Today’s Selections II

We begin the new season with a $1000.00 beginning balance and great anticipation. The Big East appears to be the class of the country, but there are many other ascending programs and conferences. Upsets will be plentiful and there will be more surprise teams, such as last year’s Drake and Davidson. All wagering is for imaginary purposes only. Units are $100 each.

End Balance: -$780.00 Just when I thought I was escaping those subterranean depths, they sucked me back in. North Carolina’s parade through the Final Four was as deflating as it was imposing. I wanted close games decided by last second shots, and what we got was a snorefest. With many of the top players declaring for the draft but retaining the right to opt out, it’s difficult to predict next year’s top teams. But it’s not too soon to predict that the Southeast Conference will make a sharp comeback from its 20008-2009 devastation. If Meeks and Patterson return, and are joined by Calipari’s top Memphis recruits, the Wildcats will be a pre-season top five pick. LSU, remember, was the only team to press Carolina in the tournament. Tennessee, Florida, and Vanderbilt will be much improved. Conversely, the Big East will lose much of its strength, with the departures of Sam Young, DuJuan Blair, Hasheem Thabeeet, AJ Price, Earl Clark, Terrence Williams, and the Marquette trio of Wes Mathews, Jerome McNeil and Dominick James.

April 6 Beginning Balance +$450.00 Saturday’s debacle insures a losing season. Michigan State throttled Thabeet and used the running game and its deep bench to surprise UConn. Villanova got caught up in Carolina’s helter-skelter style, rushed its offense, and was never in it. Tonight, we’re again conflicted between the heart and the head; and as usual, the heart wins out.

Michigan State +7.5 over North Carolina. All the intangibles are in the Spartans’ favor – revenge for the 35 pt. thrashing administered by the Tarheels December 3rd (at Ford Field); home crowd; the support of an entire state ravaged by the economy; and the coaching genius of Tom Izzo. More to the point, they are a rapidly improving team which goes eleven deep and plays with an intensity not seen this side of Saving Private Ryan. They will get right in the face and chests of Carolina’s finesse players. Whether State’s tenacity and toughness can overcome the skill level of Carolina remains to be seen, but we’re not getting off this bandwagon until we’re thrown off. Three units.

April 4 Beginning Balance +$890.00

UConn -4 over Michigan State. Initially, we felt UConn would not recover from loss of Jerome Dyson, but emergence of Kemba Walker and Stanley Robinson as scoring threats has picked up the slack. Huskies have won repeatedly in hostile environments – at West Va., Notre Dame, and Louisville – so Sparty home crowd won’t rattle them. Late game foul shooting bedeviled Huskies early in the season; but against Missouri, they drained their last twelve. Spartans sometimes struggle to score. Against tough UConn defense (38% opp FG%), they may experience long droughts. If so, do they have the firepower to come back? Doubtful. Spartans normally control the boards, but against Thabeet, Adrien, and Robinson, they begin to look small. Two units. L

Villanova +7 over North Carolina. Villanova has beaten Pitt twice and blew out UCLA and Duke. They were heroic in their quarterfinal win over the Panthers. They seem to improve from game to game as seniors Dwayne Anderson and Dante Cunningham get better with every outing. Like Pitt, they’re deep, and physical, and smart. Carolina has been able to run the court with ease with blowout wins over Gonzaga and Oklahoma, but it’ll be interesting to see how Heels react when they meet resistance. At crunch time, if there is one, you can be sure that Wildcats will play it smart and hit their foul shots. Two units. L

March 30 Beginning Balance +$1000.00. Since the beginning of the tournament, the Bard has come all the way back, going 15-8 in selections. Tonight we make our first plunge ever on one of the other three post-season tournaments- the College Basketball Invitational. The finals pits UTEP against Oregon State in the first of a best of three.

UTEP -1 over Oregon State. The Beavers have had a storybook season, coming from 0-16 in Pac-10 play a year ago to a respectable 8-12, including victories over USC and Cal and three of four over Stanford. They’re coached, of course, by Craig Robinson, Michelle Obama’s brother. The Beavers have won three in a row to get to this position, but they’re still only 16-17 and give up three more points a game than they score. UTEP is 22-12 and more used to winning. One unit. L

March 29 Beginning Balance +$700.00. UConn was outstanding down the stretch, particularly from the stripe. ‘Nova matched Pitt’s intensity off the boards, and showed better balance.

Michigan State +7 over Louisville.’Ville will not overpower Spartans as it did Arizona. Lucas is the best guard on the floor and will not cower at Cardinal press. State is deep, patient, and hits the boards hard. This one should be close. Two units. W

North Carolina -7 over Oklahoma The feeling here is that Hansbrough will keep Blake Griffin occupied while the rest of the ‘Heels surpass the rest of the Sooners. One unit. W

March 28 Beginning Balance +$720.00. Kansas’ inexplicable late-game collapse cost the Bard a break-through. Carolina looks unstoppable.

UConn -5 over Missouri Huskies have the guard play to withstand Tigers’ withering press, and the shot blocker to make Carroll and Lyons think twice before attacking the rim. Huskies have big edge in defensive field goal percentage and rebounding margin. Our only concern is UConn’s shaky late game foul shooting. Two units. W

Pitt -2 over Villanova ‘Nova’s made it look easy with romps over UCLA and Duke, while Panthers have struggled. But Pitt may have edge if the game is close since ‘Nova has yet to cope with close game jitters. As if Pitt did not have enough motivation, they remember 57-67 thumping in Philly 1/28 when Blair was hampered by foul trouble. Pitt has been building for this moment all season. This will be all-out war. Two units. L

March 27 Beginning Balance $960.00 Tonight just could be the night to break through the Mendoza.
See game explanations in Wednesday’s post.

Gonzaga +8 over North Carolina Two Units L
Kansas +1 over Michigan State Two Units L
Louisville -9 over Arizona Two Units W

March 26 Beginning Balance $780.00 Meeks waited too long to heat up. The supporting arguments for tonite’s picks are contained in yesterday’s post.

Villanova +2.5 over Duke Two units W
Conn -6.5 over Purdue Two units W
Memphis -4.5 over Missouri Two units L

March 25 Beginning Balance +$890.00 We’re betting on the Outlaw Jody Meeks to bring the Bard within a cheeseburger of the Mendoza Line.

Kentucky +3.5 over Notre Dame After a horrible start, Meeks saved the Wildcats with a late game 3-point play against Creighton Monday. Kentucks hung in without him.This time expect the 6’3″ sharpshooter to explode. Wildcats still have something to prove. One unit. L

March 23 Beginning Balance +$790.00 There’s no time like the tournament to get hot. We’re plus eight units since the NCAA’s began. Tonite we’ll play a hunch with the NIT

Kentucky +2 over Creighton Creighton’s at home, and they’ve a much higher power rating than the Wildcats, so why the play? First, the ‘Cats have two of the best at their positions in the country with two guard Jody Meeks and center Patrick Patterons. They’ve been slow to develop a supporting cast, but forwards Stevenson and Miller have been making noise of late. Secondly, they shoot and defend better than the Blue Jays. Third, Coach