#13 Ohio Bobcats vs #12 South Florida Bulls -2
We’re 7-4-1 ATS so far in the NCAA Tournament and feeling pretty good entering into today. As far as my Bracket? Um… let’s talk about something else. Seriously, did YOU have Missouri and Duke losing? Of course not! And if you DID, you are not brilliant, you are LUCKY. That’s kind of it… I listened to a nice interview with Ken Pommeroy of KenPom rankings, and he had a nice perspective on Bracket pools and picking upsets. His basic tenet was was predicting a random occurrence is not something anyone can do with particular accuracy. I mean Lehigh was a 15 point underdog in Vegas. Norfolk State was a 21.5. Predicting that outcome, or even both of them, would be so astronomically improbably that it become a sucker bet. Picking long shot upsets is more fun and frivolity than sound betting strategy.
I liken office pools to the penny slot machines on river boat casinos. Your Mom and secretary who are picking teams based on mascots has just as good of a chance of winning them. However, if you want to make money betting the NCAA tournament, you step back, look at the lines and evaluate the matchups as they come to exist. Just like today’s game pitting Ohio versus the South Florida Bulls.
If you had this precise matchup, pitting a #13 seed against a #12 who also had to win a play-in game to get here, congratulations! But in order to have intelligently predicted the winner of this game before the tournament started, you would already have had to hit on a 12% probability of picking all three games correctly. Factoring in the longer odds of Ohio knocking off Michigan (yes, we had that upset predicted, but let’s not get all smug about it…), it becomes about a 3.5% probability of successfully predicting the winner of this game before the tourney started, for the simple reason, you likely didn’t even HAVE these two teams playing.
Today, we can break down this matchup accurately and specifically, and personally I feel I have a much better than 50% chance of giving you the winner. South Florida is a team possessed right now, and defensively, I put them in the Top 5 teams remaining in the entire NCAA tourney, with Kentucky, North Carolina, FSU, and Syracuse. The Bulls are athletic and strong, and absolutely tenacious. Did you SEE what they did to Temple and Cal already this tournament? Ohio is not as good offensively as Temple, and the Owls looked bewildered in the second half. In the play-in game, USF held Cal, a similarly talented team to Ohio, to just 13 points.
And USF is better than they get credit for offensively as well. They do not have a singular offensive star, but that balance suits them well, especially in the hustle-to-scout your opponent nature of the NCAA Tournament. For example, I don’t neeto watch a lot of film to know that if I shut down Doug McDermott than Creighton is screwed. Likewise for Lehigh’s CJ McCollum. Defending South Florida? With seven guys averaging between 9.6 and 6.7 points, there really is no focal point to build a strategy. The only real plan is to not allow them to offensively rebound. With Ohio’s athletic and depth disadvantages, I don;t see that happening tonight. Give me South Florida to continue to justify their inclusion in the Field, and advancing on to the Sweet 16 for the first time in school history.