Reflections on the first 2 rounds of March Madness

I left Reno early Sunday, making my final three bets on my way out-of-town. The roads were clear, I wanted to beat the crowds back, and I didn’t want to be late for a family event.

The three favorites I bet Saturday went 1-2, with Kentucky the only one to cover the number. I went with one favorite and two dogs Sunday, and the dogs were barking. If you had bet the dogs in all eight of the Sunday games, you would have gone 7-1.

Huggy Bear’s boys covered the number

I bet the only favorite that covered the number–West Virginia–and took Nevada (+8.5) over Cincinnati and Syracuse (+9.5) over Michigan State, mainly because I thought the favorites were getting too much credit. Image my surprise when they both won, especially Nevada. (Until about 10 years ago, you couldn’t place a legal bet on UNR or Vegas in Nevada.)

That brought my four-day record to 15-9, a solid 62.5 percent win rate that paid my expenses and left me with some walking around money. Beats working for a living, which I don’t do anymore anyway.

Here are some general thoughts on the first two rounds:

–The Pac-12 is an embarrassment. First, they got swamped in the bowl games,  then UCLA and Arizona State lost play-in games for the tournament, and our only seeded representative, Arizona, lost by 21 to Buffalo in the first round. Truly embarrassing.

–While I generally don’t root against teams, I was glad North Carolina got swamped by Texas A&M Sunday, losing 86-65. Coach Roy Williams, using his aw shucks country boy act, insists he knew nothing about his players taking no-work classes. The NCAA, showing its usual deference to elite teams, rolled over on this massive cheating scandal.

–UMBC’s upset of Virginia–the first time a No. 16 seed has beat a No. 1 since the tournament went to the currently format–was not that big a surprise to regular readers of The Wall Street Journal. The Journal, which has one of the sharpest sports sections you’ll find anywhere these days, ran an article last week pointing out that Virginia’s plodding style of play made in vulnerable to an upset.

–One of the attractions of the tournament is that at least a couple of schools from the so-called minor conferences always manage to do well. Three of those schools are still alive, including what are apparently the two best teams in the west–Gonzaga and Nevada. Mark Few is truly a great coach.

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