Wednesday, March 26, 2014

So your bracket is busted. Now what?

If, like most, you're either done for the Tournament due to a string of odd basketball in the NCAA's or, like me, you're hoping that your Sweet 16 and beyond picks can pull you out of the fire, the question becomes what strategy to take going forward to try and recoup losses. Full disclosure: During my trip last weekend to Vegas I was stricken with food poisoning so I really have no losses to speak of since I was in my room for most of the trip.

Had I been betting however it would not have been pretty.  So I, like most, would be considering how to get back on the good side of things starting Thursday, assuming that I had not gotten right in the NIT.

With that thought in mind, I'm going to opine a bit (in no particular order of preference):

Take a chance with a longshot and hope you're right.  Before we left Vegas, the wife put down a small bet on Dayton to win it all at 60-1.  You can do this, but the odds of getting your money back are very long.  I think Dayton is two and done in the Sweet 16, beating Stanford and then losing to Florida in the Elite Eight.

Blast the favorites. After the mess of the first two rounds, historically things tend to right themselves heading to the Final Four.  In this case it might be wise to wager heavily on Florida and Arizona since they appear to be two of the strongest three teams. If you're way in the hole this won't work, due to the projected payouts being too small.

Play the hot hand. Iowa State is 6-0 ATS in the last six games.  Against UCONN I think they have a good chance of going 7-0. I also think Iowa State could net you some pretty big value for money. They won the tournament for arguably the toughest conference in the country and appear to be peaking at the right time.

Pick a (slight) underdog. Baylor anyone?  Right now they're 3 1/2 point underdogs to Wisconsin. The way the Bears are playing I like them to beat that number and possibly give Arizona all they can handle in the Regional final.

Experience Matters. As frustrating as they are to root for, Michigan has been there before and look like a team that might be there again.  Granted, Louisville will be a tough out but, as 2 1/2 point favorites against Tennessee, they appear to be a pretty good bet and in a solid position to make it to the Elite Eight.

One final thought:  I saw a blurb on Odds Shark that Michigan State has never not beaten the spread in the Sweet 16 round. They're currently coming in as 1 1/2 point favorites against a solid Virginia team.  It's that kind of information which causes a lot of sports bettors to make foolish decisions.  Trends like this don't matter, especially in College where the only constant from year to year is coaching.  That said, I always will find it hard to take too short of a position against Larry Izzo whom I consider to be one of the best coaches in basketball today.

Whatever you do, keep it fun, don't get a stomach ailment in Vegas (as I did), and don't bet above your means.  Consider losses as a sunk cost.  You're starting the Sweet 16 at zero and looking to move forward from there.

As always, since I'm back in Texas where sports gambling is illegal I will not be placing any bets on these games so take my advice for what it's worth (nothing). I will however be rooting like hell for Dayton because the wife's future bet is the only money I currently have down on the remainder of the tournament.

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