Why yes, it's 4:15am, and I'm writing a gambling column for the Big East Tournament. But don't you dare call me a degenerate... save that for Erick Lindgren. Remember, everything below is all theoretical, because sports betting is illegal in Florida. Yup.
I consider the first day of the Big East Tournament meaningless, so the wagering starts now. I also consider myself somewhat of an expert on basketball, so how hard is 11-0 to come by for someone that's seen a ton of Big East play this year?? Though I think it's pretty much impossible, let's find out together! All lines courtesy of the Yahoo app on my phone, because no one from Yahoo is in jail for bank fraud. and sports books actually pay you if you win, unlike Full Tilt Poker scumbags such as Chris Ferguson and Howard Lederer. Enjoy playing heads-up PLO on that bullet train to hell you bastards.
12pm UConn -1 over West Fuckin' Virginia:
I know Kevin Jones is an absolute beast, but I think Jeremy Lamb might be the best guard in the league. He can single-handedly carry a team better than anyone on either one of these squads, and he basked in the Kemba Glory last year, so he knows what it takes to put a team on your back and drag them late in the week in this tournament. When it's close, go with the team that has the best player, and for me that's Lamb. Plus Deniz Kilicli scares me as well as all small children. I'm going to assume most referees are fathers, so that's not going to help him get calls.
2:30pm Georgetown -5 over Pitt
Pitt sucks. They are terrible on top of horrible with a lot of bad mixed in, and it's not fair that Trey Woodall and Ashton Gibbs have to put up with this pile of horrendous. Meanwhile, Georgetown does all the things that Pitt doesn't this year. Like play defense, rebound, and work hard on both ends. This isn't JT3's best team, but it might be his most consistent. If it's close late, advantage Jamie Dixon for sure as G'Town can spit out a lead like no one outside of Rick Barnes' Texas... but I don't think it happens. Hoyas in a walk.
The late games haven't posted yet, but when they do I'll get predictions up here. If I'm guessing it's probably in the neighborhood of Louisville -6, and USF -5 (which means we like Seton Hall and the Bulls), but no formal guesses until that's official. We take our fake gambling very seriously around here.
Real gambling story worth sharing here: I was in Vegas for Duke vs. UConn in '04 for the Final Four. I had Duke +2.5, which didn't look good with 3.2 seconds left and Emeka Okafor on the line shooting two. He missed the first, but made second to give the Huskies a 79-75 advantage. But Chris Duhon heaved up a meaningless 40 footer, and BANKED IT IN to give the Blue Devils the greatest backdoor cover in the history of college basketball. It remains the greatest sports betting moment of my life. I think I had all of $100 on the game, but the sports book in the Paris let out the loudest roar I've ever heard indoors. There were UConn bettors IN LINE to cash their ticket. Everyone in our group had Duke, so we all went absolutely batshit. I hugged some guy I didn't even know. To be on the winning side of that bet was one of my favorite gambling moments ever, but the image I remember is a guy at the table next to us. He had his hands interlocked over his head, and could have replaced the ski jumper on the ABC Wide World of Sports intro when Jim McKay says "the agony of defeat." Oh sports betting, you are such a cruel mistress.
Enjoy the early games, folks.
Seton Hall +4 over Louisville.
I hate this line because it looks pretty pure and seems like a coin flip, but I just have no faith in this Louisville team. They don't do anything well besides have Peyton Siva drive the lane, and if you follow guys like @Mengus22, @CardChronicle and @ulhothot on Twitter (and if you don't, you should, all are outstanding), you know the knockdown shooters needed in Pitino's offense just haven't made shots consistently all year. This results in tremendous Twitter comedy. I'm not a big Jordan Theodore fan (his massive free throw choke vs. USF was supplemented with him putting his finger to his lips to silence the USF student section earlier in the game... how'd that work out for him?), but he can handle it against the press, as well as create his own shot. Gimme The Hall and the wood, but for contest purposes only.
USF -2.5 over Villanova.
We beat them by 17 and 14 already this year, and that myth about it being hard to be a team three times in a season... yeah it's not born out by the stats. 'Nova played well last night, especially in the second half, as well as showed some mental toughness digging out of a hole against Rutgers. But their front court still sucks, they can't rebound against USF, and the Bulls should be able to dictate pace. USF ranks 342 out of 344 teams in possessions per game... much of that borne out by Anthony Collins standing around dribbling 30 feet from the basket. Expect him to do that a lot, and keep the ball out of Nova's hands. Maalik Wayns should be productive, but the lack of firepower up front should doom the 'Cats.