Happy Monday. Yesterday was a 2-1 NBA day, but it was a struggle on the college side of things with a 1-3 run ATS and an additional parlay loss. That’s a red day to make it a red weekend, but the week overall was still green. That’s three good ones in a row. I say we make it four. I’ll have NBA plays for tonight but let’s start with some quick thoughts on the brackets ahead of the First Four starting tomorrow.
- Boise State Memphis is a great first round matchup – and a tough draw with both each other and then the Zags for two teams that went into Selection Sunday with legitimate aspirations at piecing together a run.
- New Mexico State and Vermont are very dangerous 12/13 seeds. Tough spot for UConn and Arkansas to be in, especially with Gonzaga waiting on the other side.
- Alabama is a very appealing upset pick.
- Texas Tech will feel pretty decent about their Final 4 chances. Duke has been underwhelming, especially down the stretch, and Gonzaga is beatable.
- Michigan State and Davidson should be pretty fun.
First Thought Final 4 Team: Texas Tech
Biggest High Seed Run: 13 Vermont to the Sweet Sixteen
Most Likely Upset: Rutgers (or Notre Dame) over Alabama
- Things worked out nicely for Arizona here. Seton Hall and TCU aren’t particularly scary, and Illinois/Houston have been pretty inconsistent. They look like the clear favorites in this region, which isn’t as reassuring as it should be.
- I don’t believe in Houston and their one tournament win for a second, but I do really like UAB.
- I just haven’t seen enough from Illinois to think they have a great shot at moving anywhere beyond the Sweet Sixteen.
- All things considered, Michigan isn’t in a bad spot. They could go on a run if they figure things out. Of course, that’s a massive if.
- Ohio State and Loyola Chicago should be a fun first round matchup, though both teams had some brutal moments down the stretch.
First Thought Final 4 Team: Arizona
Biggest High Seed Run: 12 UAB and 11 Michigan to the Sweet Sixteen
Most Likely Upset: Michigan over CSU
- This region feels very chalky to me. I don’t think Akron is a significant threat to UCLA. I don’t think Virginia Tech can get through both Texas and Purdue. I don’t see Kentucky losing in the second round despite two good teams in the 7/10 matchup. A region that you pick to be largely chalk almost never works out, but I’m leaning that way right now.
- Murray State and San Francisco should play one heck of a first round game. The winner won’t make things easy for Kentucky.
- UNC Marquette is also an appealing matchup, though I think Baylor grinds the winner to death in the second round.
- I think UCLA started the year with a little too much respect, but now things have flipped. They’re in position to make a Sweet Sixteen run with two relatively favorable matchups. St Mary’s is good but very beatable.
- Yale and Virgina Tech have a shot. The recent tourney history with Texas and Purdue is less than ideal. We’ll see if one of them can get a Sweet Sixteen run done.
First Thought Final 4 Team: Kentucky
Biggest High Seed Run: N/A
Most Likely Upset: Marquette over UNC (not really an upset)
- Kansas is in a very good spot. Iowa might be the second most threatening team in this region.
- Providence is in quite a bit of danger. If they manage to get past a very good South Dakota State team, they’ll have to play Iowa, one of the hottest teams in the country. Tough draw for them.
- I think the bottom half of this region is pretty ugly. Auburn has looked bad down the stretch. Wisconsin had a very good season but doesn’t have any of the underlying metrics to show for it. LSU just lost their coach and was a 6 seed for a reason to begin with. USC hasn’t really shown anything to make themselves a serious contender. It’s up for grabs down there.
First Thought Final 4 Team: Kansas
Biggest High Seed Run: 14 Colgate to the Sweet 16
Most Likely Upset: 13 South Dakota State over 4 Providence
NBA record: 163-158-8 ATS (19-37 Underdog ML), 13-16-1 O/U, 4-6 parlay, 0-2 props
- Clippers +5.5
The Clippers did play yesterday, giving three guys 35+ minutes in a close win over the Pistons. But the Cavs are just 3-8 in their last eleven, and two of the three wins came against the Pacers and Wizards. None of the wins came by more than 8 points. Betting on them to cover two possession lines doesn’t seem like a solid business idea at this point.
- Timberwolves -4
This is a small line for a TWolves team that’s won eight of ten. San Antonio has been a little more competent in recent weeks, but they’re still just 4-6 over their last ten games.
- Bulls -3.5
The Bulls aren’t playing particularly well right now, but the Kings haven’t beaten a team other than the Thunder in over a month. That’s not great. If Chicago has done anything this year, it’s take care of business against teams they should beat.
- Raptors -4.5
Last night, the Lakers gave up 140 points in a loss to the Suns. The Raptors have won three straight on their Western Conference road trip, and they have no issue making it four here.
- Bucks -1.5
The Bucks had won six in a row before one slipped away in Golden State over the weekend, and they get back on track tonight. Utah has been an up-and-down 3-3 in their last six. Milwaukee pulls within 2 of the East’s 1 seed ahead of a mid-week trip to Sacramento.
CBB record: 348-368-7 ATS (55-68 Underdog ML), 12-39 parlay
Conference Tournament record: 43-43-2 ATS (7-17 Underdog ML)
NBA/CBB PARLAYS: 5-18