Madness starts off with a stunner

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I have no words left to describe what this bettor witnessed this past weekend in our Las Vegas sportsbooks.

No money shortages in the pockets of hoops bettors as the windows were jammed for the first to last games. Kudos to our professional and courteous ticket writers as they not only need to deal with novice bettors, balance their drawer but also have the patience to deal with the rude drunks that seem to show up. These overworked and underpaid writers always get a big shout out from this bettor.

Be kind, say thanks and they do need those tips. So if for some reason you have a winning day just leave a few greenbacks.

Ok, what the heck happened? I who usually have all the answers have none when it comes to Michigan State, who could not get by Middle Tennessee State, and in fact never at any time even had the lead in the game. Then Middle Tenn. comes back and could only score 50 points, getting hammered by Syracuse by 25. Team Izzo was in shock!

Let us take a quick look at a few conferences. First of all, the overrated PAC 12 had seven teams get in and only Oregon, who was life and death to beat St. Joe’s on Sunday, remains. The other six, Arizona, California, Colorado, Oregon St., USC and Utah all went down in the first round.

Now we take a look at the Big Ten where seven teams got the nod to dance. At least three remain with Indiana (who beat Kentucky), Maryland and a surprising Wisconsin, who has done it with defense. We could see all three gone in the next round of the not so Sweet Sixteen starting on Thursday.

In the Big East we had five get to the dance and only one remains. Villanova, the best of the group, will be a tough out.

The Big 12 conference had an outrageous seven get the nod and have three remaining with Iowa State, Kansas and Oklahoma. Kansas, the top dog, will be a real tough out.

With the outing of Kentucky the SEC just has Texas A&M remaining. The Aggies can play and could move forward.

The lowly West Coast Conference only gets to send one team so Saint Mary’s, who could have beat most of the lower level teams, got knocked out by Gonzaga in the championship game and the Zags again rose to levels that have amazed even this bettor. You just gotta love the way they play.

Now we get to the meat of the tournament, the ACC, who also sent seven to the Dance and still have six remaining with only the Pitt Panthers getting knocked out by Wisconsin. Duke, Miami-Florida, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Syracuse and Virginia all move to the final 16. Now that is a huge accomplishment.

On Thursday, Maryland will lose to Kansas getting 7 points. Villanova will have its hands full vs. a tough Miami team laying 4. Duke, who has a hard time on the boards rebounding will need to come up big to beat Oregon, getting around 5, and Texas A&M is getting a bucket from Oklahoma in a real toss up.

On Friday, Indiana is getting 6 from North Carolina and the way they played Kentucky leads us to take the points in that game. Wisconsin is getting +1.5 vs. Notre Dame. Don’t know what the total will be but you may want to take a look at betting the UNDER.

Iowa State is getting 5.5 from Virginia and we will be taking it in this game. Gonzaga has been made a 4.5 point favorite vs. Syracuse, who has really come on late in the season. We will be passing on this game but it will be a must watch.

My One-for-Thursday record is 6-2 and this week my play will come on Indiana +6 points.

Derby Talk

On the road to the Kentucky Derby we had the Grade 2 Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park and trainer Bob Baffert sent a horse by the name of Cupid to town, off a recent maiden breaker. Cupid went to the front and under a heady Martin Garcia ride went wire to wire. The second place finisher Whitmore again made what looked to be a huge winning move but just could not get by Cupid. Both will move on.

Note: The Santa Anita Derby will be run on Saturday, April 9 and I will be doing a Santa Anita seminar with Tom Quigley in the paddock the morning of the race. You will be able to view it on any of the TV’s in your favorite racebook here in Las Vegas.

The last two roads to the Kentucky Derby I have had the pleasure of interviewing Rosie Napravnik (two years ago) and Tom Amoss (last year). This year we will be talking to Joe Talamo.

And don’t forget, there is great racing coming up and some real good basketball action, so get out of the house and make a bet – you could be walking around lucky and not even know it.

Richard Saber, a former director of race and sports at the famed Stardust book, is GT’s horse racing and sports handicapper. Twitter: @SabesBet. Email: [email protected].

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