March Madness: Where only the strong survive

Having nothing better to do, I spent three hours on U.S. 80 earlier today driving to Reno to meet two old friends to view the first two rounds of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, aka, March Madness.

Given the crappy weather we’ve had the last few days, the drive wasn’t all that bad even if it was slow and tedious. I owe it all to my 4-wheel drive Highlander.

We met up at the El Dorado hotel/casino, not my preferred venue but Bill and Evan wanted to stay downtown and they outvoted me. It turned out to be good decision because there’s a lot of snow and ice around Reno, making for hazardous driving conditions.

The El Dorado is within easy walking distance of several downtown sports books, making comparison shopping a lot easier. When you ‘re trying to beat the point spread, it always pays to shop around.

Where the action is

March Madness is turning into the biggest sports betting event of the year, mainly because of all of the illegal office pools. It is estimated that $10 billion will be bet on the 63 games to be played between now and April 2.

Very little of the money will be bet in Nevada (about $300 million in Vegas, according to USA Today), but you would never know it from the number of people crowding the sports books around town. If you like college basketball and want to be in the middle of the action, Nevada’s the place to be.

I’ve done this enough times that the novelty has worn off, but I like the challenge of trying to make some money betting on teams I pay little attention to during the season. Then there’s the bragging rights that go with doing better than Bill and Evan–I topped them with a 14-5-1 record last year, and I’m looking to repeat.

I’ve known Bill and Evan since all of us were pre-teens. Bill was a classmate at an elementary school in San Mateo, Hayward Park, that doesn’t exist any more. We met Evan playing basketball there.

All three of us stayed pretty close to San Mateo so it wasn’t hard remaining friends. Bill became an accountant and retired as a partner at one of the major firms. Evan was a regional sales manager for one of the big breweries. All three of us are big sports fans.

That doesn’t mean we know a lot about college basketball. Like most opinionated sports fans, we are frequently wrong but never it doubt. I actually paid close attention to what was going on in the last month, and Bill and Evan claim they’ve also been doing prep work,  so we’ll see if it pays off.

(I should point out that none of us went to a school that’s in the tournament, so we won’t have to contend with that bias.)

Against my better judgement, I’m going to post the bets I make so that anybody who’s interested can follow along. I say “against my better judgement” because I typically don’t do well when I spout off about the teams I’m betting.  We’ll see how it works this time.

The hardest part will be to drink moderately and eat a semi-healthy diet. That gets easier as I get older.

I’m going to bet the early Thursday games that interest me before I go to bed tonight so I don’t have to get up too early tomorrow, and then I’ll post all of my Thursday bets here before noon tomorrow. To get warmed up, I’ve made two NBA bets tonight:

–Wizards (-3.5) over the Celtics;

–Wizards/Celtics over 204.

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3 Responses to March Madness: Where only the strong survive

  1. Here are today’s plays (these are point spread plays, not necessarily the teams that will win the games):

    Alabama (+2.5) over Virginia Tech
    Rhode Island (-2) over Oklahoma
    Iona (+21) over Duke
    Kansas (-13.5) over Pennsylvania
    N. Carolina St. (+2.5) over Seton Hall
    San Diego St. (+4) over Houston
    Loyola Chicago (+1.5) over Miami(F)
    St. Bonaventure (+5.5) over Florida
    Davidson (+5) over Kentucky
    S. Dakota St. (+8.5) over Ohio St.

  2. I got off to a good start yesterday, going 6-3-1. But as they say, past performance is no guarantee of future results.

    Today’s plays:
    Kansas St. (+1) over Creighton
    Texas AM (-2.5) over Providence
    Lipscomb (+21.5) over North Carolina
    Cal Fullerton (+20.5) over Purdue
    Syracuse (+5) over TCU
    Xavier (-18.5) over Texas Southern
    Missouri (+1.5) over Florida St.
    Murray St. (+10.5) over West Virginia
    New Mexico St. (+4.5) over Clemson

  3. I managed to dodge the Virginia upset Friday, but finished an uninspiring 5-4 for the day. Still, that’s a two-day total of 11-7, a solid 61 percent win rate.

    There are no upsets in today’s picks:
    Kansas (-5) over Seton Hall
    Tennessee (-5.5) over Loyola Chicago
    Kentucky (-6) over Buffalo

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