We’ve reached the end of day one of the 2011 NCAA Tournament (sorry the four play-in games don’t quite count for me) and it was a mixed showing in the betting odds. After a strong morning showing in which I was 5-2-1 against the spread, I fell apart this afternoon going 2-6 against the spread as I got my butt kicked. As we go through the games, just a reminder about my predictions this morning.
No. 2 Florida vs. No. 15 Santa Barbara – The Gators were 13 point favorites over the Gauchos and I went with UCSB to cover. While it’s not the worst mistake of my life, I definitely was wrong on this one as the Gators blew out UCSB 79-51. The Gators looked real good and I’d imagine folks will be betting them heavily against UCLA on Saturday.
No. 3 BYU vs. No. 14 Wofford – BYU was an 8 1/2 point favorites against Wofford and I thought Jimmer would score enough to get them the cover. Jimmer scored enough for them to win, but his 32 points failed to get me a cover as BYU won by eight points. That’s a painful “loss.” Throw in the fact that I don’t like BYU (my UNLV fandom) and it stings a little more.
No. 3 Connecticut vs. No. 14 Bucknell – UConn was favored by 13 points and I thought they might be tired enough for Bucknell to hang around and cover. Well, if they are tired at this point, they hide it well as they blew out Bucknell 81-52. That seems relatively close to the line but the game was never really that close. UConn continues to play some hot basketball.
No. 4 Wisconsin vs. No. 13 Belmont – Wisconsin was a five to six point favorite, but Belmont was a team people liked as an upset bid. I went with that in a way, picking Belmont to cover but lose. Well, I was half right. The Bruins were beaten 72-58 and didn’t have much of a chance in the second half. Loss for me.
No. 7 UCLA vs. No. 10 Michigan State – Michigan State entered this game as a two point favorite but I took UCLA to cover and win nonetheless. I haven’t been sold on Michigan State this year and although it was a tight one late, the Bruins held on to cover and win. I think Florida kills UCLA on Saturday, but the Bruins get some time to enjoy a tight one.
No. 6 St. John’s vs. No. 11 Gonzaga – St. John’s was a 1 1/2 point favorite and I took them to cover. Although I lost in this, I will say that further research after posting the gambling predictions caused me to change my bracket and have Gonzaga beat St. John’s as well as BYU in round two. A look at kenpom.com revealed a supremely undervalued team that matched up well with SJU and would seem to have too much size inside for the Cougars. We’ll see if that plays out, but I’m happy my bracket lives to fight another day.
No. 6 Cincinnati vs. No. 11 Missouri – Cincinnati was a one point favorite over Missouri and due to my lack of knowledge of both teams I went with chalk and took the Bearcats to cover. Missouri hung tough early but Cincinnati rolled late and cruised to victory and the cover.
No. 5 Kansas State vs. No. 12 Utah State – Kansas State was favored by 2 1/2 points but I joined much of America in going with the Aggies to spring the upset. Didn’t quite work out as Kansas State held on late to defeat Utah State
After a strong showing in the morning my confidence was riding high. Of course, as is often the case I was slapped back to reality by a poor showing in the afternoon. I was 2-6 against the spread but I did manage to go 6-2 straight-up. That doesn’t help with the sports book, but it does provide hope for my bracket. When it comes to my brackets in spite of what Andy Dufresne said, Hope is not a good thing. As Red said, it is in fact a dangerous thing.