Here are my Thursday NCAA Tourney picks against the spread

Here are my Thursday NCAA Tourney picks against the spread

Published Mar. 19, 2014 1:00 a.m. ET

I'm betting every first and second round game this year at the LVH Superbook in Las Vegas. (I refuse to call the play-in games the first round). This means I'm betting at least $4800 total. The downside of betting on every first and second round game is, let's be honest, it's pretty much impossible to know very much about all of these teams. Even with my diligent research -- which has consisted of reviewing every team's schedule, most of them anyway -- and then deciding -- when I'm not coming up with insanely good theories about what happened to the Malaysian jet -- who to bet on.

I am not a "sharp" better. Nor am I claiming that by taking these picks you will become wealthy. (I save all those claims for college football, which I actually watch pretty much every game of and have a decent sense of the markets). Note: I am often very wrong about college football as well, this year my Outkick picks finished a very robust 50%. Seriously, exactly even. Last year in college football, I was over 66% though, so there's that.   

Basically, I'm a lot like you guys when it comes to March Madness. I like college basketball, but I don't live it or watch every team play. Who has the time to watch basketball on a Wednesday night when you get home and your six and three year old want you to watch Star Wars episode 5 for the 18th time? Plus, my wife goes to bed early and I have to pretend that I'm going to sleep at the same time as her so she is occasionally willing to sleep with me. 

As a result, I'm fairly well versed in the SEC and the A-10 basketball, which makes me the only person in America who can say write this sentence. 


It wasn't enough for me to risk $4800 total, so I just bet $1000 on Tennessee +2 against Iowa. Yep, I'm all in on Cuonzo Martin's Vols, which is a clear recipe for disaster and makes me question all of my sanity. But I have faith. Tennessee's on a roll and Iowa is collapsing. I think the Vols win outright, which is probably why I should have played the moneyline.

But I didn't, so, anyway, Twitter should be entertaining tonight.

And if Cuonzo Martin costs me a $1k by losing to an inferior Iowa team, then I'm going to just cry myself to sleep tonight. (So, basically, it will be a regular Wednesday night for me).

Here are my other picks for Thursday.

Dayton vs. Ohio State -6

I was really torn on this one. 

Despite despising the Buckeyes in general, I have Ohio State advancing to the Elite 8 in my bracket. But I also think Dayton is a pretty good upset pick here. Dayton's 10-2 in its last 12 games with the only two losses both coming to St. Joseph's. This is also the classic little brother, big brother game, Dayton's players all actually would prefer to be playing for Ohio State instead of Dayton. 

So why did I take Ohio State?

Thad Matta. 

I'm being honest. He's only lost in the first round of the NCAA tournament once in his 12 NCAA tournament appearances. Plus, again, I think Ohio State is going to get hot.

This means Ohio State will find a way to win by, for the first time in recorded history, 5.5 points.  

American +13.5 vs. Wisconsin

Down the stretch American has played an awful lot of games in the 50's. Put simply, American struggles to score points and wants to shorten the game. In past year that has been how Bo Ryan's Wisconsin teams play as well. Wisconsin will win this game, but the Badgers have only beaten one team by over 13 points since January 8th.

You see that above sentence, that was me trying to justify this bet.  

Is it nerve-wracking to bet on a 15 seed here? Yep. 

N.C. State +2.5 vs. St. Louis

Every year it feels like one of the play-in teams gets hot. That play-in win seems to ease an awful lot of the stress that comes with playing in the tournament. Now N.C. State, who no one wanted in the tourney except for Coach K., is on a bit of a roll. Meanwhile, St. Louis has been awful down the stretch in the A-10. Want a crazy stat? St. Louis hasn't won a regulation game by more than two points since February 5th.

February 5th!


That's research, baby. 

Pittsburgh -6 vs. Colorado

This is a classic Vegas vs. the seeding committee game. Vegas believes Pitt is a top 25 team and doesn't believe Colorado should even be in the tournament. Look at Colorado's Pac 12 performance, what good wins do they really have on the year? Plus, Colorado doesn't win NCAA tournament games. You're better off betting on a unicorn to suddenly appear alongside the Malaysian jetliner in Togo. 

Harvard vs. Cincinnati -2.5

Whenever everyone seems to expect the upset, it doesn't tend to happen. 

That's the logic I'm rolling with here in taking the Bearcats.

Plus, Harvard is totally unlikable in sports. You dominate the world and win tourney basketball games while finding a way to give full scholarships to your players in the Ivy League, which doesn't technically allow athletic scholarships?

It's like Bernie Madoff got involved in the scholarship game.  

Western Michigan +13 vs. Syracuse

I'm going to be honest with y'all, I made this bet just for FoxSports1 producer Royce Dickerson, a Western Michigan alum. 

Plus, Syracuse has been in a bit of a free fall since ascending to number one in the country.

And...nope, I pretty much did this for Royce.  

BYU vs. Oregon -5.5

Oregon's 8-1 in their last nine, winning all but one of these games by more than 7. Meanwhile one of BYU's top players just tore his ACL and Vegas thinks BYU is overseeded here. 

Plus, America wins when Oregon's cheerleaders advance in the NCAA tournament.  

Delaware vs. Michigan State -14.5

Izzo's Spartans are getting healthy and catching fire at the right time. 

Plus, other than steal LLC's that should be licensed in your state and get the tax dollars as a result, what does Delaware ever win at?

Albany vs. Florida -21.5

The Gators don't just beat bad teams, they destroy them. 

Albany has no hope here.

Albany is the only team that has ever arrived in Dayton, Ohio and been like, "This city is BAD ASS!" 

Can you imagine when Albany gets to Orlando and their team sees sunlight for the first time in six months? Like countless vampires before them, they're going to be burn to death walking from the bus to the arena. 

St. Joseph's +4.5 vs. UConn

St. Joe's is one of the hottest teams in the NCAA tournament, coming off an A-10 tourney title. I also love Phil Martelli as a coach, particularly when he has time to devise a gameplan. 

I wanted to pick UConn here since the Huskies are the biggest loser in conference realignment and it seems cruel to make them play in the American conference all season -- Rutgers is leaving them behind! -- and then get beat by St. Joe's in the first round, but it's probably going to happen.  

I'm rolling with St. Joe's. 

Wofford vs. Michigan -16

Remember earlier when I said that I need to do whatever I can to get my wife to sleep with me. 

She's a Michigan grad. 

Plus, Wofford? Really? I'm pretty sure that's a made up name. And a made up school.

North Dakota State +3.5 vs. Oklahoma

Remember how earlier I said, don't bet on the trendy upset pick?

I bet on the trendy upset pick here.

This is despite the fact that I can't name you a single person in the entire country who lives in North Dakota. Much less their basketball team.  

Wisconsin-Milwaukee +16.5  vs. Villanova

I bet on UWM because Bruce Pearl used to coach here. 

I'd like to have a better reason, but I don't. 

Arizona State vs. Texas -2

i can't believe I bet on a Rick Barnes coached team to cover either.

Honestly, I'd like to give you a rationale for why I made this bet, but I don't even have one.  

Manhattan +16.5 vs. Louisville

Everyone else in the country is betting on Louisville. Seriously, Louisville is so beloved in Las Vegas right now you'd think they had just opened the only whorehouse in Salt Lake City. 

So I'm going the other way.

Jaspers, Jaspers! (Note, I just bet $100 on them and I don't even know what a Jasper is).

San Diego State vs. New Mexico State +7

Hold on, New Mexico and New Mexico State are both in the NCAA tournament and there's no team from either Illinois or Indiana?

How does this happen?


Tomorrow I'll post my picks for Friday's games. 

So, you know, you can do the opposite. 

Also, as with every day this week, I'll be on FSLive with Todd Fuhrman tonight again. 

Here were my Elite 8 and Final Four picks: