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Sorting out the Madness of NCAA tournament

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POSTED March 15, 2012 12:17 a.m.

When the NCAA Mens Basketball National Tournament officially begins this morning, not everybody in America will be caring about their brackets. Sure, the majority of the country will care one way or another if that No.1 seed advances to the next round, but whether or not that No. 1 seed covers the point spread is where the legitimate concerns rest.

Each person that takes the 15-20 minutes or so to ink a bracket will throw their four No. 1 seeds into the next round, same with the No. 2, No. 3 and No. 4 seeds. Those plays all seem pretty standard since a 1 or 2 seed has only been upset in the tournament four times in 216 games. So, those early ones seem pretty safe.

But how safe do you feel about south regional No. 1 seed Kentucky beating the lowly Western Kentucky (16-18) by 25 points?

Therein lies the real March Madness.

The people who have their brackets completed, are not taking the day off from work or have not watched an entire college basketball game from tipoff to final horn this does not concern you. This piece of commentary is solely for the purpose of trying to pick winners, via the pointspread.

One angle that demands attention is the value of the tournament’s No. 13 and 14 seeds. In the No. 4 seed vs. No. 13 seed matchup, the higher seed has ended their season in the tournament’s opener at least once in 23 of the past 27 tournaments.

I see major value in No. 14 seed Belmont (27-7). They will meet up with tournament regular Georgetown (23-8) and the spread has Belmont getting 4 points, making this the tightest matchup of any of the 3-14 matchups.

The value spikes when perusing over the tournament’s No. 13 seeds. Of the four tournament No. 13’s, New Mexico St (26-9), is my favorite. New Mexico St. is a team that scores nearly 80 points a game and they have covered the spread all but four times since February 1. The Aggies are going up against an Indiana team that will be gripping without the services of its senior playmaker Verdell Jones who was lost for the season in the Big 10 tournament to injury.

Another interesting angle will fall on the No. 12 seed Long Beach State who will battle with the No. 5 seed New Mexico Lobos. The Lobos are a decent team that had a great season and have covered in 12 of the last 14 contests. The Lobos will give Long Beach State 4 points, which may be a point too many for a squad that has covered the spread in both their contests against top seeded tournament teams (North Carolina and Kansas). Look for Harvard plus 5.5 over a talented Vanderbilt team that is coming off an emotionally draining SEC title win over Kentucky.

Also, pay close attention to the No.9 seed vs No. 8 seed matchups. The No. 9 seeds have won more games than the No. 8 seeds, and with Connecticut, St. Louis and Alabama all looking like formidable No. 9 seeds, the trend will likely continue.

Fast Fact: Of the past six National Champions five went into the Big Dance on the heels of winning their conference tournament. Making Florida State and Michigan State my inside track’s to finish No. 1.

March Madness Plays

Connecticut, New Mexico State, Baylor, St. Louis, Long Beach St., Louisville, Marquette, Harvard, West Virginia, Michigan, Purdue.

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