Being the roving reporter for RCS is a pretty posh job, and this week Fitz flew me out to Salt Lake City to cover the West Region games. One thing to know about Utah before you book your trip is how crazy the liquor laws are out here. Upon trying to order a draft IPA at the local watering hole, I was told they couldn’t serve draft beer over 4% ABV…so instead the absinthe behind the bar had to do for the night. In such a lucid state, these upset picks have never been more clear!
East- 14 New Mexico State over 3 Baylor: +650
New Mexico State weirdly makes the tournament every year, but has not made it out of the first round since 1993. That will change against a Baylor team that looks like they tore an ACL down the stretch and will never be the same again. The moneyline odds are sweet, and since I’m a Redskins fan and Fitz is a Browns fan, I have to root against RG3’s alma mater.
Midwest- 12 Nevada over 5 Iowa State: +230
Last year I bet big on 3-seed Iowa State…which made their first round exit very painful. This year they come in over-hyped from winning a Big-12 sans a caring Kansas team (note- I have Kansas winning it all). Nevada is a baller team to watch: all I have ever seen them attempt is 3-pointers, which is exactly how Iowa State lost out last year. Plus, Nevada is in Las Vegas, right?
West- 14 Florida Gulf Coast over Florida State: +600
Dunk City is back again and the gods pit them against their interstate rival Seminoles in a battle for Florida supremacy (Gators only count on the Everglades Chili’s Appeteazer menu). This pick is certainly a reach, but I have a rule about betting underdogs in heated rivalry games, especially when the upside is so good. Admittedly FSU has been solid all year, but this game has “win the Heisman then steal some crab legs” idiocy written all over it.
South- NO GOOD ROUND ONE UPSETS!!!
I would have picked 12-seed Middle Tenn State here, but amazingly they are not the underdogs against 5-seed Minnesota. So my next biggest upset is 10-seed Wichita state over 7-seed Dayton. Somehow Dayton is a +225 underdog. I’d stay away from the south in betting for Round 1, even though I prefer it in real life.
If you want a more blanket strategy, bet all the 14-seeds and if one hits you will make about a 50% return (if 0 hit, sorry, that’s life). And I highly suggest visiting Utah- not only is it a beautiful state, but your GPS will routinely tell you to turn onto “Karl Malone Drive”. Until Round 2, best of luck in the next four days!