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NCAA Tournament: A misinformed and dubious gambling guide to day one - part one

Will Potts and Brandon Anderson go through every game and attempt to make sense of Vegas.

NCAA Basketball: ACC Conference Tournament-North Carolina vs Duke Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

In part one of this two-part series, Tar Heel Blog writers Will Potts and Brandon Anderson discuss every game on day one of the NCAA Tournament. All betting lines are from

Notre Dame (-7) vs Princeton, 12:15 PM, CBS

Will: I am unreasonably high on Notre Dame. Like Final 4 level high on them. I feel like in Super Troopers where I am going to pistol whip the next person who talks about Princeton backdoor cuts. Seven points seems unreasonably low to be honest. If Notre Dame is hitting their 3's, they're going to run Princeton out of the gym.

Brandon: I'm torn on Notre Dame. This is a game where they should win cover easily, but I do feel like this is a little bit of a trap game. I'm leaning more towards Notre Dame pulling it off without any issues but they definitely have to hit the shots that we know they can hit.

Will: I want to say they struggled a lot two years ago when they had the tournament's opening game. This game doesn't interest me a ton besides being the symbolic beginning of the greatest two days of the year so I tentatively am taking ND -7. Good teams win but great teams cover.

Brandon: Agreed, and I think coming off as good of a run as they did in the ACC tournament they're in a good place right now having made the finals and for a while put up a pretty good fight with Duke for a little bit. I feel like I would take the -7 too.

Virginia (-7) vs. UNC-Wilmington 12:40 PM, TruTv


B: Under, under, under, under.

W: Just checked and the under is -134.5. I really don’t like UVA. If I had my way the ACC would be down to 11 teams. Georgia Tech is out for being Russell Athletic sponsored, UVA for their basketball, Boston College because goodness they make no sense, Notre Dame because they won't fully commit to this relationship and Syracuse because they don't fit whatsoever and Boeheim clearly hates it. Boom we play an 18 game conference schedule where everyone gets the home/away matchup. Just fixed the ACC

B: I agree with just about everything you said. Ok....I lied, everything. Every word. My hate has tapered off for Virginia after Malcolm Brogdon left because I feel like now they're being exposed for the frauds they are. Specifically I mean that without their security blanket that was out there making defenses look silly every night in the most boring way possible their team has become one of those "we will either beat you with 60 points or lose by only scoring 40" teams. I was waiting for it, I was SOOO waiting for it after Brogdon left. I'm still waiting for the hair band era to end. London Perrantes is almost gone, it figures they get Kyle Guy. I heard he kept that man bun ONLY because people were talking about it. Figures.


I feel like this discussion could literally take all night because they just are so hateable. I actually like UNC-Wilmington straight up to be honest. Picked them. Just being a journalist here and not letting my bias get in the way one bit.

B: I picked UNC-Wilmington as well. I think this is going to be one of the first upsets, Virginia has not been shooting the ball consistently at all. Also, I was at the UNC/Virginia game at Chapel Hill and I noticed that when you start making shots on them this year their defense gets weirdly lax compared to how they come out the gate. If UNC-W can get them in a bad spot early, they open the door for a chance to finish them off in the 2nd half.

Butler (-11) vs. Winthrop, 1:30 PM, TNT

W: This may be our first disagreement. #EmbraceDebate. I like Winthrop. I used to go to a good number of Winthrop games growing up back in the Gregg Marshall days. Always had a weird soft spot for them. In 2007 when they were a trendy upset pick as an 11 seed, I may have gotten a bit carried away and put them in the Final 4 can’t confirm or deny. I think they can keep it close against Butler. Butler is insanely overseeded. Give me Winthrop +11

B: Yeah this is definitely our first disagreement. I hate doing this, but I rode the hype train of sorts. Everyone has been very high on Villanova this year (God I even hate saying that school's name now), they hung around in the top 5 all year, etc etc etc. Well guess who went undefeated against them this year? Good ol' Butler. Now granted, basketball is a lot about match-ups. It could be that Butler just matches up really really well against Nova and that's how things turned out how they did. OR, Butler has something in their squad that we're going to see fully unleashed this tournament. I like my odds on taking the -11 with Butler.

W: Who the hell is Villanova? My biggest concern with Butler is they lost to some really really bad teams like Indiana State and St. John's. Based on their KenPom ranking (28th) they should be closer to a 7 seed instead of the 5 seed they got.

B: Yeah you know I did notice that. It's tough with teams that manage to beat teams that they had no business beating :::coughcoughNCSTATEcoughcough::: but I mean hey, got to throw caution in the wind somewhere. ::::coughcoughWONINCAMERONcoughcough::: Wow I need to get that checked out.

W: I am always here for Duke slander. One last thing about Winthrop before we move on. I got a chance to go to the locker room after a game of theirs back when I was in middle school. Had on a UNC sweatshirt. Gregg Marshall saw that and kicked me out. I have never felt more embarrassed in my life.

Gonzaga (-22.5) vs. South Dakota State, 2:00 PM, TBS

W: Start us off.

B: I don't like this line. We do this every year. EVERY YEAR. I don't know why this is consistently a thing. I could be very wrong this time, maybe this is their year, and maybe Kenpom is onto something since they have them as number 1 right now. BUT, I mean....they lost to BYU. They beat Santa Clara, a middle-of-the-conference-with-a-10-8-record team, by 9. Just 9. I don't think that they're in THAT hard of a conference. For Gonzaga, coming out of that conference, I don't think I will ever take them with a line so high for any game in this tournament. They have a lot to prove to me. They'll win, but yeah no I can't take -22.5.

W: I don't have a ton to add to be honest. I can't even pretend to be unbiased about Gonzaga. I am tired of them being shoved down out our throats every year and how "they're totally for real this time guys!" They obviously won't lose this one (but nothing would make me happier) but yeah the spread is too high. I either want something under 20 or above 25. Anything in the middle and I am taking the underdog to cover.

B: I really hope that at some point they can shut me up. Fun fact: I attended a college in Illinois, it was a division III school and we played Gonzaga in an exhibition match. I don't even remember how that came about, I think it was a coach connection. Watching my friends get beat so badly by them was a bit much though.

West Virginia (-13.5) vs Bucknell, 2:45 PM, CBS

W: West Virginia is like the slightly cooler version of Virginia. They both are super ugly to watch but the press is so much fun to watch when it is clicking

B: I can definitely watch them a lot easier than UVA. I'm also kind of glad that Kansas has to deal with their version of UVA that bad?

W: I think the Big12 should be embarrassed to let one team beat up on them like that. You would never see that with UNC or Duke in the ACC or even Kentucky in the SEC.

B: I cringe whenever someone says the Big 12 is the better conference. You've had the same team win the regular season like 50 years in a row......that doesn't equate to a great CONFERENCE.

W: I am taking West Virginia to win and cover here. Their press is going to give a lot of teams fits in March and this team is going to come out hot to make-up for last year’s disaster against Stephen F. Austin. Bucknell is 198th in the country in turnovers. Recipe for disaster against the press.

B: Give me WVU -13.5

Florida (-10.5) vs. East Tennessee State, 3:10pm TruTv

W: Fun fact of my own: I cannot name a single player on ETSU. Not a one. Counting on you to carry us on this one

B: I think this might be low. I don't know why, but I just have that feeling. Florida has been pretty good this year. I'm kind of impressed. I think the LEAST amount Florida wins by is 10. Mainly because yes, like you, I can't name a single player on ETSU either. Kind of an odd way to go about judgment on this one but hey, what're you gonna do.

W: As long as Florida doesn’t have to play Vanderbilt, they’re a solid team. The loss of John Egbunu will hurt them later on. But not here.

Minnesota (+1.5) vs. Middle Tennessee State, 4:00 PM, TNT

W: My brain is a very dumb brain. I loved MTSU from the start even before the brackets came out. I think Minnesota is a fraud and insanely overseeded as well. EVERYONE is picking Middle Tennessee State. So that is why I am taking Minnesota +1.5. MTSU is too popular of a pick that I just can't possibly do it.

B: Yeah it's kind of a 50/50 game to me. My understanding, because I'd be lying if I said I knew MTSU as well as I did other teams, is that they're not as good this year as last year. Still good, but not sure about them against a Big Ten team. But it's also hard to be high on Minnesota. I should've flipped a coin when I made my bracket. I'm going to hop the hype train and take +1.5, but yeah I'm not doing it confidently.

W: They have shown they have no problem beating mediocre Big 10 teams in the tourney before. That was a Tom Izzo Joke.

Northwestern +2.5 vs. Vanderbilt, 4:30 PM, TBS

W: Mandatory Darren Rovell GIF since we’re discussing Northwestern:

B: Oh boy. This game. I won't lie I might be more torn on this one than the MTSU/Minnesota game.

W: Speak on it.

B: I want to believe Northwestern will win this game. I so badly want to believe it. I have nothing against Vanderbilt, I really don't but Northwestern is finally getting to dance and I mean winning the Big Ten is a pretty big deal. However, Vanderbilt is a hard team to rule out in this situation. I'd have to pick with my heart and take Northwestern to win outright

W: All 8/9 games are virtual toss-ups. So to decide, let’s roll that Rovell footage one more time:

Vanderbilt by 100.

Look for Part 2 later today.