Heavy favorites remain preferred plays
March 20, 2018 3:00 AM
by Jim Feist
The NCAA tournament moves past the first round and I’ll now take a look at any upsets that may have occurred. I don’t really agree that these games are truly upsets. Yeah, when you put a North Carolina up against Lipscomb you make a 20-point line that is the top team against an also ran mid-major.
You will notice the biggest teams, those teams favored by 19 points or more, they’re all winning. The one exception and probably the biggest upset in some time was Maryland Baltimore County beating top seeded Virginia, 74-54. How historic was this upset? It’s the first time a number 16 seed has upset a 1 in tournament history!! The great defense of Virginia just couldn’t stop UMBC and the Cavs offense never got on track. This was the upset of all upsets.
The more minor upsets are happening when you have Wichita State going down or Arizona losing to Buffalo. Let’s talk a little bit about that one. The PAC-12 has been horrible both in football bowl games and the NCAA tournament in 2017 and 2018. Arizona is the latest team to fall victim to this PAC-12 postseason curse. But was their heart really in that game? Arizona had some much publicized off-court issues this year with both players and their coach. Right after their loss to Buffalo, Deandre Ayton and Allonzo Trier both declared their eligibility for the NBA draft. Maybe they had their sights set on the NBA draft rather than the NCAA.
Cincinnati just beat Georgia State by 15 points in a game that was close all the way. Cincinnati doesn’t have a very good offense, at least one that can usually blow out opponents. Therefore, when they run up against good defensive teams they have trouble scoring. Now they’re going to face Nevada. Nevada had to go to overtime to dispatch Texas after the Wolfpack trailed big in the second half. Nevada has a lot of ability and I want to see what happens here versus Cincinnati. This is definitely one of those spots we might see an upset win by the dog.
Tennessee beat up on Wright State, but the dog was in a bad matchup against a bigger and stronger club. The Volunteers now face Loyola-Chicago and its lucky charm in Sister Jean, the 98-year-old nun who inspires the Ramblers. Loyola is tough and can stick with this Tennessee team. It’s no fluke the Ramblers are where they are now, even if they have some divine help. This is the kind of matchup where you could see the upset.
Upset minded Buffalo now must face Kentucky. Don’t give Buffalo too much credit for that win over Arizona. Like I said earlier, the Wildcats may not have been inspired to be in the NCAA tournament this year. Still, Buffalo has been impressive this year in a weak MAC conference. Definitely a mismatch in this game as Kentucky has the talent and will come to play. Kentucky saw what Buffalo did to Arizona, so don’t look for that to happen again in this matchup.
Marshall and West Virginia are an interesting matchup, with lots of local rooting action on that one. These Eastern teams are playing way out West in San Diego. The Mountaineers are a double-digit favorite, but Marshall has already proven they can win the big games. As the second round of the NCAA comes into play we don’t see a lot of big chances for big dog winners. The biggest favorites are around 11 to 12 points, so those 19-plus dogs are all gone now. This is where the cream of the crop starts to rise to the top.
I’m having one of my best tournaments ever, so enjoy, good luck and watch out for some dogs.