Day 1 of March Madness a Reminder to Be Careful How You Bet
The first full day of March Madness is in the books and what a day it was. As is typical of the Men’s NCAA basketball tournament, there were plenty of upsets and thrilling finishes.
No One Safe
The first massive upset of the day was the number-13 seed Furman University Paladins taking down the number-4 University of Virginia Cavaliers. The unbelievable result came exactly five years after Virginia was historically upset as a number-1 seed in the first round, the first and only time a 16-seed has beaten a 1.
That result, however, paled in comparison to the shock that would occur later in the day. Number-15 Princeton University defeated number-2 University of Arizona by 2 points, an upset for the ages. Many brackets had Arizona at least making it very far into the tournament, if not winning the whole thing. Needless to say those brackets were busted big time.
Another upset came in the Penn State-Texas A&M game. The Penn State Nittany Lions, as the number-10 seed, controlled the game the whole way en route to beating the 7-seed Aggies. The victory has put people on alert to Penn State, who made an impressive run to the Big 10 Championship final and now looks to be a legitimate threat in March Madness.
There were plenty of less surprising results, too. Number-1 Kansas took care of business against Howard, championship favorite Alabama got the job done against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, 5-seed San Diego State beat Charleston, number-5 Duke rocked Oral Roberts, Houston held on against Northern Kentucky, and UCLA defeated University of North Carolina at Asheville.
The Betting Outlook
These results don’t take away from the rest of the madness, though, and the madness extends to the sportsbooks. If this day proved anything, it’s that there’s no reliable bet when it comes to March Madness. Even the best teams in the NCAA are so variable and inconsistent that there’s always a chance a Cinderella team ends their championship hopes far earlier than expected.
In terms of betting from now on, Alabama looks like a real solid option. Though they were expected to beat the number-16 seed, of course, they did so in impressive fashion and looked like the championship favorites they are. As I just suggested, you can never feel truly comfortable when betting on March Madness, but Alabama seems to be reliable.
One team to watch out for is the Houston Cougars. They took care of their first-round matchup, sure, but it wasn’t anything impressive. Houston also plays in one of the weaker conferences in the NCAA, meaning they’re not very accustomed to great competition. They definitely look like they’re on upset alert as we head deeper into the tournament.
Penn State, as I mentioned earlier, looks like a real Cinderella candidate. They went toe-to-toe with Purdue in the Big 10 Championship final and now posted an impressive first-round win in the tournament. I expect they will continue to make noise as March Madness proceeds.