We are just days away from the much anticipated 2021 NCAA tournament which is known for insane underdog upsets, “fairtytale” runs and incredible last second drama. Last year as most of us in the sports world know, the Tournament was one of the first things cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic. At the time we did not understand the domino effect this (and Rudy Goeberts incident) would have on the sports world, but after many schools independently decided not to participate the tournament would go on to be cancelled. On March 10th 2020 the inquirer published this article by Mike Jensen and said:
“The Ivy League announced Tuesday it is taking the extraordinary step of canceling its men’s and women’s basketball championship tournaments, scheduled for this weekend at Harvard, because of coronavirus concerns. With the health of students as well as the campus and the general community in mind,” the Ivy League said in a statement about the decision to cancel. “The decision has been made in accordance with the guidance of public health and medical professionals to discourage and limit large gatherings on campuses in light of the coronavirus (COVID-19) situation.”
Now naturally when the IVY LEAGUE decides its not in their schools best health interest so early into a pandemic to participate many UNPAID student athletes must’ve thought “hey if the Harvard and Yale brains don’t think it’s a good idea… it probably isn’t” while a bubble might have worked in hind sight the reality is the NCAA was never going to take that risk, robbing us of one of the best betting months for fans known as MARCH MADNESS.
The 2021 NCAA Men’s basketball tournament is going to be a unique one. Since all games will be played inside a bubble in Indiana, and some schools not being able to participate due to positive Covid-19 results in their program, this 2021 NCAA tournament will be unlike any other “March Madness” that has come before.
Here’s the schedule for each round.
- First Four — 4 p.m. start on Thursday, March 18
- First round — 12 p.m. start on Friday, March 19, and Saturday, March 20
- Second round — 12 p.m. start on Sunday, March 21, and Monday, March 22
- Sweet 16 — 2 p.m. start on Saturday, March 27, and 1 p.m. start on Sunday, March 28
- Elite Eight — 7 p.m. start on Monday, March 29, and 6 p.m. start on Tuesday, March 30
- Final Four — 5 p.m. start on Saturday, April 3
- NCAA championship game — 9 p.m. Monday, April 5
As mentioned before this is the biggest month in sports betting for the fans. So much public action can come in on one side with not enough sharp/reverse public action on the other sometimes leaving books with big liability on a particular game, a couple of those in a row and it’s not looking like a good week for Vegas… and we al know Vegas doesn’t like to lose. So what do the books do? They take advantage of all the public action and give out prop bets and longshot odds at vigged out prices, giving themselves a nice amount of money to be up already before the first tip off even starts. Let me explain…
The public always loves betting similar things, popular favorites/underdogs (never priced or valued correctly) their favorite/home teams and of course overs. This makes it easy for the books to have a good feel for a line where they are usually in a winning position. Lets take a team like Oklahoma state for example, they are a good team with who some consider one of the best players in D1 basketball, Cade Cunningham. Oklahoma State Cowboys have odds of +3000 to win it all. Since this is a long tournament and the Cowboys are only number 4 seeds in their conference, you are better off opening a 7 team parlay and taking Oklahoma State on the MoneyLine each round and manufacturing yourself a future play where Ok State wins it (at better odds than +3000.) In the early rounds they will start off as favorites, but as tournament progress the likelihood of them playing opponents in which they are underdogs dogs grows higher and higher. Just to get past the Elite Eight they are very likely to face Illinois, a number one seed and very complete team who many have picked to win the tournament. After the elite 8 you would more than likely be looking at +money lines the rest of the way, making your parlay a very juicy one.
I personally like Illinois at (+600 available at ebet2.com) they are the most complete team with value behind them, since they are a #1 seed and open as big double digit favorites, you might not be able to manufacture a parlay the same as Oklahoma State. A couple of big upsets and depending on the opponent you might not get a big difference in value.
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Roland Zamoras Picks 03/18/2021
It’s the most wonderful time of the year! That’s something you usually hear in December around Christmas time, but for Sports Fans who love the game and the fan who loves to place the occasional bet, this is truly our Christmas. We started give out picks on the blog at the beginning of March, and have faired okay. We’ve had our good days and there’s been a stinker or two in there. The good thing is, our bankroll is essentially unharmed as we managed to go 10-9 (ATS) & 2-1 (Parlays) for a total of .67 units in the green. The 2 unit bet hurt us, and only placing .5u on our first parlay a few weeks ago lead to us essentially breaking even. Now that the recap is out of the way lets get down to business. The Big Dance is officially here with the First Four getting us started Thursday night with two very interesting matchups. In this piece I want to give you guys a play or two for Thursday (maybe an early line for Friday), but also focus on some longterm tournament plays that I like and want to give out. We’ll be here with y’all every step of the way and will be sure to try and collect a nice bankroll in the coming days. We’re still going to have to look out for COVID-19 (Virginia & Kansas) and how that can play a factor, including in some first round matchups. There’s also a #1 Seed out there that has to deal with a major injury in Michigan losing 13 ppg from their starting lineup right before the Big Dance. This has truly been one wild ride this year, and I’m sure we’re in for some more surprises along the way. One more thing I’ll put in prior to getting started is, while there aren’t too many elite teams out in the field this year.. I don’t believe there are many lower seeded teams capable of putting together a run and capping it off with a victory against a team like Gonzaga or Illinois. That said, lets get to the Tournament Plays first. I’m excited about some of these.
Baylor more wins in the Tournament vs. Michigan- 1u (-125) This first play sees us in a Games Won matchup between two #1 seeds in the Baylor Bears and the Michigan Wolverines. The last time we saw both of these teams, they were losing in their respective conference tournaments. Baylor got caught in a shootout with Oklahoma State, and Michigan as mentioned above lost a major contributor in Livers who is responsible for so much of that teams production. Then when looking at the road to the championship for each team, I think Baylor has the easier path. Assuming both teams win their first round matchups, Michigan can catch St. Bonaventure or LSU, both of whom present their own challenges. The Bonnies are a well rounded offensive team with a top 20 defensive efficiency and LSU brings the #5 offensive attack to the table per KenPom. For a team that just lost one of their top scorers, I don’t like either of those matchups in the 2nd round. Baylor will have to get by either UNC or Wisconsin both of whom have been a little underwhelming this season, although UNC has been playing a little bit better as of late. If Baylor can conquer that matchup, they may be faced with the task of beating Purdue who is scary, but I don’t think they defend the three ball well enough to stop the vaunted Baylor attack who is the #3 overall offense and #1 3-PT Shooting team at 41.8%. Take Baylor to get more wins in the tourney, this wouldn’t be a play if it weren’t for the injury to Livers but I just think it’s going to be too hard for a team to overcome the loss of their star this late in the season.
Texas Longhorns make the Sweet 16 YES- 1u (-105) Texas is trending in the right direction after winning the Big XII Tourney in impressive fashion becoming the first team from Texas to win the Tourney. Based on what I’ve seen, Texas is a step above of each of the teams they could possibly face en route to the Sweet 16. Their toughest possible test per KenPom would either come from BYU or Michigan State, both of whom Texas rates higher than. Texas has upperclassmen leadership blended in with the right amount of youth. Shaka has his team playing a motivated brand of ball & I think it’s just enough to get them through to the Sweet 16 & potentially even further.
Virginia Cavaliers make the Sweet 16 NO- 1u (-115) This is a complete COVID-19 play as UVA has been forced into quarantine for the past few days due to a player who tested positive after the Louisville game. The team has been unable to practice since the incident and are not expected to land in Indy on Friday which would be the first opportunity the team has to practice before their tip-off against Ohio. A team that I think is actually capable of pulling off the upset and covering the Spread which is Ohio +8 as of this writing. If they get past Ohio they would be welcomed by either UCSB or Creighton. Who knows, maybe Virginia comes out on fire, but I’m on the side of the long layoff with no basketball playing a factor in their success in Indy.
Illinois to Win it all -.5u (Best odds available +500 thru +650). (Outside of Gonzaga, the Illini are setup the best going into Indy. Illinois has a top-10 offense and defense which is led by Ayo Donsumo and Kofi Cockburn, both of whom are nationally ranked in terms of usage. They can beat you out in the perimeter where Ayo is a 38.8% 3-PT Shooter or bang it out down-low with Cockburn who is 65.5% from inside the 3-point line. Together the duo accounts for over 55% of all shots taken for the Illini, so the teams success definitely runs through them. They have a good draw in their region with their toughest test possibly coming from Loyola-Chicago (2nd Round), Ok. State (Sweet 16), or Houston (Elite 8). While each of those teams have to win their respective games to get there, thats whom I’ve identified as Illinois’ toughest tasks on the road to the Championship game. Houston hasn’t really played anyone this year outside of Texas Tech who they handled by 11 in the beginning of the year. Texas Tech was introducing some new pieces early on so it’s possible Houston caught them at the right time. Ok. State has been hot, and does have the perimeter play to keep up, but I don’t know that they have enough size to match the Illini front court which has been tough to matchup against all year (ask Iowa).
Thursday First Four & One Early Line:
Ohio +8 1u (-120)
Drake -2 1u (-110)
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