NCAA Tournament Picks: Futures Bets Heading into Final Four

Kevin Stott

Monday, March 30, 2015 3:33 PM GMT

Before the NCAA Tournament started, this handicapper offered up an anti-Kentucky approach on 15 Futures picks. Unfortunately, all Bets are now dead as the Wildcats are still unbeaten.

Introduction
“After all, Notre Dame (theoretically and now hopefully) upsetting Kentucky in the Midwest Regional final on March 26 (Saturday) is the fulcrum of this entire endeavor in the first place.”

The Dream is over. The cash is gone. The beans are on the oven and the cat will have to quickly learn to use the Human Toilet. The Fighting Irish played like champions and world-beaters for 58 minutes, but in the last 2 minutes, fell to undefeated and top-seeded Kentucky, 68-66 in the Elite Eight on Saturday in the Midwest Regional Finals at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland. So now, here at 1:16 p.m. Pacific Time on a lazy Sunday early spring afternoon, the only Futures Bet left breathing in the aquarium as the water slowly evaporates is the smallest one—’To Win NCAA Tournament: Louisville 100/1—(90¢ to win $90)’. And the Cardinals of Louisville are now trailing, 61-58 to Michigan State in thee East Regional Final with 3:06 left in the 2nd Half, so, we are down to the Nitty Gritty. Maybe best to get The Pain out of the way? Yes we can. It’s now 63-58 and now after a Louisville miss and a Spartans rebound and it looks as if all 15 of the Futures bet in this little $48.30 series will have gone to That Great Futures Bet Garbage Can In The Sky, where I’m guessing 97% of all Futures Bets eventually go. Now 63-59 Spartans. Keep Hope alive? We need a stop. 2:02 and ticking, and Luck isn’t always our friend but whoa, there it is (a stop) and a basket to boot, Bubba. Now 63-62 with 1:25 to go.

Isn’t betting NCAA basketball fun?

And what have we here? A cork and a steal and the Cardinals rushing my way and a foul? Is it Easter already? And a made FT and yet another and a 64-63 Louisville lead with 1:09 left? Here we go... Keep Hope alive indeed. But a nice move in the middle by the Spartans center, a little lefty hook and in off the glass and there it goes, now Michigan State’s up 65-64 and The Grim Reaper is back again. And nowhere to hide. And it’s all down to one possession...and the Cardinals decide to launch a bomb from the Canadian border and then tackle the Spartans rebounder on the miss. The horror. 21.4 seconds of Hell. Let’s end this before my Brain pops. It is way too early in the afternoon for this. And for cleaning brain off the carpet...Michigan State FTs...and a miss...and another miss, 15, 14, 13 12...Timeout. I can’t take this. For 90¢. I am preparing for another dumb shot and am going to the Pepto-Bismol® for 90¢. 90 damn cents. So, 12 seconds. Louisville ball. Down 65-64.

The last NCAA Tournament Futures bet. Here we go... a miss, a Cardinals rebound, a putback and a foul, but the ball doesn’t go down. Mercy. Free throws. Surely a tie game coming here and more Fear and Loathing in Cleveland. Betting basketball is like being married to bees, brah. And without the beekeeper’s suit or that funky fog machine thing. Australian Mangok Mathiang will be the man.  No, wait. The Kind Rim will be The Man (for now). 65-65. Another TO. 4.9 seconds. His second FT to come here now at 1:35 p.m. PT...and, he misses. And a Michigan State bomb from halfcourt and we’re going to OT and I shall be jumping off the balcony only to sprain an ankle. 65-65. The Powers That Be enjoy having fun with us. 90¢. Just 90¢. Even betting Futures Bets in Basketball has a way of sucking precious minutes off your Life, but we knew it wouldn’t be easy because it never has been.

 

Overtime
A Michigan State 3 to start. We done. 68-65 Spartans to open up Overtime. 4:13 left. Another Time Out. A Final Four berth at stake. But if Louisville should win, could they really beat Kentucky? Rhetorical questions like this will make me a Spartans fan. Louisville splits some FTs and now it’s 68-66 Spartans with 3:56 left. Helter skelter on the Michigan State end. A 24-second Clock Shot violation. Cardinals ball. Yippee. And now a Louisville miss. Nothing from nothing leaves nothing. And now a Michigan State miss. More missing and the Referees are letting them go. 2:42 left. Sparty’s basketball. A drive and a foul. And Michigan State’s Bryn Forbes makes both his Free Throws and it’s now 70-66. The room is darkening. Louisville misses on the other end and no foul is called and here comes Michigan State to ruin the day. And 2. Now 72-66. And there’s Magic Johnson cheering in the stands against my 90¢. Curse him. Now Louisville gets a bucket. 72-68. Just over 1 minute left. And an Michigan State miss and here comes the Cardinals and a miss and a foul. Bets die hard. It’s always been his way. A FT make. And another. Now 72-70 Michigan State with 1:04. Send oxygen, brother. And grape Pop-Tarts. Spartans ball, need a stop. Tick, tick, 47, 46, 45, Time Out. The horror. The horror. And another Buffalo Wild Wings commercial to add to the psychosis. I shall watch with the sound down now. A missed 3, but, alas, a Sparty putback. 74-70. 20, 19, 18, 17, 16...do something boy....15, 14, 13 and there’s a bad pass and Michigan State has it and The Dream is officially over as is Louisville’s season at 1:48 p.m. on this sunny Sunday afternoon where it is now gloomy inside after the last Future Bet swirls down the drain and into oblivion.

Michigan State vs. Louisville ends 76-70 and The Bookies have boarded us once again in The Big Dance, but as we said going in, trying to fade Kentucky (from a Futures standpoint)  in this tournament was nearly impossible and basically half of the Whole Nut came down to that off chance that Notre Dame could somehow knock off Kentucky in the regional finals. And they almost did.

 

The Real-World Bets On The Tournament Headed In—(0-15, -$48.30)
To Win NCAA Tournament: Louisville—40/1 ($2.40 to win $96)

To Win NCAA Tournament: Iowa 285/1—($2 to win $570)

To Win NCAA Tournament: Notre Dame 47/1—($10 to win $470)

To Win NCAA Tournament: Iowa State 39/1—($5 to win $390)

To Win NCAA Tournament: Arizona +875—($10 to win $87.50)

To Win NCAA Tournament: BYU 450/1—($1 to win $450)

To Win NCAA Tournament: Ohio State 150/1—($1 to win $150)

To Win NCAA Tournament: Wichita State 90/1—($1 to win $90)

To Win NCAA Tournament: Northern Iowa 155/1—($1 to win $155)

To Win NCAA Tournament: Indiana 600/1—($1 to win $600)

To Win NCAA Tournament: Louisville 100/1—(90¢ to win $90)

To Win Midwest Region: Notre Dame 11/1—($5 to win $55)

To Win East Region: Northern Iowa 12/1—($5 to win $60)

NCAA Championship Game Matchup: Notre Dame-Duke 110/1—($2 wins $220)

NCAA Championship Game Matchup: Notre Dame-Iowa State 295/1—($1 wins $295)

 

Conclusion
What did we learn? That sometimes, it’s Wise to just bet a little bit of money—and spread it out thin—and have some fun with it in a NCAA Men’s Division I basketball tournament where the prohibitive favorite (Kentucky) actually came into the whole things at almost Even odds. Would a normal person bet $100 to win $100 or maybe a little more for the undefeated Wildcats to march through their tournament’s theoretical 6 games? Probably not. That makes no sense. And it would certainly not be worth all of the stress to try to simply double your money, and Kentucky (38-0) still will have to get by a very talented Wisconsin (35-3) team in next Sunday’s Second Semifinal (CBS, 5:34 p.m. ET/2:34 p.m. PT; Odds; Kentucky -5, 131, Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook), and then, if the Wildcats do beat the Badgers in Sunday’s First Semifinal, they would still have to beat the winner of the Michigan State and Duke (CBS, 3:09 p.m. ET/12:09 p.m. PT; Odds: Duke -4½, Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook) showdown in Monday’s (April 6) championship game. They certainly ill be tested.

Hey, we almost pulled off the mini-miracle with Notre Dame here and almost created a small hedge possibility with the Fighting Irish. And Notre Dame, Louisville, Arizona and Duke (potential Notre Dame-Duke  championship game matchup) all provided at least some small level of Hope heading into the weekend and definitely some entertainment. The Notre Dame-Kentucky game was basically worth the price of admission, and as 10-point underdogs in the game, playing the way they did made The Ride all that much more fun. We certainly got our money’s worth out of this and learned much. We will be Stronger and Wiser next year, remembering (hopefully) that schools like Xavier, Michigan State, Gonzaga and Wisconsin always seem to find a way to worm their way into the Sweet Sixteen and that coaches really matter. And once again, all four Final Four participants in this year’s El Baile Grande are again from east of the Mississippi River—Wisconsin, Kentucky, Michigan State, Duke—and all four of the schools got there behind renowned and valuable experience-tested Head Coaches (Bo Ryan, John Calipari, Tom Izzo and Mike Krzyzewski), something we talked about earlier and something for sports bettors to remember. Some things never change.

NCAA CHAMPIONSHIP FUTURES SERIES RESULTS: 0-15, -$48.30