the Chips. Benny Snell is probably going to be the majority of the UK offense early on, but CMU returns six of their front seven and should be able to at least slow Snell down.

But the real reason for this play: Kentucky rarely blows anybody out, especially early in the season. Last year they beat Southern Miss by 7, EMU by 4, and EKU by 11. In 2016, they lost to Southern Miss. They did beat NMSU by 20, but it was a 7-point game headed to the 4th. In 2015, they beat ULL and EKU by 7 each.

Combine that trait with a Week 2 game looming in Gainesville against the Gators and there’s some upset potential here.

North Carolina A&T (+7.5) over EAST CAROLINA

I talked about this game a little bit in the ECU season preview, but I’ll rehash a bit here. NC A&T was 12-0 last year, including a win over FBS opponent Charlotte, who rated pretty similar to ECU in power rankings. ECU was 3-9 last year and that included a 20-point beating they suffered to James Madison in Week 1. They improved offensively as the season went on, but the Pirates lose both their QBs and three of their four top WRs. They were horrendous in every single facet of the game defensively. They have a new DC who may help, but he has a lot of holes that need patched up.

A&T also has the advantage of already playing a game. They opened the season last week with a neutral-site win over FCS #6 Jacksonville State (the Aggies opened at #14 themselves). A&T is returning their QB, RB, and quite a few playmakers on defense. They have a new HC in Sam Washington, but he’d been the DC here for six years.

Although the two play in different subdivisions, they rated about the same in the Sagarin ratings last year. ECU returns only 49% of their overall production this year and more than half of that is from a wretched defense. It doesn’t include key parts of the passing game, which the Pirates thrive on. I think the offense will be slow coming out of the gates and it’ll allow the Aggies to keep pace on Saturday.

Leans

WESTERN MICHIGAN (+6) over Syracuse

I really don’t think there’s a ton of separation between the two teams and it’s a tricky game for the Orange.

San Diego State (+14) over STANFORD

I mean, the Aztecs did beat them last year. I like the Cardinal this year, though.

Akron (+26) over NEBRASKA

Seems like so many points for a team that went 4-8 last year and is starting a true frosh at QB. I just can’t put my faith in an Akron team that will likely be down to start the year and going into what should be a wild environment in Lincoln.

Kent State (+16.5) over ILLINOIS

Illinois stinks and probably shouldn’t give this many points to anybody, but Kent has a lot to figure out.

FIU (+11) over Indiana

Dangerous game for IU, who has a lot of question marks at skill positions and needs to replace some defensive studs. However, FIU has to replace a ton on defense.

Maryland (+13.5) over Texas

If not for the black cloud around the program, I’d probably take it. After all, the Terps won in Austin last year before the QB position went to hell.

NORTH TEXAS (-4) over SMU

Should be a great game to watch if you wanna see points.

WYOMING (pick) over Washington State

It opened at +4, but is to the point now where the Cowboys are even favored in some places. No longer think there’s any value to the Wyoming side.

HAWAII (+10) over Navy

I liked it when it was 14. Once again, all value lost after a stellar Week 0 performance by Hawaii.

Miami FL (-3) over LSU

I think LSU is gonna suck, but something about Miami still scares me.

2018 Masters Picks and Props

I’ll admit it: might have gotten a little crazy with the number of guys I’m playing this year. All plays are in the parenthesis and you can bet all of the longshots have a little sprinkled on them to win the whole damn show. What a treat this weekend is going to be.

Picks: Individual Finishes

Dustin Johnson (Top 5: +250 / To Win: +1200)

DJ isn’t as hot as he was coming into Augusta last year (3 straight wins), but he’s only finished outside the Top 20 in one stroke play event in the past 9 months. Remember, he headed into last year as the favorite at +500. His last two outings at the Masters he finished T6 and T4. He’s still the #1 ranked player in the world.

Justin Rose (Top 5: +300 / To Win: +1500)

If you don’t bet on Justin Rose at the Masters, you’re an idiot. He hasn’t finished outside the Top 25 in his last seven outings here and he’s finished in the Top 10 four times in that stretch. He’s also got five Top 10s in seven events played this season. Don’t be an idiot.

Jason Day (Top 5: +400 / To Win: +2000)

He’s been a little shaky lately, but he did win a tournament a couple months ago. Also, he might have the most consistent career of this generation’s top players when it comes to major competition. He’s played in 29 and finished in the Top 10 nearly half the time.

Paul Casey (Top 5: +500 / To Win: +2800)

Three straight Top 10s at Augusta for Paul. The odds keep dropping every year, but I’ll keep taking him. He’s second on tour tee-to-green, which is a key number in this tournament. He won the Valspar a month ago and has seven Top 20s in eight events this season.

Matt Kuchar (Top 5: +1000 / To Win: +5000)

Kuch hasn’t lit the world on fire this season, but he plays as much as anybody and he might be hitting his stride at the right time, finishing in the Top 10 the past couple weeks. He’s compiled four Top 10s, including three Top 5s, in his last six outings at the Masters. He went T4, T16, 2nd, T9 in the majors last year.

Tommy Fleetwood (Top 10: +350 / Top 5: +800)

Tommy doesn’t have much of a track record on ANGC – one MC – but he’s 5th on tour tee-to-green. He’s up to 12th now in the world rankings. He got a win early in the season and has added two other Top 5s since then and hasn’t finished a tournament outside the Top 40. Shades of Danny Willett in 2016 here.

Adam Scott (Top 10: +600 / Top 5: +1300)

Scott hasn’t done anything really noteworthy this season, but these are pretty good odds for a former champion that has four Top 10s in his last seven trips to Augusta. He hasn’t missed a cut here since ’09. Scott was in a somewhat similar form last year, missing the cut in Houston the week before, but he still finished T9 with a pair of 69s on Friday and Saturday.

Brian Harman (Top 10: +650 / Top 5: +1400)

First good news about Harman: he’s a lefty. They’ve won 6 of the last 15 Masters. He’s only played here once and he missed the cut, but it’s impossible to ignore a guy at these numbers that has seven Top 10 finishes in 11 events this season. He did have a T2 in the US Open last year and a T13 in the PGA Championship.

Kevin Chappell (Top 20: +400 / Top 10: +900)

Chappell’s got a bit of a back issue, but I’ll still take a flyer. He ranks 8th tee-to-green, finished T7 here last year, and has been rock solid for four months now.

Daniel Berger (Top 20: +400 / Top 10: +900)

He’s gone T10 and T27 in his first two Masters runs. He’s made six Top 25s in 10 events this year. That’s not the most impressive number in the world, but remember that this field is about half the size of a typical field. I like his consistency.

Cameron Smith (Top 20: +500 / Top 10: +1150)

He’s 1-for-1 in made cuts here. He’s got four Top 10s on the season. He’s decent tee-to-green, but among the best in the world around the green. That could elevate him around the top of the leaderboard this week if he strikes it well.

Ryan Moore (Top 20: +500 / Top 10: +1150)

Form is tough to pinpoint with Moore. He’s had three Top 10s and two missed cuts in his past six events. More importantly with Moore: he’s finished in the Top 15 of the Masters four times in nine tries.

Adam Hadwin (Top 20: +600 / Top 10: +1350)

Hasn’t missed a cut since August and hasn’t missed a Top 20 in two months. He’s 21st tee-to-green on tour and he was T36 in his Masters debut last year.

Prop Bets

Hole in One – Round 4 +137

I’ve wrote about this every year. If there is going to be a Hole-in-One, it’s going to be on 16, and it’s going to be on Sunday. Two years ago, there was three of them in the matter of like 45 minutes.

Top Former Winner – Phil Mickelson +450

This is just my way to bet on Phil. I don’t love his odds to win the tournament, but here he really only has to win a competition of, realistically, about eight guys.

Will there be a playoff? – Yes +300

There’s absolutely no way to handicap this, it’s a total roll of the dice. However, it’s been a winner three of the past six years and it’s fun. Root for fun.

Top Amateur Player – Doug Ghim +330

Joaquin Niemann is the favorite here and the top ranked amateur in the world, but I like the cut of Ghim’s jib. He’s currently 4th in the WAGR and finished runner-up in the 2017 US Amateur. But why I really like him: he’s 8-0 as a member of Team USA in international competition.

2018 Power Ratings By Region: West

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.

West

16. Texas Southern (16 seed / -97.10)

They went 0-13 against non-SWAC teams, so it’s safe to say they’re not going to pull off the historic upset.

15. Lipscomb (15 seed / -68.20)

Lipscomb is a lot of fun and they love to play fast, but getting into a track meet with UNC is probably not going to end well for them.

14. UNC Greensboro (13 seed / 1.07)

Greensboro can absolutely lock people up, but their upset potential took a blow when they were given the underseeded Zags.

13. South Dakota State (12 seed / 19.97)

The Jackrabbits are another popular upset pick with almost 1 out of 4 brackets having SDSU knock off Ohio State. Daum is always the focal point of the offense, but if they are going to win, it’s the supporting cast that needs to catch fire.

12. Providence (10 seed / 23.22)

Ed Cooley is fun, I just wish his team wasn’t always itching for a rock fight. But if the Friars can get their wish the first weekend, they’re a sneaky underdog to make the Sweet 16.

11. Montana (14 seed / 25.30)

Montana is underseeded here, but Michigan is probably the worst case 3 seed scenario for them. They’re going to have a real difficult time trying to bottle up the Wolverine ball screen action and when Beilein finds a weakness, he does not relent. While it’s not a great matchup for the Grizz, they can stick in it because, well, they’re just a good basketball team.

10. San Diego State (11 seed / 52.82)

The Aztecs enter the tournament on a tear, but of course the committee matches them up with another team that’s been playing at a really high level. This team is fairly similar to the Steve Fisher coached SDSU teams, but one big difference is that they’ve played at a quicker pace. They’ve got some offensive punch as well. Tough pod for them, though.

9. Missouri (8 seed / 66.48)

I was a big Mizzou supporter all year, but they just have way too much instability going on right now. You can’t NOT play Michael Porter if he wants to play, but I don’t really like the idea of inserting a guy who hasn’t played all year and he’s going to suddenly account for 36% of the possessions he’s on the floor.

8. Florida State (9 seed / 66.55)

Can’t remember the last time I’ve been impressed by a Leonard Hamilton team in a tournament game. It’s been a while.

7. Xavier (1 seed / 68.95)

There’s a lot of red flags with X’s defensive profile. There’s also the red flag of: JP Macura is the second-best player. On the other hand, if it’s a close game I’d like to be on Trevon Bluiett’s side, please.

6. Houston (6 seed / 70.44)

Ended the season on a great run, but so did the other three teams in their pod.  They don’t have many holes, but they’re definitely not as efficient as you’d like inside the three-point line. They’re really a team you’d like to get behind, but the draw was very unfortunate.

5. Texas A&M (7 seed / 71.40)

A&M was disappointing, but they did have a great non-conference and they are still an elite defensive squad. Guard play is a big question mark after some midseason attrition, but they can hang with UNC if they’re able to get past pesky Providence.

4. North Carolina (2 seed / 82.08)

I doubted the Heels last year and they rubbed it in my face. And it’s hard to ever bet against Roy Williams, who by the numbers is the best tournament coach in college basketball. But it’s also important to point out the Heels were real close to being bounced out in the first weekend last year. Their profile is very similar to last year – albeit a little worse defensively – but I still just have a hard time rolling with a team that isn’t very efficient from the floor.

3. Ohio State (5 seed / 82.82)

Ohio State’s been overachieving all year, so it’s not surprising to see so many people dismiss them so quickly. Just at least keep in mind that they were 15-1 against Big Ten teams not named Penn State, they have an All-American, Chris Holtmann, and are Top 26 on both ends of the floor. They did not catch a break with having to go to Boise and likely playing Gonzaga, though.

2. Michigan (3 seed / 83.00)

I wouldn’t expect Michigan to have a big dropoff from the level they were playing at in the Big Ten Tournament. It wasn’t like they just rode some hot shooting streak to the title, they’ve just grown a lot as team, which is what a John Beilein team does. With that said, it’s not going to be an easy road. They open with an underseeded Montana, will likely face an underseeded Houston, and will more than likely follow that up with two Top 10 teams. And that’s just to reach San Antonio.

1. Gonzaga (4 seed / 91.14)

The Zags are really good again, but I do still question if they’re good enough defending the perimeter. Their numbers have started to look a lot better in that area, but you have to wonder if that will hold up now that they’re out of the WCC again.

 

2018 Power Ratings By Region: Midwest

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.

Midwest

17. Iona (15 seed / -30.27)

It’s tough to count out Iona because they’ve been in the tournament before and Tim Cluess is great, but Duke is a tall task.

16. Charleston (13 seed / -13.70)

The Cougars are an experienced, tough bunch and they’ll be a tough matchup for an Auburn team that seems to fading to the finish.

15. Penn (16 seed / -8.36)

Penn’s probably underseeded, but it’s not some great injustice. It’s kind of what you deserve if you’re only going to play one high-major team a year. I think their chances of pulling the first 16 over 1 upset ever have been greatly exaggerated. You’ve gotta score if you’re gonna beat Kansas.

14. Bucknell (14 seed / 8.21)

Tough draw for Bucknell, but they’re an experienced team that was in the tournament – and played well – just a year ago. Don’t think they’ll be phased by the moment, but not sure they have the horses to stop MSU.

13. Rhode Island (7 seed / 28.02)

Last year, Rhody was an 11 seed and I didn’t consider picking against them for a second. This year they’re a 7 and they’re playing Twitter’s favorite punching bag and I’m real hesitant to take the Rams. Weird things happen in this sport all the time, but a senior-laden group getting beat by 30 (they were favored by 14) on senior night is a major red flag.

12. NC State (9 seed / 29.03)

Kevin Keatts did a great job with this group and they had some big wins, but with that defense I think it’s tough to believe they can win more than a game. Especially if that second game is against Kansas in the state of Kansas.

11. Arizona State (11 seed / 32.60)

I despise their existence in this tournament and I hope they’re losing as you read this. All due respect.

10. Syracuse (11 seed / 38.06)

Ditto. On a related note, Middle Tennessee destroyed a very good Vermont team last night.

9. New Mexico State (12 seed / 41.15)

A lot of upset buzz around the Aggies this year. They’ve got some high-level athletes, tournament experience, and they face a Clemson team that seems pretty vulnerable. I think the problem for NMSU is that they’re not a team that makes a bunch of jumpers. They pretty much have to rebound well to win and that gets a lot more difficult when you no longer have that athletic advantage over the competition.

8. TCU (6 seed / 44.14)

They can win a game, but their chances of winning two went out the window when Jaylen Fisher got hurt two months ago.

7. Oklahoma (10 seed / 46.27)

Has to be the most publicized 10 seed of all-time.

6. Auburn (4 seed / 52.50)

I normally would probably dismiss the Tigers, but the other top team in their pod – Clemson – is also scuffling. I do think Sweet 16 is the ceiling, though.

5. Seton Hall (8 seed / 59.00)

Seton Hall is maddening to me. I keep waiting for them to play like a team that has a boatload of experience, but it was a disappointing Big East season. I will say that it might benefit them to get out of their league and play some teams that don’t know them as well. They beat Texas Tech and won at Louisville in non-conference.

4. Clemson (5 seed / 76.24)

They maintained for a while without Donte Grantham, but they appear to be running on fumes at this point. But the Sweet 16 is still possible for this team and that would still be a great year for the program.

3. Kansas (1 seed / 91.09)

My only futures bet from the season was on Kansas, so I was extremely pleased to see their draw. They get the first two rounds in Kansas and the 4 and 5 seeds in their half of the region are overachievers who have been scuffling due in part to significant injuries. Nothing’s a given in the tournament, but they’ve got a great set-up for the first three rounds. After that, you’re always going to have to beat quality competition.

2. Michigan State (3 seed / 94.98)

I like to consider myself leader of the Sparty doubter bandwagon. There aren’t many of us. Probably because we’re on the opposite side of a bunch of future NBA players and one of the greatest tournament coaches of all-time. Not an easy side to be on. But sometimes I feel like the only one that notices how poorly MSU has played against the few amount of good teams they’ve played this year. I also don’t like the fact that they only play their best lineup when forced by foul trouble. With that said, they’ve basically been gifted an appearance in the second weekend and they have the most underrated point guard on their roster.

1. Duke (2 seed / 110.96)

If it’s possible, I feel like a really good Duke team isn’t being talked about enough. The zone has been great for them. They went from having a suspect defense to one of the best in the country. They have the third rated offense. They have a ton of NBA guys. They have a 5x national champion coach. What’s not to like?

Oh, and as it stands, only three teams have ever been rated higher than the Blue Devils and they all won the title.

 

2018 Power Ratings By Region: South

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.

South

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.

 

 

CBB Picks: 3/3

Kentucky (+6) over FLORIDA

SETON HALL (-2) over Butler

LSU (-1.5) over Mississippi State

Boston College (+9) over FLORIDA STATE

KANSAS STATE (-2.5) over Baylor

LOUISIANA MONROE (-6.5) over Arkansas State

TEXAS TECH (-4.5) over TCU

NC STATE (-1.5) over Louisville

YALE (-2) over Princeton

DARTMOUTH (-1) over Cornell

GEORGE MASON (+1.5) over Richmond

UAB (+1) over Western Kentucky

UTAH STATE (pick) over UNLV

Loyola Marymount (+11.5) over Gonzaga – 1H

San Francisco (-3) over Pacific

Delaware (+1) over Elon

 

YTD: 127-106 (+8.5u)