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Tournament Madness - The Sweet 16 is Set

3-22-09

College Basketball Tournament Update

After the first two rounds of March Madness most of the top seeds are still alive, but college basketball betting fans have still had plenty of upsets to pad their bankroll if they made the right choice.

(click here for your printable March Madness bracket)

The highest seed to make an early exit in the Big Dance was No. 4 Wake Forest. The Demon Deacons had been ranked No. 1 in the nation earlier this season, but they completely bombed versus No. 13 Cleveland State in the opening round. Wake Forest was a 7.5-point favorite on the college basketball odds in an 84-69 loss. Cleveland State’s Cinderella story proved to be a short one as the clock struck midnight for them in the second round. The Vikings couldn’t keep up with Arizona in a 71-57 loss as a 3-point underdog.

Wake Forest may have been the highest seed to be upset, but they weren’t the biggest favorite on the college basketball odds to get knocked out early on. That distinction goes to the No. 6 seed West Virginia Mountaineers. West Virginia was a 10-point favorite in their tourney opener against Dayton, but it was the Flyers who moved on with a 68-60 upset win. The Flyers’ luck ran out in the second round, through, as they were shown the door by defending champs Kansas, 60-43 as an 8-point underdog.

The biggest letdown in the first round came from the No. 5 seeds. Only one No. 5 seed made it past the first round, with Purdue taking care of No. 12 Northern Iowa 61-56. The Boilermakers also advanced to the Sweet 16 after edging Washington 76-74 in the second round. The other three No. 5 seeds - Florida State, Illinois, and Utah - all crashed and burned in the first round. The Seminoles lost to Wisconsin 61-59 as a 3-point favorite, Utah fell to Arizona 84-71 as a 1.5-point favorite, and No. 12 Western Kentucky pulled off their second-straight upset of a No. 5 with a 76-72 win over Illinois as a 5.5-point ‘dog.

All four No. 1 seeds survived to make the Sweet 16, but they didn’t all have an easy time getting there. And they weren’t all kind to bettors who took them ATS in the first two rounds. North Carolina and Connecticut both had no trouble with their first two opponents, as they breezed through the first two rounds and covered the spread in both wins. The Tar Heels ripped No. 16 seed Radford 101-58 as a 25.5-point favorite and then pounded LSU 84-70 as a 12.5-point favorite. The Huskies set a record in the first round after completely destroying Chattanooga 103-47 as a 20.5-point favorite. They continued to coast against Texas A&M in a 92-66 win as 9.5-point favorites.

The other two No. 1 seeds, Louisville and Pittsburgh, disappointed bettors in the first two rounds. The Cardinals trounced Morehead State 74-54, but failed to cover the 21.5-point spread. In the second round Louisville almost blew it against Siena before coming on late in the second half in a 79-72 win - but they still failed to cover the 12-point spread. The Panthers were also 0-2 ATS after a 72-62 win over East Tennessee State as 20.5-point favorites and an 84-76 win over Oklahoma State as a 9.5-point favorite.

The lowest seed still alive in the Big Dance is No. 12 seed Arizona in the Midwest. In fact, the Wildcats are the only remaining seed lower than a No. 5. The Wildcats’ journey through the tournament so far has included an 84-71 upset win over No. 5 Utah as a 1.5-point underdog and a 71-57 win over giant killers Cleveland State as a 3-point favorite. To advance even further into the tourney the Wildcats will need to knock off overall No. 1 seed Louisville in the Sweet 16.
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