Every year at this time I make a bunch of predictions about the baseball season as it gets underway. I focus on things that will impact the betting side of things, of course. I suppose that it is only fair to disclose that I am wrong more than I am right – predicting what will happen over 162 games is tricky stuff. Regardless, here I go fearlessly plunging into my view of how this season, which is currently in the midst of its third and final opening day of the year.
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For the first time in the 20 or so years that I have been filling out a bracket I have all four Final Four teams. I should be proud of that, but all it really means is that I am a chalk-eating weenie. I did the ultimate newbie thing – take the number one seeds and put them all the way through to the end – and it paid off. That makes me feel like a need to shower for a week or so. Don’t get me wrong – I’ll spend the money if my luck keeps holding. It just seems wrong that something so unimaginative and boring would be the right way to go.
Will the last five minutes of a college basketball game ever be interesting or tense again? That’s eight of the last nine which have been over well before they have been over. Tomorrow, hopefully, is another day.
1. Davidson can beat Kansas, and it wouldn’t even be a massive upset. Heck, if I had to rank the eight teams in order of likelihood to win based on the way they are playing Davidson wouldn’t be at the bottom despite their seed.
The games on Thursday night weren’t entirely entertaining, and they weren’t too surprising, but they were educational. At first glance, three things pop into mind as I process what happened:
1. Xavier is for real – Xavier struggled in the second half, and they should have won their game against West Virginia easier than they did, but they proved that they certainly aren’t out of place in the Elite Eight – the school’s second berth since 2004. Their balance and depth is impressive, and their discipline is relentless. I know for certain that they don’t have an answer for Kevin Love, but I don’t know that the Bruins have an answer for some of what the Musketeers through at them, either. Western Kentucky succeeded in the second half with an up-tempo shooting fest and they will get all of that and more from the Musketeers. Xavier consistently makes the big play when they need it, and they will need several on Saturday. If I was forced then I would say that UCLA would probably win, but an upset would not be an overwhelming or impossible one.
It is a heck of a line-up of games we have to look forward to tonight and tomorrow night. There are only a couple that have a real risk of being duds, and several that could come down to the last second. Here is my ranking of the games in order of my level of anticipation as a fan and a bettor:
As I sit here thinking about the tournament, and about the sports betting world in general, here are 10 questions that are bouncing through my mind:
1. Can Western Kentucky be remotely competitive against UCLA? – Their center is Jeremy Evans, a 6’9″ sophomore who weighs in at a whopping 190 pounds. Kevin Love is taller and 70 pounds heavier. I think I fear for Evans’ life.
I want to take a minute away from the tournament for a second because it is on hiatus and focus instead on the pros. One thing I am fascinated by more than almost anything in the NBA is the impact of serious injuries on a team from a betting perspective. Given that, what is going on with Dallas right now is as good as it gets. Dirk Nowitzki went down to the ground with a crash against San Antonio, and it was immediately obvious that he was in trouble. It appears that he has sprains to his knee and ankle. Initial reports were that he was out for two weeks, but the team has shied away from setting a timeline and it could reasonably be much longer. It never seems like a big guy comes back from a leg injury faster than expected.
After four long and intense days of watching college basketball I’m taking a bit of a break. I’m not burned out by any means – how can get you get burned out by something as great as college basketball. I just feel like the best thing for my intensity and focus is to take a day where I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about basketball. That means that I will feel ready to jump right back into it tomorrow to get ready for another weekend and to see if there is any value available in any of the other tournaments.
1. The Big East confuses the heck out of me – Coming into the tournament I felt reasonably confident that the Big East was the strongest conference. Now I’m not so sure. In some ways they have been better than expected, while in others they have disappointed.