And that’s why they call it Madness. This year’s NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament has shocked everyone – everyone except for the sharps, that is. Anyone’s who’s been paying attention shouldn’t be shocked by teams like the No. 3 Michigan State Spartans and the No. 4 Arizona Wildcats getting thrown out of the Big Dance. Even the No. 1 Xavier Musketeers were ripe for the plucking.
Okay, the No. 1 overall Virginia Cavaliers losing to the No. 16 UMBC Retrievers was something else. But take a look at who’s left at March Madness heading into the Sweet 16. The East Region (featuring the No. 1 Villanova Wildcats) is almost as chalky as it gets. The Midwest (with the No. 1 Kansas Jayhawks) is still stacked. Things are not all that out of control. If you’re looking for an Upset Special, maybe Thursday’s South Region matchup between the No. 5 Kentucky Wildcats and the No. 9 Kansas State Wildcats (+5.5) will be to your liking. Tip-off is at 9:37 Eastern on CBS.
A Grizzly Demise
The NBA regular season is getting down to the nitty-gritty. With a dozen games left to go, there are two very important races going on: Eight teams are fighting for the last six spots in the Western Conference playoffs, and nine teams are trying their best to finish at the bottom of the standings. For your best NBA picks this week, try taking one from Column A and one from Column B.
Here’s a possible candidate for your consideration: Monday’s game between the Memphis Grizzlies (19-51 SU, 29-39-2 ATS at press time) and the Minnesota Timberwolves (40-31 SU, 32-37-2 ATS), starting at 8:00 p.m. Eastern. The Wolves are eighth in the West; the Grizz are 1-20 SU and 8-13 ATS since January 29. This is a road game for Memphis, which gives them less reason to try hard, and Minnesota has all the motivation in the world to get the W.
Detroit Dead Wings
It’s getting even closer to the end of the NHL regular season. We mentioned last week that you won’t find as much tanking on the ice, but if anyone’s decided to pack in it, it’s the Detroit Red Wings. As we go to press, the last time Detroit (26-35-11) won a game was February 25, which just happened to be one day before the trade deadline – when the Red Wings sent LW Tomas Tatar to the Vegas Golden Knights for three draft picks.
Looking at Detroit’s schedule this week, they’ve got a road game on Saturday (7:00 p.m. ET) against the Toronto Maple Leafs, who are third in the Atlantic Division at 43-22-7 with 10 games left before the playoffs. The Leafs have a lot of supporters north of the border, so you might find a better price at one of the European-facing sportsbooks on the NHL odds board, where they dare call the sport by its true name: Ice Hockey. Otherwise, this is a lovely spot to get some betting value out of a rising commodity.
It’s a quiet week if you’re looking for other combat sports on the betting calendar. The UFC is off until April; Alexander Volkov (+180) upset Fabrico Werdum at last week’s main event in London, which was obviously not for Stipe Miocic’s Heavyweight title – sorry about the brain cramp last week. Not much of note coming up in the squared circle, either. But Floyd Mayweather did open as a +650 underdog this past Monday for a potential MMA fight against Conor McGregor down the road. Mayweather says he’s going to start training with UFC Welterweight champion Tyron Woodley. Place your bets, ladies, and gentlemen.