Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Day 1 Open Thread + Picking The Lines

Let's do this! Let's play some games!

Okay, I guess it's only the play-in games, but that's still a good use for some degenerate gambling on a Tuesday night.

Each day during the NCAA Tournament I'll have a post like this up. I'll pick each game against the spread, and this post will also double as an open thread. Chat with me in the comments, and I'll try my best to respond to everybody. Also feel free to join me on twitter.

Remember, my full NCAA Tournament previews game by game are all posted here. Use that to guide your bracket picking.

Let's get to the games:

2013 Tournament ATS: 36-30-1
2012 Tournament ATS: 30-35-2
2011 Tournament ATS: 40-26-1
2010 Tournament ATS: 35-25-3

Albany (-2.5) over Mt. St. Mary's: This spread is small enough that you really just want to pick who you think is going to win, and chance a two-point game. None of us know these two teams well enough to try to parse that small of a spread. I saw Albany play twice and Mt. St. Mary's play once this year, and that's probably more than most of you. I picked Albany to win this game here, primarily because I think they're bigger, more well-rounded, and can control the glass. For Mt. St. Mary's to win they're going to have to get hot behind the arc.

NC State (+3.5) over Xavier: I picked Xavier to win this game, and they're certainly the better team. But I'm a bit nervous about that pick basically because of Matt Stainbrook's health. It's hard to get a clear answer on just how healthy Stainbrook is, and NC State has the offensive rebounders to cause problems if Stainbrook is as limited as he was in the Big East tournament. So I'm going to semi-contradict myself here and pick the gambling "middle". If this game comes down to the final possession with Semaj Christon and TJ Warren going at it, it will be really enjoyable to watch whether you win your bet or not.


Unknown said...

I discovered this blog this year and I must say Jeff I have loved your analysis. I look forward to reading a whole season of your blog next year.

Jeff said...


Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed your post leading into the previews where you discuss 'best teams' versus 'best resume'. I particularly liked that you pointed out that while predictor is a better indicator of future results, it is not a better way to seed the teams.

However, I do think there should be a bit of hedging when the parameters are so different such as Louisville, UMass or Kentucky. So I think it should be a little bit more of a split the difference on the seeds.

Jeff said...

Yes, I agree with you. I actually asked both David Worlock and Greg Shaheen this last night during the twitter convo they were having with several bloggers and analysts. I said that while the seeding is just fine, that somebody should have sat back and said "Boy, these regions seem a bit uneven, why don't we move Louisville to be a 4 seed in another region?"

Basically, the answer I got back was pretty disconcerting. They don't seem to recognize that "best teams" and "best resumes" are different. To them, "best resumes" are how you define best teams, and thus balancing the resumes is "balancing the bracket". Therefore, from their perspective, Louisville is a "weaker" team to have in a region than Iowa State, even though Louisville would be a 5-6 point favorite over Iowa State on a neutral court.

It seems like a relatively simple practice would be to have one person in the room who understands Vegas lines or Pomeroy and, without changing the numerical seeding, tries to move teams between regions to more balance out the strengths of schedule.

Anonymous said...

Not taking long for Mt St Mary's to get back in this game. What a crazy start to the tournament. They are about to tie it before I even get this posted....

Anonymous said...

Would it have been fair to put 'Dayton in Dayton'? More fair if they matched them against fellow local like Xavier? Or bad idea to play on home court regardless?

Jeff said...

I'm not sure it's really that unfair. I mean, plenty of other teams are playing in arenas that are close drives. Xavier is playing tonight and they're only about an hour drive away.

Though I wouldn't be surprised if the Selection Committee will make an effort to move Dayton up a line or two to avoid putting them in the play-in round.

Jeff said...

Well, 1-0 against the spread. I think that means I'll get every game correct the rest of the way, or something.

Ben said...

Jeff, what's your preferred bracket pool scoring system? I, for one, hate that all the bracket polls I'm in score it 32 points per round because of how much more difficult it is to pick 32/32 in the first round than it is to pick the champion. 1, 2, 4, 6, 8, 10 isn't bad, IMO.

Tommy said...

Nearly spot on analysis for the MSM/UALB game, nicely done. Always fun when it works out just the way you draw it up

Jeff said...

Ben, I don't care too much on the bracket rules, honestly. Just know the rules and make your picks accordingly. If the system rewards upsets, pick more upsets. If the system emphasizes later rounds rather than earlier rounds, pick fewer early upsets.