All the madness, craziness and parity has given us this: a left side of the Bracket that even Barack Obama would find to be boringly “chalk.” All four matchups last night pitted the teams the seed lines and “experts” thought would be facing off, and all delivered the requisite boring outcome with the better seeded team winning and NONE by less than 14 points.
So, is our season of madness finally making sense? The year of more #1 ranking upheaval, Top Five losses, Top Ten losses and just about every other parity-indicating statistical record that was established gone by the wayside? Does the world of college basketball finally make sense??
Last night did, but we have a whole other right side of the Bracket to sort out tonight and a myriad of other interesting possibilities remaining in play, highlighted by two games that HAVE to yield a surprising Elite Eight entrant as the lowest possible seed is a #6 and #10.
So let’s take a look at tonight’s least-glamorous seeding matchup, but a game that should prove to be really interesting.
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Today’s Free Pick:
#11 Gonzaga Bulldogs -4 vs. #10 Syracuse Orange
How weird is this college basketball season? The #11 seeded Bulldogs are the Vegas betting favorite for their third straight tournament game, despite being the “underdog” by traditional measures in every single contest. They are a fairly strong favorite tonight, but I can’t say it isn’t warranted. Gonzaga has ripped through their first two tourney foes; the Big East tourney champ Seton Hall Pirates and a #3 seeded Utah Utes. Domantas Sabonis made Lottery Pick Jakob Poeltl look, well, average – at last compared to the soaring stock of Sabonis. I expect he will have an easier time tonight.
But of course, there is the vaunted Syracuse 2-3 zone of doom. It could cause some problems, but I think the Zags can neutralize them easily. The Zags guards, especially Draginins, can shoot, so the helps. It also helps to have an incredible high-post option like Sabonis or Wiltjer to loosen up the zone. In fact, Gonzaga might be one of the trickies teams to go 2-3 against in the whole country.
I like looking for underdog value in the tournament when I can find it, but this favorite has the potential to bury the Cuse early and never let up.
I like the Zags to roll tonight and get one step closer to a possible first-ever Final Four.
Indiana Hoosiers vs. North Carolina Tar Heels -6
I think this is a matchup between two of the best five teams in the country, and people are tragically underestimating Indiana’s size, athleticism and offensive explosiveness. They have a more favorable matchup against North Carolina than anyone else in the country, position by position. I’ll take Yogi Ferrell over Marcus Paige slightly (couldn’t have imagined typing that back in November) and Indiana’s athletic stable of wings and bigs like Thomas Bryant should be able to counter North Carolina’s size and length.
I think Indiana can win this game straight up, and LOVE their future value at +2000 to win the tournament. But for tonight, I’ll take the half dozen points and hopefully enjoy a comfortable night.