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Free MLB Pick Monday

#965/966 ‘UNDER 9.5’ Minnesota Twins (Odorizzi) at Houston Astros (Peacock) 7:10 PM CT

There were 21 runs scored in Houston’s 11-10 loss to the Rangers but there were only 21 hits in that game for a bizarre scoring barrage led by seven home runs. Houston only had one hit with runners in scoring position in that game despite posting 10 runs and they only had five at-bats with runners in scoring position as the game proved to be an extreme outlier in scoring efficiency.

While Collin McHugh had a disastrous start Sunday he managed to record 10 outs and allowed Houston to only use three relievers with Will Harris and Ryan Pressly pitching minimally enough that they should still be available today with both of those relievers still clocking 0.00 ERAs on the season. The Houston bullpen has been outstanding this season but Brad Peacock has been very sharp in 16 innings of work for the Astros with a 3.40 FIP and a very low walk rate.

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Minnesota has great offensive numbers this season but they are coming off facing the Orioles to inflate the numbers over the weekend. With three games the past two days this could be a fatigued team in Houston but Jake Odorizzi has looked good so far this season with a 3.15 FIP and a 11.1 K/9. His walk rate has been high but he has also faced a tough set of four opponents.

This looks like an offensive showcase but Jose Altuve and Max Kepler could again be sitting out after both missed Sunday’s games and the oddsmakers have pushed this total to match the highest total in Houston this season despite the Athletics and Yankees visiting this season. Saturday’s 16-run outburst inflates the season numbers for the Twins who have scored four or fewer runs in nine of 19 games while Houston has scored four or fewer runs 13 times this season.

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Nelly’s and Bobby Dalton have been featuring regular NBA Playoff updates as well. The 1st round has been a mild disappointment after huge gains for both in the regular season but there are plenty of winners ahead with two months remaining in the playoffs. Dalton is back with a 10* for one of the big Game 4 matchups Monday.

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Free MLB Pick Wednesday

#911/912 ‘OVER 9’ Arizona Diamondbacks (Godley) at Atlanta Braves (Gausman) 6:20 PM CT

Atlanta and Arizona have been middle-of-the-pack
performers in the NL so far this season but both offenses have impressed
sitting in MLB’s top 7 in team wOBA. Atlanta has drawn walks in 13 percent of
its plate appearances for the top rate in baseball while these teams have
combined to hit 50 home runs so far this season with Atlanta only 16 games into
the season and Arizona just 17 games into the season.

In its second season Sun Trust Park has been a higher scoring field with 9.8 runs per game on average and batters collectively posting an .811 OPS. There have been 29 home runs in 10 Atlanta home games so far this season and on the current home stand several quality starters have struggled including last year’s NL Cy Young winner Jacob deGrom.

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These teams combined for 15 runs last night even with several missed opportunities with a combined 17 men left on base. 10 relievers pitched last night and the bullpen has been a sore spot on both sides with Arizona posting a 6.04 bullpen ERA and the Braves only slightly better a 5.43. The number has climbed to 9 but neither Zack Godley or Kevin Gausman can be counted on for a high end outing with Gausman looking like an early overachiever so far and Godley not resembling the future star Arizona thought they had when he emerged in the 2017 season.

Nelly’s finished the regular season hitting over 66% in the NBA and we are already 3-1 in the playoffs. Don’t miss tonight’s selection for only $15. We are also riding four straight profitable MLB seasons and will officially start our season on Friday.

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Bobby Dalton went 2-0 in baseball yesterday and 4-1 in 15* Best Bets last season on the diamond. His first 15* of the season is going tonight – $29.99 pay after you win.

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Free MLB Pick Wednesday

#978 Los Angeles Angels (Pena) +145 over Milwaukee Brewers (Woodruff) 9:07 PM CT

Brandon Woodruff wasn’t overly successful as a starter in his minor league climb but flourished last season out of the bullpen before becoming a postseason hero in a starting role. The plan to shift the 26-year old into the rotation full-time this season hasn’t gone smoothly with 12 hits and six runs allowed in nine innings. His strikeout potential is there but after struggling in a pair of home starts his road debut could be a challenge with Woodruff featuring a half-run rise in his road ERA last season. Woordruff was also a slow starter last season with marginal numbers in April and May before blossoming late in the season and his inflated valuation tonight for the Brewers is hard to justify. Josh Hader might be available again after his long outing on Sunday but the Milwaukee bullpen has struggled so far this season including allowing four runs last night and posting a 5.40 ERA on the season.

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At 29, Felix Pena isn’t a high-ceiling option for the Angels but he had capable results last season in his first starting opportunity at the MLB level. He impressed this spring and has pitched better than it looks so far this season. He owns a 10.8 K/9 despite a 5.40 ERA and he has allowed only eight hits over two starts while facing formidable offensive teams. He has better numbers vs. left-handers so far this season and could be able to neutralize some of the big bats in the Milwaukee lineup. After a hot start to the season the Brewers have lost three of the past four games while the Angels are riding five consecutive wins as the offense has turned a corner back at home. The Angels have scored 6.4 runs per game at home while posting much better results vs. right-handers. The absence of Mike Trout has pushed this price about 30 cents and the home underdog opportunity is favorable for the Angels.

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Nelly’s has turned in four consecutive profitable MLB seasons – we aim to start our season on April 19.

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Free MLB Pick Monday

#959 San Diego Padres (Lauer) +115 over San Francisco Giants (Bumgarner) 8:45 PM CT

Madison Bumgarner remains a popular big-name starter for the Giants but the 2014 World Series hero has a 10-18 record in his decisions since the start of the 2017 season. He owns a 1.38 ERA this season but with a 3.68 FIP and his FIP was well higher than his 3.26 ERA last season. There wasn’t a big difference between the Giants and the Padres last season at the bottom of the NL West with San Diego featuring a worse record but scoring 14 more runs in the 2018 season. The Giants appear to be headed for a similar fate in 2019 with a 3-7 start and only 25 runs scored in 10 games.

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San Diego had a splashy off-season and is going with young unproven arms in the rotation but the Padres are 6-4 to start the season including a series win in St. Louis last weekend. San Diego won three of four hosting the Giants to start the season and the underdog price late Monday night is appealing. Eric Lauer lacks Bumgarner’s career credentials but the left-hander is a former 1st round pick. His numbers have been marginal in two starts this season but he has allowed just four runs in 11 innings and has displayed excellent command. The Giants have also scored just 1.9 runs per nine vs. left-handers this season compared to 5.8 for the Padres.

Bobby Dalton won 2/3 offers both Saturday & Sunday on the diamond – join him for tonight’s MLB offer with a 10* Best Bet included. Bobby Dalton is +over 180* this basketball season and a rare 15* Best Bet has been posted for tonight’s national championship game – $29.99!

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Free NBA Pick Monday

#567 Orlando Magic +7 over Toronto Raptors 6:35 PM CT

Toronto has 16 more wins than Orlando this season but the Raptors are likely a fade team in the final games to close out the season as they aren’t likely to catch Milwaukee while they sit 4.5 games ahead of Philadelphia, seemingly set in the #2 spot. Orlando is currently a half-game out of the playoffs as the Magic have a great incentive to continue a run of strong late season results.

The Magic haven’t made the playoffs since 2011-12 and the final five games features three road games. Orlando has recent wins in Miami and at Indiana while 7-1 S/U the past eight games while 18-8 S/U in the past 26. The Raptors are just 8-6 S/U since early March and the priority seems to be staying rested and healthy ahead of the postseason. Orlando has won by 29 and 15 in the past two meetings in this series while an early season win in Orlando came by just two points as the underdog points are appealing tonight.

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Nelly’s
won Sunday to wrap up a highly profitable 35-19, +17.1* month of March in
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Bobby
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2019 MLB Win Total Opinions

NL EAST

BEST
BET: UNDER 89 – Washington Nationals:
Atlanta was by far the best team in the NL
East last season and only won 90 games and while Washington being 82-80 last
season despite +89 in runs signals a season of improvement, Washington might
not have done enough to move up by seven wins. Patrick Corbin was a great add
but the pitching staff wasn’t a major issue last season, allowing only 4.2 runs
per game for an above average mark in the NL. Brian Dozier and Yan Gomes
bounce-backs aren’t a given changing leagues and ultimately the case for the
Braves, Phillies, and Mets to improve is strong. Losing Bryce Harper is
replaceable on the field but it signaled to the roster that the team isn’t in
it to compete for a title this year after falling short with great teams in
several recent seasons. Washington had a huge 20-7 month of May last season
that will be tough to replicate and this was a team that finished eight games
below .500 from June 1 onward. It will be hard to match last season’s 11-7 mark
vs. the Phillies and against the NL playoff teams Washington went a combined
17-28 last season as the great scoring numbers was built on a collection on
blowout wins including outscoring the Marlins and Mets by 60 runs. Washington
also went 5-1 vs. a historically bad Baltimore team in interleague play last
season.

NL
CENTRAL

BEST BET: UNDER 77½ Wins – Pittsburgh Pirates: There is a lot to like about the pitching staff in Pittsburgh but run support could be a problem and there is room for inconsistency with the rotation after possibly getting a few overachieving seasons last year. Ivan Nova is also gone as a stable starter and Chris Archer has been more flash than substance in recent years. Milwaukee, Chicago, and St. Louis look like NL contenders and Pittsburgh will have a hard time featuring a winning record vs. those three teams collectively as they did last season thanks to going 12-7 vs. the NL Central champion Brewers last season for a surprising outlier. Matching last season’s 14-5 mark vs. the Reds will also be a challenge with many expecting a rise for Cincinnati this season. Pittsburgh also went 15-5 in interleague play in 2018 beating up on the Tigers, White Sox, and Royals, three of the AL’s worst teams last season. In 2019 the interleague slate is featuring quality teams from the AL West, also adding to the travel miles on this year’s slate. For all that went right last season Pittsburgh still only won 82 games and getting close to that figure looks unlikely this season.

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NL WEST

BEST
BET: OVER 93 – Los Angeles Dodgers:
Starting the season with a losing record
through May last season limited Los Angeles to only 92 wins last season but
this was a .500 team in 44 one-run games. Los Angeles couldn’t run away with
the West due to competitive Colorado and Arizona squads even though the Dodgers
had the best scoring differential in the NL by a wide margin at +194. Signs are
pointing downward for several of the other West squads and the pitching staff
for the Dodgers should remain among the best in the NL. Los Angeles could be
just as good at the plate and even better defensively with some of the changes they
have made. As they have done several years in a row, if needed they will be
mid-season buyers as this squad could get even better in the final two months
ahead of the playoff push. This is a discounted price compared to last March on
the Dodgers after a similar World Series finish in 2017 and ultimately a slide
backwards from an overachieving Colorado team looks likely in 2019 while
Arizona lost several key players as well. San Francisco and San Diego could
improve but still appear to be far back from being contenders this season.

AL EAST

BEST BET: UNDER 74½ – Toronto Blue Jays: After being a huge disappointment last season many expect the Blue Jays to rebound this season. Getting better health from Aaron Sanchez and Marcus Stroman is far from guaranteed and neither was consistently effective when they were healthy last season. The talented young offensive talent in the system doesn’t necessarily translate into instant success at the MLB level as well as this is a team with some exciting prospects but little proven MLB talent. Ultimately in a stacked division with Boston and New York likely to push 100 wins while Tampa Bay remains competitive, there aren’t going to be a lot of opportunities for the Blue Jays to pick up ground. Facing a likely significant deficit in the division race, valuable veterans could be shipped off as the trade deadline approaches as well as this looks more like a team building for 2020. Toronto isn’t likely to feast on Baltimore as they did last season as well going 14-5 in those matchups against a historically bad Orioles team. Despite the disappointment last season the Blue Jays were 10-6 in extra-innings games and 23-17 in one-run games while also going 13-7 in interleague play, records that simply aren’t likely to repeat.

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AL
CENTRAL

BEST
BET: OVER 74 – Chicago White Sox:
Chicago didn’t have the off-season they
envisioned with the front office coming up empty in pursuit of several
prominent free agents. With a big jump from last year’s win total of 62 on this
price many are likely looking ‘under’ on this team. The AL Central still looks
like a marginal group of teams and improvement isn’t necessarily likely for any
of the other foes. Chicago has room to improve after going just 7-12 vs. both
the Twins and the Tigers in the division last season while the White Sox lost
25 one-run games. Chicago was 17-12 last August before folding in September as
the young nucleus on this roster has potential and the rotation has another
year of experience after enduring a lot of growing pains last season. Alex
Colome can shore up the bullpen and a favorable late April schedule could allow
the young unproven team a productive first month to catapult to a season of
improvement. Unable to land a big fish in the winter, management could also be
a surprise buyer mid-season as well knowing that they might have a tough time
luring free agents again next winter and making a mid-season deal could provide
an opportunity. It also won’t be a shock if no team in the AL Central has a
great record and a playoff spot is attainable for a team willing to be
aggressive, with Chicago the lone potential big spender in the division.

AL WEST

BEST BET:
OVER 71 – Texas Rangers:
Texas got off to a 4-11 start last season and never
recovered. 2015 Manager of the Year Jeff Banister was fired in September and
42-year old Chris Woodward takes over with a fresh perspective after helping
the Dodgers to great success the past three seasons.Most view Texas as again
one of the worst teams in the AL but it is not hard to envision seasons of
decline for the Athletics (97 wins in 2018) and Mariners (89 wins in 2018) in
the AL West. The Angels are also turning a page with new management while
Houston doesn’t have much room to improve after winning 103 games last season.
Texas went just 34-47 at home last season 28-48 in the division last year as
there is a lot of potential for picking up ground. Texas went 6-13 vs. both the
Angels and Athletics last season and getting closer to even in those series
would provide a significant boost. Texas was also 12-19 in one-run games last
season while losing seven extra-inning games and after a respectable run from
late April to June the Rangers closed the season 29-49 after July 1 after
falling well out of the playoff race. The Rangers have won with a marginal
starting pitching rotation in the past and the team could find modest success
with a collection of veteran newcomers that includes Lance Lynn, Drew Smyly,
Edinson Volquez, and Shelby Miller. None looks like a home run pick-up but even
if two of those veterans have respectable results it could stabilize the
pitching staff. The lineup still has some potential even if former budding
stars have not ever fully blossomed into franchise players and it won’t take a
major improvement for Texas to hit this number with reasons to expect a slide
back to the pack from several of the other AL West teams.

Check out our MLB Preview Issue for 2019 – Nelly’s has had four consecutive profitable MLB seasons – sign up for all picks from mid-April to the World Series for just $595.

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Free NCAA Pick Sunday

#873 UC-Irvine +5 over Oregon 8:40 PM CT

Often times when smaller conference squads pull off a Round of 64 upset they are fade material in the following game. UC-Irvine doesn’t fit that mold however as the Big West champions now have 31 wins and haven’t lost since mid-January. The Anteaters were also a very small underdog against the Big XII co-champion Kansas State on Friday and will actually be an even bigger underdog against Pac-12 Tournament champion Oregon Sunday.

Getting a shot at a Pac-12 squad on this stage is very alluring for one of the top defensive teams in the nation, featuring the #5 effective field goal rate defensively nationally, and #1 nationally from 2-point range. That is an ideal trait taking on a Ducks offense that is limited and has minimal 3-point shooting potential. This young Ducks team has momentum with nine straight wins but there is not much quality on that late season run in a very weak Pac-12. Oregon is now in a sixth game in 12 days and there could be a bit of a letdown after Friday’s big win over Wisconsin.

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The Badgers had posted two recent NCAA Tournament wins vs. Oregon and the 18-point final margin was very misleading. Oregon shot 47 percent on 3-point shots while Wisconsin shot 20 percent on 30 3-point attempts. Oregon was crushed on the offensive glass against Wisconsin but was better at the line and had fewer turnovers to pull away. The Ducks won’t have the advantage of being the west coast team in this west coast venue this time and Irvine will be more than comfortable at Oregon’s deliberate pace. Oregon’s front-line won’t have the same success in this matchup and Payton Pritchard had seven turnovers on Friday as really the only backcourt ball handler on the Ducks, he will be liable for more mistakes against a fierce set of perimeter defenders for the Anteaters.

Nelly’s won our 2/3 offer Saturday, now 30-16 in March and 31-13-1 the past 15 Saturdays while on a 30-15 run in NCAA Tournament picks since 2017. We’ve hit 80% on 2* Top Plays this season – get Sunday’s guaranteed 2* for $25 for the Round of 32!

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Big E is 9-5 in the Big Dance and 13-7 in his past 20 picks. Sunday’s 4 x 4 offer is available for $24.94 or get individual Biggie plays for $9.94 each.

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Free NCAA Pick Friday

#828 Kansas State -4 over UC-Irvine 1:00 PM CT

There is great focus on the absence of Dean Wade but the Kansas State forward missed eight games this season and played just eight minutes on last season’s Elite Eight run for the Wildcats. The return of Cartier Diarra provides an off-setting boost with Diarra putting up 23 points in two Big XII tournament games after missing the second half of the conference season. Kansas State has some of the absolute best defensive numbers in the nation and this will be a difficult draw for UC-Irvine, a team with just two top 100 wins all season long. One of those wins was at Saint Mary’s but the Anteaters also lost by 24 hosting Utah State and lost by 17 at Butler for the closest comparables.

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The Big West rated as the 19th best conference last year but tournament representative Cal-State Fullerton lost by 26 to Purdue in the tournament last season while regular season champion Cal-Davis lost by 10 against Utah in the NIT. Irvine was clearly the top Big West team going 18-1 but the conference rated 24th this season. Underdogs draw more attention than usual in March and Irvine is an appealing squad with a great record but the Big West champion being a slight underdog vs. the Big XII champion is a rare price. Kansas State was similarly priced vs. a TCU team that needed to win last week in the Big XII tournament in Kansas City. Kansas State was a 14-point favorite when these teams met in November 2017, a 22-point win for the Wildcats. Much is being made of the strong defensive numbers for Irvine but Kansas State is comfortable at a slow pace and has the far superior defensive resume. Size and experience will still be edges for the Wildcats even with Wade out of action.

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Nelly’s
went 3-0 in our tournament picks yesterday to continue to build profits on what
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Bobby
Dalton is 8-0 since Tuesday including hitting two 10* Best Bets yesterday, now
4-0 in NCAA Tournament picks. Look for his Friday update coming soon!

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Free NCAA Pick Thursday

#765 Belmont +3 over Maryland 2:10 PM CT

Maryland’s young squad surprised early this season but the Terrapins appeared to run out of gas late in the Big Ten season, dropping six of the final 12 games. While Maryland did get a big home win over Purdue in mid-February they also barely won games vs. Iowa and Minnesota and yet still were rewarded with a #6 seed in the NCAA Tournament despite a very weak non-conference schedule and an early exit in the Big Ten tournament. Belmont had an uncertain future on selection Sunday after losing in the OVC Final against Murray State. The Bruins played that game without center Nick Muszynski and the team still got the call with a First Four matchup in Dayton late Tuesday night.

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Belmont beat Temple by 11 in that game and then traveled to Jacksonville, now drawing an afternoon contest. Belmont looks like a team that could take momentum into the tournament and this squad plays fast with great offensive efficiency. Maryland can struggle with turnovers as that figures to be a key area of advantage for the slight underdog in this matchup and Belmont has the size to manage this matchup. Dylan Windler’s ability to spread the floor should provide opportunities for the Bruins with the senior a 42 percent 3-point shooter at 6’8”. Maryland looks highly vulnerable in this matchup and the low spread for a 6/11 contest should be telling.

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Bobby
Dalton is 5-0 the past two days and 33-13 in NCAA Tournament picks the past two
years – get Best Bet plays for Thursday!

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Location Winners and Losers

NCAA Tournament Location Winners and Losers

03/18/2019

While the focus in the aftermath of Selection
Sunday is often on seeds and the matchups, many coaches might prioritize the
venue draw in those announcements as the programs scramble to make travel
arrangements and hope to get fan support thrown into often random location
assignments. The committee allegedly only makes location concessions for the
top handful of seeds but certainly there were winners and losers in the
location assignments.

Hartford, Connecticut (Thursday/Saturday)

Winner – Villanova: Playing just over 200
miles away the Big East champions have a great location draw in Hartford to
easily calm any hostility regarding being a surprising #6 seed, especially with
the Marquette team they topped for the Big East title being a #5 seed. Saint Mary’s
is playing nearly 3,000 miles away from home for this contest though the Gaels
at least avoided being handed a daytime slot. Villanova should have the bulk of
the audience in this pod as by far the closest of the top seeded teams in this
grouping while also getting the primetime time slot Thursday night.

Loser – Purdue: A Purdue squad that
was the regular season co-champion of one of the top conferences in the nation didn’t
land either of the two Midwestern sites in Des Moines or Columbus. They also
pull a late night time slot and will deal with a Big East heavy crowd following
up the Villanova contest Thursday night. Norfolk isn’t exactly close to
Hartford but #14 seed Old Dominion has a much shorter trip to this site as
Purdue certainly could have had a better draw in this pod. Staring at the
defending national champions for a potential Round of 32 Saturday matchup is
also daunting particularly given how the makeup of the crowd will likely look. A
Florida State squad that was in the ACC title game also failed to land a
preferable spot in Jacksonville or Columbia.

Jacksonville, Florida (Thursday/Saturday)

Winner – Maryland: Jacksonville is a 10
hour drive from College Park but Maryland has to feel good about this draw,
landing a #6 seed despite a late season slide. Teams that win the First Four
games can often be dangerous but that Tuesday victor is going to go from
playing a late night game in Dayton to facing an early afternoon game Thursday
in Jacksonville for a difficult turnaround. This pod also lacks a local
favorite with Florida State and the other ACC powers sent elsewhere. Kentucky
fans will dominate the stands but all things considered Maryland landed in a
decent spot.

Loser – LSU: The Tigers, not the Wildcats were the SEC regular season champions yet LSU will share this venue with the rabid Kentucky fanbase. Baton Rouge is technically a bit closer to Jacksonville than Lexington but while Kentucky gets the Thursday night primetime billing, LSU has a very early start game vs. Yale on Thursday with the Ivy League teams being very dangerous in recent years. Kentucky will be almost three times as big of a favorite as LSU in the opening round despite these teams only being one seed apart.

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Des Moines, Iowa (Thursday/Saturday)

Winner – Michigan: Much is being made of
Michigan getting the more favorable bracket draw than Michigan State and both
of those teams will land in Des Moines for the opening rounds. Ultimately the committee
likely locked in their choices when Michigan had a double-digit lead in the
second half of the Big Ten championship. Both teams are heavy favorites Thursday
but while Michigan State plays an under seeded Bradley team that is less than
four hours away from Des Moines, Michigan draws an injury depleted Montana
squad that makes a long trip. Michigan would have a bigger location edge Saturday
in a potential round of 32 game vs. Florida or Nevada as well while Michigan
State would draw Louisville or Minnesota who both have reasonable trips to Des
Moines.

Loser – Louisville: The Cardinals had a much
closer option in Columbus in its sights and despite the selection committee
handing out three #1 seeds to the ACC, Louisville was dropped to the #7 line
even with a win over Michigan State plus ACC road wins over North Carolina and
Virginia Tech. Add that the committee had to have a laugh in engineering a
matchup of Richard Pitino against his dad’s former school and the Cardinals
have a tough opening draw. The Gophers also are playing in the closest possible
venue for them fewer than 250 miles away and then if Louisville wins they
likely pull the Michigan State team they beat in overtime in November to
provide plenty of motivation for the Spartans.  

Salt Lake City, Utah (Thursday/Saturday)

Winner – Baylor: Gonzaga was a natural
fit for Salt Lake City even though Spokane is still over 700 miles away. Waco
is more than 1,200 miles away but this is a good draw for a slumping Bears team
that most pegged for an even lesser seed. The Bears get to face a zone team
that they will be comfortable with and an east coast Syracuse team faces longer
travel west and will face the late night start time to give the Bears a bit of
an edge in the timing and location. The status Tyus Battle, the best player for
the Orange, is also unclear and putting Syracuse in a Thursday group makes for
one less day for his recovery. A Bears team on a four-game losing streak, while
just 4-7 in the past 11 games, didn’t deserve these potential breaks.  

Loser – Auburn: A dominant SEC
championship game victory Sunday didn’t boost Auburn’s stock much nor did it
provide a favorable venue as Salt Lake City would not have been high on Auburn’s
first travel choices. Auburn will also draw an early game Thursday for a quick turnaround
with long travel after Sunday’s win in Nashville. New Mexico State is a
dangerous team with great depth and while Las Cruces isn’t exactly close to
Salt Lake City, it is about half as far as Auburn has to travel. Auburn fans
will also be drowned out by Gonzaga and Kansas fans that figure to take over
this arena.

Columbia, South Carolina (Friday/Sunday)

Winner – Mississippi: The Rebels have only defeated three teams that made the NCAA Tournament this
season but with a #8 seed Ole Miss doesn’t appear to have been remotely close
to the bubble despite losing five of the final seven games of the season
including three losses to non-tournament teams. Mississippi draws an Oklahoma
squad that most also expected to be closer to the cut line and a team that hasn’t
been at its best in recent weeks. Opposing a Virginia program that has
struggled in the NCAA Tournament in recent years is also the path most #8/#9
seeds would likely choose. Ole Miss also played in this arena in February as they
will have some familiarity with the court.

Loser – Virginia: Columbia is the venue
Virginia would have chosen but the selection committee isn’t giving the first
team ever to lose as a #1 seed in the Round of 64 a free pass the following year.
Gardner Webb is only 112 miles away from Columbia and Virginia is going to have
to deal with Duke being in this pod as well. UCF and VCU should also get decent
support in this group as the Cavaliers will have plenty of folks cheering
against them on Friday and Sunday in this venue. Virginia also failed to land a
spot in the East region where Washington D.C. will host the Sweet 16 and Elite 8
games. Instead will have to potentially face a team playing very close to home
in Louisville should Cincinnati, Purdue, or Tennessee advance to the regional
final. In a potential Sweet 16 game Virginia could also pull a Wisconsin or
Kansas State team that is more than comfortable at a deliberate pace.

Columbus, Ohio (Friday/Sunday)

Winner – Cincinnati: The American
champions have a right to complain about being a #7 seed but looking at the
draw and not the seeds there are a lot of things working in favor of the
Bearcats. Cincinnati is one of only a few teams playing in their home state and
they are barely 100 miles away from Columbus. Iowa is also a team that has
played as poorly as any team in the field in the last month for a favorable
first matchup. Tennessee is waiting as a difficult Round of 32 game but the big
picture path is favorable with the South bracket leading to Louisville, a city
less than 100 miles away from Cincinnati.

Loser – North Carolina: A one-point loss to a Duke team they beat twice last weekend flipped the Tar Heels out of more favorable venues in the bracket, missing out on Columbia or Jacksonville while also not placed in the East region that winds up in Washington D.C. While Chapel Hills is only 450 miles from Columbus the Tar Heels haven’t had to leave the Carolinas the past three years in the opening round games. If North Carolina makes the Sweet 16 they could wind up facing Kansas in Kansas City for a big potential disadvantage.

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Tulsa, Oklahoma (Friday/Sunday)

Winner – Houston: The Cougars lost by
double-digits Sunday in the AAC final and despite using an incredibly weak
non-conference schedule to help create the 32-3 record but stayed on the #3
line in a favorable venue. This pod will have some Big XII support but the
Cougars get a Friday game unlike some of the other teams that played on Sunday and
now face a Thursday game. The Tulsa/Kansas City path would have been where
Houston would have placed itself in the bracket given the choice. Likely
opposing Houston in the Round of 32 would be an Iowa State team that mostly
struggled in the last month might be a bit over seeded from its Big XII
tournament championship, a run that didn’t include facing the top Big XII team
Texas Tech.

Loser – Buffalo: Getting a #6 seed is
a big deal for a MAC team but Buffalo has the disadvantage of not knowing who
they will play until late Wednesday night. They also could wind up facing
Arizona State, coached by Bobby Hurley, the former Buffalo coach who gave Nate
Oats his entry to the division I level and will be intimately familiar with how
the Bulls play. The Bulls also face a long trip to Tulsa when far more
attractive venues were available in terms of travel distance. With Houston,
Iowa State, and Texas Tech playing relatively close to home in this draw the
Bulls might not get the support they expected.

San Jose, California (Friday/Sunday)

Winner – UC Irvine: The Anteaters haven’t
lost since mid-January and won’t have to leave California for the NCAA
Tournament unless they win twice. They also get to face a wounded Kansas State
squad that appears to possibly be playing without Dean Wade in the tournament for
the second straight season. Add that this team lost 71-49 at Kansas State early
last season and Russell Turner’s team has a lot to work with to try to engineer
an upset bid.

Loser – Virginia Tech: The Hokies have some
good news with Justin Robinson cleared to play but Virginia Tech is getting
sent out west and has the late night draw with a game starting around 10:00 PM
Eastern Time. Saint Louis won four games in four days to win the A-10
tournament but getting a Friday draw helps the Billikens who won that title
game on Sunday afternoon in Brooklyn. The Hokies played only one non-conference
road game this season and lost it and actually has never left the Eastern Time zone
all season. A squad reliant on 3-point shooting could have trouble in an
unfamiliar venue at an irregular time slot. The Hokies also land in the
grouping with #1 overall Duke should they advance to the Sweet 16 though that opportunity
would come in a favorable Washington D.C. venue.