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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A WEEKLY REVIEW OF CRENNEL'S COACHING

Now my job: Texans feast on Lions

Photo by Getty Images.

Thanksgiving is full of tradition. There's the typical family gathering, large meal, and of course, football. Sometimes, new traditions are added and old ones are retired. I think the Texans did both in their impressive 41-25 win over the Lions in Detroit. Old traditions were carried on (Lions losing on Thanksgiving), some were put to rest (Texans not being able to get turnovers), and new ones were started (multiple passing touchdowns by Deshaun Watson in six straight games).

The fact that this defense got three turnovers in the game was unbelievable! They got all three in the first quarter within the span of eight plays. JJ Watt's pick-six was insane. He went for a batted ball, ended up catching it, and ran it in. They forced Jonathan Williams to fumble on the Lions' very next play from scrimmage and recovered it. On the Lions' next possession, the Texans recovered yet another fumble after the challenge was reversed. Great call by the coaching staff to challenge and win. The defense looked good. Tyrell Adams stood out because he was in on those two fumbles, made 17 total tackles with 14 of them being solo tackles. They also brought pressure that seemed to make Matthew Stafford very inaccurate and resulted in four sacks. I give defensive coordinator Anthony Weaver credit for knowing he needs to blitz to get pressure, but the run defense has to improve.

The offense kept the tempo up in this game as well. The spread and hurry-up were used to keep the Lions already staggered defense off balance. Knowing the Lions were without a couple defensive backs, I thought it would be the perfect marriage of their defense and the Texans' offense. A buddy asked before the game about the line (Texans -3.5) and the over/under (52.5). I told him bet the Texans and the over because neither team can play defense and both have good quarterbacks. Offensive coordinator Tim Kelly put together another good game plan and Watson executed it flawlessly. One route combo I saw later on in the game I particularly enjoyed. Two receivers were tight to the left side. Cooks ran a hook/curl and settled in the middle of the zone while Fuller ran a vertical route. Duke Johnson ran a swing route to that same side. It left Cooks wide open as the attention went to Johnson in the flat, Fuller deep, and the action to the other play side. Route combos are important because it gives the quarterback different reads as he goes through his progressions and lets him pick apart the defense based on what he sees. Combine that with Watson's play and the way Kelly has changed his play calling now that he's liberated from he who shall not be named, we're seeing a beautiful thing.

As good as things were, there's still room for improvement. The defense gives up way too many easy yards, both run and pass. They can't get pressure bringing only four and will often give up big plays if the blitz is picked up. Plus the run defense is still an issue as evidenced by the Lions' first possession of the second half. The Lions ran the ball 10 plays straight for a total of 58 yards on that drive. Utterly ridiculous! Watson was good (17/25 318 yards and four touchdowns), but he missed two more touchdowns with passes slightly off, and continues to hold onto the ball too long at times. The difference between these two issues I've presented here is the fact that Watson has so played well, his "issues" are minor and very correctable, while the defense is terrible and there's no easy fix in sight. But let Romeo Crennel and Anthony Weaver tell it, they're getting the most out of these guys and they're playing disciplined.

The thought that this team may actually creep into the playoff picture may take shape better after next week if they can beat the Colts. I doubt it, but it is getting interesting. Let's see what else happens around them because they need help getting there.

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