3rd Stone From the Sun

Animals! Anarchy! I have always hated kids, especially at this time of year. They wander in and out of the house, babbling and drooling on each other, and when it snows, piling up, up, up, then flooding with filth when it melts. … Yes sir, haven’t I been telling you all along that March is a horrible month? It sucks in nine-thousand ways.  Especially in Texas.  The whole state went 0’fer.

But not all ways, as it turns out. No. Shaquille O’Neal was born in March, along with my son and other sons I’m related too, and the bastard child of Charles Manson. How many more games can be decided by a single point?

Hot damn! I could go on and on about this, but that would drive us all mad. Justin Bieber was spawned in March, along with Jack Kerouac, Queen Latifah, Albert Einstein and Osama bin Laden.

So let’s get back to basketball and the looming UCLA-UAB game. Even the president is worried about it.

We live in downhill times, in basketball and everywhere else. By this time next year, we will all be arrested for something, whether we’re guilty or not. “Terrorism” has many, many faces. Frankly, I will not be shocked to see the NCAA basketball tournament being played in a titanium cage at Guantanamo Bay, with defrocked priests as Referees calling goal-tending.

But the LSU situation haunts me more than the others, right now, if only because I watched upset after upset yesterday – and the beloved Tigers missing 20 consecutive shots. My heart is heavy, my mood is glum.  How is that goal-tending?! Bracket Destruction is a horrible pig. It is sort of like texting a lady late at night after washing down your tears with Jameson and Miller Lite.

Yeah. Suck on that one for a minute.

As for my quasi-flaky Tigers, professional circumstance has already spared me the agony of deciding where to put my money today. Right, no more of this s***-eating grief. I have finally grown up, I have matured — the Office Pool bracket sheet says I have already picked Northern Iowa in the Elite 8.

Indeed. I did it Monday, when I thought I was still thinking clearly. You bet: The Bruins are a No. 11 seed. And UAB is the No. 14.

It’s easy: Just bet the higher-seeded team in every game, and forget that amateur crap about “Personal Loyalties” and Home Team hunches that reveal themselves to you just before dawn on game day. You are probably an Alcoholic, anyway, and you are prone to Doubling Up/down, so what? Pay no attention to any yo-yo who tells you that Wisconsin is going to win. That is nonsense, that is impossible, nobody in basketball would bet Wisconsin over Kentucky. It would be 33-1 or 44-1, if you thought about monetizing it.

And some people will, at any odds. What the hell? I would bet heavily on my people at 22-1, and a bit less heavily at 15-1, or even 11-1. Why not? Big Risk is what this ball-busting March Madness is all about, right? Go long, get weird, kick ass — and if we Lose, get really Weird.

Yes sir, that is exactly what we do around here in March, folks. We load up on everything we can get our hands on, then crawl into a huge vat of ice water and bet gigantic money with jokers on both coasts.

It is not much different from that giggly, blind-dumb limbo that a gambler will get into when he knows in his heart that he finally has a Sure Thing, a sleeping dog who can’t lose, etc. etc.

But let me tell you for sure, people, that Gonzaga can lose, and the ‘Zags probably will. It is actually about a 57-1 shot, which is not for your everyday hometown beer drunk. … NoDakSt might be simply Bigger, Faster, Smarter, Tougher and on most days just a little more adventurous than this Gonzaga team, which is not even as good as the one that lost to UConn in the Elite Eight in 1999. They have the shooters, but do they have the muscle or the depth to play 40 minutes with the Bison?

The final spread will be at least two digits. Try 18, as in 89-71. I have already predicted this with my blind-dog-smokin-bracket-sheet, which was strictly impersonal.

Or almost impersonal, anyway: In a fit of stupid loyalty or love or maybe just a pimp’s lust for melodrama, I fell for crowd-pleasing Cinderella-teams like Iowa St, Baylor and Eastern Washington, which all got busted early. Screw them. All of my Final Four picks are still alive, and that is more than some people can say.

My attorney will almost certainly live to be 122 years old, when he will still be the amazing all-time champion of sports and literature that he is today, and has been for the past 12 years. Whatever it is that he eats after midnight, we should all eat more of it. Take it from me: I know how it feels to run at top speed for years and still believe in Santa Claus.

Whoops, maybe not Santa, but definitely Valentine’s Day and the Fourth of July. It was my attorney, in fact, who told me to bet Arizona even, with no points at all, at 13-1 odds to win it all. Got it? That means Wisconsin, Villanova and Duke, too.

So I will, and nevermind what I really think — which is that Northern Iowa will knock off ‘Nova and Wichita St will somehow beat Kansas. Right, and that’s about it for my ramblings of an insane gambler, for now. I hear the gong, and I must have whiskey.

2015 Bracket-ology Madness Locks of the Century of the Week

The idea behind our in-depth bracket, was several different combinations of formulas.  We intend to update the picks by round and to continue to offer those that might be good gambles to wager – for entertainment purposes only.  So to further help or confuse – here are some figures that we took into consideration:

  • Offensive Scoring 73% (11) averaged at least 77.0 PPG and finished among the Top 30 scoring teams in the nation. The only exceptions here were 2000 Michigan State, which averaged 74.1 PPG, 2011 UConn (72.4 PPG), 2013 Louisville (74.5 PPG) and 2014 UConn (71.9)
  • Offensive Shooting 73% (11) made at least 47% FG and ranked in the Top 30 in national FG percentage. Six of the teams ranked in the Top 10, including 2012 Kentucky (9th). But four of the previous five champions were below this mark — 2010 Duke, 2011 UConn, 2013 Louisville and 2014 UConn
  • Offensive Three-Point Shooting 73% (11) made at least 38% 3-pt FG, and all placed in the Top 40 in the nation in this category. 2002 Maryland was just below the mark (37.4%), but 2003 Syracuse (34.4%), 2011 UConn (32.9%) and 2013 Louisville (33.3%) weren’t close.
  • Defensive Scoring 67% (10) allowed fewer than 65.0 PPG. Of the five champions that allowed more than 65.0 PPG, four were ACC schools (2001 Duke, 2002 Maryland, 2005 and 2009 North Carolina).
  • Defensive Shooting 93% (14) allowed 41% FG or less with 2001 Duke just missing the cut at 41.6% FG. Five of these champions were among the Top 15 shooting defenses in the nation –2004 UConn ranked 1st, 2008 Kansas ranked 3rd, 2003 Syracuse ranked 5th, 2014 UConn ranked 8th and 2011 UConn ranked 11th.
  • Turnover Margin 80% (12) had a positive turnover margin (more takeaways than giveaways), but only 27% (4) were ranked among the nation’s Top 50 schools in this category. 2013 Louisville had the top mark here with a +5.8 TO margin, which ranked third in the nation. 2001 Duke had a strong +5.5 TO margin.
  • Double-digit favorites had been almost unbeatable over a three-year span from 2008 to 2010, going 44-1 SU & 26-16-3 ATS (62%). In the past five years (2010-14), the SU record was still 66-8

TRENDS BY SEED

  • #1 vs. #16: A #1 seed has never lost to a #16 seed outright in the NCAA Tournament. The #1s had covered 15 of 20 games (75%) from 2007-2011 with an average winning margin of approximately 30.0 PPG. But in the last three years, the #16s were 8-4 ATS, losing by just 15.6 PPG. The OVER was just 4-8 (33%) in 2011 to 2013, but 3-1 (75%) last season.
  • #2 vs. #15: No #2 seed had lost to a #15 outright from 2001-2011, but in the last three years Fla Gulf Coast (over Georgetown), Lehigh (over Duke) and Norfolk State (over Missouri) won outright as #15 seeds. In the past 10 years, the #15 owns a 53% ATS advantage (19-17-4). The UNDER was 0-4 in #2 vs. #15 matchups in ‘13, but was 4-0 in 2014.
  • #3 vs. #14: Even with #3 Duke losing to Mercer last year, the #3 seeds are still 29-3 SU and 20-11-1 ATS (65%) since 2007. Some of this is due to smaller spreads, with #3 seeds favored by a mere 9.5-point average since 2012 with just four of the 12 teams favored by more than 11 points. The UNDER is 20-12 (63%) in the past seven years and 32-16 (67%) dating back to 2003.
  • #4 vs. #13: The #4 seed is 28-8 SU and 21-14-1 ATS (60%) over the past eight tournaments. In 2013, #13 Harvard beat #4 New Mexico outright as a 10.5-point underdog.
  • #5 vs. #12: The #12 seed has gone 14-22 SU (39%) vs. the #5 seed from 2004-2012, but is 3-1 SU (75%) in each of the last two years. Seven #5 seeds were favored by three points or less from 2010 to 2014, including two last year (Cincinnati -3 Harvard, Saint Louis -3 NC State). “A” level conference teams are on an 8-4 SU & 9-2-1 ATS (82%) run on the #12 line, including 3-0 in 2013 (Oregon, California and Ole Miss).
  • #6 vs. #11: Even with the spreads in the last five years’ 6/11 games all 6.5 points or less, the #6 seeds went 8-11-1 ATS, with 10 of those losses also being SU defeats, including two last year. #6 seeds are now 20-16 SU & 16-19-1 ATS since ‘06.
  • #7 vs. #10: Eleven #10 seeds have won outright over the past six years, but #10 seeds are still just 21-30-1 ATS (41%) since 2002. The straight-up winner in the 7/10 matchup has covered the spread in 65 of 68 games since 1998.
  • #8 vs. #9: This series remains as close as one would expect at 34-30 in favor of the #8 seed in the past 16 years. The #8 seeds have a slight 31-30-3 ATS advantage. The OVER is usually the play in this matchup, with a strong 29- 23 record (58%) since 2002.

Funny thing about upsets – Of the 40 Round-of-64 upsets from 2005 to ’09, 24 occurred in the Friday games. The 2010-2011 tourneys had 10 lower seeded teams win on Thursday and just seven upsets on Friday, but the 2012-14 dances saw just 11 lower seeds advance on Thursday, and a whopping 17 upsets on Friday.

***

This is how our bracket shook out after the dust settled – if we did it right, we expect similar results to our overall success in college football – no one in the nation could beat us.

 

2015_bracket

 

Individual games to wager on – for entertainment purposes only:

Buffalo +4.5

Valpo +5

SF Austin +3.5

E. Wash +7.5

Davidson +2.5

If you want to tease a bet – go with this 12-team teaser with 9pts (+695):

UK -21

Notre Dame -3.5

Kansas -3

Wiscy -17

UNC -1.5

‘Zona -14

Oklahoma -4

Virginia -8

Duke -10.5

Iowa St -4.5

Gonzaga -8.5