Expect the unexpected in later rounds

Mar 25, 2003 6:09 AM

Well, could you have asked for more excitement than the opening rounds of March Madness? It was more than the bettors and the sports books could have asked for, and the good news is there’s more to come!

As a result of the various upsets and re-shuffling of the tournament brackets, Las Vegas oddsmakers unveiled a new and somewhat surprising set of numbers on Monday.

By virtune of its relatively easy wins, No. 1 seed Kentucky was made a prohibitive 3-2 favorite to win it all, while Arizona, another No. 1 seed, was assigned a somewhat generous 7-2 odds.

This week I expect both top seeds to cruise through their Sweet 16 match-ups, as should Texas, Oklahoma and Duke.

Teams that might have difficulty in advancing include No. 2 seeded Kansas, which must contend with a very hot Duke squad, and Big East power, Pittsburgh, which could be catching a Marquette team that is peaking at the right time.

There were upsets in the first round, and we can expect more of the same this week. The trick is picking the right teams!

Using the future odds released Monday, good bets might include Texas (8-1) to win it all, Michigan State (25-1) and Marquette (40-1).

Going into this week’s action, we can once again expect the unexpected. Here’s what to watch for:

Midwest Region

WISCONSIN +12 versus Kentucky: Wisconsin playing inspired ball and should be able to keep this within two touchdowns. Kentucky blew away a much slower Utah team that just had no inspiration as their coach didn’t think they should even be playing under the cloud of war.

MARQUETTE +5 versus Pittsburgh: Very tough game dictates taking the five and hoping for the best.

West Region

ARIZONA —8½ versus Notre Dame: ’Zona had its early scare and the wakeup call; there should be no more mistakes on their way to the Final Four.

DUKE +3 versus Kansas: This is a toss up, so I will take the three pointer in a game that may go to overtime.

East Region

SYRACUSE —5 versus Auburn: Look for a lot of orange in the stands for this game. I just love the way these guys came back to blow away Oklahoma State. Lay the five!

OKLAHOMA —7½ versus Butler: Cinderella won’t find her slipper in this game as the 3-pointers stop here. Take the Sooners in a route.

South Region

TEXAS —3 versus U.Conn: Another very tough game as both teams are focused. But this could be the Longhorns year ”” Hook ’em!

MICHIGAN STATE +3½ versus Maryland: This will be a real battle to the end, so taking the points looks like the way to go.

Last Week: 14-4

Season: 92-59