I think I ended up going 4-4 with my 1st round picks. So, in other words, I totally dominated. I can’t believe ‘Nova did that to me, and Arizona couldn’t manage a cover. So close, yet so far from greatness. I’d say the later we get in the this tournament, the harder it will be to pick games. I felt great with my initial selections and look what happened. That said, there was at least one line for this week’s games that made me spit my morning danish all over the Wall Street Journal. Sweet 16, aka 4th round, locks:
San Diego State (Pick ‘Em) over UConn.
Someone explain this one to me? I refuse to believe that we are giving the Aztecs credit, so I can only conclude that Vegas is playing tricks on us here. I shot over to Vegas Insiders and saw that at some places UConn is laying a point or so, but still 80% of the action is on the Huskies. If you asked me to pick this game before I saw the line, I’d take Connecticut every single time. But, for once, I am going to try to make the smart gambling play and take San Diego State. I know I will be rewarded with a UConn blowout.
North Carolina (-4.5) over Marquette.
There seems to be an obvious talent gap here. Marquette might have some intangibles going in their favor, but UNC is a #2 seed and Marquette is a #11 for a reason. North Carolina seems like a team that could build momentum as the tournament goes on while Marquette drained their tank last round to beat a conference rival. With these teams that lack a little star power they have to play their best game every time out to keep advancing. That’s a tall order.
Wisconsin (-5) vs. Butler.
I’m all fired up for the Badgers, remember? I think the first reaction here is that Wisconsin, by nature, shouldn’t be laying 5 points to anyone. I can see that point, but let’s take a look at Butler’s trip to the Sweet-16. They slipped by ODU on a buzzer beating lay-up. Then, they had whatever you want to call that finish against Pittsburgh. Riding a lot of emotion, but also flirting with a trip home at every turn. Wisconsin impressed me by beating Kansas State. I think they’ll wear Butler down and slowly pull away in the end. It will be ugly. The NCAA is probably terrified of Wisconsin in the Final Four, which means it is guaranteed to happen.
Arizona (+8.5) vs. Duke.
Need an underdog, right? And, really some of these games I wouldn’t touch even hypothetically. VCU/FSU…who knows? Kansas looks too easy, and I don’t have the stones to pick against Jimmer. That leads me to this one. This game opened at 10 points, which seems shockingly high, and has plummeted to 8.5 with most of the action on Arizona. That isn’t really a good sign for me, but I didn’t like how Duke closed against Michigan. Arizona has to be at least Michigan’s equal, they have a star player and I think Kyrie Erving hasn’t completely settled back into Duke’s rotation yet. They are changing their identity again a little bit. I’d be surprised if the ‘Cats can win outright, but I’ll still take them to keep it within a touchdown.