Dave’s Free Play, Friday 3/21/14

  • March 21, 2014

All I can say is that if the first full day of this year’s NCAA Tournament is a harbinger of things to come, this could be one of the most amazing events seen in some time. What an incredible first day of action. Dayton upsets Ohio State in a thriller. UConn and San Diego State barely survive with OT wins, and Oklahoma gets kayoed in the its extra session with North Dakota State. St. Louis rallies to force OT with NC State and the Billikens pull out a game that featured some of the worst foul shooting you’ll ever see. Texas wins at the wire in a phenomenal game with Arizona State. Harvard nails an upset for the second straight season. Manhattan throws a massive scare into Louisville before finally getting nipped. Am I leaving anything out?

There were some impressive blowouts as well. Syracuse overwhelmed Western Michigan in the best Orange effort in quite some time. Pittsburgh destroyed an outmanned Colorado squad. Oregon was the big smile of the day for the bettors, as they relentlessly pounded the Ducks with both fists and got paid off in the process. I’m leaving out a few games, but the point is made. A remarkable day of results, and I’m not sure there’s any way today’s 16-game card can match it.

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Wisconsin was good for me, a much needed rockin’ chair winner. I still can’t win a close game, but I feel as though my reads are getting back into form, and the good results should follow. A good probability of five plays today, with a mix of chalk and pups.

Baseball begins this weekend with the inane two-game set between the Dodgers and Diamondbacks in Australia. I really don’t see myself getting involved in either game, but I know I loath this whole idea. Here’s a game that sells itself on tradition. I know that’s the word that immediately comes to mind when I hear Opening Day and Australia in the same sentence. What a crock.

But the main thing is that baseball is here, and so is a dynamite April special that will include a guarantee. I’ll have that added to the “buy now” tab within the next 24 or so hours, but in the meantime, just email me at cokin@cox.net for the complete details.

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The free play on Friday missed as Florida never really got it rolling against an Albany team that played very well, and obviously better than I thought they would. A much shorter favorite is the Friday comp.

03/21 04:20 PM  CB   (841) PROVIDENCE (842) NORTH CAROLINA

Take: (842) NORTH CAROLINA -4

The Providence College Friars are one of the great stories this season in all of college basketball. Despite having virtually no depth and being stuck on the wrong side of the bubble, the Friars won their way into the Dance with an awesome, determined performance in the Big East tournament.

North Carolina was supposed to be a Top 10 team in the minds of many observers. That didn’t happen, and the Tar Heels have been a flawed entry all season. They aren’t good from the outside, and they’re awful at the stripe. But this team did come on late. I don’t put much stock into what was effectively a meaningless loss to Pitt in the ACC tourney, and losing at Duke prior to that was no disgrace. UNC had won 12 straight prior to the two losses, so I consider them to be sharp enough coming in.

There’s no doubt that if this turns into a free throw contest, Providence is the probable winner. But I don’t see this as a favorable matchup for the Friars. PC shoots a decent percentage from the outside, but that’s not really their game. They’re actually not a good shooting team inside the arc. But the Friars are a dynamo on the offensive glass, and when they can get to the line, they’re absolutely deadly.

Unfortunately for Providence, aside from the free throws, North Carolina thrives on many of the same elements as the Friars, and that’s not a great thing for Providence. UNC can go a little deeper than the Friars, so while it’s not a wipeout on the depth chart, I see that element slightly favoring North Carolina.

More than anything, I just don’t know what can be left in the Providence tank. Yes, they’ve had some time to recover from the enormous effort last weekend in the Big East tourney. But I have to think North Carolina is still the fresher team, and that as much as anything else is what’s pointing me in the direction of the Tar Heels.

The number on this game is right where I thought it would be, so this is not a value assessment. For me, it’s more about the Tar Heels perhaps having more energy and also being able to take away some of what the Friars do to win games. I don’t see this easy, but North Carolina minus the points is the choice.