I've Got Five On It: Let's lose some money together
The 2021 NCAA Tournament is on the verge of tipping off and ushering in the biggest gambling week of the year. Today in I've Got Five On It, Rivals.com national analyst Rob Cassidy tosses out five wagers to consider if you’re looking to make this year’s tournament a bit more interesting.
Rivals Roundtable: NCAA tournament predictions
2023 Rankings: Top 30
THE LOCK: Eastern Washington +10.5 vs. Kansas
Let me start by saying I don’t think the Eagles are going to win this game outright, but I think there could be some nervous moments for the Jayhawks come Saturday. At the time I’m writing this it’s not even clear who will be suited up for Kansas, which has had a chaotic last couple weeks when it comes to COVID-19 -- a run of headaches culminated by being forced to withdraw from the Big 12 tournament due to positive tests. Even at full strength, KU has been unpredictable at best and choppy at worst this season. Jalen Wilson reportedly did not make the trip to Indianapolis with the team.
Meanwhile, Eastern Washington has won 13 of its last 14 games and plays at a much faster pace than the Jayhawks. If the Eagles can dictate pace and cause an already out-of-sorts Kansas team to speed up, things could get interesting. It seems pretty unlikely Bill Self’s bunch comes out sharp and throttles a talented Eagles team playing with confidence and little to lose.
THE LONGSHOT: Florida State +2900 to win the national title
I don’t do a lot of self-congratulating in this space, but I can only suppress my true identity as a smug jerk for so long. With that disclaimer out of the way, I’d now like to point out that if you’d taken my preseason advice and took a flyer on Illinois to win the national title, you could have locked in at +8000. The Illini are down to +450 at the time of publication. Please stand and clap.
The value ship on the Illini has long sailed, but fear not. For those still in search of a longshot with upside, I present the Florida State Seminoles.
Florida State ranks eighth nationally in adjusted offensive efficiency and is lethal from long range, which plays well in March. They have length all over the floor, a lottery pick in Scottie Barnes and a senior leader in M.J. Walker, who leads the team in scoring. The most important bullet point, however, is Leonard Hamilton’s trademark depth.
A deep rotation can bail you out of a lot of sticky situations in March, and talent runs deep on an FSU team with 11 players on the roster that average more than six minutes per game. Hamilton’s bunch strolled through the ACC regular-season slate aside from losses to Clemson and Georgia Tech, which, because of their lopsided nature, seem like possible outliers.
The Noles’ are +2900 for a reason, obviously. Longshots don't become longshots by accident, but I think there’s value here. Then again, I’m no gambling expert and taking my betting advice is probably a good indicator that it’s time to take a break from the sportsbook.
THE ENTERTAINMENT WAGER: Arkansas-Colgate over 161.5
If you’re in the market for a fun bet for which to root, I recommend taking a hard look at over in Arkansas-Colgate
Look, you aren’t going to make a living gambling unless you’re a pro with inside info, so you might as well have fun. Rooting for buckets in a game between two teams that play at pace of a toddler that just snorted an entire pixie stick is gonna be a good time. Colgate averaged 16 seconds per possession this season, while Arkansas played even faster than that. The Razorbacks overs have cashed 53.8 percent of the time this year while Colgate overs hit 53.3 percent of the time.
A point total of 161.5 is a lofty number, but gambling is supposed to be fun. NCAA Tournament unders are joyless. Nobody wants to blow off work, open a beer and root for mid-range jumpers to draw front iron.
THE UNDERDOG MONEYLINE: VCU +195 vs. Oregon
A bet on VCU is a bet on Bones Hyland, and would you wanna bet against this dude? I certainly would not. The Atlantic 10 Player of the Year averages more than 19 points per game and has led the Rams to wins over NCAA Tournament teams Utah State, Mount St Mary's, St. Bonaventure and Saint Louis.
Yes, this is a much different Oregon team than the injury-plagued one that played a bulk of the season but the Ducks may also be getting a little too much credit for a small sample size of recent success. The Rams are an elite defensive team and also shoot nearly 80 percent from the free throw line. If this is a close game, which it projects to be, VCU’s performance at the stripe could be a factor.
Gimme the Rams to grind out a win. When this pick fails to hit, I will graciously accept all the dudes with duck avatars and dirty keyboards calling me an idiot on Twitter.
THE RECKLESS PROP BET: Two game-winning buzzer beaters in the Round of 64 +650
There’s been only one buzzer-beater in the last 64 first-round games, so the responsible money is probably on zero (-125) or one (+200). There’s nothing responsible about this column, however, so here we are.
There’s no research to do here. I have no data to present. This bet is basically me throwing a dart while blindfold. Proceed with caution, but know I’ll be celebrating with you should it hit. Buzzer-beaters rule and rooting for them is fun. That’s my pitch.