Thursday, March 17, 2016

March Madness Begins--Upset Specials.

I am not there now, but I can tell you what is happening.  In casinos up and down Las Vegas Boulevard, college basketball enthusiasts have been parked for an hour--at least--securing seats to watch the first of sixteen basketball games, (16!).  The games will start in two hours and will continue for twelve hours beyond that.

There are groups of people who, at 715 in the morning, have a twelve pack of beer sitting in the middle of a round table as they ponder their picks for today's games.

There is a line in the sports books-- at least thirty deep in a place like Bally's-- waiting to place wagers on the games.  Within the hour that line in Bally's will extend all the way to the top of a long ramp and be twice as long.

It is a wild scene and every year at this hour--when I am not there myself--I think wistfully about the experience. Having just been in Las Vegas for the superbowl where I was just taken aback by the wall of smoke in nearly every casino I visited, my enthusiasm for the experience has ebbed somewhat. Still, I know how wild a scene it is and how much fun--cigarette fumes aside--the first two days of the tournament can be.

I will be in Brooklyn tomorrow to see a doubleheader at the Barclay Center. I considered driving to Providence today--another venue--to watch my grad school alma mater (University of Buffalo) compete--but that game is an evening one and I have an early flight tomorrow.  But I will see Villanova and Asheville tomorrow at noonish, and then Iowa play Temple.  After that I will find some facility near the arena to watch the remainder of the games on Friday.

Watching the games live is a different experience than being in Las Vegas. I sit, when I go, in a dedicated fan section for the games.  There, true zealots congregate hoping not for a win against the spread, but for an opportunity to survive and advance in this thrilling three week tournament. When dogs (like Asheville tomorrow) get close to favorites the atmosphere in these sections transforms normal folks into lunatics.

Here are four upset predictions for today, Thursday March 17th.

  • Wichita State (an 11 seed) over Arizona (6)
  • Connecticut (a 9) over Colorado (8)
  • UNCW will play Duke tough and I think they (a 13) can beat Duke (4). If I was in Las Vegas I would bet this one for sure against the spread.
  • Gonzaga (11) over Seton Hall (6).
For Friday March 18th the only upset I like is Syracuse (a 10) over Dayton a (7).  

Do not place bets based on my wisdom. I thought Carter would beat Reagan in 1980.

1 comment:

  1. HI ZEKE
    I'm envious . You being there . Very jealous. Bet on the favorites (small wage) to juice it up for your involvement. . I'm concerned that Northern Iowa will beat Texas. Both teams can beat or lose to anyone. The tournament this year will be as crazy as politics. Can't believe Yale beat Baylor. Have fun. Gene