Friday, April 29, 2016

2016 NFL Draft Thoughts.

The morning after the most interesting 1st round in the history of the modern era there's a lot of stuff on which to comment.

 - San Francisco 49ers: Also known as "my team". So I freely admit my bias here.

Let's get right to it.  I do not like the Buckner pick. On a team that has nothing resembling an offensive line to draft a questionable motor guy in Buckner, who just happens to have played his college ball at Oregon, is just more proof that Chip Kelly doesn't understand the difference between college and pro football.  I do like the Garnett selection, but I'm not sure if the team needed to jump back into the first round to get him.

The team, and local media, are trying their best to but a brave face on this but I've a bad feeling that what we're seeing here is the continued destruction of the team under inept GM Trent Baalke and a new head coach who's player evaluation begins and ends in the Pac-12.

 - Laremy Tunsil: I feel sorry for him.

Not for taking a bong hit, and being stupid enough to allow someone to record him doing it, but for obviously being surrounded by people who are petty and more concerned with themselves than him. We act as if these guys are sage, savvy veterans who are going to make decisions befitting their high-profile status when, in fact, in most cases they've been coddled their entire lives and (sometimes) develop a reliance on some fairly awful people.

On what should have been Tunsil's biggest night he had to sit in the public eye and watch people make fun of him for using a "gas mask" bong, question his password habits, and be roundly treated as the "worst person in the world" by gas-bags like Mike Mayock and Todd McShay.  Oh, and he admitted to taking money from Ole Miss.

If this IS a troll job by #HailState then it's one of the better ones ever.  Still, I feel for Tunsil and I hope he goes on to have a great career with Miami, except for the few occasions when they play the 49ers.

 - Ole Miss: Maybe the worst draft night ever.

Yes, they had three players get drafted in the first round, but two of the three went way later than they should have due to character issues and LaQuan Treadwell dropped due to his horrific injury suffered two years ago.  Nkemdichie could either be the steal of the draft, or a character bust. I'd say the odds are 50/50/

Oh, and one of their former players admitted in a press conference that they had been violating NCAA rules.


 - Houston Texans: My "hometown" team which means that I'm forced to follow them due to the NFLs ridiculous TV rules.

I like the Fuller pick. I would have preferred Treadwell because I think he's a much better WR, and that his speed is going to come back as he gets further and further away from the horrific injury he suffered in 2015. I also disagree with the "experts" in the media who say that the Texans need a "burner".

The Texans already have a deep threat receiver in Hopkins. What they need is a possession-type receiver because their TE play is atrocious.  Fuller is fast, and will "take the top off" of opposing defenses, but there's a question as to whether he'll catch what Oswieler throws his way. This is not the first time the Texans have rolled the draft dice on a slot receiver with questionable hands. It's never worked out in the past, maybe it will work out here.  One thing you don't want is your first round pick to be described as having "Ted Ginn hands" which is what happened to Fuller.

 - Sports Media: Mostly a group of older guys who are considered experts because they've offered bad analysis for a long time.

It was a bad night for the media.  Especially ESPN.  Of course, there was the usual stuff, Chris Berman saying that the Ohio State having three players taking in the first ten picks had "never happened before" (when in fact it had happened 12 times before) to Mel Kiper throwing his now-annual (and no longer entertaining) draft-day fit over the Cowboys taking Elliot and the aforementioned 49ers trading up to take Bennett, to Todd McShay chastising Laremy Tunsil for "throwing Ole Miss under the bus" as if there's some college football code of Omerta that Tunsil violated.  But the NFL Network wasn't without it's flaws as well. Notably Mike Mayock, who is rapidly transitioning from a solid draft analyst to a know-it-all scold, luddite character who, at first, piled on Tunsil (before having to back-track some) and then advised all football players to get off social media.

The legacy news folks hate (is there a stronger word than hate?) social media and internet outlets. If they had their choice they would shut them all down. In a media world where the message is massaged and unquestioned (often, as we're finding out, with the consent and advice of the teams) open forums such as social media and the internet run counter to everything they believe in. The worst thing to people such as Mayock, Kiper and McShay is not the action itself, it's the public being able to openly (and publicly) question their takes on it.

Here's the facts.  Despite assuring you something to the contrary. Kiper, McShay, Mayock et. al. are just as clueless as to who is going to work out for a team as the rest of us. Yes, they study a lot of film and are paid to do so, they have access to the Combine and pro-days that the regular fan or, the common internet reporter doesn't. They have resources and support teams and all of the bells and whistles.  And if you do a simple You Tube search there are hundreds of videos of them getting it 100% wrong on player after player, just like the rest of us.  They provide some good analysis, and can offer some insight, but they are not an authority on the matter just as I am not.  I could be 100% wrong about Fuller and Bennett or I could be 100% right, or 50%. Only a body of work spanning a few years will prove that out. (This is also why I don't do draft grades, silly.)

 - Houston Sports Media: Even worse than the National Media, if you can believe it.

Houston, the town where I live and work, is not a good sports town. As a matter of fact, it's a horrible sports town for college and a pathetic one for pro-sports.  Yes, the fans are loyal to the Texans, but to a fault. They're willing to accept mediocrity and continue to fill the stands when there's ample evidence the owner is quite content to finish 8-8 as long as the revenue numbers are in the black. The NBA and MLB only exist when the hometown teams are doing well, but College sports might as well not exist, unless UT-Austin or aTm-College Station are doing well in football.

That's not on Houston's media.  What is squarely on them is plain bad reporting. The worst offender is John McClain of the Houston Chronicle. In 7 of his 8 mock drafts he had the Texans picking Baylor WR Corey Coleman. Now, McClain is a Baylor grad and admitted, on AM 610, that a large reason for him doing this was a big dose of "Sic 'em".  That would have been OK if he would have said that's who he WANTED the Texans to pick, not who he thought they WOULD pick.

Because immediately after Cleveland selected Coleman McClain went on Twitter and said that he had heard all along that they were targeting the receiver, which means that all of his mock drafts were rubbish. At best.

At the worst they were a smokescreen for a Texans team who can rely on some at the Chronicle to provide unquestioning coverage.  Yes, McClain has some fun on Twitter saying the team is "pathetic" and "the worst he's ever seen" but that doesn't ever line up with his more mainstream media appearances.

When the Texans were melting down during the 2014 2-14 debacle McClain would tweet that the offense was awful and Schaub was 'playing terrible' and then, the next day, write columns and make radio appearances saying that Schaub wasn't the problem with the offense. This despite the fact that he clearly was. (To be fair though, that team had a load of problems and was a mess all around)

Look, I understand that you can't insult a team repeatedly and expect to have any access to them, and in the new world of team and league owned media they really don't need legacy reporters at all.

Which is why honest reporting is so crucial. Why dissenting opinions are so necessary.

Since their inception the Texans have operated as one of the most mediocre teams in the NFL. They rarely take chances, risks or anything that suggests that they have a burning desire to win.  Even their appearance on Hard Knocks was JJ Watt, O'Brien cursing and meh.

The thing is, I'm not sure that Houston fans have done anything to deserve better.

 - Today and tomorrow: Rosters are not built in the first round.

Now it gets interesting.  While the Rams are done until Saturday there are teams with huge talent gaps that need to knock some balls out of the park today.  Cleveland, Tennessee, Jacksonville, Houston. Cleveland and Tennessee still have a ton of picks which will allow them to do so, and Jacksonville seems to be a team on the rise.

Rick Smith and the Texans have a horrible track record when it comes to finding players who can play the game of football in rounds 2-4. If they ever want to get better, these next picks are key.

Which leads me to the 49ers, my team.  Concerns about the first round aside one of the defining characteristics of the Harbaugh era was his ability to find gems in rounds 2-5. With GM Trent Baalke calling the shots there's little evidence this is still the case (granted, we have a sample size of one year so the jury is still out). One year could be an aberration, but two starts a trend. And if the 49ers don't take steps to shore up their o-line, DB's, WR and LB corps then it's going to be another long year.

Oh, and they need a QB as well.

If the 49ers walk out of this draft with Buckner and Christian Hackenberg I might have to burn a hat. (I won't burn my Ronnie Lott shirt though, some things are timeless).

Enjoy the weekend.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Some down time.

When I bet it's usually on football, college basketball and horse racing. I've never been very good at handicapping the NBA and betting on baseball, to me, seems to ruin the experience. (I watch baseball to chill out, so betting on it would just make me nervous).

Last Saturday they ran the big(ger) prep races for the Kentucky Derby so I'm sure I'll have something about that in a couple of weeks.

Until then, I'm taking a break.

I'll be back before the Derby on May 7th.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Sports on TV: How to save TV deals? Look to Gaming.

It's a problem that's sneaking around the edges of College and Professional Sports. Namely, what's going to happen as Millions of viewers "cut the cord" and the dollars that have been flowing into league, team and school coffers begins to dry up?

Changing TV Viewing habits threaten Billion Dollar Deals. David Barron, ($$$)

But networks are wrestling with recent subscriber declines as millennials reject or trim back on the cable/satellite bundle pricing system that had fueled unprecedented payouts for the rights to broadcast college sports. Investors are skittish as television executives try to read - and monetize - the whims of a generation that is as happy to watch games on laptops or smartphones as their parents are to watch on 60-inch flat screens.
On the college side, athletic directors are scrambling for new money to support non-revenue sports, pay coaches, and expand stadiums and facilities as part of the athletics "arms race," while meeting NCAA demands to increase benefits for student-athletes.
Viewers abandoning TV networks is a problem but it's not THE problem, THE problem is that the schools and leagues don't really have a viable plan for what follows.  The answer to the question is expanding sports gaming, both online and at brick & mortar locations across the country. Currently, most, practically all, online gaming is limited by the Unlawful Online Gaming Act of 2006. Ironically, this act is also what companies such s Draft Kings and FanDuel rely on to justify their business models (for a primer on why this is, see the law of unintended consequences).

Sports gaming regulation goes back even further, to the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992. It was that act that pretty much permitted Las Vegas to operate with a monopoly on Sports gaming, especially since New Jersey (and Atlantic City) neglected to take advantage of an election to opt in within a year after the law took effect, a mistake that the state is desperately trying to undo in order to keep Atlantic City alive.

The 1992 law carved out exceptions for Dog & Horse racing and, in a nod to Florida, Jai Alai. This is why you have horse tracks in say, Texas, that offer pari-mutual wagering via simulcast.  Fast forward to today and you're seeing (again) the unintended consequences of this act.  Now we have Bodog, and 5 Dimes and a host of other off-shore based betting sites that operate illegally, but on an unofficial gray market which the Federal Government is all but powerless to shut down due to the offshore locations of most of the books.

One option is to go after the players themselves, which would result in a disaster and, most probably, the indictment and trials of some high-profile public figures, many of whom are probably on the front-lines in the "fight" against gaming. You would have Millions of people charged, tried and (possibly) incarcerated in an already over-burdened system.  Much like online poker sites, the federal government seems content to leave the players alone, and continue to go after the operators.

They are, as we know, unsuccessful.  Since the passage of the Unlawful Online Gaming Act of 2006 (UOGA) sports gaming has boomed, and not just from Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS). Traditional spread, or side, betting has never been more popular, and even mainstream networks such as ESPN, CBS and NBC frequently mention odds (or lines) in their coverage of live events, sometimes painfully but sometimes brilliantly. In fact, despite their attempts to limit it, Congress and politicians have seen the sports gaming industry boom since 2006.

What does all of this have to do with television?

As less and less people tune into to cable/satellite/content providers who provide the networks with most of their income, the revenues are falling and the anticipation is that the TV money flowing in will as well.  The Networks are going to have to find a supplement for these incomes somewhere, and an expanded gambling network should be ready and willing to act in a manner that allows them to do so.

The fact is this. People are more willing to bet on games that they can actually watch. When ESPN airs a MAC conference football game between two-smallish schools they still draw fairly substantial viewing numbers. Why? Because a lot of gamblers are watching the games.

These online sites/brick and mortar sports books and other outlets would be willing to pay a pretty penny for advertisement, and possibly become partners in broadcasting the games to ensure they have access.

Now, imagine this dynamic greatly expanded.  Because there are casinos in multiple states who are, due to UOGA, not allowed to offer sports betting. Imagine if they could?  Imagine that the illegal off-shore casinos were legitimized and taken off the gray market into a competently regulated one?

Of course, States could still vote to limit (or prohibit) gaming within their borders, but the states that already have casinos aren't going to balk, and many states have already shown a willingness to embrace online services such as Fan Dual and Draft Kings, would sports betting be that much of a reach?

Granted, this is not going to be the golden goose that saves schools or makes the States richer than the dreams of Midas, but it would go a long way to putting a salve on the open wound that are State Lotteries and might provide the leagues and universities money as well.

Yes, there are problems inherent with big-time sports at both the professional and collegiate level. For one, almost all of them survive on the backs of the taxpayer who, in many cases, cannot afford to attend the games in the arenas and stadiums that they paid for. Second, big time college athletics, as administered by the NCAA, exploits the athletes to the extreme, not even allowing them to profit off of their visage while they are "student-athletes" (a term that is, increasingly, meaningless).  The fix for this would be complex and problematic, and it would require municipal leaders who are willing to stand up to the shake-downs by professional sports teams. It would also require reforms by the NCAA. In short, none of that is going to happen barring a disaster.

Then there's the political problem. Many politicians feel that it is their charge to protect the American populace from itself. Gambling can cause addiction and is therefore listed as something that is "bad" and should be outlawed, or tightly contained. That this containment only makes people go to greater, and often-times illegal, lengths to get their fix is something lost on most.

So the proposal I'm making is certainly a non-starter, at least considering today's political and social environment.  That doesn't mean that the conversation cannot be started.  Working (not fighting!) toward a day when sports gaming is more legal. more honest and (yes) better regulated (note that I didn't say 'more' regulated) is something that will always be worth a conversation (or three).

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

March Madness: Opening Game Predictions.

Since the Tournament (sort of) starts tonight with the play-in games here are my picks for those....(Odds shown are the odds that I took when I made my picks and might not reflect current odds.)

Florida Gulf Coast (-6.5) vs. Fairleigh Dickinson - Florida Gulf Coast should win this and cover. This feels like a 10 point game to me.

Wichita State (-4) vs. Vanderbilt. I like Wichita State to win here but Vandy to cover.  I think this is a pretty even game which should be the most exciting finish of the day, possibly of any of the 4 play-in games.

Southern (-2.5) vs. Holy Cross. Holy Cross is a great story, but I think Southern is just too good for them to compete.  Southern to win and cover.

Michigan (-3) vs. Tulsa Tulsa and Michigan are both teams that I don't think should have made it into the tournament. Both teams have sub-par guard play, Michigan is better on the interior. I think Michigan wins and covers despite their injury depleted condition.

I'm still working on the remainder of my brackets, and I probably won't have them fully completed until Thursday night.  I will upload a screenshot then before the tournament proper gets started.

There are a LOT of betting opportunities in this tournament, go take the casinos for everything their worth.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Gambling Options for Houstonians: The Impact of the MGM Profit Growth Plan

Judging from the scuttlebutt around various Las Vegas Message board the recently announced MGM Profit Growth Plan is starting to cut into gambling compensation in a big way.  Anecdotal evidence, again from the chatter boards, reveals that the cuts are starting hot and heavy.

1. Reduced comp percentages:  This is the option that really seems to be getting everyone's goat, because theoretical-based compensations somewhere around 40% of expected loss has been the law in Las Vegas for a while now. Like free-parking, which we'll get to in a minute, 40-45% is almost viewed as a constitutional right by the seasoned high-roller. It's hard to tell just how far the exact rate has fallen but there are reports that it could be by as much as 10%.

2. Death by 1,000 cuts. - A poster on the VegasBoards forum noted that MGM has cancelled the Sirius XM radio service in their luxury fleet of courtesy cars, have cut the schedules of experienced dealers, as well as implemented a series of other cuts that can only be viewed as gambler unfriendly.

3. Raising comp prices.  Call it the third prong in the gambler-pitchfork that is the PGP, by raising comp prices,  (there is a good discussion on this here) In effect, MGM has decided to reward the players less, reduce how much they can get, and charge them more for getting it.

The effect of this is driving more players to less networked casinos like The Cosmopolitan or Wynn/Encore who, while still making cuts, are not doing so with the speed of MGM.Left out of consideration, for the most part, is Caesar's who really doesn't have anything in it's profile that can really cater to the modern high-end player.

MGM does have hotels that can compete however, in the form of Bellagio and Aria but the company seems content to abandon the deep-pockets gambler in return for courting the younger, clubbing crowd that both don't get, and usually don't ask for, compensation.

There are also rumors that the casinos are altering the calculations on their theoretical loss calculations downward. It's going to be difficult to determine whether or not this is actually taking place because they are treated as trade secrets and not readily available. According to one recent report, they are also loss-amount restricting the loss payback to $100K, which is awful.

In the short-run there's no reason to think that this is going to get better before it gets worse. The more casinos clamp down on the players the less revenue comes from the gaming floor. This is acceptable to the casinos because 1. They're currently making up for the lost revenue in retail (both club and store-front sales) 2. Room renovations mean that they can charge higher rates to millennials, who don't gamble as much, don't ask for free stuff, and just come to Las Vegas to party.

It's not that the millennials aren't gambling, it's that they don't do it very often, seriously.  The typical millennial gambler in Las Vegas is stopping off at a black jack table, craps, roulette or even slots for fun. They're typically with a group of friends and are willing to blow $200-$300 on a lark. The ones with a bigger bank-roll aren't any more serious, but they might think they are, and can waste thousands per night making hunch plays.  For this they typically do not get either rated, or comped for an entire weekends play. Or, if they do get compensation they're using it at the buffet, which is very low cost to the casino due to economies of scale.

In fact, despite putting on a show, most properties either at MGM Inc. or Caesar's aren't doing much at catering to larger gamblers at all. By lager, I'm referring to the gambler who's putting at risk approximately $150K - $1MM per day.  For the truly large players, what are referred to as 'whales' in the common vernacular, I'm sure they are still receiving comps and perks.  The truth is though, there are only around 20-30 true 'whales' in the world and the competition for them is very, very intense.

Think of the gambling economy like you would the real economy.  How the casinos react to each strata is starting to look like how politicians react to different economic classes in real life:

1. The poor: These are gamblers who are rated at < $30K per day. These are guppies to the casinos and have little value, other than that they usually have to pay for stuff.  They're the type of people for which $5 Free play and 2 for 1 buffet comps were invented.  These are your penny and quarter slot players, or guys you find betting the minimum constantly at the $5/hand table games with little variance.  The casino wants them there for buzz, but isn't really spending a lot of money marketing to them.

2. Lower-middle class: These are gamblers rated at $30K to $150K per day. They're play is just high enough that they are maybe getting free week-day economy rooms, slightly better free play offers and actual free meals at lower-tier restaurants.  Again, it's not costing the casino much to market to these people, and they do gamble enough to create some buzz in the casino. They also create possible revenue streams from rooms that would otherwise be empty. The biggest loss, for them, is a reduction in availability and compensation in the form of weekend rooms.  Now that the new reality is setting in suites are rarely, if ever, attained, especially without resort fees.

3. Middle-Class: These gamblers are rated at $150K to $1MM as is the case in politics they are eating a LOT of the restrictions that casinos are placing on gamblers.  The comp rates for rooms effects them greatly, as does the reduction in theoretical rating, causing many at the lower end to drip down. The drastic reduction in comps is jarring to them, much like when airlines switched from mileage rewards to dollar-based systems. For the first time in a while many of them are hearing from their hosts that they might have to pay resort fees.

4. Upper-Middle-Class: These gamblers rate somewhere between $1MM to $5MM. They have traditionally been used to having suites comped, as well as other perks considered "high-end" for their levels of play.  They are getting decimated due to the theoretical loss calculation being reduced as well as the reduced percentage and the price hikes.  Some are even losing high-end perks altogether, and their free play offers are being slashed drastically.

5. Upper Class: Players rated $5MM to approximately $20MM. While they are getting hit, it's not near as bad as the reduction for the upper-middle and middle class gamblers. They still run through enough play that their comps are readily available, but they don't go near as far.

6. The Super Rich: As I stated before, there are really only around 20-30 of these in the entire world, and the competition for them is extremely stiff. They are not suffering at all, because the casinos want them in the VIP rooms spending large months of money.

Now, here's the rub.  Most of the gamblers that casinos see are found in strata 2-4. And these are the people being hit the hardest with the comp reduction. What this is doing is creating a world where the haves REALLY have, and the pool of have-nots is getting larger.  This is why many people are transferring their business to Cosmo, Wynn etc.  Not that the calculations are any more in the player's favor, but the service and quality of product that they receive is much, much better than what they are getting from MGM and especially Caesar's.

It also doesn't help that gambling on the Strip is getting worse and worse. Most, if not all, of the casinos are cutting blackjack payouts to 6/5 (from 3/2) only keeping them intact on tables with minimums at $100 and up.  Video poker odds are being reduced, and there are persistent rumors that MGM especially has tightened their slots dramatically.

In a world of competition, this would provide an edge to the casinos located off-strip, either downtown or elsewhere, but few of those have the facilities needed to cater to the serious gambler, although their odds are decisively better.

In a future post we'll talk more about my last trip to Vegas, and how I'm seeing the reduction in theoretical and comps sting me, even as a player in tier #1. Because of this, my next stay will be off-strip, where I'm going to try some tricks that I'm going to share to try and raise my theoretical average.

Either way, Las Vegas is changing, and not necessarily for the better for the serious gambler, unless they're located in tiers 5 & 6, which few of us are.

March Madness: Bad Brackets, Broadcasts and Betting.

In other words, just your typical March Madness kick-off.

A leak spoiled the NCAA selection show, the Internet rejoiced. New York Times

In a way, this was the perfect price that CBS was forced to pay for making their big bracket reveal show stretch to 2-hours. It took them almost an hour to reveal the 1st half of the bracket, and then approximately 20 minutes to reveal the 2nd half after the leak occurred.  They lost out on most of the reaction shots since the teams on the bubble, for the most part, already knew they were in by the time CBS announced.

In place of the old way we were treated to endless "analysis" frequently incorrect, by a group of people who, in many cases, don't even watch college ball.  Unfortunately, I'm sure the NCAA is going to find themselves a sacrificial lamb to be punished for threatening their revenue.

March Madness, who got screwed in the 2016 bracket. Bleacher Report

Kentucky, for one, who was seeded a 4 which ranked them lower than Texas A&M, who the Wildcats had beaten earlier that day. Michigan State won the B1G, and was widely considered to be a 1 seed, they got a 2 behind a Virginia team that had just lost to North Carolina.  Also, any mid-major who was not the American Athletic Conference.

There's no reasonable rationalization for Michigan, Tulsa, Syracuse and Vanderbilt being in, while Monmouth, St. Bonaventure, Valpo and South Carolina are NIT bound. I say this and I'm a Michigan fan.

Clearly the message sent by the committee this: Don't play your championship game on Sunday and choose a better conference. Unfortunately, the conference they decide to fall in love with changes every year and there's really no way to predict it.

Opening NCAA tournament lines. Las Vegas Sun

Most of these lines have already changed, some have changed a LOT. For example, Michigan has climbed to -3 over Tulsa (from -1.5) and I REALLY like the Wolverines at anything less than -5.

Some other picks:

UNC Wilmington (+10) - If you want to be brave, and I'm going to be, change this to a ML bet. You get +438 right now which would make for a hell of a payout.

Butler (-3.5) - Here's another line that is sliding toward the favorite so you better act fast. I put the cap at -5.5 before you hold off.  Tech is pretty much hot garbage from a March Madness perspective and should, IMO be a NIT team.

UConn (-4) - This line is about at the playable limit, but if it starts swinging toward Colorado I'd jump all over it.

Iona (+7.5) - This was in double digits earlier, and many took advantage of it then.  Right now I'd wait and see if there's a move back toward Iowa State.  Definitely one to keep an eye on.  Would buy in at +9 if it can get there.

Austin Peay (+26) - I always like betting against big lines in the first round.  The reason for this is because most coaches rest starters if they get up comfortably, in anticipation for the quick turnaround. That doesn't mean that this always happens, and some times you get burned.

Seton Hall (ML) - This is the classic case of name recognition. The public is betting on Gonzaga because they KNOW Gonzaga. In fact, Seton Hall is scorching hot right now and coming off a great run in the Big East tournament. I haven't filled out my bracket yet but I might have them as a Sweet 16 contender. Bet the ML as long as they remain the favorite, otherwise take the points up to around 4.  If it goes past that, pass obviously.

Dayton (-1) I like the Flyers up until about 3.  To be honest I don't think Syracuse belongs in the tournament and this game will show why.

Oregon State (+4.5) - Another "name" bet as people are leaning toward VCU because Shaka Smart used to coach them.  OSU is a good team and has a better than average chance of winning in my estimation.  If you're really brave take the ML.

Northern Iowa (+4.5) I think Northern Iowa upsets Texas and ruins everyone's planned UT/aTm dream 2nd round showdown.

South Dakota St. (ML) There's always a 12 over 5 upset, and this year I think this is the most likely candidate.  Maryland is very talented, but they have no basketball intelligence as a team. They make poor decisions and Melo Trimble has a knack for losing his head, and shot, from time to time. If bad Maryland shows up, they get run out in the first round. A win would pay +375 so it's worth it to shake a little bit of sugar that way.

Go get 'em.

Standard Disclaimer: Nothing in this post should be considered an offer to buy, sell, or otherwise engage in a financial transaction. The preceding our my own personal thoughts and are for entertainment purposes ONLY. Please remember to only gamble what you can comfortably lose and get help if you begin to feel the NEED to win. No guarantee of accuracy is given, or should be inferred from the information above, all gamblers wager at their own risk.

In other words, have fun but don't be surprised if I'm 100% wrong on these.

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