Let the Madness Begin!

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We made it, and it’s time….NCAA March Madness is upon us! If you read my column last week, you are aware how special this time of year is to me. I reconnected with my old friend Josh via Facebook, and we went over our Final Four picks via the magic of the internet. TECHNOLOGY! It would have blown our 9 year old minds the way college basketball can be watched, analyzed, and discussed compared to only network TV and newspapers/magazines to get all your information. On Sunday I watched the brackets be unveiled live, and was able to immediately access the bracket and make my picks online right after they were set. I then followed that up by watching VSiN’s live coverage online with Brent Musberger and his gambling experts. Brent’s new sports information radio network and website is top notch, and just happen to be located a few blocks from my home at the South Point Casino. The whole “against the spread’ thing wasn’t too important back in the day growing up in Wisconsin. With me living here in Vegas, and the way people can gamble on off-shore websites, it is now almost as equally as important as filling out brackets. Far more lucrative too, if you pay attention all year and use the right information and stats/trends in order to pick winning sides. On VSiN, immediately after the brackets came out, Las Vegas hotel and casino owner Derek Stevens bet $11,000 per game on all 32 of the 1st round matchups the moment the South Point put up their first lines. Stevens will win back $10k for winners on his $11k bet, getting back a total of $21k. This standard bet is referred to as -110, and is part of the reason why sports books always have the advantage on you. You bet $110, you win $100; you get $210 when you cash that winning ticket. Stevens ended up going with 20 underdogs, with his strategy that opening lines are titled toward the favorites, and that money wagered will balance it out in his favor. If you aren’t familiar with how a standard against the spread works (ATS), you need to lay points on favorites to win back money. For example, Wisconsin is around at 6 point favorite to beat Virginia Tech on Thursday. That means the Badgers need to win by more than 6 (if they win by exactly 6 you push, getting your money back that you wagered but no winnings. This happens a lot more than you think!). Think about how hard it is to correctly just pick winners, let alone being worried if Ethan Happ can make his free throws to ensure WI wins by at least 6. For all of us who have sweated out fouls at the end of the game, or a seemingly pointless layup at the buzzer, you know where I am coming from. You can also bet money line, which means your team just needs to win, but often times they payout is a lot lower. I will spend the next few days crunching numbers, recalling matchups, and go with some tendencies that only die hard college basketball fans and gamblers would understand. Besides the Super Bowl, this is the most intense gambling period in Las Vegas. I think it’s more fun than the Super Bowl and NFL playoffs in that it lasts a full month, if you count conference championship week like I do.

March Madness and Macho Madness Combined?
Speaking of the Madness, it’s too bad that “Macho Man” Randy Savage passed away a few years ago, because I think we are really missing out on the potential crossover appeal of Macho Madness and March Madness. In my dream scenario, I’d throw Randy Savage on the CBS/TNT/TBS/TruTV panel along with Kenny Smith and Charles Barkley. The Macho Man would know about the same amount about college basketball that Kenny and Charles know (not much!) and also bring character and flavor into the studio show. Here’s how I would imagine his pre-tournament breakdown of the Arizona Wildcats would go:

Ohhhh Yea!!!…..Sean Miller and the Arizona Wildcats are too hot to handle and too cold to hold! I’ve been to the mountain top at Wrestlemania IV, and the Wildcats are about to snap into the highest high imaginable, a world championship! Coach Miller better look out for other coaches and teams with jealous eyes…..I’m looking at you Steve Alford!….ohhh yea!!!!….I can see the jealously when other teams look at the Wildcats and I don’t like it. Much like the Macho Man, Arizona will prove to be the tower of power in college basketball, too sweet to be sour. Dig it!!!

Then Savage would argue with the talking heads about zone defense verse man to man in certain situations, give his predictions, and possibly drop the big elbow on Charles ……I smell ratings!

PREDICTION TIME
I’m not going to post my entire bracket game by game, don’t want to give away too many of my secrets! I will post my Final Four and national championship picks, hopefully serve as evidence of my college basketball smarts. If it doesn’t go my way, that’s March Madness for you!

Final Four
East-Villanova
West-Arizona
Midwest-Louisville
South- North Carolina

Championship
Arizona (Ohhhh Yea!) over North Carolina- 81-77

If you want more in depth bracket analysis, download and subscribe to this week’s VSP podcast on iTunes. You can also listen to us on SoundCloud. Follow us on Twitter @LvSportsPress for free plays ATS and random in game tweets. Enjoy the weekend, and make some $!

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