New York City
We are less than three hours away from tip off. I barely slept last night because I have been waiting for today for a very long time. March Madness is one of my favorite times of the year. It means that I get to do nothing for four straight days as I devour non-stop hoops and engage in degenerate gambling.
It's also the time of year when that chick in your office who knows absolutely nothing about sports ends up winning a couple of hundred in your office pool because she picked seven out of the Final 8 teams and called several insane upsets like Mississippi State knocking off Memphis.
I only thought that I'd get 50 entries for the Tao of Poker March Madness Pool. Man, was I wrong. It was at 124 the last time I checked. Good luck everyone.
Here are today's games...
Thursday 3.20I expect to be in front of my laptop from noon until past Midnight with the game on in the background.
12:20pm Xavier - 8.5 Georgia
12:25pm Kansas -21.5 Portland St.
12:30pm Michigan St -7.5 Temple
2:30pm Marquette -6 Kentucky
2:50pm Purdue -2.5 Baylor
2:55pm Kent St. -1.5 UNLV
3:00pm Pittsburgh -8.5 Oral Roberts
5:00pm Stanford -14.5 Cornell
7:10pm Duke -20 Belmont
7:10pm USC -3 Kansas St.
7:20pm Washington St. -9.5 Winthrop
7:25pm Texas A&M -1.5 Brigham Young
9:40pm Wisconsin -11.5 Cal St. Fullerton
9:40pm West Virginia -2 Arizona
9:50pm Notre Dame -6.5 George Mason
9:55pm UCLA -32 Mississippi Valley State
Point spreads as of 9:45am ET
11:43am... Professional Keno Player Neil Fontenot called me to say that he's going to take down both of my pools. He said he likes CS-Fullerton to upset Wisconsin today. "Those cheese-eating crackers at Wisconsin can't handle my main man Josh Akognon!" I'm not on the same page as PKPNF. Wisconsin is 7-1 ATS in their last 8 games.
11:55am... I'm sitting on my brothers couch ready for a 12+ hour session of college basketball. I'm watching two TVs, one has CBS and the other ESPN.
11:58am... The first games include a potential blowout when #1 seed Kansas takes on Portland St. I picked Michigan State over Temple on all of my sheets. They should win, but by how much? There could be an upset with Xavier vs. Georgia. Coming into the tournament, Georgia is one of the hottest teams despite being only one game above .500. Xavier should win the game, but hopefully the Georgia team that won the SEC conference championship will show up. They have won five out of their last six including two overtime affairs. On my sheets, I split Xavier/Georgia. I'm betting Georgia +8.5.
12:03pm... Here who I bet on today...
Thursday's Bets:12:11pm... CBS is already hyping up their prime time coverage of the USC/Kansas State game featuring two of the best players in the country OJ Mayo (USC) and Michael Beasley (KSU). Beasley has the potential to lead his team deep into the tournament sort of like how Danny Manning carried Kansas, John Wallace carried Syracuse, or how David Robinson carried Navy. I sincerely hope that I get to see a lot of that game instead of coverage of the Duke/Belmont blow out. Knowing how incompetent CBS's coverage has been in the past, we'll only see a few minutes of the USC/KSU game.
Notre Dame -6.5
Kansas State's Michael Beasley
Bottom line... that will be one of the best games in the opening rounds. USC is the better team, but you don't know how much of a factor Beasley is going to be. Can he drop 40+? Will he get in foul trouble? Because of all of those unknowns, I'm not touching that game. I also split the teams on both of my sheets.
12:21pm... Cards are in the air. Oooopps. Sorry, tip off in the Xavier/Georgia game.
12:23pm... Xavier jumped out to a 5-0 lead scoring off their first two possessions. Two minutes into March Madness and I'm already doomed. At least CBS is airing one of the games I wagered on.
12:31pm... Tipoff in the Michigan State and Temple game. CBS switched to coverage of that game. I'm already on CBS-tilt, especially since Georgia fought back after a jittery first few minutes of play. They lead Xavier 11-10. I'm going to try to watch the game online.
12:38pm... Georgia/Xavier tied at 11. I'm watching the game on CBS's website on something called March Madness on demand. Too many fcukin' commercials.
12:41pm... With 10 minutes to go in the first half, Georgia extended their lead to 5.
12:43pm... Kansas is coasting with a double digit lead. Michigan State leads by 2.
12:46pm... Georgia frosh Jeremy Price is 4 for 4 from the field with 8 points. That's what he averages off the bench this year. He's one of the reasons why Georgia is up by 6.
12:49pm... It's official. 131 participants in the Tao of Poker March Madness Pool. That is insane. Good luck to everyone!
12:57pm... So I'm watching the Georgia game online and the other on TV. The MSU/Temple game is boring basketball. Slow. Sluggish. Kinda ugly. They do have better looking cheerleaders than Temple.
1:04pm... Georgia up by 7 with about a minute to go in the first half. Unreal. Let's hope the can keep up the pace.
1:10pm... Georgia up by 9 at halftime. They went on an 8-0 run to close out the half and take a 37-28 lead over Xavier. I would have been happy if they were only down by a bucket or too. A nine point lead plus the spread is a nice cushion to have going into the second half. Xavier is a good 3pt shooting team, so Georgia will have to work hard on the perimeter if they want to prevent them from unleashing a run.
1:13pm... Michigan St. is up by 10 with two minutes to go. Kansas is up by 23 at halftime. That entire second half should be garbage time.
1:20pm... I'm so happy that the MSU/Temple game is the halftime so I don't have to watch that atrocity anymore. MSU is up by 9 and they should have been up by more considering how badly Temple played in the first half. Since all three games are at halftime, I get spoon-fed highlights from the in-studio team of dweebs in bad suits.
1:30pm... Georgia/Xavier game back on CBS... for now. Xavier trailed at the half only four times all season. Georgia scored on their first possession in the second half to open up to a 11 point lead.
1:37pm... Back on CBS-tilt. They are airing MSU/Temple. I wanna shoot myself. I loaded up CBS on Demand and I'm in that totally retarded waiting line.
1:47pm.. Off tilt. CBS is airing the game I have money on. Xavier is crawling back and only trails by six. The score is 46-40 with 12:30 to play. In the other games, Kansas leads by 21 and MSU is up by 16.
1:50pm... CBS flashed a stat that the last time a #14 seed beat a #3 seed was when Northwestern State knocked off Iowa in 206. Both of today's teams are inaccurately seeded. Georgia should have been a 10 or 11, while Xavier has been overrated all season. They are a 4 or 5 seed at best.
1:53pm... Xavier cut the lead and only trails by 4 with 11:44pm. There's an "officials timeout" while the zebras figure out how much time should be on the shot clock. The result? CBS takes the opportunity to milk their advertisers. They air a Chevy commercial. All of a sudden, I have an urge to listen to country music and drive a pick up truck.
1:58pm... Failed Dial-a-Shot! AlCantHang texted me ten minutes ago for a DAS. I called back. He answered but the bartender was no where to be found! ACH said he'd call back ASAP for a DAS.
2:01pm... Georgia back up by 7. The Bulldogs ended a 4:40 scoring drought with a three pointer.
2:04pm... 52-49. Xavier tied it up at 49, then they hit a big three to take the lead and erase an 11 point deficit. Less than eight minutes to go.
2:07pm... Successful Dial-a-Shot with AlCantHang. "Next one will be at 4:20," he said.
2:11pm... Interesting stat. Xavier had 14 FT attempts. Georgia has just 2. Usually that smells like the refs are calling cheap fouls on Georgia and letting Xavier get away with a lot of rough play.
2:13pm... With less than five minutes to play, Xavier has a firm grasp on the momentum. The stepped it up on defense. Xavier converted a traditional three point play to open up an 8 point lead. The spread is in jeopardy. Here's when I start pacing frantically for the rest of the game...
2:17pm... With 3:13 left to play, Xavier leads by 5. Commercial time. Based on the apperances of the actors in the McDonalds commercial, the suits at McD's are targeting black people and potheads.
2:20pm... Kansas won the first game of March Madness and advanced to the second round. They routed Portland State 85-61. They also covered the spread. Favorites are 1-0. Michigan State is up 16 with under four minutes to play. They are more than covering.
2:22pm... Xavier leads Georgia by 5 with 2:56 to go. Here's where the final three minutes of play will take forty-eight minutes of real time with fouls, free throws, time outs, commercials, and other unnecessary bullshit.
2:24pm... Two minutes to go and Georgia trails by four.
2:28pm... Moving lines. Marquette opened at a 4.5 favorite over Kentucky. The current line is at -6. The line moved 1.5 in the last 48 hours. The public likes Marquette because Kentucky's Patrick Patterson is out. I had locked in the bet at -5.5. I'm glad that I checked, because I thought I had Marquette -6.
2:30pm... Under a minute to play. Xavier up by seven. Here's where I hope that Georgia doesn't get trigger happy and launch unnecessary three pointers. The result is a long rebound by their opponent followed by a foul. That just adds more points to the deficit. It's always best to try to get a cheap layup. I need points. Any points.
2:34pm... As I feared. Georgia got lazy and launched threes. They missed and Xavier padded the score. So frustrating. Georgia dominated the game for the first 25 minutes. They hung in there for 35 minutes, before their Cinderella story came to an ugly ending.
2:35pm... Michigan State 72, Temple 61. Yeah, a #12 seed lost to a #5 seed. I wonder how many fools picked that one for their pools? Favorites are now 2-0.
2:37pm... Georgia loses by 12. You can flush that ugly bitch of a bet down the toilet. Favorites are now 3-0. I'm 0-1 for the day.Awesome. Nothing is worse than chasing a loss right off the bat.
2:39pm... Kentucky is up 10-6 over Marquette with 15 minutes to go in the first half. I haven't seen one second of the game because CBS is doing their shady coverage where they end a game, run a bunch of commercials, cut to the studio, then go to more commercials before they finally give you live coverage. Then you get like 10 seconds of play before there's a timeout, which means... more commercials.
2:49pm... I got sidetracked the last few minutes reading Change100's recent post about American Idol. I don't watch the show. I have been in the same room when Change100 and her struggling actor roommate, Showcase, religiously watch it. They go nuts. However, they sang Beatles songs the last two weeks, so I was remotely interested since I'm a Beatles fan. Change100 has a great recap called American Idol Wednesdays: The Beatles Redux.
2:51pm... Marquette rallies back and lead Kentucky by 6.
2:53pm... Jay Bilas is announcing the Kentucky/Marquette game. He's a good studio analyst suit, but awful on the floor. It's like eating cold toast.
3:20pm... Sorry for the lack of updates. Just had a phone conversation with the Rooster. He's a cagey mofo.
3:22pm... Four games at once. Hard to keep up. CBS is airing Pitt/Oral Roberts. Pitt has been struggling with Oral Roberts and is only up by two. Marquette up by 3. Purdue up by 5. UNLV is up by double digits.
3:35pm... At halftime, UNLV has a 21 point lead over Kent State. They're looking like the Runnin' Rebs of the early 1990s. Pitt is trying to pull away from Oral. They widened the gap and lead by 13.
3:37pm... Purdue's lead over Baylor is in double digits. The Marquette/Kentucky game is at halftime. Marquette leads by four. I need them to play a strong second half in order to get unstuck for the day.
3:42pm... Second half of the UK/Marquette game under way.
3:47pm... Marquette only up by one. Pitt increased their lead to over 20 with less than two minutes to play in the first half.
4:01pm... Took a short walk outside. Went to the bodega. Came back and discovered that Purdue was leading 46-27 at the half. Marquette is up 7 with under 12 minutes to play. The UNLV game is still a blow out. The Rebs lead by 25.
4:05pm... March Madness Memories: Flashback to 2002. When I worked on Wall Street, there was a March Madness office pool on my floor. First prize was $3,500 in one and $5,000 in the other. One of the secretaries hit the $3,500 one. That was perhaps 1/10th of her yearly take home salary. Of course, the biggest swinging dick of a trader on the floor won the big prize. He blew it all on hookers since he was a total assclown who had to pay women to fuck him.
4:10pm... It's not pretty basketball, but Marquette is holding onto a five point lead with under 8 minutes to go.
4:13pm... Kent State scored just 10 points in the first half. They have scored 20 in the first nine minutes of the second half.
4:20pm... Smoke break.
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4:21pm... Successful Dial-a-Shot with AlCantHang.
4:25pm... Of course every game is a fuckin' blow out, except the Marquette/UK game I decided to bet on. UNLV and Pitt have 20+ point leads and Purdue is up by 17.
4:26pm... Marquette up by 6. Thank god for missed free throws by Kentucky. Less than three minutes to go and looks like I'll be sweating the rest of that game, agonizing over every rebound and missed free throw.
4:35pm... Fuck me. Where's the Kentucky team that lost by 40 points? All of a sudden they look like a Final Four team. Unreal. Marquette by three. Spread is 5.5. I'm in trouble with 36 seconds to go.
4:37pm... Winning March Madness games and winning bets all comes down to last minute free throw shooting. Nothing is sweeter than hearing that "Swish!" sound when your guy is on the line looking to pad the lead. Marquette up by 5.
4:38pm... Kentucky drilled a trey to cut the lead to 2 with twenty seconds left.
4:41pm... On consecutive possessions, UK turned over the ball and then missed a big three. Marquette managed to pad the lead when they hit four clutch free throws with less than 10 seconds remaining.
4:43pm... Marquette 74, Kentucky 66. Final. I got unstuck for the day and improved to 1-1. The favorites are 4-0 so far today.
4:49pm... CBS is airing the Pitt/Oral Roberts game. Pitt is up by 21 with 4:20 to play.
4:59pm... The remaining games were a blow out, so I decided to play poker. I fired up FT and played limit. I won a big pot with 5-5 against A-K. He flopped a King but I rivered a runner-runner straight to win the pot.
5:01pm... UNLV 71, Kent State 58. Final. UNLV was a 1.5 point dog in that game. The favorites are 4-1.
5:04pm... Successful Dial-a-Shot with Mean Gene.
5:08pm... One of my favorite films, Magnolia, is on one of the cable stations. 90210 is playing over on the soap opera network.
5:10pm... Pitt 82, Oral Roberts 63. Final. Favorites are 5-1. Pitt dominated that game, led by Levance Fields who dropped 23 points.
5:11pm... Purdue 90, Baylor 79. Final. Favorites are 6-1. Once again that was another game I considered betting but didn't.
5:14pm... Welcome back, Dr. Chako!
5:15pm... Stanford/Cornell game is underway. Here's how much of a junkie I am. I knew that the Stanford game would be the only on on, so I almost bet that game just to have some sort of action going. I decided against it and played more poker instead.
5:29pm... Stanford is only up by five with 10 minutes left to the half.
5:30pm... Watching Magnolia on the TV and the game online. It's raining frogs on Magnolia Blvd. and all over the Valley.
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5:45pm... My brother called from the office. He's leaving work and taking the subway home to watch the games.
5:52pm... Maybe I should have made that bet on Stanford? They're up by 15 with 1:45 left. Actually, make that up by 17.
6:01pm... Stanford up by 21 at the half. Another blowout. Yet another blowout that I didn't bet on. Nothing is more demoralizing than going on tilt because of bets that you didn't make.
6:17pm... Stanford came out of the locker room fired up and increased their lead to 27.
6:28pm... 33 point blow out. I'm ripping bingers and watching Rachel Ray and 30-Minute Meals instead. She's making some sort of pesto concoction.
6:35pm... Successful Dial-a-Shot with StB. He admitted they he can drive drunk in the snow very well. I guess that's what people do in Milwaukee. Drink and drive in the snow. He wanted me to broker a bet between himself and Professional Keno Player Neil Fontenot who slandered his beloved Badgers referring to them as "cheese eating crackers."
6:50pm... The 7pm ET games are approaching. Here they are:
Duke -20 BelmontI have only one bet... Winthrop. I just think that Wazzu is overrated and will win, but by not that much. On my sheets, I flipped a few of the games. I picked Kansas St. as one of my first round upsets for one sheet. I did the same with Withrop. And with an 8 and 9 seed, it's always a coinflip. That's why I hate betting on them.
USC -3 Kansas St.
Washington St. -9.5 Winthrop
Texas A&M -1.5 Brigham Young
The favorites won most of the games in the afternoon. They also blew out their opponents. Will that trend continue?
7:01pm... Bobby Knight doesn't have to wear a suit and tie for ESPN's Sportscenter. They let him get away with a sweater. Dicky V is try to steal his thunder. Lots of egos on that set.
7:02pm... I'm thinking about pulling the trigger and betting Texas AM.
7:08pm... Stanford 77, Cornell 53. Final. Favorites are 7-1.
7:09pm... Duke/Belmont tipoff. Impending blowout alert.
7:19pm... Daddy wrote in the comments, "At the bar now. Old guy next to me said "he'd suck my dick right off" if Belmont upsets Duke. So, I've got that going for me. Which is nice."
7:20pm... Change100 called for a Dial-a-Bong since it was 4:20pm on the Left Coast.
7:33pm... Belmont tied it up at 22. Wow. Looks like Daddy might get a hummer from that old guy.
7:34pm... Just finished a quick meal. We ordered from the diner. I got the pesto chicken and red peppers panini. I'm bummed out because CBS is airing the DUke/Belmont game. At least it's close. I have to watch the USC/KSU game online. KSU is up by six. Winthrop is up 2.
7:39pm... "Where the fuck is Belmont?" asked Derek. I usually have an answer. I was stumped. I looked it up...
Belmont University is a private, coeducational, liberal arts university located in Nashville, Tennessee. It is the largest Christian university in Tennessee and the second largest private university in the state. Noteworthy alumni include that Melinda Doolittle chick from American Idol7:40pm... Watching KSU/USC online. KSU is up by seven with nine minutes to go.
7:51pm... With Beasley on the bench, KSU increased their lead to 10. Belmont is hanging tough with Duke. And Winthrop is staying close.
7:58pm... Beasley back in despite being in foul trouble. He went right to the hole and picked up a three point play. KSU back up by 10.
8:04pm... Duke up by 7 at halftime against the happy Christians. Winthrop and Washington State are tied. Texas A&M is up by 10 against BYU.
8:07pm... Derek grumbled... "We don't get any of the USC/Kansas State game. But we get to watch the end of the Texas AM/BYU game. Thanks a lot CBS. You fuckin' suck."
8:27pm... Beasley scored KSU's first points of the second half. He has 8 points and 4 rebounds. OJ Mayo has nine points. They are both around their averages (so far), but have not done anything too impressive. Beasley has been in foul trouble and Mayo has four turnovers.
8:33pm... Duke tried to pull away, but Belmont went on a 9-0 run to get within one. Winthrop is pitching shutout in the second half, as Wazzu is up seven.
8:41pm... Belmont takes the lead. Daddy is on the verge of getting sucked off by an old man.
8:51pm... Here's my setup. Derek is rockin' it with two TVs...
8:58pm... Winthrop not looking good. Belmont is making it a game. Those Belmont cheerleaders are not bad eye candy. I figured they were good girls who didn't smoke, drink, or have pre-martial sex. But maybe a few were rouge's liked to walk on the wild side and give out handjobs to strangers?
9:10pm... Belmont takes the lead with under two minutes to go. Coach K must be furious with his Duke crew. I'd rather watch the KSU/USC game, but at least the Duke game is exciting.
9:12pm... Washington State 71, Winthrop 40. Final. Favorite are 8-1. Miami Don was right. I slipped to 1-2 for the day.
9:13pm... KSU is coasting with a 14 point lead thanks to Beasley's 23 points and 11 rebounds.
9:15pm... Belmont blew it. Daddy's potential blow job seems futile.
9:20pm... Duke lucky, Belmont not. Final. Favorites are 8-2.
9:22pm... Texas A&M and BYU were coming down to crunch time. A&M up by 4 with four to go.
9:23pm... Kansas State 80, USC 67. Final. Favorites 8-3. First upset of March Madness, eh? Kudos to KSU for playing tough without Beasley for most of the first half. And when Beasley played, he stepped it up. Super frosh OJ Mayo dropped 20 and had five assists in a losing cause for USC.
9:33pm... Texas A&M 67, BYU 62. Final. Favorites went 8-4. I won that bet to get unstuck for the day. I'm 2-2.
9:38pm... So I'm 2-2 with a pending bet on Notre Dame. Of course, with my tainted luck the Fighting Irish will become history's goat as the sole #5 seed that went down to a #12. The late games are always a great chance for losing bettors to get unstuck for the day. Tonight's action includes a #1 seed UCLA who is a 4.5 touchdown favorite over MVS.
(3) Wisconsin -11.5 (14) Cal St. Fullerton9:57pm... Cal State Fullerton out to an early lead. Well, how about that. All I care about is Notre Dame. They are up 13.
(7) West Virginia -2 (10) Arizona
(5) Notre Dame -6.5 (12) George Mason
(1) UCLA -32 (16) Mississippi Valley State
10:11pm... Update on my pools... I'm 9-3 for Tao of Poker pool and for Pauly's Pub I'm 10-2 and 9-3.
10:36pm... At Halftime, ND is up by 12 and Wisconsin is up by 2. UCLA is up by 25. Wow. Blowout.
10:59pm... I had to step outside and get some fresh air during halftime. After ten plus hours of partying, I felt sleepy. The short walk woke me up. I came back and realized there were two close games and two blowouts. I finally was betting on the good side of the blowout. Let's hope that Notre Dame can hold off George Mason in the second half.
11:11pm... Professional Keno Player Neil Fontenot called and explained more on why he was such a big backer of Cal State Fullerton. "My daughter is 17 and she said that she wanted to go to college next year, some place like UNLV. I thought that was great, as long as she didn't end up a striper like her crazy bitch of a mother. Her grades aren't good enough to get into some of the better California state schools, especially with her arrest record and all, but she has a shot at Cal State Fullerton. I wanted her to go to a school that had a good basketball program."
11:18pm... Wisconsin started to look like a #3 seed. They went on a run to take an 11 point lead. Notre Dame is coasting to a 16 point lead. West Virginia pulled out to a lead once the second half started. And UCLA game? Still a blowout. The question at this point is not if they will win, rather, if they will cover?
11:33pm... Notre Dame up by 16 with two minutes to go. My final bet of the day is looking good. Just hoping for a strong finish. UCLA is up by 30+ while Love leads the way with 20 points and 9 rebounds... with 10 minutes to go in the game.
11:38pm... Notre Dame 68, George Mason 50. Final. Favorites are now 9-4. #12 seeds are 0-2 versus #5 seeds. I improved to 3-2 for the day. Weeeeeeeeee! Unstuck.
11:50pm... Approaching midnight. Been live blogging for almost twelve hours. I forgot how hard and mentally draining this was. However, it was a blast for sure. Three more games to go. All of them are in the final stretch. They should all be over soon.
11:56pm... Wisconsin 71, Cal State Fullerton 56. Final. Favorites are 10-4.
11:57pm... West Virgina 75, Arizona 65. Final. Favorites are 11-4.
11:58pm... UCLA 70, MVS 29. That's no typo. It's a final. Favorites finished off the day 12-4.
12:01am... That's it for today. It was an exciting day because it was the first day. Lots of blow outs. The day was not without one big upset with Kansas State knocking off USC. The biggest story was the almost upset of Duke by Belmont. I'll be back tomorrow in about twelve hours for Friday's games.
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