NCAA Tournament Proves Maddening for Bettors

Lemme guess: Your NCAA tournament bracket and betting bankroll both look as though they’ve been through a Zombie Apocalypse-like bloodbath? This is what happens when the most exhilarating sports weekend of the year doubles as the most exasperating. Among the bracket-busting, wallet-depleting headlines:

• All four No. 4 seeds advanced to the Sweet 16 … but 75 percent of the No. 3 seeds and 100 percent of the No. 5 seeds are out.

• Of the 12 teams that entered the tourney seeded from No. 1 to No. 3, six are still around—the same number of squads seeded between No. 6 and No. 11.

• Marquee coaches Jim Boeheim (Syracuse), Mike Krzyzewski (Duke) and Bill Self (Kansas) will be watching this week’s action from their living rooms. Meanwhile, colleagues such as Archie Miller (Dayton), Cuonzo Martin (Tennessee) and Johnny Dawkins (Stanford) will be roaming the sidelines.

• Six of the first 36 tourney games went to overtime … but 10 of the next 16 were double-digit routs.

• Finally, from the betting scoreboard, favorites finished the first weekend 28-22-2 against the spread, and there were 27 “overs” versus 25 “unders.” Pretty sure I’ve seen more consistent patterns in a kindergarten art class.

Which begs the question: How does one handicap what to this point has been an unpredictable tournament? I’d suggest flipping a coin, but if you’re like me, you don’t have one to flip. So I’m resorting to eeny, meeny, miny, moe—although I’d imagine ink-a-dink would work just as well …

Baylor (+3) vs. Wisconsin: While Baylor annihilated No. 11 seed Nebraska and No. 3 seed Creighton by a combined 44 points, Wisconsin needed an epic second-half collapse by Oregon to avoid elimination. The Bears have now won 12 of their last 14, going 10-3-1 ATS, including four outright upsets.

San Diego State (+6½) vs. Arizona: The good news for the Aztecs: They’ve lost by more than six points just twice this season. The bad news: One was a 69-60 home loss to Arizona. But that was in mid-November, when the Wildcats had stud big man Brandon Ashley. Only twice since that night has SDSU allowed more than 68 points in regulation. While everyone is again smitten with Arizona (32-4), nobody is giving a lick of respect to the underrated Aztecs (31-4). Except for this alum.

Kentucky (+5) vs. Louisville: No top-four seed was less impressive in its two wins last week than Louisville. Conversely, Kentucky rallied late to upset unbeaten Wichita State for its fourth win in its last five games. The Wildcats cashed in all five, they’re loaded with talent and they know they can beat Louisville, having done so 73-66 on December 28.

Best of the Rest: Florida -4½ vs. UCLA; Michigan State -1½ vs. Virginia; Connecticut-Iowa State OVER 146½; Michigan -2 vs. Tennessee. Last Week: 2-5.

Matt Jacob appears Wednesdays on’s First Preview, which airs 10-11 a.m. weekdays on ESPN Radio 1100-AM.



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