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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ROCKETS BEAT THUNDER

Rockets blast Thunder in home opener, 124-91

Rockets take care of business in home opener. Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images.

The Houston Rockets had an impressive outing versus the Oklahoma City Thunder after an embarrassing loss against the Minnesota Timberwolves Wednesday night. They took care of business at home on Friday night, which was a surprising blowout. The Rockets didn't have to worry about Karl-Anthony Towns screaming at Alperen Sengun or Anthony Edwards telling Coach Silas to call a timeout. Instead, they took their frustrations out on the Thunder (another younger core).

"We responded and bounced back from that game 1," Silas said. "I wouldn't say it was taking anything out. It was just learning and applying to what you learn and that's going to be us this year. Applying to what you learn and getting better and having some games like we had the other day. Veteran teams have some games when they don't play as well they want."

Christian Wood led the way, as he controlled the paint on all aspects with rebounding and putbacks. He played an incredible game after having a poor performance versus the Timberwolves. Silas showed complete trust in allowing Wood to open sets, as he walked the ball down the court several times, and in transition too. Wood became aggressive on the perimeter with open shooting and tough shots, and long strides towards the rim. He finished the night with 31 points and 13 rebounds off 66 percent shooting from the field.

The young core for the Thunder had a tough night defending Wood from every aspect. Hopefully, he keeps this play up. Silas loved the space that was created throughout the game for Wood, which included the help from Eric Gordon, as he continued to play better. Wood continues to develop underneath the Silas umbrella. He had a great feel for off-the-dribble shooting a few times. Wood becomes more dangerous when space is created on the court.

"It allows me to show what I can do. It allows the floor to be open and I can create for other guys and create for myself," Wood said.

As Gordon continues to impress, his teammate Kevin Porter Jr was amazed with his performance.

Gordon looked marvelous inside and outside of the paint, as it looked like a time ripple. The younger guards of the Thunder had a tough time staying in front of Gordon. His size and strength gave the Thunder a huge problem. Gordon is shooting the ball better too, as he is shooting the three-ball at 70 percent this season. Although it's a small sample size, Gordon is trying to overcome his shooting struggles from last year. Gordon finished with 22 points on 66 percent shooting versus the Thunder.

"EG is the biggest part of this squad," Porter said. He comes in and just scores. We need somebody off the bench to do that. He is our guy when me and J come out, it's EG time and he knows that, and comes in aggressive. So much energy on the bench, and we need that every night from him if we want a chance to win."

As I recently mentioned Porter, his facilitation did look better versus the Thunder than the Timberwolves. Porter had nine turnovers in his first game but managed to have two Friday night. He made great slip passes and found open teammates in the open corner. Porter forced a good number of passes versus the Timberwolves but looked more relaxed Friday night. The hardest position in the NBA is the point guard position, but Silas will not allow Porter to fail. Instead of nine turnovers, Porter dished out nine assists. Silas said:

"Bounce back right, going from nine turnovers to nine assists… I think he had two turnovers tonight, which is great. He is making plays for his teammates, and he was really focused."

Porter's shiftiness and creative ability allowed his teammates to get open looks near the rim. He had 18 points because of his step-back threes and first step going towards the basket. Thankfully, Porter is a great ball handler, which confuses defenders on different spots on the court. It's almost like watching a ballerina skate on ice in the Olympics. Hopefully, his confidence continues to get better throughout the year. Porter shot the three-ball at 50 percent tonight. Efficiency is key for Porter this year.

"I'm just trying to let the game slow down," Porter said. "I had a lot of turnovers last game and I just wanted to piggyback and learn from them and learn from some of my forced passes and reads. And sometimes I still force it a little bit. My guys hate that, and sometimes I'm still passive and I'm working on that. When to pass and score and bounce it out, and tonight I felt like I did a good job of that."

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