Did You Get On Right Side Of Number?
There were some upsets as usual but for the most part, the top teams advanced to the Sweet 16. There is one No. 11 seed (Xavier), one No. 8 (Wisconsin) and two No. 7s (South Carolina and Michigan) remaining, but it’s not like those are mid-major Cinderella programs. Xavier reaches Sweet 16 for the fourth time under Chris Mack. Those four appearances have been as a 6 seed, 10 seed, 6 seed and 11 seed. Otherwise, it’s all seeds No. 1-4.
It was very important for bettors to get the best number in the first two rounds of the Big Dance. For example, No. 3 Baylor beat No. 11 USC in the East Region on Sunday. That line opened with the Bears at -6, was bet up to -7 and then down to -5. Baylor had a six-point lead when USC’s Bennie Boatwright scored a meaningless bucket to make the final 82-78. No. 2 Kentucky edged No. 10 Wichita State on Sunday in the South 65-62. That opened at 2.5 and bounced around 3.5 all weekend. Did you get on the right side? The total between No. 4 Purdue and No. 5 Iowa State on Saturday in the Midwest closed at 155 and it finished 80-76 in favor of the Boilermakers. In No. 11 Michigan-No.2 Louisville, it closed at 143 and the Wolverines won 73-69.
So Much For ACC Dominance
Louisville’s loss continued a horrific tournament for the ACC, which was presumed to be the country’s best conference in the regular season and got a national-high nine teams into the Big Dance. There is just one team remaining: No. 1 North Carolina in the South Region and the Heels had to rally late past No. 8 Arkansas to reach the Sweet 16. ACC teams are just 2-13 against the spread in the tournament.
Meanwhile, the SEC, Pac-12, Big Ten and Big 12 all have three teams remaining. Pac-12 teams are 7-1-1 ATS. We knew the Pac-12 and Big 12 were strong during the year, however. The success of the Big Ten and SEC is moderately surprising. Michigan surprised Louisville and No. 8 Wisconsin knocked off defending national champion Villanova in the Round of 32 to join No. 4 Purdue in the Sweet 16. Not a huge surprise that No. 2 Kentucky or even No. 4 Florida of the SEC have reached the Sweet 16, but who saw No. 7 South Carolina upsetting Duke to get there?
Big NBA Action Monday
Very important NBA game from Boston on Monday night when the Celtics host the Washington Wizards. Boston is just 1.5 games ahead of the Wizards for the second seed in the Eastern Conference. The Wizards had a chance to take advantage the past few weeks of nine straight games vs. teams with losing records but are only 6-4 straight up and 2-7-1 ATS in their past 10. They were upset in Charlotte on Saturday in the second of a back-to-back. John Wall and Bradley Beal are playing heavy minutes and could be hitting the proverbial wall. The Celtics were caught in a possible look-ahead game on Sunday and were upset in Philadelphia. Boston has played the past two games without All-Star guard and the NBA’s second-leading scorer in Isaiah Thomas. Will be play Monday? The Celtics will be home dogs if he doesn’t.
Out West, the Golden State Warriors and Oklahoma City Thunder tangle for the final time this regular season. Not as much hype this time around because Kevin Durant is out injured and won’t play against his former club. The Warriors have routed the Thunder three times and Durant had big games in all of them. Golden State needs every win possible to hold off the Spurs for the top seed in the West. Thunder coach Billy Donovan recently moved trade acquisition Taj Gibson into the starting lineup and the Thunder have won and covered five straight games, beating the spread by a combined 55 points