Complete 2017 NCAA Tournament A to Z Guide - Let the Real Madness Begin...

Kevin Stott

Monday, March 13, 2017 3:05 PM UTC

Monday, Mar. 13, 2017 3:05 PM UTC

For some, the best week of the sports season is here with the arrival of the NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Tournament. Let’s take a fun and informative A-Z sports gambling romp to prepare us for the real March Madness on the hoops horizon and offer up a First Round game and Futures picks for your consideration. Bon Appétit.

The 2017 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament tips off on Tuesday night, as the journey of 68 teams playing 67 games to determine one winner begins at UD Arena in Dayton, Ohio with two play-in games, with the other two following Wednesday. With online sportsbooks, the advent of Apps, websites like Sportsbook Review helping sports gamblers and wall-to-wall TV coverage, the Big Dance and betting on it have never been bigger. If Kansas State and Wake Forest play in the Regular Season, it’s a good game, but not necessarily must-watch material but when the 11th-seeded Wildcats and Demon Deacons are meeting in the First Four on a Tuesday night for the right to play #6 seed Cincinnati in the South Regionals, then the game attains a center cache and luster it wouldn’t normally have—part of the do-or-die hardwood madness. To help in your journey down the yellow brick road to the Ides of March, Spring, April and the Final Four, we’ve sent a wet nurse your way and compiled this spiffy A-Z guide for your use.


Arizona (30-4 SU, 18-14-2 ATS) made it by Oregon in the Pac-12 Championship Game on Saturday after ousting tourney-bound UCLA on Friday and USC on Thursday. Don’t sleep on Lauri Markkanen (15.6 ppg), Kadeem Allen and West #2 seed Arizona. Also, the Grand Canyon State is the site of this year’s Final Four. The 7th-ranked Wildcats open up NCAA Tournament play against the North Dakota Fighting Hawks on Thursday. These Cats could pop West top-seed Gonzaga’s bubble.


Brackets and Office Pools: March Madness is bet more heavily than the Super Bowl and it also features ancillary contests like Brackets and Office Pools which can be fun and profitable if they right amount of skill and luck are applied.


California somehow has five schools in the NCAA Tournament in UCLA, Southern California, St. Mary’s, UC Davis and San Diego State with the Pac-12’s Trojans sneaking in after holding “Last Four Out” status for much of the weekend, Head Coach Jim Les and the Aggies making their first Tourney appearance and the Aztecs winning the MWC Tournament Championship Game over Colorado State to earn their automatic berth.


Duke: After winning the ACC Championship game over Notre Dame at Barclays Center in Brooklyn on Saturday night, the Blue Devils really look like they’re jelling for recuperating Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski with Luke Kennard (20.1 ppg), Amile Jefferson, Grayson Allen, Jayson Tatum, Matt Jones, Harry Giles and Frank Jackson giving No. 2-seeded Duke one of the best rosters. The Blue Devils faces 15-seed Troy State in opening round play at the Bon Secours Wellness Arena on Friday in the East Regional.


Evanston, Illinois is rocking after their Big Ten’s Northwestern (23-11 SU, 19-12 ATS) made the NCAA Tournament for the first time since school started playing basketball in 1904, one of five original D-I schools to have never made the tourney. Scottie Lindsey and the 8th-seeded and purple-clad Wildcats will play 9th-seeded Vanderbilt on Thursday at Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City in a first round West Regional game.


First Four: USC, Wake Forest, and Kansas State were good enough for the committee as all three schools made the First Four games on Tuesday, March 14 and Wednesday, March 15 at UD Arena in Dayton. On Tuesday, Mount Saint Mary’s and New Orleans meet in a 16-16 East Regional game with Kansas State and Wake Forest playing an 11-11 play-in game. These games are followed by North Carolina Central and first-time tiny dancers UC Davis in a 16-16 March Madness bracket starter from the Midwest and Providence and USC in an East Regional 11-11 contest.


Goss! Washington transfer Nigel Williams-Goss (16.9 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 4.8 apg) is one of the five best players in this tournament. The 195-pounder from Happy Valley, Oregon was the glue that brought together all the fine parts from a Zags team which lost Domantas Sabonis (Thunder) and Kyle Wiltjer (Rockets) to the NBA Draft. Appropriately, junior Williams-Goss is a John R. Wooden Award Finalist.


Huskies and the NCAA Women’s Division I Tournament will hold its selection on Monday, March 13th announcing its 64-team field. First-team the University of Connecticut (32-0 SU) and Head Coach Geno Auriemma who have won an NCAA-record 107 straight games heading into this tourney including two titles along the way in that run. The Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook put up odds for the UConn women against the field with the Huskies priced at -550. They say don’t use the word “lock.”


Illinois State and Illinois failed to make the selection committee’s cut on Sunday along with Syracuse and Georgia and a couple of others with nobody outside of the Redbirds (27-6 SU, 17-15 ATS) really having any minor beef with the 68 Division I teams who will be dancing this time around. With Wichita State’s low seeding (#10), it’s obvious the Suits and Ties were pretty down on the MVC this year.


Jayson Tatum may be the best player in college basketball right now. “Jayson Tatum is playing at as high a level as any perimeter player in the nation,” said Jay Bilas, former Duke and NBA player and now astute ESPN basketball analyst of the athletic 6-8. The 195-pound freshman from St. Louis, who plays a little like Scottie Pippen, wears the number “0” for the Blue Devils and floats to the basket with the greatest of ease. Check this kid out.


Kentucky has the most bids (56) ever to the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament. Kansas and North Carolina will both be making their 28th straight appearance. Consistency.

Lonzo Ball plays like Magic Johnson and the 6-6 UCLA PG from Chino Hill truly gives the Bruins a legitimate shot to make the Final Four and is one of the best five players in The Big Dance. Another (appropriately) Wooden Award Finalist. Her is averaging 14.6 ppg, 7.7 apg and 6.1 rpg for South Regionals’ 3rd-seed UCLA, who face 14-seed and MAC Tourney winners Kent State Friday at the FedEx Forum in Memphis.


Maine is still the only qualifying state not to send a team to the Men’s Division I Basketball Tournament—Alaska has no Division I school—but then again the Pine Tree State only has one school at that level, the University of Maine. But the always hibernating Black Bears went 7-25 SU and finished in last place in the America East Conference, represented by Vermont—a #13 seed who face Purdue in the Midwest Regionals on Thursday—in The Big Dance, owners of the nation’s longest winning streak (21) and the longest in the Catamounts 117-year history. Someday?


North Carolina: The Tar Heel State has five schools in The Big Dance this year with last year’s runners-up North Carolina, Duke, Wake Forest, NC Wilmington and UNC Central all representing the ninth-largest (population) state and Tobacco Road.


Odds: There have never been so many ways to bet on a basketball team or a given game and the SBR NCAAB Odds-board is a great source for daily numbers while the NCAA Championship Game Futures odds can be found at this link.


Phoenix: The sixth largest city in the US, Phoenix, specifically suburban Glendale and University of Phoenix Stadium, is the site of this year’s Final Four, set on Saturday, April 1 (6, 8:30 p.m. ET) with the Championship Game slated for Monday, April 3 (CBS, 9 p.m. ET).


Quinnipiac? O Quinnipiac (10-21 SU), Quinnipiac, wherefore art thou Quinnipiac? Watching March Madness at home like the rest of us. Hey, Q’s are hard to find bracket breath.


Regionals will be held in New York City (East), Memphis (South), Kansas City, Missouri (Midwest) and San José (West).


San Antonio and the upgraded Alamodome will host the Men’s Division I Tournament next year (2018) while Minneapolis (2019), Atlanta (2020) and Indianapolis (2021) will be the sites the three following years.


TV Coverage: All 67 NCAA Tournament games will be televised on stations CBS, TNT, TBS, and truTV. You can also live stream all of the games on


Underdogs: The Underdogs have won in the NCAA Tournament Championship Game outright three straight years with Villanova beating 2½-point favorites North Carolina last year, Duke knocking off slim 1-point chalks Wisconsin in 2015 and Connecticut upsetting 2½-point favorites Kentucky in 2014. Favorites had covered in the title tilt the previous three years, 2011 to 2013 (LOU, KY, UCONN).


Villanova are defending national champions and with Josh Hart (18.9 ppg), Kris Jenkins (13.4 ppg), Jalen Brunson (14.8 ppg), Mikal Bridges (9.9 ppg), Donte DiVincenzo and head Coach Jay Wright the tournament’s rightful overall top-seed have another shot at the trophy.


W’s are what we all want at the sportsbook and what SBR story would be complete without a First Round game pick? Although sharps have pounded it down from its opening 7½ to 6 Sunday night, taking Dayton +6 over 7th-seeded Wichita State on Friday night (CBS, 7:10 p.m. EDT) in their South Regional First Rounder seems wise as Charles Cooke (16.1 ppg, 5.1 rpg), Scoochie Smith and the 10th-seeded Flyers (24-7 SU, 19-10 ATS) can possibly upset the Shockers at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.


Xavier has made The Big Dance every year this millennium with the exception of 2005 and 2013. Trevon Bluiett and the 11th-seeded Musketeers (24-26 SU in NCAA Tournament) will face #6-seed Maryland at the Amway Center in Orlando in the First Round of the West Regional on Thursday.


You can bet some Sleepers and Bracket Busters will meander their way into the Sweet Sixteen and teams like Florida, FSU, Notre Dame and Iowa State are all good candidates to make a March Madness run, all coming from high-shelf conferences (ACC, SEC, Big 12).


Zags: Gonzaga (32-1 SU, 22-7-1 ATS) is the #1 seed in the West Regional but Nigel Williams-Goss, Przemek Karnowski (12.6 ppg), Jordan Matthews, Zach Collins and Jonathan Williams face a fairly tough opening round test in Mike Daum (25.3 ppg) and #16 South Dakota State (18-16 SU) at Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City on Thursday (TBS, 2 p.m. EDT; GONZ -23, Heritage), the Jackrabbits winners of the Summit League Tournament.


NCAAB Tournament Futures Pick: Villanova +1000 at SportsInteractionNCAAB Tournament First Round Pick: Dayton +6 -106 at Pinnacle

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