Most of you have probably busted your brackets after just day one of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, which explains why Warren Buffett was willing to bet $1 billion that nobody would pick all 61 games correctly. (Why do you think he’s so rich?)
You’d be much better off betting your money on individual games, especially in the early rounds where you can find real value. (More about that below.)
I tend to ignore the big-name teams (what’s the fun of rooting for Goliath?) and try to find two or three teams that are interesting stories when they win. I think there are three such schools this year:
The Jays, formerly stalwarts of the Missouri Valley Conference, moved up to the Big East Conference and played well. They feature Doug McDermott, the top scorer in the country, and are probably the best outside shooting team in the country. If they stay hot, they can make it to the Final Four.
WICHITA STATE (34-0)
The Shockers are probably the most perplexing team in the tournament. It’s hard to go undefeated at any level, but critics like to point out that they only played one Top 25 team. Wichita made it to the Final Four last year, and this team is clearly better. We’ll see if they’re good enough to justify a No. 1 seed in the Midwest Region, the toughest region for the top seed to advance.
Remember the defending champs? Some people didn’t, and even more were unimpressed with their record in the new American Athletic Conference. But Rick Pitino always has his teams ready for the post-season so don’t count them out. If I was looking for a long-shot to win the title, I’d take the Cardinals.
But I prefer to focus on individual games, and here’s a Friday game that will probably be over by the time you read this:
NEW MEXICO (-3.5) over STANFORD: This betting line only makes sense if you believe mediocre teams in the Pac-12 are competitive with top teams in the Mountain West. That’s not the case.
The Lobos (27-6) win on tight defense, avoiding turnovers, and big-time gunner Cameron Bairstow. A team with no real point guard and inconsistent star players (that would be the Cardinal) can be exploited by a team like New Mexico. That’s what will happen.