March Madness Region by Region Thoughts and Notes
By Mike Quinn, (@misterquinnbets) College Basketball Handicapper, Predictem.com
The Selection Show is over, the debate over who got snubbed has begun and millions around the country have filled out their brackets. As a bettor, before you run to the window to place your wagers, lets breakdown each region.
The top half of this bracket sets up as a cakewalk for Kentucky. There is really no team that will make them feel uncomfortable. In the second weekend, West Virginia could give them a little bit of angst and depending on the number, could be a good move if that matchup presents itself. The bottom half of the bracket is very interesting. In what could be a sharp bettors dream, Wichita State might face an incredibly overrated Kansas team on Sunday. Kansas should have been a 4 seed by most power ratings in the betting world. Texas is really the question mark here. They have the talent and experience. If they can salvage what should have been a season consistently ranked in the top 5 or 10, they could make a run to the Elite 8. Notre Dame is the hot team in that sub-bracket and a potential Sweet 16 matchup with Wichita or Kansas could present some value, if they get past Texas/Butler first. In the end, it will be hard for anyone in this region to really make Kentucky slip up, but that also means there could be some value going against the Wildcats as the numbers should be inflated as the bookmakers know that most will be riding the wildcats to cover the number.
This region has a few contenders for the Final Four in it. A potential Wisconsin/North Carolina matchup in the second weekend could present some value for the Tar Heels. The Terriers of Wofford are a team to circle against an Arkansas team that can lose focus from time to time. Georgia State brings a hungry, veteran team to the Dance and could be find themselves playing in the Sweet 16; as they have some NBA-level talent on their roster. Arizona is a team that seems very focused right now and could destroy teams along the way to the Elite 8 where a potential game versus the Badgers or Tar Heels would be must see TV.
Im not sold on this Villanova team as of yet. If their threes aren’t draining, it could be a long night for the Wildcats. A potential third round matchup with LSU could present some problems for Nova as the Tigers have length and size and could control the tempo. Louisville falls into the Kansas category of overrated teams and should exit sometime in the opening weekend. Any team from the Big West could give teams fits and the Anteaters from UC Irvine are no different. Certainly cant sleep on Northern Iowa, but their first game against Wyoming might be tougher than their next one. Providence is a team that could quietly find their way to the Sweet 16 as they have the coaching and skill level to achieve good things when it all comes together for them. Tom Izzo is March and has been a bettors best friend over the years and with a less talented team this year, there could be value along the way with the Spartans depending on the matchup. Virginia seems vulnerable at times when their offense cant find a rhythm and a game against Izzo and Co. on Sunday could be a good one. The team that gets lost in this region but has the most talent is Oklahoma. Dont be shocked if the Sooners find a way to get to Indy.
This might be the most up for grabs bracket of all. On paper, Duke seems like the team to beat, but a style matchup against San Diego State on Sunday could present some real problems for the Blue Devils. Utah has all the components to make a title run. They just need to get back on track again. A Sweet 16 game against Duke would hold a lot of wagering value on the Utes. Eastern Washington is an unheralded team that can do a lot of things well. Their game against Georgetown couldnt be a better style matchup for them and we should see an upset there. SMU might be the most dangerous team in the country coming into the Tourney. They looked dead in December and early January and have found their stride as of late and could make a serious run to the Final Four in a favorable setting with the Regionals being played in Houston. Gonzaga certainly has the talent this year, but it seems like they can never get over the hump in the first weekend. Being the hunted has not served them well over the last decade. Iowa State is another team with great talent, but has caught a ton of breaks all season long and one must wonder if their luck has run out with potential games against SMU and Gonzaga in the lower part of the bracket.
In a year where everything has seemed top heavy and in power ratings there is a big drop off after you get out of the top 5 or 8 teams, it should be interesting to see if we have a chalky tournament or maybe upsets galore. Just be sure to pick your spots and find value and matchup and style inefficiencies. Good luck and keep cashing!