Bully The Bookie - March Madness


College hoops regular season has ended, the tickets to the big dance were punched and the bracket has been released. The best tournament in sports starts now -- because #ThisIsMarch.

We will begin with an overview of the bracket. Three of four #1 seeds came from the ACC and the final team came from the west coast; Gonzaga. The experts took the easy way out with their analysis, predicting that the top 8 teams will remain in the top 8 and completely separated from the rest of the pack.

Dick Vitale did not overthink his bracket at all. He simply looked at the top teams in this tournament, then logically filled out his bracket based on rank. But Dick don't know that logic never applies to this tournament of madness. All rationale goes out the window in March.

However, Dick and I can both agree on the ACC teams in it for the long haul.

East Regional Final: #1 Duke 74 - #2 Michigan State 66

I wont dive into Duke too much here because Zion can't even fart without the media all over it to tell us. They are headlined by the number one and number two prospects of the 2019 NBA draft -- ZIon Williamson and Canadian RJ Barrret aka the Maple Mamba. The Spartans won the Big10 on Saturday and deserve the fourth and final top seed, however, they were robbed by the Zags. Dickie V got this one right BUT I will give one sleeper out of this region. #6 Maryland. For these Terrapins, I like their draw and rest. They were outed in the first round of the BIG10 tournament and they’ll have over a week of rest before their first game. As for the draw, they will play the #11 seed, which will likely serve as more rest. After, they play either #3 LSU or #14 Yale, which I will touch on later. Maryland would then face a familiar foe in Michigan St -- and you never know.

South Regional Final: #1 Virginia 63 - #6 Villanova 58

Outside of Duke, Virginia got next. Uva had three losses this year -- two of them came to Duke. Uva has an older team this year and most will have that bad taste in their mouth from last year when they were on the wrong side of history, becoming the first #1 seed ever to lose to a #16 seed. Virginia will be all business this year. As for the finalist from the South, #6 Villanova's luck lies in the draw.

The average gambler/ hoop head may ask, "How?? They play St. Marys who are hot off a conference tourny win against Gonzaga!"

But what they may have missed is the logistics of this game. After spending a handful of years perfecting my craft of bullying the bookie, I've learned (the hard way) locations and fan bases play an integral part in these unpredictable matchups.

As for where this game is being played -- Hartford, Connecticut. Couple hours in car ride from Nova’s campus compared to the seven hour flight from Saint Mary’s. This essentially allows Villanova to fill the arena like a home game for the first two rounds. Advantage; Villanova. Not to mention they were National Champs last year, so if a little home crowd vibe gets them rolling early, watch out!

West Regional Final: #4 Florida State 69 - #3 Texas Tech 62

The real madness starts in this division. I don’t see the #1 or #2 reaching their regional final. I see #1 Gonzaga having problems with Syracuse in the 2nd round and if they don’t get outed by the Orange, then they’ll lose to Florida State in the Sweet Sixteen. #2 Michigan had their miracle run last year, losing to Nova in the finals. The Wolverines will lose to Texas Tech in the Sweet Sixteen, as I believe Texas Tech is the best team to come out of the BIG12 with the strongest defense.

#13 Cal-Irvine and #12 Oregon are the Cinderella stories to look for this year; except no Sister Jean to add extra effect. Both could easily win in the first round, then continue for a run.

#4 Florida State will surprise a lot of people when they come out of the West region. They made the Elite Eight last year but they’ve fallen under the radar this year, primarily because of the three #1 seeds from their conference.

Midwest Regional Final: #1 UNC 84 - #2 Kentucky 70

This region is a bit vanilla compared to the rest. A lot of lower seeds and very little madness. The one sleeper I’ll propose out of this region is #12 New Mexico State. They play in arguably the worst conference in the country but they’re sneaky strong. I like the little schools that don’t lose all year (30-4) with loads of confidence and tons of shooters (79 PPG). The Aggies are worth a look.

Although...

Yes, that makes four ACC teams in the Final 4. These four ACC teams all have great coaches, they all have history of going deep, they all have soon to be NBA stars -- and they’ve played against each other all year. All four are built for these moments.

Final Four results:

#1 Duke 74 - #4 Florida State 72

#1 Virginia 69 - #1 North Carolina 65

And our 2019 College Basketball National Champion is ...

#1 Virginia 71 - #1 Duke 68

The Virginia Cavaliers will win the National Championship.

With only one freshmen in Virginia’s starting 5 -- they’ll show experience, poise and most importantly, 4 of 5 were there last year when Virginia took an early exit in historic fashion. The Cavaliers are going all the way.

Now with the overall bracket breakdown out the way, here's nine individual games from the first round where the bag lies.

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Spreads are from 03/19/19

#11 BELMONT BRUINS vs #11 TEMPLE OWLS

Tuesday, March 19th, 2019 9:10 EST

PICK: Belmont -3.5

One of the play in games to start the tournament. Belmont did not win their conference in the Ohio Valley and it’s rare for mid majors to get at large bids -- but if anybody deserves it, it’s these Bruins. Belmont is 26-5 this year and 16-2 in their conference play, while ranked 2nd in the nation in points scored at 87 PPG. They’ll score 80 Tuesday night and should beat Temple by 10+.

BELMONT 83-71

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#11 ST. JOHN’S RED STORM vs #11 ARIZONA STATE SUN DEVILS

Wednesday, March 20th, 2019 9:10 EST

PICK: Over 152.5

The other 11 vs 11 play in game, this will be a shootout. We have two defenses in the bottom half of the nation up against two top 50 offenses. Both teams scored over 77 points per game this year and should hit those averages in a high scoring affair. AZ is headlined by Pac12 rookie of the year and Montreal native, Lugentz Dort, who will be coming in hot for his first ever tourney game.

84-80 AZ STATE

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#3 LSU TIGERS vs #14 YALE BULLDOGS

Thursday, March 21st, 2019 12:40 EST

PICK: Yale +8

UPSET ALERT!

The brainiacs of the tournament and winners of the Ivy League, Yale Bulldogs, will be taking on LSU. The tigers were a top 10 team at times this year and it’s evident their roster is far more talented than the Bulldogs. However, in the midst of a major coaching controversy, the Tigers' head coach has been suspended indefinitely after a wire tap on his phone caught him discussing future payments with recruits. Since the departure of coach Will Wade, the Tigers have won their last regular season game vs Vandy (0-18 in conf play), then lost the first game in the SEC conference tournament as the #1 seed in the tourny. The STUDENT athletes at Yale will escape with this upset against the professionally paid athletes at LSU.

78-76 YALE

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#7 NEVADA WOLFPACK vs #10 FLORIDA GATORS

Thursday, March 21st, 6:50 EST

PICK: Florida +2

Florida was the team in the SEC tourny who beat LSU, thanks to a last-second three from Canadian Andrew Nembhard. Opposite to Nevada, who weaseled their way into the top 15 at some point this year because of their cupcake schedule, Florida has faced all types of tournament teams. The Wolfpack made it to the Sweet Sixteen last year, which has them the favourites in this one. They are a solid mid-major team but you can't like their draw. Take the Gators from the SEC.

68-60 FLORIDA

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#6 VILLANOVA WILDCATS vs #11 SAINT MARY’S GAELS

Thursday, March 21st, 2019 7:20 EST

PICK: Villanova -5

Outside of the logistics which I touched on earlier, Villanova had a rocky start compared to recent years. But after winning the Big East tournament, I see them in tournament form again

77-65 Villanova.

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#4 KANSAS STATE WILDCATS vs #13 CAL IRVINE ANTEATERS

Friday, March 22nd, 2019 2 EST

PICK: Under 1st half 55 AND Full Game Cal Irvine +4.5

The dominant Anteaters out of the Big West are a threat to this K State team. Irvine is big up front and much larger than a normal mid major school. This game will be a war because the Anteaters have the 17th ranked D, while the Wildcats own the 3rd ranked D in the country. No easy buckets in this one. I see this game being terribly difficult to score; especially in the first half when the two teams try to feel each other out. That first half number is one of the lowest I’ve ever seen but Vegas did that for a reason -- take the first half under and Cal Irvine to keep it close. In my bracket, I have the Anteaters winning this one.

54-53 ANTEATERS.

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#5 WISCONSIN BADGERS vs #12 OREGON DUCKS

Friday, March 22nd, 2019 4:30 EST

PICK: Under 117 and Oregon +1.5

If my earlier predictions don't fail (which they obviously wont), Oregon will meet Cal-Irvine in round two. Don’t be surprised when you see a #12 vs #13. Oregon is playing some of the best basketball in the country as of late. They’ve won eight straight including twice against Washington (best in PAC12). Oregon has been on this heater because of their D.

Over their eight game win streak, the Ducks’ D has allowed 54.25 points -- which is 7 points better than their season average. Similarly, Wisconsin is known for their defense. The Badgers own the 8th best D in the country making this an obvious low scoring game till the end. But the Ducks will remain hot in this defensive affair.

58-53 DUCKS.