We’re halfway through day one of the first round of the 2011 NCAA tournament and as expected we’ve had some big upsets and thrilling buzzer-beater victories. We’ve also had some of the beatdowns that have become typical of some of the bigger mismatches. We made some predictions earlier today based on the betting odds and we’ve had a mixed result thus far.
No. 5 West Virginia vs. No. 12 Clemson – The Mountaineers were 2 1/2 point favorites this morning and I thought the Mountaineers would have a battle but pull away late to cover. They were battling early but West Virginia seemed in control for a big chunk of the second half. They covered with an eight point victory, so even though I was a bit off in how they got there, I won some money anyway (or would have had I bet if that were legal!)
No. 8 Butler vs. No. 9 Old Dominion – ODU was the nine seed but emerged as a slim favorite heading into the game. This contest provided our first buzzer-beater of the tournament as Butler battled a game Monarchs squad down to the wire. I lost on this one as ODU could not get the cover or even the victory.
No. 4 Louisville vs. No. 13 Morehead State – Louisville was a sizable favorite but a late game three by Morehead State gave the Eagles the stunning upset. I predicted a close game that the Cardinals would eventually pull out but MSU would cover. Given that I took the Eagles to cover that’s at least a victory for me. If I had had any balls I would have taken MSU money-line.
No. 7 Temple vs. No. 10 Penn State – Temple was a slim two point favorite and yet another buzzer-beater, this time by the Owls gives us our first push of the day. When it comes to gambling, a push is a win unless you find yourself in many parlay situations.
No. 4 Kentucky vs. No. 13 Princeton – Kentucky was a 13 1/2 point favorite over the Princeton Tigers this morning. This was my biggest mess-up of the day as the Tigers gave the Wildcats all they could handle before Kentucky won on a late basket. The Wildcats did not look all that impressive and will have to bring their A-game if they want to beat the West Virginia Mountaineers in the round of 32.
No. 1 Pittsburgh vs. No. 16 UNC-Asheville – The Pitt Panthers were an 18 points favorite and I predicted a win by 22. This was my best performance as far as getting the cover AND the win (thus discounting my MSU prediction) as the Panthers won by 23. UNCA gave Pitt all it could handle early, but as is often the case, the number one seed pulled away strong in the second half and cruised to victory. Cash for me.
No. 5 Vanderbilt vs. No. 12 Richmond – Vanderbilt was a small favorite in this one but I had Richmond to cover and snag the upset. Although the Commodores had chances to build on a lead, the always tough Spiders climbed back on top and held on late to spring the 5-12 upset.
No. 2 San Diego State vs. No. 15 Northern Colorado – The San Diego State Aztecs came into this game as 15 1/2 point favorites and my personal pick to win the national title. While Northern Colorado battled them into halftime, the Aztecs pulled away in the second half and cruised to a comfortable 18 point victory to get the cover. I actually expected a bigger score differential, but a cover is a cover is a cover.
For the first half of the first day I emerged 5-2-1 against the spread, with my two losses against the spread being Kentucky and Louisville, with Temple drawing a push. Given how crazy the NCAA tournament can be, I’ll take that kind of winning percentage every day of the week. If you’re just looking at straight-up predictions, not counting the spread, I was 6-2 as Kentucky and Temple swing into the win column and Morehead State swings into the loss column (covered but won when I picked Louisville). Not a bad first day here.