Virginia’s defense one of the stars of this bracket

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The handle in this year’s March Madness tournament will be going through the roof, and that is just for legal betting.

Not counting the many pools almost every business and just pals will be putting together, this year’s Madness handle will be huge, especially with almost every working American getting more money in their paychecks this year thanks to the tax breaks by President Trump. The greenbacks will be flowing.

Brackets and opening lines are out and so we will get right to the chase and opine on each one.

SOUTH

Virginia with its top defense has seen no team score 70 or more points against them all year. The Cavaliers grabbed the 1-seed and will easily get by Maryland Baltimore County. The 22.5 point spread is the largest of any first round game.

The Bearcats from Cincinnati grabbed the 2-seed and will get past Georgia State but the -14.5 could be a struggle.

Now let’s take a look at the teams that have the best shot at upsetting the applecart.

Surging Kentucky, the 5-seed, is playing its best basketball of the season and just at the right time. It will be a battle of Wildcats in the first round, but UK will move on against a tough Davidson team and has the ability to beat anyone.

Arizona, who this bettor likes, grabbed a 4-seed and gets high scoring Buffalo. You can bet this game OVER the total. Arizona and Kentucky will play each other in the second round and the winner will meet Virginia in Atlanta. Both are capable of knocking off the Cavaliers.

We think Cincinnati will get by the winner of the Nevada/Texas game and play Tennessee. That game will be a near pick ’em. We we favor the Bearcats getting to Atlanta.

WEST

Xavier travels West as the 1-seed and may find a tough time out there. They open with the winner of the NC Central/Texas Southern play-in game and move on and play the winner of Missouri/Florida. Missouri is our upset special against the Gators and we will be taking a shot with them to get by Florida and beat Xavier.

Ohio State was great in mid-season but struggled late. They play a tough South Dakota State team with the winner playing Gonzaga, who we say will get to the Final Four. The Zags look to have a soft road to Los Angeles and will advance even if they play Xavier. The West Coast is a great draw for them.

Michigan, the 3-seed, is playing great basketball and will meet North Carolina on the way to the Final Four. Along the way could be a Big Ten rematch against Michigan State, which would be interesting to say the least. We favor Michigan Wolverines to get there and the price is still right.

EAST

This region is all about Villanova, who should roll through to the Final Four. They drew a very soft crew on the way to Boston with Purdue looking to be the main danger. The two possible road blocks are West Virginia with their pressure defense and Texas Tech who will need to beat Purdue, which we doubt.

MIDWEST

This looks like a three horse photo finish with the top three seeds, Kansas, Duke and Michigan State. Kansas looks to have the easy way to the Great Eight but will need to get by the winner of the Michigan State/Duke game. When they meet the game will be around a pick. We love the Spartans head coach Tom Izzo who always has his teams ready tournament time.

Next week we will analyze how things went and move on from there.

Road to Derby: Can we ever dare mention Alydar/Affirmed in the same breath with Bolt d”Oro/ McKinzie? We doubt it but what a race these two ran in the San Felipe this past Saturday, with McKinzie winning by a head only to get DQ by the stewards in a controversial take down. These are two very fast runners who we hope meet up again in the Santa Anita Derby for another great race and then on to the Kentucky Derby.

Jockey Javier Castellano will no longer need to make a decision on what horse to ride after this race. We know big race Mike Smith was not happy about the take down, especially on his home course.

This is getting very interesting to say the least.

Top play: Thursday, Santa Anita, race eight, No. 6 Uncle Billy looks perfectly spotted off the maiden win and the hot riding Van Dyke is in the irons. This 4-year-old gelding will find a nice fast early pace, sit back and pounce on them down the lane.

Good luck in those pools and don’t forget to go online and sign up for the$100K GamingToday Bracket Buster contest. It’s free and you could be walking around lucky and not even know it.

Enjoy the madness!

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