(I think my math is right.)
A lot has changed in the last five weeks - I don't even remember putting Carson Wentz on my board and now he's heavily projected to go 2nd overall - so this should be an interesting change of pace from my last draft. Updates will be weekly or bi-weekly from here on out.
Last Week (March 3-9, 2008): 8-3-1, +$1,730 2007-2008 Season (as of March 9): 71-64-5 (52.6%), +$1,420
Monday, April 7, 2008
Memphis (38-1) vs. Kansas (36-3) Line: Memphis by 2.
I seriously was this close to throwing my TV out the window. UCLA bobbled at least five rebounds out of bounds. And it seemed like all of their shots went halfway into the basket before rimming out. And note to Darren Collison: Give Kevin Love the damn ball! BLAHHHHH.
Meltdown over. I guess when I'm wrong, I'm wrong. I've been dissing Memphis this entire tournament, and I've been wrong every single time. I'm going to stop being stubborn. Tigers win.
Memphis (37-1) vs. UCLA (35-3) Line: Memphis by 2.
I've been saying all year that UCLA is the best team in the country. So, why would I go against them now? Memphis is favored because Vegas is factoring in public opinion; the sheep bettors are all slurping the media's take that Memphis is invincible. I don't see it that way.
As for the other game, I'd side with Kansas, but it's way too close to call. I said so in my NCAA Tournament picks.
Prediction: UCLA 74, Memphis 70 UCLA +2 (4 Units)
Sunday, March 30, 2008 (0-1, -$330)
Texas (31-6) vs. Memphis (36-1) Line: Memphis by 3.5.
I had Texas going in my Final Four in my NCAA Tournament picks, and I'm sticking with them. The Tigers haven't played a really tough opponent since losing to Tennessee. Texas has better and more experienced guards. And they can actually hit their free throws.
I love how everyone has made out that UCLA played poorly against Western Kentucky. They were up by 20 at halftime! They simply fell asleep and let the Hilltoppers come back. Still, Kevin Love said that they won't make it far with performances like that. With that in mind, I like UCLA tonight. I like Love's attitude.
Davidson (28-6) vs. Wisconsin (31-4) Line: Wisconsin by 5.5.
Wow... I don't know the name of the jerk-off on Western Kentucky who hit that "meaningless" layup at the end of last night's game, but I'm willing to bet he's receiving hate mail and death threats this morning. Seriously, did he have to do that? Couldn't he have just dribbled it out like any respectable player? That pointless layup covered the spread in WKU's favor. I still can't believe it - almost as bad as Cleveland's 3-pointer at the end of the NBA Finals last year.
Ugh. Whatever. I've stated repeatedly that Wisconsin's style of basketball can't win in the NCAA Tournament. So far, I've been wrong; CS-Fullerton didn't play its game and Kansas State was much too young. Davidson beat Georgetown, a better team. Badgers go down (hopefully - or I'll have to admit that I was dead wrong about them to an e-mailer).
Western Kentucky (29-6) vs. UCLA (33-3) Line: UCLA by 11.5.
I found this spread interesting. Everyone's down on UCLA after it nearly lost to Texas A&M in the second round. Well, if that's the case, why is this line so high? I'm still confident the Bruins are going to win it all, and I'm even more sure that they're going to completely clobber the Hilltoppers. Rather than a couple of small plays, I'm making one giant one.
West Virginia (25-10) vs. Duke (28-5) Line: Duke by 3.5.
The Blue Devils almost lost to Simon Belmont, which has everyone down on them. I think that has created enormous line value with Duke. Simon Belmont is a good team; the stupid selection committee should have made them a 12- or 13-seed. Injustice!
Prediction: Duke 84, West Virginia 74 Duke -3.5 (3 Units) -- Incorrect; -$330
UNLV (27-7) vs. Kansas (32-3) Line: Kansas by 13.5.
If you read my NCAA Tournament picks, you know I like UNLV a lot. The Rebels won't win this game, but they'll keep it tight until the very end.
UMBC (24-8) vs. Georgetown (27-5) Line: Georgetown by 16.5.
I should have seen it coming... 16- and 15-seeds have covered frequently in the past, so the oddsmaker adjusted the line to suck n00bs in. Well, this spread is too small. Georgetown usually plays well in its opening-round games.
Oregon (18-13) vs. Mississippi State (22-10) Line: Mississippi State by 2.5.
I don't think Oregon should have qualified for the tournament. The team's record isn't impressive and they have no point guard. Well, at least we get to see their amazing cheerleaders for at least one game.
Prediction: Mississippi State 73, Oregon 64 Mississippi State -2.5 (2 Units) -- Correct; +$200
Thursday, March 20, 2008 (2-5, -$490)
Belmont (25-8) vs. Duke (27-5) Line: Duke by 20.
Did you know No. 15 seeds are 15-9 against the spread since 2002? I like Simon Belmont. He's a cool vampire hunter who sacraficed himself to kill Dracula. I mean, umm... they shoot threes well...
Prediction: Duke 84, Simon Belmont 76 Simon Belmont +20 (2 Units) -- Correct; +$200
Arizona (19-14) vs. West Virginia (24-10) Line: West Virginia by 2.
I think Arizona is a better team than West Virginia. Two of their top players were injured for 11 games. With a healthy lineup, they're 16-6. They're really undervalued as a No. 10 seed.
Prediction: Arizona 72, West Virginia 67 Arizona +2 (2 Units) -- Incorrect; -$220
Georgia (17-16) vs. Xavier (27-6) Line: Xavier by 8.5.
Remember when Syracuse made an inexplicable Big East run with Gerry McNamara? They got to the Big Dance and just fizzled out. Seriously, everyone likes Georgia, yet Xavier is -8.5? Something's fishy here.
Portland State (23-9) vs. Kansas (31-3) Line: Kansas by 22.
Did you know No. 16 seeds are like 14-9 against top seeds since 2002? Portland State won its conference, after all, and I think Kansas has bigger fish to fry.
Prediction: Kansas 81, Portland State 68 Portland State +22 (2 Units) -- Incorrect; -$220
CS-Fullerton (24-8) vs. Wisconsin (29-4) Line: Wisconsin by 11.5.
To me, this is Iowa-Northwestern State all over again. Wisconsin is a slow-plodding, offensively challenged team going up against a more athletic, high-flying mid-major. I think Iowa was -11.5 as well.
Mississippi Valley State (17-15) vs. UCLA (31-3) Line: UCLA by 32.
Teams with black-and-white logos seldom play well in the tournament, but I think I'll take the points here. No. 16 over a No. 1 - spread-wise.
Prediction: UCLA 74, Mississippi Valley State 58 Mississippi Valley State +32 (2 Units) -- Incorrect; -$220
Sunday, March 16, 2008 (0-2, -$440)
Kansas (29-3) vs. Texas (27-5) Line: Kansas by 5.5.
So, you're laying 3.5 and your team is up 10 with a minute left. Do they cover? No, because they miss their free throws and the opposition makes threes off the glass. Bah! What is up with my bad luck? UCLA should have covered yesterday, a day after I lost two games by a point.
The Longhorns are the better team, so I'm taking them. That means the Longhorns will be up the entire contest but will somehow lose by six.
Arkansas (21-10) vs. Tennessee (29-3) Line: Tennessee by 6.
The Utah loss hurt a lot yesterday. I had the Utes as 5-point dogs. They were up with a few minutes left, so I walked away from my computer, pretty confident that I was going to win. Well, I checked back a few hours later, and I saw the score - UNLV won by 6. Excuse me while I go slit my wrists.
I'll take the crimson-clad Razorbacks to match the blood on my keyboard. Winning yesterday said a great deal about their character. I think they're a solid team, and as we saw yesterday, Tennessee is not invincible.
Stanford (26-6) vs. UCLA (30-3) Line: UCLA by 3.5.
It's tough to beat a team thrice. UCLA swept the regular-season series, so Stanford should be able to cover, right? Well, not in this case. The Bruins dominated the Cardinal because they're simply too athletic and talented for an offensively challenged Stanford squad.
Oklahoma State (16-14) vs. Texas (26-5) Line: Texas by 7.
Every No. 1 seed that wasn't playing for its tournament life won in a blowout yesterday. Or, as Emmitt Smith would say, "They blowed 'em out!" I expect that trend to continue with the Longhorns, who can play loose against an inferior Oklahoma State squad.
Miami (22-9) vs. Virginia Tech (18-12) Line: Virginia Tech by 1.
Miami is in the tournament. Virginia Tech needs a victory or two to qualify. Thus, the Hokies, despite being the inferior squad in this matchup, is a short favorite because the public knows they have to win. Well, as we've established yesterday, just because a team needs to win doesn't mean they're going to.
Vanderbilt (25-6) vs. Arkansas (20-10) Line: Arkansas by 1.
This is the exact same situation as Miami-Virginia Tech. Vanderbilt, the superior squad, is an underdog because the public knows Arkansas needs a victory to clinch a spot in the NCAA Tournament. I'll repeat Dave Cokin's quote: "If a team needs to win a game, chances are they probably aren't any good."
UCLA almost tripped up at the end of the year in two consecutive home games. It looked like they were bored. Now, it's become apparent that they mean business. Operating at 100 percent, UCLA should crush USC.
Villanova (19-11) vs. Georgetown (25-4) Line: Georgetown by 7.
So, you're laying eight, and you're looking at that margin with 3 seconds left. Suddenly, someone on the opposing squad dribbles down the court, jacks up a meaningless three as the buzzer sounds and watches it sink through the net. Game over. No push. Two units down the drain. Blah.
Let's hope for better luck here. I think this line is too high based on the talent of these squads. Villanova has a worse record, but remember, they were ranked before they had a really bad five-game stretch. Now, they're hot again. It wouldn't shock me to see the Wildcats win this game.
Tough spot for UAB - they didn't win their conference, but they finished with a solid 22-9, placing them on the bubble. There's just way too much pressure on them here. I think they choke like Virginia-Commonwealth and Southern Alabama. Only one unit because I don't think we're getting any line value.
San Jose State (13-18) vs. Utah State (23-9) Line: Utah by 10.5.
Utah State's the No. 1 seed in the WAC. You know what to do.
Prediction: Utah State 73, San Jose State 71 San Jose State +10.5 (3 Units) -- Incorrect; -$330
Alabama (16-15) vs. Florida (21-10) Line: Florida by 3.
Thanks to ESPN, everyone knows Florida needs a win to get into the tournament. Yet, they're favored by only three points against Alabama? What's going on here? Well, as I'll talk about in the Maryland-Boston College write-up, a squad that needs a victory doesn't always get it.
Oregon (18-12) vs. Washington State (23-7) Line: Washington State by 3.
The public knows Oregon needs this game to get into the tournament. That's created a lot of line value here; under normal circumstances, Washington State would be -5 or so. As I'll note in my next selection, just because a team needs to win a game doesn't mean they're going to.
Prediction: Washington State 67, Oregon 61 Washington State -3 (1 Unit) -- Correct; +$100
Boston College (13-16) vs. Maryland (18-13) Line: Maryland by 5.5.
Maryland has to win this game, right? They're clearly on the bubble. Well, as handicapping expert Dave Cokin once said, "If a team needs to win a game, chances are they probably aren't any good." The Terps are very mediocre, and the fact that this line is only 5.5 speaks volumes.
Prediction: Maryland 73, Boston College 72 Boston College +5.5 (2 Units) -- Correct; +$200
Toledo (11-18) vs. Kent State (25-6) Line: Kent State by 12.
Kent State is another small-conference team entering its conference tournament following a great season. If it loses, its season is over. The NIT is garbage and means nothing. Thus, I believe they'll choke.
Prediction: Kent State 70, Toledo 69 Toledo +12 (2 Units) -- Incorrect; -$220
UC-Riverside (9-20) vs. CS-Fullerton (21-8) Line: CS-Fullerton by 13.
Providence (15-15) vs. West Virginia (22-9) Line: West Virginia by 8.
One year ago, West Virginia was favored over Providence in the first round of the Big East Tournament. The Friars, who sucked on the road, failed to cover against the Mountaineers. History repeats itself, as Providence is just 2-8 away from home this year.
Prediction: West Virginia 76, Providence 63 West Virginia -8 (2 Units) -- Incorrect; -$220
Rhode Island (21-10) vs. Charlotte (18-12) Line: Rhode Island by 1.5.
I think I mentioned this a few days ago - I like teams that go into their conference tournaments on a losing streak. This creates more spread value in their favor. Case in point: Rhode Island is a much better team than Charlotte, and we're getting them at a cheap price.
Prediction: Rhode Island 76, Charlotte 66 Rhode Island -1.5 (1 Unit) -- Incorrect; -$110
Tuesday, March 11, 2008 (1-0, +$300)
Idaho State (12-18) at Portland State (21-9) Line: Portland State by 13.5.
I'm going against Portland State for the same reason I faded Southern Alabama and Virginia Commonwealth recently. After a solid 21-9 season, everything is on the line for the Vikings. One loss, and it's the crappy and worthless NIT - a 21-9 record flushed down the drain. That's a lot of pressure to put on a group of college athletes.
Prediction: Portland State 64, Idaho State 60 Idaho State +13.5 (3 Units) -- Correct; +$300
Monday, March 10, 2008 (2-1, +$180)
William & Mary (17-15) at George Mason (22-10) Line: George Mason by 8.5.
So, William & Mary plays .500 basketball all year and is suddenly good? I'm not buying it. I think George Mason is much more talented. They know what it takes to win come tournament time. I think the Tribe simply took advantage of a Virginia-Commonwealth team that was choking and/or leaking oil.
Prediction: George Mason 70, William & Mary 57 George Mason -8.5 (1 Unit) -- Correct; +$100
Middle Tennessee State (16-14) at Southern Alabama (26-5) Line: Southern Alabama by 11.
Southern Alabama choked yesterday, nearly losing to a far inferior New Orleans squad. I have to believe its Aurora Snow tactics will continue. One loss and its 26-5 season goes down the drain. No at-large bid for them.
Prediction: Southern Alabama 70, Middle Tennessee State 68 Middle Tennessee State +11 (3 Units) -- Correct; +$300
Elon (14-18) at Davidson (25-6) Line: Davidson by 16.5.
Elon in a conference championship? This is a joke, right? Elon is a squad that goes 5-25 every single year. I can't believe they've made it this far. Kudos to them, but it won't matter. Davidson will make quick work of the Phoenix. They'll have this covered by halftime.
New Orleans (19-12) at Southern Alabama (25-5) Line: Southern Alabama by 13.
This is another instance where I believe a top seed in a mid-major conference has a lot to lose and may force the issue a bit. Southern Alabama has had a great season, but it could all go down the drain here, which is a shame. New Orleans should be able to hang the number.
Prediction: Southern Alabama 75, New Orleans 73 New Orleans +13 (3 Units) -- Correct; +$300
Buffalo (10-18) at Ohio (18-11) Line: Ohio by 13.5.
This is a big number, but I really trust Ohio to cover here. The Bobcats are so dominant at home (8-3 ATS), while the Bulls are just 1-11 as visitors.
Note: I may add a few selections tomorrow; some of the lines for the mid-major tournaments haven't been posted yet.
Towson State (12-17) vs. Virginia Commonwealth (23-6) Line: Virginia Commonwealth by 14.
Virginia Commonwealth has everything to lose. They need to get at least to the CAA finals to get into the tournament. If they lose, it's NIT. I'm going with Towson State - too much pressure on the Rams. No line yet, but I'll have this updated by 11 a.m. Saturday.
Prediction: Virginia Commonwealth 67, Towson State 63 Towson State +14 (3 Units) -- Correct; +$300
Kansas State (19-10) at Iowa State (14-16) Line: Kansas State by 4.
I can't say I trust Kansas State right now, especially on the road. The Wildcats are leaking oil, having lost four of five. They're just 2-6 as visitors. I like Iowa State's chances here.
Prediction: Iowa State 67, Kansas State 64 Iowa State +4 (2 Units) -- Push; -$20
Ole Miss (20-9) at Georgia (13-15) Line: Georgia by 1.5.
Ole Miss is 1-7 in away games. I know Georgia has a much worse record, but they should be favored by more; the Rebels just can't play on the road.
Prediction: Georgia 68, Ole Miss 61 Georgia -1.5 (2 Units) -- Incorrect; -$220
Illinois-Chicago (18-14) vs. Butler (27-3) Line: Butler by 8.5.
Remember what I wrote about Virginia-Commonwealth? Butler is on the other side of the spectrum. If they lose, they're still in. Thus, there's no pressure on them and they can play loose.
Montana State (15-14) vs. Weber State (15-13) Line: Weber State by 6.
This is on the mark with my going-against-the-hot-team theory. Montana State has dropped four in a row, and even though these teams are even, Weber State is favored by six because of that.
Prediction: Montana State 68, Weber State 66 Montana State +6 (2 Units) -- Incorrect; -$220
Friday, March 7, 2008 (1-0, +$200)
Canisius (5-24) vs. Iona (12-19) Line: Iona by 8.5.
I think what most people do when looking at these mid-major conference tournament games is they simply take the hotter squad. That happens to be Iona. But when you look at the results over time, the team with the momentum hasn't done all that well. I'm going with Canisius; Iona, getting about 85 percent of the action has seen the line drop from -9 to -8.5.
Purdue (23-6) at Ohio State (17-12) Line: Ohio State by 2.5.
More than just an unranked host favored over a ranked visitor. With tons of action on Purdue, the line has moved from -1.5 to -2.5. Also, the Boilermakers are just 5-4 on the road. I think they'll have trouble in Columbus tonight.
Prediction: Ohio State 67, Purdue 60 Ohio State -2.5 (4 Units) -- Correct; +$400
Arkansas (19-9) at Ole Miss (19-9) Line: Ole Miss by 2.5.
Let's see... Tennessee beat Memphis. Then, Vanderbilt beat Tennessee. Next, Arkansas beat Vanderbilt. The Razorbacks, off that huge victory, will likely lose to Ole Miss, as the chain continues.
Prediction: Ole Miss 74, Arkansas 68 Ole Miss -2.5 (3 Units) -- Correct; +$300
Sunday, March 2, 2008 (0-1, -$330)
UCLA (25-3) at Arizona (17-11) Line: UCLA by 5.
Wow, you know it's not your day when you lose your five-unit pick by half a point. Bah. Whatever, I love UCLA. The Bruins are the top team in the country, as far as I'm concerned. I trust them enough to win and cover a small number on the road.
Texas (24-4) at Texas Tech (15-12) Line: Texas by 5.5.
I think I mentioned this earlier - I believe Texas, UCLA and North Carolina are the three teams that have a really great shot at winning the national title. I trust the Longhorns' ability to go on the road and win in a hostile environment.
Vanderbilt (24-4) at Arkansas (18-9) Line: Arkansas by 5.5.
Yes, this is an unranked host favored over a ranked visitor, but there are two other reasons I'm dishing out a rare five units on this contest. Vanderbilt is coming off a victory over No. 1 Tennessee. How can they possibly be focused for an unranked opponent? Also, in the wake of the Commodores' victory, people are jumping at the opportunity to bet on them. With nearly 80 percent of the action on their side, this line has risen from 5 to 5.5.
Buffalo (9-17) at Akron (19-8) Line: Akron by 14.5.
Akron's home court is usually a slaughter house for weak opponents. The Zips always take care of business as hosts, although they failed to do so against Virginia-Commonwealth on Feb. 23. That was their last game, and they've had a whole week to think about that. Akron beats Buffalo into a bloody demise.