"I Know the Game Like I'm Reffing It"

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Dance Line$ - Picking the Tournament - Elite 8

This year, I will be picking every game of the Tournament against the spread.

For the record, I am doing this just for fun - for the love of the game!

Off the record, who knows, so wish me luck. Thanks!

We witnessed two terrific college basketball games last night. Wisconsin elevated its already high level of play to run away from Arizona in the second half, while Kentucky rode their defense and Karl Anthony Towns and withstood a valiant effort from Notre Dame in a classic.

Don't look for a letdown today.

Record: 23-37-2

Yesterday: 1-1

Sunday, 3/29/15. Regional Finals: 

(4) Louisville +2 vs (7) Michigan State, 2:20PM, Syracuse, NY, CBS

Today's undercard is a classic match-up in its own right. Two of the best coaches of all-time link up for a chance to get their overachieving team to the Final Four. Neither was really supposed to be here, much less reach Indianapolis. The Spartans are a slight favorite because they are on one of their classic Izzo late-season runs. MSU's only two losses this month have come at the hands of Wisconsin, who is already Indy bound. However, Louisville hasn't been too shabby either. The Cardinals' only losses this March have been to Notre Dame and North Carolina. Rick Pitino's squad has relied almost solely on their top five defense all season, but they have suddenly received an offensive boost, just in the nick of time. In a true test of coaching wit, due to the one day to prepare, look for Pitino to work his magic and pull out a squeaker, thanks in part to the match-up zone.

(2) Gonzaga +2 vs (1) Duke, 5:05PM, Houston, TX, CBS

In tonight's main event, we have two heavyweights. Actually, two is selling this one short. The two coaches alone are heavyweights, in Coach K and Mark Few, but Jahlil Okafor, Przemek Karnowski and Domantas Sabonis likely qualify as well. These are two teams (among six others) who had typical 1-seed resumés all season. This is an even match-up statistically, as both teams are top five offensively and top 30 defensively. But, if match-ups make fights and basketball games, then the edge here looks to be with the Zags. Duke is highly reliant on Okafor and their other dynamic freshmen on the perimeter. Gonzaga has a slew of big men they can use to contain Okafor and they have the experience and skill in the backcourt (Pangos, Wesley and Bell are all seniors) to frustrate and contain Tyus Jones and Justise Winslow, while neutralizing Quinn Cook. I'm betting on Few to finally shut up his irrational critics and get to his first Final Four.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Dance Line$ - Picking the Tournament - Elite 8

This year, I will be picking every game of the Tournament against the spread.

For the record, I am doing this just for fun - for the love of the game!

Off the record, who knows, so wish me luck. Thanks!

I was on my way to a pretty darn good betting Friday, until members of the Utah Utes men's basketball team proved unable to control their frustration. Down 5 (the line I had was Utah +6) and with 0.7 seconds to go, the Utes clawed and grabbed at Quinn Cook.

Of course, the refs had absolutely no choice but to call the foul and drag both teams back from their locker rooms in order to protect the integrity of the game. And, of course, Cook had no choice but to tease me by missing the first free throw, only to rip my heart out by making the second, in true Dukie fashion.

But, anyway...

Record: 22-36-2

Yesterday: 2-1-1

Saturday, 3/28/15. Regional Finals:

(2) Arizona -1.5 vs (1) Wisconsin, 6:09PM, Los Angeles, CA, TBS

For once, what we all thought would happen in the NCAA Tournament actually did happen. The 1 and 2 seeds took care of their business and will meet tonight in a rematch of an Elite Eight match-up from last year. In that game, Wisconsin won an overtime thriller, 64-63, led by Frank Kaminsky's 28 points and 11 rebounds. The key this year will be Sam Dekker. He will have to produce more than the 7 points he put up last year for Wisconsin to get to their 2nd straight Final Four. Arizona has been open about the revenge factor at work in this contest, which will only help the Cats in this evenly matched affair. It is Arizona's defense that separates the two teams and will propel Sean Miller to his first Final Four.

(3) Notre Dame +11 vs (1) Kentucky, 8:49PM, Cleveland, OH, TBS

Yeah, so, last time I bet against Kentucky they embarrassed West Virginia - and me - to the tune of a 78-39 obliteration. Don't blame me, I forgot the Mountaineers couldn't shoot/score in an open gym practice, much less against the best defensive college team in years. Notre Dame doesn't have that problem. They have two dynamic guards, likely to play at the next level, along with a determined, resourceful small forward and a decent big. It's the decent big that is doubtful to be enough to upset the Big Blue juggernaut. The biggest thing in favor of the Irish keeping this game relatively close is their lack of chatter. So far, they've been smart enough to avoid bold statements that could cause them to hide in bathroom stalls after the game. 

Friday, March 27, 2015

Dance Line$ - Picking the Tournament - Sweet 16

This year, I will be picking every game of the Tournament against the spread.

For the record, I am doing this just for fun - for the love of the game!

Off the record, who knows, so wish me luck. Thanks!

Well, things went a little better for me yesterday, as I was on-point with my Notre Dame pick. As for that thing I said about West Virginia covering, please forget that ever happened.

Record: 20-35-1

Yesterday: 2-2

Friday, 3/27/15. Regional Semifinals:

(2) Gonzaga -8.5 vs (11) UCLA, 7:15PM, Houston, TX, CBS

This might be the year that Mark Few and the Zags finally fulfill their dream of reaching a Final Four and I don't see the upstarts from L.A. disrupting that. Gonzaga rolled over a pretty good Iowa team in their last game and they won at UCLA rather easily way back in December. Yes, the Bruins are a different team than they were then, but they still don't have enough to deal with the Zags.

(4) Louisville -2.5 vs (8) NC State, 7:37PM, Syracuse, NY, TBS

The Wolfpack won the only meeting between the two this season, on the Cardinals' home turf. That came as a surprise at the time, but NC State has shown that that may not have been a fluke. However, the previous result will also provide additional focus and motivation to Rick Pitino and his squad. Pitino is pretty good even without additional help, especially in March. 

(5) Utah +6 vs (1) Duke, 9:45PM, Houston, TX, CBS

Duke is one of those "public teams" that gets a lot of support in Vegas no matter who they're playing. That said, this Blue Devils squad is legit and are the objective favorite to get to the Final Four out of the South region. They looked spectacular in their win over San Diego State last weekend, but Utah will be a different beast. The Utes, too, looked great last weekend, beating Georgetown. Utah has the size to bother Jahlil Okafor and the team defensive prowess to slow down Duke's perimeter attack. I think Duke just sneaks by here. 

(3) Oklahoma +2 vs (7) Michigan State, 10:07PM, Syracuse, NY, TBS

Hey, I know the Spartans are playing terrific basketball of late and Tom Izzo is great and you should never pick against him. But I like the firepower that the Sooners can throw at them with Buddy Hield, Isaiah Cousins, TaShawn Thomas & company. It should be a defensive battle, but Oklahoma has proven they have the ability to win in a variety of ways. Look for Lon Kruger to move on.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Dance Line$ - Picking the Tournament - Sweet 16

This year, I will be picking every game of the Tournament against the spread.

For the record, I am doing this just for fun - for the love of the game!

Off the record, who knows, so wish me luck. Thanks!

It was a rough Sunday for me, as I went 1-7 on the last day of the round of 32. Fortunately, I still have a tiny bit of money left to try and make an L.L. Cool J style comeback. 

Kids, don't try this at home. I feel things about to turn around for me. But, if not, I'm not too good for rehab.

Record: 18-33-1

Thursday, 3/26/15. Regional Semifinals:

(3) Notre Dame +2 vs (7) Wichita State, 7:15PM, Cleveland, OH, CBS

What the Shockers did to Kansas last weekend was quite impressive. I don't think I've seen a team play harder than WSU did the last couple minutes of the 1st half, along with the entire second half. The problem for me is, I don't see how they can possibly conjure up the same emotion and resultant effort a few days later against a non-hated opponent. Not that they won't play well, I just expect a slight let down. Notre Dame is coming off an impressive, gritty win over a team similar to Wichita State, in Butler. The Irish, and more importantly, I, now know they are capable of winning a tough game at a slower pace.

(4) North Carolina +6.5 vs (1) Wisconsin, 7:47PM, Los Angeles, CA, TBS

This will be a close game, in my opinion, so Wisconsin is getting too many points for my liking. The Badgers struggled a bit with Oregon in the second (yes, second) round, which gives me more pause towards the Badgers than I already had. The Tar Heels have been undervalued, despite showing that they can play with any team in the country and coming off an impressive victory over a talented Arkansas squad. Look for this one to come down to the wire, forcing Kaminsky and Dekker to come up big, late.

(5) West Virginia +13 vs (1) Kentucky, 9:45PM, Cleveland, OH, CBS

As I stated in a previous post, I'm likely to pick against the Wildcats the rest of the way, based solely on them being overvalued by the general public and thus, by Vegas. They have failed to cover the spread in either of their two tournament games so far and I see that trend continuing. I don't think the Mountaineers pull off the upset, but I do think they can keep the final score under double-digits, or very, very close.

(6) Xavier +11.5 vs (2) Arizona, 10:17PM, Los Angeles, CA, TBS

Though, this is pretty close to a home game for Arizona, I look for this contest to stay competitive for most, if not all of the game. Zona has been impressive so far in wins over Texas Southern and Ohio State. But, they have a history of letting teams hang around, as the Cats are not the most explosive offensive team. Xavier has been better than they have been given credit for and have the bigs to match up with Arizona's frontline. The Musketeers are a tough bunch, so look for them to take some Zona punches and throw a few right back. 

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Sweet Nothings - Thoughts on the Sweet 16 and Beyond (Not Backwards)

It's been an interesting and unpredictable tournament, as per usual. But instead of looking back and reflecting on my tattered bracket or cry about my beloved Big East, I'm going to take my doctor's advice and look ahead to what could and should be.

We are left with sixteen teams that won two games in this tournament, but those two games are the equivalent of about 25 regular season games in today's day and age, just ask Villanova and their 33 (meaningless?) wins.

Oops, I'm dwelling on the past again. It's not so easy to move forward and I have no idea how to play the piccolo.

Anyway, we are left with plenty of potentially good basketball to watch and talk about. Here's what's got me thinking...

Kentucky will finally be tested. Maybe.

After getting through the first weekend relatively unscathed (Cincinnati provided a challenge in a football kind of way), this is the weekend where Kentucky will finally at least get a scare.

Or, is it?

West Virginia could present an interesting challenge, but it would be more of a surprise if they pushed Kentucky than it would be if the Wildcats rolled over yet another opponent.

A match-up with either Wichita State or Notre Dame in the Elite Eight would look a little sexier on paper, but neither seems to have the size, depth, or depth of size to truly threaten Kentucky on a neutral court.

Wisconsin and Arizona look to be on the collision course most predicted.

The Badgers and Cats have not disappointed and both are strong favorites to meet the other in the West Regional Final. However, don't count on either of them getting there easily.

North Carolina can play with anyone in the country, and with or without Kennedy Meeks (questionable with a knee injury), the Tar Heels should give Bo Ryan's squad a run for their money.

Xavier won't be a cake walk for Arizona, either. The Musketeers have the size and girth to compete with the Wildcats on the blocks and Chris Mack's squad will have no fear, it's not in their DNA.

Ultimately though, the top two seeds should prevail and link up for what will be a much-anticipated thriller in L.A.

Izzo and Pitino invade the East.

College basketball is rightfully known as a coach's game and no two coaches exemplify that more than Tom Izzo and Rick Pitino.

Neither Michigan State nor Louisville was expected to do much in this tournament, but neither should have been counted out, either. Both coaches have perfected the art of getting the most out of their teams late in the season and now both are hogging all of the attention in the East region.

College basketball writers' heads might collectively explode if these two were to advance and meet in the Elite Eight. However, there's another great coach in the region, one with a better team than either of the aforementioned legends has, that could be the one dancing on to Indianapolis when the weekend comes to an end.

Now's the time for Gonzaga.

I'm a little tired of people annually getting on the Zags about not being able to win the big one, or not being able to complete the simple task of reaching a Final Four. 

Mark Few must be exhausted.

Heading into this Sweet 16, Few must be able to taste the cold wet air of Indianapolis.

First, Gonzaga must take care of UCLA, a team playing much better than they were in December, but let's not go overboard with Steve Alford's crew.

Look, I'm way over UCLA slipping in through the Tournament's back door, but you're not going to convice me that two wins a season makes. One of those wins came over a solid, but unspectacular SMU squad who lacked a legitimate good win; and the other was against the fifth best regular season team in Conference USA (see my earlier Villanova rant).

Anyway, there is also that team from Durham in the Zags' way, but that's a pretty even match-up on paper and it's about time Mark Few & company won one of those.

Twitter: @Blacketologist 

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Dance Line$ - Picking the Tournament - 3/22/15

This year, I will be picking every game of the Tournament against the spread.

For the record, I am doing this just for fun - for the love of the game!

Off the record, who knows, so wish me luck. Thanks!

Record: 17-26-1

Sunday, 3/22/15. Round of 32:

(2) Virginia -4.5 vs (7) Michigan State, 12:10PM, Charlotte, NC, CBS

The Spartans have been playing well for the last couple weeks, having only lost to Wisconsin in overtime. The Cavs have been playing well all year and the second best defense in the country should be able to slow Michigan State down. Look for UVA to avenge last year's Sweet 16 loss to the Spartans. 

(8) San Diego State +9 vs (1) Duke, 2:40PM, Charlotte, NC, CBS

The totally defensive dependent Aztecs putt up a whopping 76 points against St. John's on Friday. Not that you should expect a repeat, but Duke's defense is average at best. I would expect SDSU to give Duke's offense some trouble, maybe not to the tune of a victory, but a closer than expected game.

(2) Kansas -1.5 vs (7) Wichita State, 5:15PM, Omaha, NE, CBS

You know the story, Wichita State finally gets its shot at big bad Kansas. But, there are two sides to every story; Kansas gets its shot, too. The Jayhawks have been undervalued this year because they haven't been dominant, but they've been very good. The Shockers are pretty good in their own right, but look for Bill Self and company to make a statement. 

(3) Oklahoma -4 vs (11) Dayton, 6:10PM, Columbus, OH, TNT

There is no doubt who we all think the better team is. But, there's definitely doubt as to who will win this game. That's a credit to coach Archie Miller and his gritty Flyers. This should be a defensive struggle, since the strength of both teams is on that side of the floor. However, Oklahoma has more offensive weapons, so I'll take the Sooners and the points. 

(7) Iowa +6.5 vs (2) Gonzaga, 7:10PM, Seattle, WA, TBS

Besides a hiccup or maybe a regurgitation versus Penn State in the Big Ten Tournament, Iowa has been great over the last month. The Zags have only had two hiccups all season. Gonzaga is one of the better offensive teams in the country, but Iowa - on a good day - is capable of keeping up. Here's to hoping the Hawkeyes keep up. I'll take the points.

(1) Wisconsin -12 vs (8) Oregon, 7:45PM, Omaha, NE, TRU

Oregon (and coach Dana Altman) has been a nice story. But, did you see what happened when the Ducks went up against Arizona in the Pac 12 Championship? I see something similar today, much like Ohio State's fate against both Wisconsin and Arizona.

(4) Maryland pk vs (5) West Virginia, 8:40PM, Columbus, OH, TNT

This is definitely a pretty even match-up, as the line suggests. I'll take the Terps, based on Trimble and Wells as well as Maryland's better overall balance on both sides of the ball. 

(5) Northern Iowa -2 vs (4) Louisville, 9:40PM, Seattle, WA, TBS

Much like Butler/Notre Dame to end last night, this one should be another war of a defensive battle that will have all your favorite fake basketball media tweeting their dislike for the college game. I'll take UNI because I have some semblance of confidence that they will be able to make a couple shots.

Twitter: @Blacketologist 

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Dance Line$ - Picking the Tournament - 3/21/15

This year, I will be picking every game of the Tournament against the spread.

For the record, I am doing this just for fun - for the love of the game!

Off the record, who knows, so wish me luck. Thanks!

Last night didn't go too well, as Davidson, St. John's and Providence basically laid an egg, while Gonzaga, Oklahoma and Wisconsin failed to cover big spreads.

Record: 13-22-1

Saturday, 3/21/15. Round of 32:

(14) UAB +5.5 vs (11) UCLA, 12:10PM, Louisville, KY, CBS

The Blazers are coming off the big upset of Iowa State and are obviously not the same team they were for most of the season. UCLA has looked solid lately, as well. Give me UAB getting points in what should be a nip and tuck game. 

(8) Cincinnati +16.5 vs (1) Kentucky, 2:40PM, Louisville, KY, CBS

I took Kentucky and the points in their first round hame versus Hampton and paid for it, mainly because they took it easy on the MEAC team in the 2nd half. I will likely bet against the Wildcats the rest of the way because they are overvalued by the public, which inflates the line. The Bearcats should be able to keep the pace slow and make it tough for Kentucky to score. The question is, will Cincy be able to score at all.

(2) Arizona -9.5 vs (10) Ohio State, 5:15PM, Portland, OR, CBS

Zona has been mighty impressive of late, having won 12 straight. They're too good on both ends of the floor for Ohio State to stay close with, IMHO.

(14) Georgia State +6.5 vs (6) Xavier, 6:10PM, Jacksonville, FL, TNT

Georgia State is riding high after R.J. Hunter's huge three and his father Ron's big fall. It'll be tough for the Musketeers to slow down that momentum, so I'm looking for a back and forth battle that again comes down to the last possession.

(1) Villanova -9.5 vs (8) NC State, 7:10PM, Pittsburgh, PA, TBS

Nova has been firing on all cylinders for the past 16 games or so. NC State is solid and capable, but the depth and versatility of the Wildcats should wear down the Wolfpack, eventually.

(4) Georgetown +4.5 vs (5) Utah, 7:45PM, Portland, OR, CBS

Though, the Utes had been struggling recently, they looked good in their win over S.F. Austin. The Hoyas looked pretty good themselves versus Eastern Washington. This is a game that could go either way, so I'll take points.

(4) North Carolina -4.5 vs (5) Arkansas, 8:40PM, Jacksonville, FL, TNT

Similar to Utah/Georgetown, this seems like an even match-up that could go either way. I just have more faith in the Tar Heels since they are the more tested team, coming out of the ACC. Regardless, it will be an up-and-down, entertaining game and I expect UNC to pull away at the end.

(6) Butler +5 vs (3) Notre Dame, 9:40PM, Pittsburgh, PA, TBS

This is a tough one. It's a classic offense versus defense match-up, that's likely to test the toughness of Notre Dame. Give me the Bulldogs, getting points, in what should be a nail-biter.

Twitter: @Blacketologist 

Friday, March 20, 2015

Six First Round Upsets For Your Bracket

Everybody loves the upset.

Except, of course, if it’s your team getting upset.

This time of year, it is one of the biggest topics of conversation. Nobody wants to fill out their NCAA Tournament bracket without including a handful of first round upsets that you can brag about if lucky enough to get one of them right.
In an effort to help you with your luck, here are six upsets to consider when filling out your bracket.
(12) Buffalo (23-9) vs. (5) West Virginia (23-9) Friday, 2:10PM, Columbus, OH, TNT

Everybody loves the 5 vs. 12 seed games, and nowadays, it doesn’t seem like it’s an upset when the 12 seed wins. This game should be a good one, regardless of seeding. The Bulls actually come into this game as the 28th ranked RPI team. They have won 8 straight games and Bobby Hurley’s squad played Kentucky and Wisconsin tight at their places early in the season. West Virginia has been solid all year, coming out of the best conference in the country. But they lost 6 of their last 11 games and Buffalo has been good with the ball, so they should be able to handle the Mountaineer pressure.

(13) Valparaiso (28-5) vs. (4) Maryland (27-6) Friday, 4:40PM, Columbus, OH, TNT

The 13/4 seed match-ups ain’t bad, either. This game is pretty even, statistically. Both teams are solid offensively and defensively, while neither causes many turnovers. If Valpo can contain Dez Wells and Melo Trimble and keep them off of the free throw line, Bryce Drew and Crusaders have a great shot at the upset.

(14) Georgia State (24-9) vs. (3) Baylor (24-9) Thursday, 1:40PM, Jacksonville, FL, TBS

Georgia State is a good team on both ends of the floor. Baylor has easily been one of the top 20 teams in the country, but they are prone to poor shooting days. The Panthers have good experience, including Ryan Harrow and Kevin Ware, transfers from Kentucky and Louisville, respectively. However, Georgia State will have to keep Baylor off the offensive boards to have a chance.

(15) Texas Southern (22-12) vs. (2) Arizona (31-3) Thursday, 2:10PM, Portland, OR, TNT

Disclaimer: I don’t really think this will happen, but… Texas Southern, out of the Southwestern Athletic Conference, has wins at Michigan State and Kansas State this season. In addition, the Tigers have played the #1 non-conference schedule. Arizona has looked dominant of late, but their three losses this season came to teams not in the tournament field. So, they have shown they can lose to lesser teams. Texas Southern is also experienced, with three seniors in their starting lineup.

(12) S.F. Austin (29-4) vs. (5) Utah (24-8) Thursday, 7:27PM, Portland, OR, TRU

S.F. Austin is a tough first round match-up for anyone, much less a Utah team that has struggled lately, losing 4 of its last 7. The Lumberjacks are a very good offensive team and a great passing team. Once again, they come into this tournament hot, having won 28 of their last 29 games. S.F. Austin has also been there and done that. They won a second round game last year, in contrast to the Utes, who have limited NCAA Tournament experience.

(13) Eastern Washington (26-8) vs. (4) Georgetown (21-10) Thursday, 9:57PM, Portland, OR, TRU

While Georgetown’s recent tournament woes have been overblown by much of the media, the Hoyas surely have incentive to do well this year. It might not be easy. Eastern Washington is very solid, particularly on the offensive end. The Eagles won at Indiana and played SMU tough in Dallas earlier this season. Georgetown has shown a couple flashes of greatness, but has been way too inconsistent to truly count on.

This article first appeared on CollegeHoopsDaily, The College Basketball Blog.

Dance Line$ - Picking the Tournament - 3/20/15

This year, I will be picking every game of the Tournament against the spread.

For the record, I am doing this just for fun - for the love of the game!

Off the record, who knows, so wish me luck. Thanks!

Record: 8-12

Friday, 3/20/15. First Round:

(2) Kansas -9.5 vs (15) New Mexico State, 12:15PM, Omaha, NE, CBS

The Big 12 had it pretty rough yesterday. Kansas is different, though. After a poor tournament last year, expect the Jayhawks to be focused today.

(10) Georgia +7 vs (7) Michigan State, 12:40PM, Charlotte, NC, TRU

Funny that Michigan State, known for defense, has actually been a better offensive team than defensive. Georgia is the more gritty defensive team this year, so the score should be low and close. 

(12) Wyoming +6 vs (5) Northern Iowa, 1:40PM, Seattle, WA, TBS

This will be another low scoring game, as both teams take their time on offense, to say the least. I'm high on UNI, but Wyoming is just as experienced and has been playing well of late. Look for another close one.

(12) Buffalo +4.5 vs (5) West Virginia, 2:10PM, Columbus, OH, TNT

I've been calling for this upset since the bracket came out, so I'm not stopping here. The Bulls are underrated and have played well versus tougher teams than West Virginia. I've never truly been sold on the Mountaineers this season.

(10) Indiana +6 vs (7) Wichita State, 2:45PM, Omaha, NE, CBS

This is one of the more intriguing match-ups of the first round. Indiana is reliant on the 3-point shot, but their threes will likely be contested today. Wichita State is solid on both ends of the floor, but I see this coming down to a play or two at the end.

(15) Belmont +17 vs (2) Virginia, 3:10PM, Charlotte, NC, TRU

On paper, the Bruins are a scary 15 seed, because of their history and their shooting prowess. Belmont shoots and hits a lot of threes, so a hot performance could keep them in this game. The flip side is, UVA is the best defensive team in the country and good enough offensively to exploit Belmont's defensive weaknesses.

(4) Louisville -8 vs (13) UC Irvine, 4:10PM, Seattle, WA, TBS

Louisville has struggled to live up to expectations this year, primarily because they can't shoot. Their defense has never been a problem. I don't see the Anteaters putting many points on the board.

(13) Valparaiso +5.5 vs (4) Maryland, 4:40PM, Columbus, OH, TNT

This is a close game/upset waiting to happen, unless Dez Wells and Melo Trimble can find a way to take over the game.

(9) Oklahoma State +3 vs (8) Oregon, 6:50PM, Omaha, NE, TBS

The Cowboys are the more well-rounded team and should benefit from playing a team outside of the Big 12 for the first time in a long time. Plus, the Big 12 needs some good news today.

(1) Duke -22.5 vs (16) Robert Morris, 7:10PM, Charlotte, NC, CBS

I have been impressed with Bobby Mo in their last three games, particularly with their leading scorer, Lucky Jones. But, when Duke puts its mind to it, they can be lethal. I see one of those performances tonight.

(10) Davidson +2 vs (7) Iowa, 7:20PM, Seattle, WA, TNT

This will be another good one. Davidson is one of the better offensive teams in the country, as well as fun to watch. Iowa is solid on both sides of the ball, but has been wildly inconsistent this year. Look for the Wildcats to drain a lot of threes to make up for the size differential.

(3) Oklahoma -13.5 vs (14) Albany, 7:27PM, Columbus, OH, TRU

The Sooners are one of my sleeper picks to get to the Final Four. I don't see Albany being too big of a roadblock.

(1) Wisconsin -20.5 vs (16) Coastal Carolina, 9:20PM, Omaha, NE, TBS

The Badgers have been quite rude to lesser competition all season. The Chanticleers are in for a long night.

(9) St. John's +4 vs (8) San Diego State, 9:40PM, Charlotte, NC, CBS

This will be a grind. SDSU is one of the best defensive teams in the country, while the Johnnies aren't too shabby either. St. John's will miss big man Chris Obekpa, but only on defense. Their guards should at least keep them in the game.

(2) Gonzaga -18 vs (15) North Dakota State, 9:50PM, Seattle, WA, TNT

Look for the Zags to make a statement to their NCAA Tournament non-believers.

(6) Providence -3 vs (11) Dayton, 9:57PM, Columbus, OH, TRU

Dayton is one of those teams that you must finish off and kill because they won't kill themselves. So, it won't be easy for the Friars, but Dunn, Henton & company have shown to be hungry late in the season. Look for Providence to survive a knock-down, drag-out affair.

Twitter: @Blacketologist 

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Dance Line$ - Picking the Tournament

This year, I will be picking every game of the Tournament against the spread.

For the record, I am doing this just for fun - for the love of the game!

Off the record, who knows, so wish me luck. Thanks!

Record: 0-4

Thursday, 3/19/15. First Round:

(14) Northeastern +13 vs (3) Notre Dame, 12:15PM, Pittsburgh, PA, CBS

This should be a high scoring game, as both are very good offensively, the Irish being elite. I'll bet Northeastern can score enough to make this respectable.

(3) Iowa State -14 vs (14) UAB, 12:40PM, Louisville, KY, TRU

Iowa State's on a roll, coming off a Big 12 championship. UAB snuck in the dance from a wide open Conference USA and they do nothing particularly well.

(14) Georgia State +8.5 vs (3) Baylor, 1:40PM, Jacksonville, FL, TBS

Georgia State is a solid team with a couple of big-time transfers on it. I expect Georgia State to keep it close and at least scare the Bears.

(15) Texas Southern +23.5 vs (2) Arizona, 2:10PM, Portland, OR, TNT

Texas Southern is another solid, experienced team that has won at Michigan State and Kansas State this season. I like them to keep it relatively close.

(6) Butler +1.5 vs (11) Texas, 2:45PM, Pittsburgh, PA, CBS

This a match-up of two very good defensive teams, so expect a low scoring affair. I'll take gritty Butler to get the job done, here.

(6) SMU -4 vs (11) UCLA, 3:10PM, Louisville, KY, TRU

UCLA was a surprise selection for the tournament. That doesn't mean they can't win today. But, I'll go with Larry Brown to get SMU over the top with the points, barely.

(6) Xavier -3 vs (11) Ole Miss, 4:10, Jacksonville, FL, TBS

Ole Miss is coming off a historic come-from-behind victory over BYU in the First Four, Tuesday night. Expect another close one today, but Xavier should have a bit more energy.

(7) VCU +4 vs (10) Ohio State, 4:40PM, Portland, OR, TNT

Ohio State has been a bit overrated the entire season and Vegas continues that trend today. VCU seems to have their swagger back after winning the Atlantic 10 crown.

(1) Villanova -23 vs (16) Lafayette, 6:50PM, Pittsburgh, PA, TBS

Nova has struggled in the first round before, but they're on a mission this year, so look for them to roll over the Patriot League foe.

(9) Purdue pk vs (8) Cincinnati, 7:10PM, Louisville, KY, CBS

As the line states, this is a pick em. Give me Purdue because they're a little better at putting the ball in the basket.

(4) North Carolina -11 vs (13) Harvard, 7:20PM, Jacksonville, FL, TNT

This ain't the same Harvard team as the last couple years and UNC finally got some big wins in the ACC Tournament. Take Carolina and the points. 

(12) S.F. Austin +6.5 vs (5) Utah, 7:27PM, Portland, OR, TRU

This is a popular upset pick for a reason. Go with SFA, especially getting the points.

(8) NC State -2 vs (9) LSU, 9:20PM, Pittsburgh, PA, TBS

Rolling with the Wolfpack in this one. Gottfried is known to have his teams prepared at tournament time and LSU is just too unpredictable.

(1) Kentucky -34 vs (16) Hampton, 9:40PM, Louisville, KY, CBS

It's been a heck of a run for Hampton out of the MEAC, but it ends here and likely by a whole lot.

(12) Wofford +7.5 vs (5) Arkansas, 9:50PM, Jacksonville, FL, TNT

I like the Razorbacks to win, but Wofford to keep it close. They've been too solid of a team all season.

(13) Eastern Washington +8 vs Georgetown, 9:57PM, Portland, OR, TRU

The Hoyas have no doubt heard all the chatter about their recent March failings, so they will likely be focused. But, EWU can play with almost anyone and Georgetown rarely runs away from anyone.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Dance Line$ - Picking the Tournament

This year, I will be picking every game of the Tournament against the spread.

For the record, I am doing this just for fun - for the love of the game!

Off the record, who knows, so wish me luck. Thanks!

Record: 0-2

Wednesday, 3/18/15. First Four:

(16) North Florida -3 vs (16) Robert Morris, 6:40PM, Dayton, OH, TRU

This is another near toss-up. I'll go with the Atlantic Sun team because they are the more potent offensive squad.

(11) Dayton -4 vs (11) Boise State, 9:10PM, Dayton, OH, TRU

It gets no easier with this match-up. I like Boise State, who had won 15 of 16 prior to being upset by Wyoming in the Mountain West Conference tournament. But, Dayton was given the unfair advantage of a true home game. The Flyers have not lost in Dayton since January 3rd and Archie Miller has proven to be a big-time tournament coach. I'll take Dayton, eat the points again, and sweat. 

Twitter: @Blacketologist 

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Ranking The Regions - A Look At Each Corner Of The NCAA Tournament Bracket

I plan to answer all those questions for you this year, as I rank the regions in the 2015 NCAA Tournament bracket from strongest to weakest.

#1: EAST

There is no question that fans and even some “experts” undervalue Villanova.

But, the Wildcats are the second strongest 1 seed in the dance. They are playing better than anyone not named Kentucky and have won 15 straight Big East games (2nd rated conference in the country) by an average of 17 points.

The 2 seed is a team many believed should have been a 1, in 29-3 Virginia.

Oklahoma is a team fully capable of making a deep run as a 3 seed, coming out of America’s best conference this season.

4 seed Louisville and their coach Rick Pitino are a team that I can guarantee no one wants to run into this time of year. Yes, they have struggled a bit, before and after the loss of Chris Jones, but if any coach can gather the troops and make a run, it’s Pitino.

That’s a tough 4 seed frontline, but it doesn’t stop there. Northern Iowa, Providence, and Michigan State are all teams that can play with anyone in the country and it should surprise no one if they go on a run.


Well, the best team in the country is here, so there’s that.

Kentucky of course is gunning to make history as the first undefeated team since the 1976 Indiana squad. It won’t be as easy as many think, particularly in this sneaky tough region.

Kansas, the 2 seed in this region, has been overlooked all season.

But, all they do is win.

Remember, the Jayhawks won the Big 12 (the #1 rated conference) again this season and actually come into the tournament with the most top 25 wins, at 9. There is no team more tested.

There is also no team that will have more incentive to beat Kentucky, considering the Wildcats drilled them by 32 for all the world to see, back in November.

Notre Dame is capable of beating anyone, with their high-powered offense, led by one of the best players in the country, Jerian Grant.

The 4 seed, Maryland, is a team many believed should have been a 3 seed, based on the Terps’ 27-6 record, high RPI, and the combination of Dez Wells and Melo Trimble.

This region also has the scariest collection of tough/gritty teams, with West Virginia, Butler, Wichita State, and Cincinnati inhabiting seeds 5-8.

#3: WEST

It’s hard to argue with the top two seeds in this region.

Wisconsin and Arizona are almost mirror images of each other. Both are super talented, experienced teams that dominated their respective weaker-than-usual conferences. But, both have shown unpredictable weakness here and there.

Baylor is an interesting 3 seed. Formidable, yes, but they feel more like a sleeper than a team to be counted on. The Bears have some big-time wins, but all within their conference.

North Carolina is similar to Baylor: dangerous, but hard to count on.

Arkansas, Xavier and VCU all seem capable of winning a game or two, max.


I’ll start with the obligatory, I'm not a conspiracy theorist, but…

On paper, it looks like the Committee was pretty, pretty kind to Duke (Larry David voice). The Blue Devils have been great, but a tiny bit fragile.

They are joined in the South by perhaps the weakest 2 seed Рat least, resum̩ wise Рin Gonzaga. The Zags have the fewest number of top 50 and top 25 wins of the 2 seeds.

Iowa State is a strong 3 seed that is capable of reaching the Final Four. But, Georgetown and Utah, have been up and down, more recently down.

6 seed SMU is a solid team with a nice story and Larry brown is a great coach. However, the Mustangs’ best wins this season came against AAC foes Temple and Tulsa; neither is in the field.

 This article first appeared at College Hoops Daily, The College Basketball Blog.