What You Need To Know for #CollegeGameDay This Weekend

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Since the days of Agamemnon – the Trojans always lose

1. More ‘Cutty’ Sark?

He is who we thought he was!  At least some of us thought that.  Others thought that he would be more Pete than Lane.  They never listened when the handful of us told USC fan, this guy is not your answer to returned-glory.  The Trojans lost again, at home, and to Sark’s former program that now employs Chris Petersen.  Of the two coaches, who would USC fan rather have now?

The game started in the twilight (omen?) with a sparse crowd that watched a double-digit underdog upset USC 17-12.  The Huskies of U-Dub looked enthusiastic and the USC offense never just ran the DAMN ball.  Does Steve drink on the sidelines?  How does Tre Madden average 7.1 ypc and Ronald Jones II averages 8.1 ypc, but you only give them the ball 25 times?  Reads like a repeat of the game against Texas in the Rose Bowl a few years ago when he was the O.C.

SoCal fan had a lot of Hot Takes after the game and they are correct – he is doing turrable, (said ina Charles Barkley voice) with all this perceived talent.  We have seen all we need to see of ‘Cutty’ Sark – from his sophmorish behavior at a pep rally, to choosing to throw the ball on second and third downs – to then settle for a 45yd FG on 4th down, to trying to get the crowd fired up on the sideline – that’s what those nice girls in the white sweaters are for!  Sark will not make it at USC and the program will sink to pre-Pete levels.  Although, I bet Terry Saban wouldn’t mind living in Palm Springs – it beats Tuscaloosa!

2. You Better You Bet

In year’s past, all we would hear about this week, is OU v. Texas, or Miami v. FSU – but right now I’d hedge that more people are interested in Northwestern-Michigan, and Utah-California – at least I am, along with a few other games that are slated this Saturday – all times EASTERN.  So Let’s Get It On!

Morning Games

  • (10) Oklahoma v. Texas (@Dallas) noon ABC – OU -17.5
    • There is no reason for Texas to keep this close. Oklahoma is a legitimate Big 12 contender. Quarterback Baker Mayfield is averaging 10.2 yards per attempt, proving to be an effective fit for Lincoln Riley’s system, but also a dangerous improviser. Beyond struggles against Tulsa’s Baylor-influenced offense, Oklahoma’s defense has been excellent too. Simply put, the Sooners are a much better, more complete team than the Longhorns. Texas’ offense is a mess, its defense ranks 110th in yards per play and the team is suffering social media meltdowns.
      • Oklahoma 41 – Texas 14—94.85%

  • Maryland @ (1) Ohio St – noon Big (not)10 Network – OSU -33
    • Ohio State may put an end to the Randy Edsall era. On Thursday, 247Sports reported that Maryland is planning to fire Edsall, perhaps after the Terrapins inevitably lose to the Buckeyes. They have a bye week next, so the timing would make sense if they’re planning to cut him loose during the season. Maryland has been awful thus far, getting off to a 2-3 start with a blowout home loss to Bowling Green, and a total of six points scored the last two weeks in embarrassments at the hands of West Virginia and Michigan.
      • Maryland 7 – Ohio St 39—93.3%

  • Illinois @ (22) Iowa – noon ESPN2 – Iowa -11
    • Raise your hand if you had these teams a combined 9-1 at this stage in the season. The Fighting Illini will likely fall off a bit, but Iowa might be the best bet in the Big Ten West right now. The Hawkeyes won 10-6 on the road vs. Wisconsin last week, and they play Maryland and Indiana in their two cross-division games. They won that game despite the fact that quarterback C.J. Beathard, who was sharp in September, completed just 9 of 21 passes for 77 yards. The Hawkeyes are doing what the best Kirk Ferentz teams have done.
      • Illinois 16.45 – Iowa 27.55—73.9%

  • No. 3 Baylor at Kansas – noon, FS1 – Kansas +44
    • Last week, Baylor scored seven first-half touchdowns in a 63-35 win over Texas Tech. The 63 total points merely matched the Bears’ season average. Kansas, meanwhile, is well on its way to losing every game this season. It can reasonably be assumed that Baylor can name its point total in this one. It’s a 44-point favorite on the road in a conference game, and in the last three matchups Baylor has won by a total score of 160-42. Unless Baylor shows up completely uninterested, this will get out of hand in a hurry.
      • Baylor 54.1 – Kansas 16.3—97.05%

  • Indiana at Penn State – Noon, ESPN – PSU -6.5
    • The Hoosiers, who have never won in Happy Valley, and the Nittany Lions are a combined 8-2, but their wins have come against Southern Illinois, FIU, Western Kentucky, Wake Forest, Buffalo, Rutgers, San Diego State and Army. There hasn’t been a whole lot proved here, with Indiana coming close to an upset of Ohio State and Penn State’s offense, despite the presence of touted quarterback Christian Hackenberg, seeming to rely solely on the health of stud freshman tailback Saquon Barkley, who averages nearly nine yards per carry despite playing behind a suspect O-line.
      • Indiana 20.35 – PennSt 30.3—73.15%

Afternoon

  • No. 13 Northwestern at No. 18 Michigan – 3:30 p.m., Big Ten Network – Michigan -7.5
    • Last year, Michigan beat Northwestern in the infamous M00N game. It took more than 38 minutes for either team to score. They each turned the ball over three times. And Northwestern out-gained Michigan 264 to 256. There was a lot of bad offense, between two mediocre teams. This year … well, the result could be very similar, even if both teams have now played their way into the top 20. That’s because both defenses have been excellent.
      • Northwestern 13.15 – Michigan 20.9—67.25%

  • Georgia Tech at No. 6 Clemson – 3:30 p.m., ABC/ESPN2 – Clemson -7
    • This would seem to be the perfect opportunity for Clemson to fall victim to a trap or hangover or whatever you want to call it. The Tigers just vaulted into the playoff frontrunner discussion by holding off Notre Dame for a key win at home. Now, they welcome in Georgia Tech and its option offense. This was supposed to be one of the biggest games of the ACC season, but Georgia Tech has faltered, losing to Notre Dame, Duke and North Carolina for a puzzling three-game losing streak.
      • GaTech 16.95 – Clemson 32.05—82.35%

  • No. 19 Georgia at Tennessee – 3:30 p.m., CBS – Tennessee +3
    • The same thing could be said about last week’s Tennessee-Arkansas game: Both of these teams desperately need a win here. Georgia needs to rebound from its embarrassment at the hands of Alabama. Tennessee, after losing yet another close game to Arkansas, has to finally win a big game. The Vols, expected to be SEC East contenders, are sitting at 2-3, and now both teams are staring up at Florida in the division. Tennessee has had a chance to win every game, while Georgia simply failed to show-up against Alabama last week.
      • Georgia 28.15 – Tennessee 26.05—61.95%

  • South Carolina at No. 7 LSU – 3:30 p.m., ESPN – LSU -15
    • This game was supposed to be played at South Carolina, but the devastating flooding there has forced a move to Baton Rouge. LSU is admirably doing everything it can to make South Carolina feel at home, with all the revenue going to South Carolina.
      • SCAR 18.25 – LSU 38.6—87.95%

  • Navy at No. 15 Notre Dame – 3:30 p.m., NBC – Notre Dame -14.5
    • Notre Dame has to respond to a heartbreaking road loss at Clemson by stopping another option team. The Fighting Irish did it against Georgia Tech three weeks ago, and now they’ll take a shot at containing Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds, who is four touchdowns away from tying Montee Ball’s FBS career rushing touchdowns record. Last year, Reynolds didn’t run for a touchdown against the Irish, but Navy still pushed them in a 49-39 Notre Dame win.
      • Navy 24.1 – Notre Dame 36.95—76.65%
  • Wisconsin at Nebraska – 3:30 p.m., ABC/ESPN2 – Nebraska -1
    • So much for this being the Big Ten West game of the year. Wisconsin can’t run without Corey Clement. Nebraska can’t stop its run of agonizing losses. What Wisconsin can do, however, is play suffocating defense. Linebacker Joe Schobert leads the nation with nine sacks, and only Alabama has moved the ball on the Badgers at all. If their defense can frustrate the inconsistent Tommy Armstrong and force Nebraska to make mistakes, the Badgers might be able to do enough to win a key game on the road and stay near the top of the division race.
      • Wisconsin 24.3 – Nebraska 24.8—57%
  • Minnesota at Purdue – 3:30 p.m., ESPNU – Purdue +3
    • Minnesota, expected by many to be a Big Ten West contender this season, has not been impressive. Its highlight thus far was holding TCU to 23 points in the opener. Since then, the Golden Gophers have beat Ohio, Kent State and Colorado State by three points each, and they’ve been blown out 27-0 by Northwestern.
      • Minnesota 26.75 – Purdue 19.8—66.05%

Prime Time

  • Miami at No. 12 Florida State – 8 p.m., ABC – FSU -9
    • Miami has become known for getting up for the Florida State game, before losing and having its season spiral out of control. Al Golden has yet to beat the rival Seminoles, and his tenure in Coral Gables appears to be careening toward its end. The Hurricanes didn’t bother to wait for the FSU game to start losing; they looked disinterested in a 34-23 loss at Cincinnati last Thursday. Florida State hasn’t exactly been impressive this season either — it won 24-16 at Wake Forest last week.
      • Miami 17.6 – FSU 35.7—86.95%

  • No. 2 TCU at Kansas State – 7:30 p.m., Fox – KState +9.5
    • Last week, Kansas State nearly beat Oklahoma State on the road despite playing most of the game with fifth-string quarterback Kody Cook, primarily a wide receiver, taking snaps because of injuries. Now, it appears that Joe Hubener is ready to return — he passed concussion tests — meaning the former walk-on should be starting at quarterback. (Cook is dealing with a shoulder injury now.) Based on all of the above, this is truly a Bill Snyder team.
      • TCU 29.85 – KState 28.9—52.65%

  • Arkansas at No. 8 Alabama – 7 p.m., ESPN – Alabama -17
    • The best bet for beating Alabama is challenging the Crimson Tide on the perimeter with tempo. This is not what Arkansas does best. The Arkansas offensive line may be big and powerful, but it’s not enough to overwhelm the Crimson Tide. And given that Jake Coker played well against Georgia and Arkansas’ defense has taken a step back from last year, this should be an opportunity for Alabama to earn another decisive win before a huge trip to Texas A&M next week.
      • Arkansas 15.1 – Alabama 39.8—93.2%

  • No. 11 Florida at Missouri – 7:30 p.m., SEC Network – Missouri +6
    • Nobody in Florida wants to ever speak of last year’s Missouri-Florida game ever again, but we’re going to have to quickly do so now. Missouri won 42-13, despite the fact that quarterback Maty Mauk went 6 of 18 for 20 yards and led the team with 38 rushing yards. Missouri won by 29 points despite the fact that it had 119 total yards. It did so because it returned a punt, kickoff, interception and fumble for touchdowns. There were many miserable losses for Florida in the Will Muschamp era, but this was one of the most miserable losses by anybody ever.
      • FU 28.4 – Mizzou 15.8—78.95%

  • No. 21 Oklahoma State at West Virginia – 7 p.m., ESPN2 – West Virginia -7
    • Oklahoma State is off to a 5-0 start, and it visits a West Virginia team that has just lost to Oklahoma by 20 and lost its best player, safety Karl Joseph, to a season-ending knee injury. Maybe this is a good opportunity for a conference road win for the Cowboys. But then again, not all 5-0 records are made equally.
      • OkSt 22.35 – WV 30.05—76.8%

  • No. 4 Michigan State at Rutgers – 8 p.m., Big Ten Network – Rutgers +14.5
    • We have reached the third and final game of the Kyle Flood suspension, and Rutgers may have star receiver Leonte Carroo back after he was reinstated this week. Maybe it will matter, because the Spartans have hardly been impressive this season, even with their win over Oregon (which has since been diminished a bit). Last week, Michigan State nearly choked away a home game against Purdue, winning just 24-21.
      • MichiganSt 40.6 – Rutgers 15.85—92.45%

  • Washington State at Oregon – 6 p.m., Pac-12 Networks – Oregon -17
    • With Vernon Adams still dealing with his broken finger, Oregon used both Jeff Lockie and Taylor Allie in last week’s win over Colorado. The Ducks were far from perfect, but they at least bounced back from the Utah debacle with a road win over the Buffaloes. They racked up 361 yards on the ground, with Royce Freeman and Taj Griffin both breaking 100 yards, and it’s likely that we’ll see a similar strategy at home against Washington State.
      • Wazzu 21.75 – Oregon 41.35—87.45%

Late night

  • No. 23 California at No. 5 Utah – 10 p.m., ESPN – Utah -7.5
    • These two are the only undefeated teams left in the Pac-12. California has the nation’s top NFL draft quarterback prospect in Jared Goff. Utah owns wins over Michigan and Oregon and has gotten improved play out of quarterback Travis Wilson, on top of its stellar defense. The Utes are unbeaten despite the fact that their defense ranks 75th in yards per play and star tailback Devontae Booker is averaging just 4.2 yards per carry, so they still have some things to prove, no matter how impressive their demolition of Oregon was, especially on the road.
      • Cal 20.2 – Utah 37.15—83.35%

  • CU at Arizona State – 10 p.m., Pac-12 Networks – ASU -15
    • After a tough September featuring a loss to Texas A&M and a blowout home loss to USC, Arizona State finally snapped out of its funk last week, upsetting UCLA on the road. Now, it returns home to face a sandwich game against the Buffaloes, before big games against Utah and Oregon. Arizona State is not above disappointing losses — last year, it lost at Oregon State a week after blowing out Notre Dame — but the Sun Devils should hopefully use the UCLA win as a springboard. This offense still lacks explosiveness, but Arizona State should be able to effectively utilize its running backs and short passing game to sustain drives against a beatable Colorado defense.
      • CU 13.15 – ASU 39.7—93.2%

What do I have to do for you to make me a sandwich Wednesday…

larrybrown_smu

No Larry, it’s now 3x’s

Good coach? Sure.  Only guy to win a NCAA and NBA Title – says so right here on the label.  Yet, it seems to also come with a warning – may be hazardous to your postseason.  He is the king of implosion.  Just ask UCLA and Kansas.  UCLA’s 1980 Final Four was vacated because of the use of ineligible players – at Kansas it was recruiting violations – and now SMU.  Word is the 76ers are also banned from the postseason because of the association with Larry Brown.

Is Larry the only guy? No.  While I am sure he is being taken to task for his latest indescretion, he is not the only one.  Let’s not forget Calipari also has left programs on the sanctions-alter, and UNC seems to have a different scandal every recruiting class.  It appeared to me to be inevitable.  SMU has a history and SMU president R. Gerald Turner pushed hard to hire Larry Brown to make basketball relevant, where they have not before – Irony is Mr.Turner being the co-chair of the Knight Commission on Athletic Reform.

In other words, same ol’story for SMU, Larry Brown and college athletics – maybe we should stop pretending that collegiate sports are not big-business.


For the last #StrikeZone Tuesday of the season, here is the #DraftKings PERFECT LINEUP:

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RavensSaintsLions

Going from winless to winning is a thing.  It can happen.  Let me take you back to a time when Lifehouse was “Hanging by a Moment” – Harry Potter was looking for his Sorcerer’s Stone – and the professional football club from our Nation’s Capital was becoming the butt of late-nite jokes.  It was Schottenheimer’s only year in Washington and they had started 0-5 – then they beat the Panthers and rolled off 5 straight, before finishing the season 8-8.

That is mediocre, but let’s also remember the NFC West a few years ago and the NFC South last year – 8-8 could get you into the playoffs.  So, here’s to you – Lions, Ravens and Saints, because we have also seen teams get off to fast starts and blow it down the stretch – so keep your head up and gosh-darn-it you guys aren’t the 49ers, go out and win one!


This is the new Red-Menace and should also be the number 1 team in the country.  Crazy, maybe, but remember that is just a term of Art – Did you watch what Michigan did to BYU Saturday?  These same Utes beat those guys and also did something I have not seen in a long, long, long, time in Eugene – hammering Oregon 62-20!  62! In Oregon!  Show me another team in the country that has two wins that look that good.  I’ll accept the season is early, as long as you accept that pre-season polls are stupid.  The rest of my, would be top 4, if the season ended today for the playoffs are in order: UCLA, OleMiss and Notre dame.

Speaking of Michigan – We all believed that Harbaugh might have a little Miracle-Max in him.  He turned Stanford around.  He made the 49ers contenders.  We just all gave him a pass this year, because the Wolverines were not supposed to be any good, etc…It might be time to stop assuming Michigan will lose to Michigan State and Ohio State. These Wolverines are much, much better than last year’s group. The Wolverines still need to prove they can play at this level consistently – but if they keep improving, they could make things very interesting in the Big Ten East.

You have to admire Charlie Strong and what he is doing at Texas.  You see, Texas has been close to a breakthrough since making redshirt freshman Jerrod Heard the quarterback and Jay Norvell the primary play-caller, but another special teams gaffe cost the Longhorns on Saturday. Against Cal on Sept. 19, a missed extra point that would have forced overtime, resulted in a 45–44 loss. Against Oklahoma State, a dropped punt snap allowed the Cowboys to kick a game-winning field goal and escape Austin with a 30–27 victory.

Longhorns fans can complain about the officials—and yes, we all appreciate the irony of Texas fans complaining about the Longhorns not getting calls—but if they can clean up their special teams, it may not matter which calls Texas gets or doesn’t. At some point, Texas has to break through with a win—doing that this week against TCU would obviously be huge, but will be terribly difficult—but the Longhorns are on the correct path.


We can count all the instances of happenstance
and bad luck and rule that a coach and team ultimately had as good a chance of winning as they did of losing. But eventually we must draw the line somewhere. We have chosen as a society to draw that line at the final score. Bill Parcells certainly understood all of the factors that decide the outcome of a football game, and he still spoke the words that ring true in football and in life. “You are,” Parcells famously said, “what your record says you are.”

tnsad2For Tennessee fan – the answer lies in something Jones said a few minutes after the question about the two-point conversion chart. (Jones said the Volunteers have a standard chart, but if they do use the one made famous by Dick Vermeil, they ignored it at Florida.) Jones was trying to explain how his team would bounce back from the loss when he said this: “It doesn’t define who we are.”

Yeah it does, unfortunately.

Football final scores are the results of thousands of small decisions and the outcomes of those decisions. Sometimes those decisions are out of a coach’s control, and sometimes teams are plain unlucky. Jones didn’t send a 12th player out with the field goal unit Saturday. Somebody just got excited and ran onto the field at the wrong time. If that doesn’t happen, Medley kicks a 50-yarder. Maybe he makes it, and the honeymoon for Jones continues in Knoxville. Jones probably couldn’t have known that two timeouts called before fourth downs Saturday to get the desired personnel on the field would cause Florida counterpart Jim McElwain to rethink kicking and put his offense back in. Both decisions led to Florida first downs, and the second—late in the third quarter—led to a Florida touchdown.  It must be painful for Vols fans to always be looking to next year for their breakout game – to make a statement – maybe they will find a smarter coach…

In honor of all sad fans across the country – may these pictures say a 1,000 words of sadness:

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aubsadness

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Monday Dregs

Nietzsche said, “out of chaos, comes order.” Or maybe he didn’t.  The infamous Howard Johnson of Rock-Ridge had quoted him, in a town meeting to discuss the new sheriff – so maybe it’s true.  But maybe chaos theory explains it just as well as Nietzsche – the more complex system, the faster and easier it breaks down.  That could apply to climate-change, governments and our bracket(s).  There is a morbid Bedouin proverb that says: “As the camel falls to its knees, more knives are drawn.”  A Proverb is a proverb because it speaks to a permanent truth…which may or may not be exactly how we felt when we saw what happened in the opening rounds.  All those 1 possession games, upsets…Seppuku

That is the word I was looking for when the Tigers of LSU missed 20 consecutive shots to lose the game against NC State.  There wasn’t much to expect this year, but to lose that way was a terrible shock to every fiber of my body.  It’s like your heart goes limp and the air is kicked out of your lungs for 20-30 seconds after seeing the final score and how it came to be – I fell sideways into a plate of tacos, like I was whacked in the head with a baseball bat.  Momentarily, I might have blacked out, but the room had already emptied except for two girls who were snickering at me as they walked out the door.  I was so swollen with shame that I felt like a fat kid after halloween – and that was when I thought about reaching for my gold-handled sword, as Dean Martin sang about kicks in the head  – it was the only honorable way out.  Just then I got a text message, taunting me and my thoughts moved from melancholy ceremony to vendetta.  A feeling I’m sure is shared with any fan of Virginia, Kansas, Iowa St or Villanova.

In our attempt to breakdown the bracket and build us all a better mousetrap – it appears we accomplished that.  If only we actually listened to what the tea leaves told us.  What we built, ended up getting 28 out of 32 correct on Thursday and Friday – 13 out of 16 for the weekend – that’s 84.4% overall!  Now if we had only listened to our own model…but that’s the trick isn’t it?  Just because you got UCLA correct and the system got it wrong – you blame the minor flaw for the whole – like Seinfeld and the numerous women he dumps because they are a low-talker, has man hands, or eats peas one at a time – and it all seems justifiable.  We chose poorly – the game is rigged, it knows you need the 12/5 upset, there was none.  It knows you have to find two #10 seed upsets and it gave one, Ohio St.  It counts on you selecting a #15 seed beating a #2 because the last 3 years it has happened, becoming a trend – but shuts that door on you as well.  Much like it knew the record of the #3 seeds, and yet the game crushed you with UAB over Iowa St (also a double-digit favorite), Georgia St over Baylor and almost gave you Northeastern over Notre Dame.  Only 3 times has 2 #14 seeds won a game in the same tournament – 1986 and 1995, and the last time a 12 did not beat a 5 was in 2007.  Hell, #8 seeds only win 53% of the time in the tournament the last 16 years and that did not stop all of them winning this year.  She’s a cruel mistress.

The system says Villanova and Virginia and your brain says they will fall – you know this, but when do you switch your faith in the design, to what is rationally dependent.  Is there any bigger set of teams that consistently choke away their chances more than Villanova and Kansas?  Of course you could be an entire state, like Texas, who failed to show up.  Even when the advice tells you to pick with the cruel logic over the bleeding heart, you still line up and get slaughtered.  The NCAA fattens us up so Vegas can eat well in the Spring.  But I digress, our bracket is hanging on and is tied with several other prognosticators having more final four teams than most and being the only one out of 8 that has Arizona and Duke in the title game.  If only we had listened to our own March-Madness Frankenstein – who says this is how the next round shakes out:

  • Notre Dame close
  • Wisconsin close
  • Kentucky
  • Arizona
  • Gonzaga
  • Louisville
  • Duke
  • Oklahoma

Further advancing Oklahoma over Louisville, Duke over Gonzaga, Arizona over Wisconsin and ‘Tucky over Notre Dame.

Aside from our DiRT Canon Analyzer, here are other “entertainment purposes only” trends in the Sweet 16 and Elite 8:

Sweet 16

  1. the Sweet 16 is usually where double digit seeds go down like a soccer player.  Better seeds have won 50 of the past 72 games SU (69%) the last nine years, but are only 29% ATS since 2012 (7-17)
  2. From 2003-2010 favorites of at least 5.5 were 22-1 SU in the Sweet 16.  However, 4 big upsets have occurred since: Arizona (+9.5) over Duke in 2011, Kentucky (+5.5) over Ohio St in 2011, Louisville (+5.5) over Michigan St in 2012 and Marquette (+5.5) over Miami in 2013.  These big favorites are only 17-18-1 ATS since 2003.
  3. Last year’s Sweet 16 featured six teams seeded 6th or worse, and three advanced to the Elite Eight, including #11 Dayton beating #10 Stanford.  That makes the lesser seed 8-2 SU and ATS (80%) in the last 10 situations when two teams seeded #6 or worse met in the Sweet 16. (none this year)
  4. Double-digit seeds are just 4-24 SU in the Sweet 16 round since 2003, with the only such win coming when #11 Dayton beat #10 Stanford, 82-72.  (UCLA is the only double digit seed remaining).
  5. In games where the total is 128 points or less, the UNDER is 14-5-1 (74%) since 1999.

Elite 8

  1. Since 1998, lesser seeds hold an overall advantage in the Elite 8, going 44-22-3 ATS (66%), including 3-0-1 in 2014.
  2. Lesser seeds in the Elite 8 had been 7-9 ATS (6-10 SU) from 2007-2010 before a 12-3-1 ATS run (11-5 SU) overthe past four tournaments with #8 Kentucky, #7 UConn and #2 Wisconsin all advancing as lesser seeds in 2014.
  3. Teams favored by 8+ points in this round have won 12 of the last 15 games, but are just 4-10-1 (29%).  Florida beat Dayton last year 62-52, giving up 10 points.
  4. When the difference in the seeds was five or more from 1998-2010, the better seeds were 12-1 SU, 4-8-1 ATS (33%).  But since then, #11 VCU beat #1 Kansas, #8 Butler beat #2 Florida, #8 Kentucky beat #2 Michigan and #9 Wichita St beat Ohio St.
  5. In games with the total is less than 145, the OVER has won 73% of the time (33-12).  However was just 1-3 last year with only Kentucky/Michigan surpassing the total.

continue to follow us @TheDiRTCanon for updates and sign up and win money with us on FanDuel+DraftKings – if you’ve been playing, you’d be up several hundreds of dollars from our suggestions last week, in just the $2 tournaments.  It’s been an amazing week of basketball both college and pro – regardless of what happens in Vegas – because we are all damn fine Americans!

 

 

 

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