I’ve read all the trends. I know No. 12 seeds have a tendency to knock off No. 5 seeds. I know that only four times since 1985 have all of the top four seeds in each region made it out of opening round. I know all four No. 1 seeds have only reached the Final Four once. But what does all that really mean this year?
The NCAA Tournament is about matchups, pure and simple. So if you’re looking to base your bracket on what happened to a random No. 13 seed in 1985, I’d suggest moving on now (or challenging me to a bracket contest).
For those of you interested in winning, here are 68 things you should know about the field of 68.Who the sharps bet early(From Monday interview with MGM Mirage sportsbook)
1. Georgia: “Everyone was talking Washington, but we got sharp action on UGA,” said MGM Mirage sports book manager Jay Rood.
2. UC-Santa Barbara. Florida opened at 13.5 but was dropped quickly to 12.5 after early sharp action.
3. Princeton: Despite Kentucky’s impressive performance in the SEC tournament, wise guys are more impressed by Princeton’s late surge. Kentucky opened as a 14.5-point favorite, before being reduced to -13.5 Monday.
4. Michigan State: UCLA actually opened up as a small 1-point favorite at some offshore books, but the Spartans were the favorites within minutes of the line being posted.
5. Bucknell: Wise guys must believe Kemba Walker and UConn are spent from their Big East Tournament run. This line has dropped from -11.5 down to -10.
6. Old Dominion: “This was the biggest play of them all,” said Rood. “We opened Butler at -1, but are now dealing ODU -2.)Best, worst, least and most in the field
7. Best ATS performer: George Mason 22-8 ATS. The Patriots were 15-7-2 ATS entering the 2006 NCAA tournament, where they reached the Final Four.
8. Worst ATS performer: Michigan State 11-20-1 ATS.
9. Lowest Power Rating team: Covers rankings
have Alabama State at 306 and NC Asheville at 239. Pomeroy has Alabama State at 295. Sagarin Predictor has Alabama State at 308.
10. Toughest non-conference strength of Schedule: Oakland - No. 3 (Pomeroy)
11. Easiest non-conference strength of schedule: Cincinnati - No. 335
12. Toughest overall strength of schedule: Michigan State - 1
13. Easiest overall strength of schedule: Alabama State - 340
14. Team that commits fewest fouls: Ohio State - 14.3 per game
15. Most 3-pointers per game: Belmont - 9.4 per game
16. Fewest 3-pointers per game: Old Dominion - 4.9 per game
17. Most overs: Oakland 20-9-1. The Golden Grizzlies played a difficult non-conference schedule that included six games against tournament teams. Five of those six went over the total.
18. Best tournament bet: Xavier is 10-2-1 ATS in NCAA tournament games over the past five years, the best mark in the nation.
19. Worst tournament bet: Gonzaga is 3-7 ATS in NCAA tournament games over the past five seasons.
20. Most tournament overs: Pittsburgh and Xavier have each produced nine overs compared to only four unders in the last five NCAA Tournaments
21. Most tournament unders: UCLA is 5-10 over/under in the NCAA Tournament over the last five years.
22. Best free-throw shooting team – Wisconsin 82.4 percent.
23. Worst free-throw shooting team – Alabama State 59.5 percent.
24. Lowest scoring margin -- Penn State plus-0.5
25. Highest scoring team – Oakland 85.6. Washington is second at 85.6.
26. Lowest scoring team – Alabama State 60.8
27. Fewest points allowed – Utah State 58.0. ODU is second at 58.3.
28. Most points allowed – Oakland 76.6
29. Best rebounding margin – Old Dominion is outrebounding opponents by 12.2 per game, tops in the nation.
30. Worst rebounding margin – Hampton has been outrebounded by 4.2 per game.
31. Best turnover margin – Missouri at plus-5.5.
32. Worst turnover margin – UCLA at minus-2.8.Strength-of-Schedule Mismatches
33. Duke No. 22 vs. Hampton No. 342.
34. North Carolina No. 10 vs. Long Island No. 315.
35. Wisconsin No. 14 vs. Belmont No. 290.
36. UConn No. 7 vs. Bucknell No. 251.
37. Penn State No. 2 vs. Temple No. 85.Teams not at full strength
38. St. John’s – The Red Storm lost guard/forward D.J. Kennedy in the Big East tournament to a torn ACL. Kennedy leads St. John’s in rebounding and is third in scoring.
39. Temple – The Owls are down to seven players after losing center Micheal Eric to a fractured right patella. Forward Scooting Randall missed the last seven games with a foot injury and is questionable to play against Penn State.
40. BYU – Leading rebounder Brandon Davies was booted for the team for violating the school’s honor code on March 2. The Cougars are 2-3 ATS without Davies.
41. Duke – All eyes are on freshman point guard Kyrie Irving. The talented NBA prospect injured a toe on his left foot and only recently got his walking boot off. Coach Mike Krzyzewski has repeatedly said Irving will not play, but signs seem to indicate that he could play at some point during the tournament. The Blue Devils are 13-12 ATS w/out Irving.
42. Florida State – Best player Chris Singleton broke his right foot on Feb. 12 and was expected to miss the remainder of the season. But Singleton says he can play in the tournament, but an official announcement had not been made by Tuesday morning. The Seminoles are 4-1-1 ATS without Singleton.
43. Georgetown – Senior point guard Chris Wright is expected to return for the Hoyas in Friday’s opener, but he’s only three weeks removed from breaking his hand. How effective will he be? Georgetown can’t be any worse with him at less than 100 percent than it was without him. The Hoyas went 0-3, averaging only 53 points a game. Odds/Ends
44. Belmont commits the most fouls of any team in the field at 20.8 per game; Wisconsin leads the nation in free-throw percentage at 82.4.
45. I was very impressed with Clemson, even in blowing a lead in the ACC tournament to North Carolina and costing me money.
46. Clemson went 2-7 against tournament teams this season, 1-5-2 ATS.
47. Old Dominion gets nearly all its scoring from inside the 3-point arc; Butler ranks 325th in blocks with just 1.6 per game.
48. Wofford lost in overtime to Air Force, a team BYU walloped by 38 in February.
49. Arkansas-Little Rock is the shortest team to make the field. The Trojans have a handful of regulars that stand 6-foot or shorter.
50. Ohio State is 15-2 against tournament teams this season, but just 9-7 ATS in those wins. (No line was archived on win over UNC-Asheville).
51. Marquette is 6-13 against tournament teams, but 10-7 ATS in those wins. (No line against Bucknell).
52. Utah State coach Stew Morril hasn’t won a postseason tournament game (NCAA, NIT) since 2001 (0-11). The Aggies are 3-8 ATS during that stretch.
53. There’s been a lot of whining about the winner of Tuesday’s First-Four game between Clemson and UAB having to play late Tuesday night, hop on a plane and fly from Dayton to Tampa to play West Virginia around noon on Thursday. Look for oddsmakers to inflate the Mountaineers as the favorite.My top second-round bets
54. Villanova +1.5
55. Penn State +2.5
56. Cal-Santa Barbara +13
57. Duke -22.5
58. Over 143.5 Wofford-BYU
59. Vanderbilt -2
60. San Diego State -15.5
61. Marquette +2My Final Four
63. Ohio State
65. FloridaMy Final 2
66. Ohio Stave
67. LouisvilleMy National Champion
68. Buckeyes +350