Sports fans view the one-hour Selection Sunday show on CBS every March to witness the unveiling of the 68-team field for the men’s Division I college basketball tournament.
Fans then discuss among themselves the top-seeded squads and potential sleepers while eagerly awaiting a printout of the tournament bracket for their office pool or tavern pool.
Gamblers see the Selection Sunday show differently.
Opportunities are many times won or lost when the NCAA tournament selection committee pairs the field for four first-round games and 32 second-round contests.
Like boxing, college basketball styles make the fight and few teams qualify as a blind wager or automatic bet regardless of the assigned opponent.
Going into last Sunday’s telecast of the tournament field, I had a list of several teams I was looking to support and several teams I wanted to fade.
For instance, I thought both Vanderbilt and Harvard would play well in an NCAA tournament setting but once the committee slotted the two high IQ teams against one another, I lost a wagering opportunity.
Same held true for the BYU-Iona game as part of the “The First Four” format, but instead of looking to bet BYU and Iona, I wanted to bet against both defensively-challenged teams.
Again, an opportunity lost.
There was, however, one game that jumped off the television screen when CBS announcer Greg Gumbel announced WCC regular-season and conference champion St. Mary’s would meet Big Ten representative Purdue in a “7-10 game” in Omaha, Nebraska.
The Gaels, 27-5, looked superb in defeating Gonzaga for the WCC conference championship on March 5 in Las Vegas despite missing defensive stopper Stephen Holt, who dressed for the game but was held out for precautionary reasons.
Holt enjoyed an additional ten days of rest between St. Mary’s 78-74 overtime win over Gonzaga and today’s showdown with Purdue.
The Gaels had to beat Gonzaga twice – so to speak – after blowing a late lead in regulation.
St. Mary’s also overcame a huge following of Gonzaga fans who transformed Orleans Arena into McCarthey Athletic Center South.
Power guard Matthew Dellavedova scored 22 points and running-mate Rob Jones added 18.
Dellavedova has led the Gaels in scoring 12 times this season and Jones 11. Both players are tough mentally and physically.
Look for Jones to guard Purdue’s leading scorer Robbie Hummel, who twice suffered ACL tears in his career at Purdue.
The 23-year-old Hummel no longer possesses the bounce off the floor that was his trademark as a young Boilermaker.
Purdue is without the services of athletic wing player Kelsey Barlow, who was dismissed from the team in mid-February after a late-night incident in a West Lafayette bar.
Head coach Matt Painter had other issues with his team this season, including the benching of undersized point guard Lewis Jackson for poor decision-making skills on the court.
MY FRIDAY ACTION…..854 St. Mary’s -1.5 over Purdue (Number is available at CRIS). On a positive note, I took St. Mary’s +2 earlier in the betting cycle.
Play 831 LIU Brooklyn +19.5 over Michigan State.
Play 835 Belmont +3.5 over Georgetown.
Play 839 St. Bonaventure +6.5 over Florida State
Play 847 Norfolk State +21.5 over Missouri
Play 855-856 Northwestern-Washington “OVER” 147.5
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