GAMBLING GUIDE

March for the cash: Bracket tips and Thursday plays

It's tournament time. Getty Images

The moment selection Sunday concluded, college hoops enthusiasts scrambled frantically to get their first glance at a bracket and a chance to predict the first upset of the tournament. Over three decades of countless brackets being filled out at a rate that has gotten up to 100 million a year, zero have come out perfect. Even further, according to the main sites that host the March Madness bracket contest (ESPN, FOX, Yahoo, NCAA, CBS.), the best bracket on record was in 2017, with 39 consecutive wins. Before that, it was in 2014, where a man named Brian Bender was able to start out a perfect 36 for 36.

The odds of completing a perfect bracket are nearly impossible, but for employees of Warren Buffet's companies, going perfect through the sweet 16 can bank you 1 million dollars a year, for the rest of your life. An added bonus to this year's prize pool, the 70 billion dollar CEO promises to make it 2 million a year if one of the two teams from his home state can cut down the nets in San Antonio. Creighton and Nebraska just gained that many more fans going into this year's competition. A consolation prize of $100,000 isn't too shabby for the best overall bracket either.

Here are a few tips when filling out your bracket:

How many upsets is too many?

An upset is classified where the teams competing have at least a two seed gap between them. On average, there are 12.7 upsets a year per tournament. Most of those upsets happen in the round of 64 as there are more games, and the difference in competition tightens up through each round.

Upsets through round:

64- 6 upsets
32- 3.6 upsets
Sweet 16- 1.6 upsets
Elite 8- .9 upsets
Final Four- .3 upsets

The most upsets a tournament has seen was in 2014, where it happened 19 times. The least was in 2007 with only four.

When picking underdogs and upsets keep the number around 10, giving you a less chance of busting your bracket up completely.

The infamous #12 vs. #5 match-up

When sifting through stats and trends, one that has come to mind is the recent dependability of this upset in the last few tournaments. Since 2007,  all of the No. 5 seeds have advanced together only twice, giving us reason to believe that we will see a 12 knock off a top seed again this year. In the last six years, when these two seeds have faced off in the round of 64, the favorite is 11-13 straight up. Betting against the No. 5 seed in the opening round has paid off big as of late, with the favorite going 8-16 against the spread, and in the past two tournaments, No. 5 seeds hold  1-3 ATS records.

Odds to Win

No. 1 seeds
Villanova +600
Virginia +650
Kansas +1200
Xavier +1500

Although these teams are the top seeds for each region, Vegas doesn't seem to agree. Duke is a #2 seed and pays out+800, less than Kansas and Xavier. The same can be said for #3 seeds Michigan State (+750) and Michigan (+1000). Another significant disagreement with Vegas is with Arizona being a No. 4 seed, and their odds prove it, as the Wildcats pay out the same as No. 1 seeded Kansas. Yes, the road to the final four has a lot to do with the future odds, and with tournament top seed Virginia we see just that. They are the overall top seed yet play slightly less than Villanova. The fact that Virginia will have to potentially play Arizona or Kentucky in the sweet 16 and have to backdoor a likely match-up vs. Cincinnati in the Elite 8 gives Villanova the easier path.

Villanova +600
Virginia +650
Duke +800
Michigan State +1100
Kansas +1200
Purdue +1200
Cincinnati +1200
Arizona +1200
Michigan +1400
North Carolina +1400
Xavier+1500
Gonzaga +1500
Kentucky +1600
West Virginia +2500
Texas Tech +4000
Tennessee +4000
Wichita State +4000
Missouri +5500
Auburn +6000
Ohio State +8000
Florida +9000
Houston U +10000
Providence +10000
Rhode Island +15000
Texas A&M +15000
TCU +15000
Clemson +15000
Miami Florida +15000
Oklahoma +20000
San Diego State +20000
Virginia Tech +20000
Arkansas +25000
Alabama +25000
Davidson +25000
Seton Hall +25000
Texas+25000
Loyola Chicago +25000
NC State +25000
Syracuse +25000
Butler +30000
UCLA +30000
Creighton +35000
Florida State +35000
Arizona State +50000
Kansas State +50000
Marshall +50000
Montana +50000
Nevada +50000
New Mexico State +50000
Stephen F. Austin +50000
Wright State +50000
Bucknell +70000
MD Baltimore County +100000
Buffalo +100000
CS Fullerton +100000
Coll Charleston +100000
Georgia State +100000
Iona +100000
Lipscomb +100000
Long Island +100000
Murray State +100000
NC Central +100000
NC Greensboro +100000
Pennsylvania +100000
Radford +100000
South Dakota State +100000
St. Bonaventure +100000
Texas Southern +100000

Thursday Picks (Picks in Bold):

Thu 3/15       Oklahoma U +2      o158
                          Rhode Island

Rhode Island -2

Thu 3/15       San Diego State   +4 o142.5         
                         Houston U

San Diego State +4

Thu 3/15       Davidson +5      o143
                          Kentucky

Kentucky-5

Thu 3/15        Loyola Chicago   +1.5 o134       
                          Miami Florida

Loyola Chicago +1.5

Thu 3/15       St. Bonaventure / UCLA     +4
                          Florida

Florida -4

Thu 3/15          NC State +2.5     o157.5
                            Seton Hall

NC State +3 buy hook






Any questions or comments reach me @JerryBoknowz on twitter

 

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Former Astros manager Andrew Jay Hinch is on a short list of candidates to become manager of the Detroit Tigers in 2021.

The question is, after being suspended and later fired for his role in the Astros sign-stealing scandal, does A.J. Hinch deserve to manage again in baseball?

It's weird to think because so much has happened in 2020, but Hinch was suspended and fired only nine months ago. His banishment, however, ends in a matter of weeks with the final out of the upcoming World Series. At that point, he will be available to manage the Tigers or any other team. There's a possibility that the Mets are interested. Some were hoping it'd be the Astros, but the Astros are committed to manager Dusty Baker for next year. After that … never say never.

Shortly after getting the Astros ax, Hinch went on MLB TV and apologized for his role in the Astros cheating scandal. Although baseball's investigation said the garbage can banging scheme was "with the exception of (Astros coach Alex) Cora, player-driven and player-executed," Hinch took responsibility as manager and didn't challenge his punishment. No players were punished.

"I still feel responsible and will always feel responsible as the man out front," Hinch said. "As the leader, I was in charge of the team. I put out a statement to apologize. But there is something different to doing it on camera and putting a face to an apology, and saying I'm sorry to the league, to baseball, to fans, to players, to the coaches.

"It happened on my watch. I'm not proud of that. I'll never be proud of it. I didn't like it. But I have to own it. And the commissioner's office made very, very clear that the GM and the manager were in position to make sure that nothing like this happened. And we fell short."

In effect, while Hinch didn't authorize or participate in the sign-stealing scandal, he didn't do enough (really anything) to stop it. He is the rare case of being a guilty bystander.

To be clear, Hinch has not been offered the Detroit manager job. However, he has more experience and more wins under his belt than most of the other candidates being considered.

Hinch's reputation is blemished, but his credentials can't be disputed. During his five years as Astros manager, the team never had a losing season, won 100 or more games three times, including a team record 107 wins last year, made the playoffs three times and won a World Series.

Has baseball forgiven Hinch, and does he deserve another chance to manage in the big leagues? This is America, the land of forgiveness and second chances.

As Mahatma Gandhi said, "The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong."

Hinch knew his team was cheating and didn't do enough to stop it. There's no defense for that. But I think he's paid enough of a price to get back in baseball.

Mike Tyson raped a woman, went to jail, and now he's practically America's sweetheart. Hillary forgave Bill. We not only forgave Confederate leaders, we built schools and statues to honor them. Martha Stewart went to jail for insider trading, now she's back on TV baking crumpets. Ozzy Osbourne was arrested for pee'ing on a monument outside the Alamo, there is no more sacred place in Texas, and now he sells out concerts at the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion.

Pee-wee Herman, well, let's not say what he was caught doing, but he's planning to tour the U.S. celebrating the 35th anniversary of Pee-wee's Big Adventure movie.

Remember, Hinch was suspended for a year. It could have been worse. Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred has the power to ban people for life. Since becoming the commish, Manfred has permanently banished two people: former St. Louis Cardinals scouting director Chris Correa for hacking into the Astros computer database, and former Atlanta Braves general manager, John Coppolella for signing international players illegally.

Manfred also has temporarily banned Astros assistant general manager Brandon Taubman for shouting inappropriate comments at female reporters last year. Taubman is eligible to apply for reinstatement after this year's World Series. However, if he commits one more violation of baseball rules, he will be banned for life.

Lifetime bans aren't as unusual as you might think. Since baseball's beginnings in the 1800s, dozens of players, managers and team owners have been banned, mostly, like Pete Rose and the Chicago Black Sox, for gambling-related offenses.

A.J. Hinch copped to his crime, suffered the consequences, now it's time for him to manage a baseball team again. It's not like he'd be landing a plum job with Detroit. The Tigers are out of this year's playoff picture. They lost 114 games last season. And were 64-98 the two years prior. Managing the Tigers will be punishment enough.

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