So just a quick note before I start this: I've been absolutely murdering this March Madness. Just owning it. Admittedly, the first two days were rough and my brackets obliterated relatively quickly, but my picks for the games from the second round on have been lethal. I'm looking back on it now and I think I'm like 500 and 0 since the first round, and there's only been like 20 games so you do the math*. Point is I'm scorching hot going in to tonight, so ride with me unless you hate money. Then stop reading and go join the peace corps, democrat.
Anyway, here are my picks for tonight's games:
Game 1: UCLA vs. Gonzaga (Gonzaga -8.5, O/U 144)
So this is the point in the tournament where you start really getting a feel for who's good and who's been faking it, which is what I think makes this the toughest game of the day. Both these teams looked strong weekend one. Both teams score like crazy, UCLA a bit more so than the Zags, but Gonzaga probably plays a little more defense so it sort of balances out at least on the eye test. So then you look at the history: UCLA had one home loss, and of course it was to Gonzaga, so now you have the revenge factor going UCLA's way. But I can't get a read on this line. 8.5 seems like a lot for two teams that have looked equally strong, no? But then again, just looking at seeding (11 v 2), I guess 8.5 could be considered low? I dunno, I'm all torn, but I think my read is that Gonzaga either covers the spread, or UCLA wins outright. I like the Zags overall game better, and UCLA looks like a team that could just as easily drop 100 as they could 50 depending on whether or not their shot is working, so I'm taking Gonzaga. If I had to look at the O/U, I'd say under cus that's a pretty high number but if both are hitting shots then it's not absurd to think that hits. I guess I'm counting on a strong defensive effort from the Zags and some spotty O from UCLA. If you believe hard enough, it will be real.
PICKS: Gonzaga -8.5, Under 144
Game 2: NC State vs. Louisville (Louisville -2.5, O/U 130)
Okay maybe this is the hardest game. NC State looked pretty unreal against my Philly favorite Villanova, but it's just hard to go against a Petino coached squad at this point in the tourney even if this is clearly one of his lesser talented teams that he's gotten here with. I just don't see how Louisville matches NC State's size down low. I think they are a tougher squad than Nova with Harrell being maybe the meanest man in the tourney, but I just can't convince myself it will be enough. As a matter of fact, as I'm typing this, I'm convincing myself that this is a little upset right here. NC State outright, bitch. And as for the over/under, fuck if I know, that's such a dastardly number. I'm not betting it myself, but I guess I'd say under. Louisville will have trouble scoring with the length of NC State and I don't think the Wolfpack will fill it up much either. Close game with buckets tough to come by.
PICKS: NC State OUTRIGHT, Under 130... I guess
Game 3: Utah vs Duke (Duke -5, O/U 134.5)
Okay I like this one more. Duke all the way here. Not a big Duke guy, but Okafor looks like he's just not gonna get stopped ever again in his life. I mean it, by anyone. Dude could start robbing banks in broad daylight and nobody's getting in his way. Utah has looked pretty strong, but I don't see how they stop Okafor inside, which lets Duke's shooters get space, which means they score, which means Utah chases, which means the Over hits. Boom.
PICKS: Duke -5, Over 134.5
Game 4: Michigan State vs. Oklahoma (MSU -1.5, O/U 136)
Vegas, you bastard. Great lines, dammit. Great lines. I mean the question basically is do you believe in Izzo no matter what in March, or do you think the better team comes through? It's an Oklahoma line, for sure. Vegas just preying on the people's trust in Izzo, and it's hard to argue against it. Every time you bet against the guy or his squad he makes you look like a fool.... So bring it, Tommy. Make me look like a fool again, you son of a bitch, cus I'm going Oklahoma. I just can't trust this MSU team beyond the fact that their coach is a wizard. OU looks solid all around and can score on anyone. MSU plays hard and tough, finds offense when they need it, but if this game is close and you need free throw shooting to come through, which I think happens, then you gotta go with the Sooners over the Spartans. Be gentle, Tom. And over is my thought here. Oklahoma can score, like I said, and MSU will run most of the second half if they get down, so I'd expect a good amount of scoring.
PICKS: Oklahoma -1.5, Over 136
Now go and win money, and when they tell stories of my name for years to come you can take comfort knowing you followed me to glory.
* What's the actual number, you ask? 14-6. Pretty good. Prettay, prettay good.