Simply put, it was one of the most memorable, exciting, dramatic, historic and just awesome days in the history of the opening round of the NCAA Tournament. You like historic upsets? How about perhaps the craziest of all time, #15 Middle Tennessee State taking down the Vegas National Championship moneyline favorite, Michigan State. Bracket busted everyone. But not me. I am pretty quick to admit when I whiff on The Sports Geek. You have to be when you publish a few hundred column a year. But rarely have I ever felt so gloatingly right. So at the risk of beeping my own horn, allow me to fall asleep with my face on the steering wheel horn, BEEEEEEEEEEEPPPP!!
From the preview: “Worst Values: Michigan State +180 – Everyone loves Sparty. “Beware of Izzo in March” and all that good stuff. Yes, they are playing really well, and yes this is a really good team. But I still think they struggle too much to score for long stretches far too often to win six games in this tournament.
OK, so I didn’t think they’d suffer the worst upset in tourney history, but I did know this team was really overvalued. Suffice it to say, my bracket looks a lot better than the 30%-plus of people who had Sparty cutting down the nets.
Anyhow, you already know what happened yesterday – we went 2-0 with BOTH underdog winners winning straight up, as prescribed, pushing the NCAA record to a nice 5-1 ATS. West Virginia and Cal are out. Middle Tennessee, Stephen F Austin, Yale, and Little Rock have moved on. And both #11 seeds are FAVORED over the #3 seeds today in Vegas.
You gotta LOVE March!
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Today’s Free Pick:
#5 Indiana Hoosiers vs. #4 Kentucky Wildcats -3.5
This is a wonderful game and I’m thrilled it is happening. Just not TODAY. It should be next Thursday. These are two of the best ten teams in the country and the two most suspiciously under-seeded teams in the draw. Alas, we get the IU/UK border war and two of the nation’s most feverish fan bases colliding.
Kentucky has emerged as the favorite, but this game is a straight up even matchup. Indiana is probably more athletic overall the UK, despite the perception to the contrary, and is one of the only teams Kentucky will face where they don’t have the automatic point guard advantage. Yogi Ferrell and Tyler Ullis is a delightful push.
Both teams have “national title” ceilings, and both teams have a gang of frighteningly bad losses on their resume; Wake Forest, UNLV, Penn State, Tennessee, Auburn, LSU – so who shows up today? And in a case like this, I lean towards the more experienced team and to the team that can sore more diversely and more easily. And that is Indiana.
I have wavered on this one, and even have Kentucky in the Final Four and Elite Eight in most brackets. But the more I pour over this matchup, the more I am convinced Indiana is slightly better. That’s why I’ll take them with the points. Kentucky might slip out a dramatic one today, but I lean Indiana winning straight up in a too-early classic.