I encourage all of you to use the comments section in this post to discuss the games today, like we did yesterday. I actually won't be around, because I'm going to the games in Chicago and likely won't have access to this website the entire time I'm in the arena. So... behave yourselves, boys. I'll get online late tonight, at the very least, to respond to any messages left for me.
It was a very exciting start to the day yesterday. I love the staggered starts, because I got to fully watch and appreciate those four consecutive close finishes in the afternoon. Overall on the day, the teams that played best were UCLA, Butler and Kansas State. Butler's front line particularly impressed me - Matt Howard was who I thought he'd be when he was a hyped freshman. And even Butler's big men off the bench played really well against ODU, which bodes well against Pitt.
The teams that disappointed me most were Michigan State and Utah State. Both came out with big time nerves despite having tons of experience, and both waited until way too late in the game to start playing with fire and to start making up ground.
As far as I'm concerned, I had one lucky win against the spread yesterday, and a tough beat. Temple's two point win burned me since it gave me a push, but Wofford gave me a backdoor cover to even it out. I did better than I usually do with 1/16 and 2/15 games, which was why it was a relatively strong Round of 64 day for me.
The Vegas lines are all still early for Day 5, so they might move a half point or point. But I want to get them up now. The previews will still apply:
Day 3 against the spread: 11-4-1
Total through Day 3 ATS: 14-5-1
2010 Tournament ATS: 35-25-3
Kentucky (-3) over West Virginia: It's normal for freshmen to really struggle in their first career NCAA Tournament game. It was just more apparent with Kentucky since their best players are freshmen. Brandon Knight and Terrence Jones did almost nothing all game. But now that they've got a game under their belt they should play better against West Virginia. As always with West Virginia, if you keep them off the offensive boards they'll lose. I think Kentucky will.
Florida (-5) over UCLA: UCLA almost had an epic collapse against Michigan State, but I think Florida will be happy that they held on. I continue to believe that UCLA is not a good team and should not have been a 7 seed. Florida is a soft 2 seed, but their gift draw is why I picked them to the Elite 8. I don't think UCLA is going to stop them.
Butler (+8) over Pittsburgh: Pittsburgh is a great offensive rebounding team, but so is Old Dominion. And Butler did a tremendous job on the boards against them. Matt Howard was the best I've ever seen him, and I've certainly never seen him go without a foul as long as he did after getting his third. Pitt generates very little post offense, so Howard could actually be protected in that sense. I expect Pitt to win this game, but I think it will be close.
Cincinnati (+3) over Connecticut: I picked Cincinnati over UConn straight up, and I haven't changed my mind on that. My reasoning is here.
Morehead State (+3.5) over Richmond: Richmond is the better team, but what I worry about is that they're a poor rebounding team. They finished 12th in the Atlantic Ten in defensive rebounding percentage (and 13th on the offensive boards). Morehead State plays so physically on the boards (as Louisville learned) that they should dominate there. Conversely, Morehead State is poor at defending threes and Richmond is good at those, but I don't necessarily see why that should outweigh the rebounding. Historically in the NCAA Tournament, being able to rebound has been more important than being able to hit threes. I think this game is a toss-up, so I'm taking the points.
BYU (PK) over Gonzaga: Gonzaga dominated St. John's, but it's important to remember that St. John's isn't half as good as ESPN wants you to believe. The Johnnies are a bubble quality team that had several very close wins that inflated their resume. The Zags will test BYU's defense inside, but BYU's been playing a fairly effective zone, and Gonzaga doesn't have a lot of outside shooters. This is likely to be a very tight game, but I give the narrow edge to BYU.
San Diego State (-5.5) over Temple: San Diego State looked very solid against Northern Colorado - they are clearly comfortable with their role this year as a favorite. Temple, meanwhile, underwhelmed me a little bit. With Penn State losing Jeff Brooks mid-game, Temple shouldn't have needed to win on a buzzer-beater. Temple is not explosive offensively, and unless they completely shut down SDSU's offensive rebounding, I don't see how they keep up.
Wisconsin (-1) over Kansas State: Kansas State played better than I expected against Utah State, but a lot of it was playing outside character. KSU averages 65% at the free throw line, but hit 24-for-28 (86%) against Utah State. They also committed only ten turnovers and held Utah State to seven offensive rebounds, despite being 11th in the Big 12 in offensive turnover percentage, and sixth in defensive rebounding percentage. Jacob Pullen was feeling a little under the weather, but he did score 22 points on 6-for-13 shooting, and he won't do too much better against Jordan Taylor. I give the edge to Wisconsin.