Submitted by Wayne Root on Friday, February 12, 2016 at 1:00 PM
In mid-February, it’s natural for WAYNE ALLYN ROOT to start thinking about possible Cinderella’s in the Big Dance. The NCAA’s are just a month away. And, we’re in a part of the schedule where some very nice teams start to play with fire and build confidence.
The subset of teams I want to talk about today are those just outside of the Top 25 in the Associated Press poll. A lot of handicappers and bettors tend to tune out the rankings because we’re focused on our own Power Ratings, Computer Ratings, or the various trends and angles we use to pick winners. But, the kids themselves watch the polls. The very best want to make a run at #1. The next tier wants to make a run at the Top 10. Then, there’s a group that feels disrespected because they’re not ranked.
You saw the Indiana Hoosiers dismantle the Iowa Hawkeyes for a statement win Thursday night. Indiana is very much in the race to WIN the respected Big 10 even though they’d be at #27 in the poll based on current voting if the rankings went that far. You just KNEW the Hoosiers were mad about that “poll disrespect”…and wanted to do something about it on ESPN.
If you watched, you know that Indiana basically won TWO blowouts! Peak enthusiasm helped them jump out to a big early lead. Strong Iowa did manage to come back and make it a game. Indiana regrouped to pull away for the win and cover.
This after “#26” South Carolina won and covered in a big TV game over LSU earlier this week. The Gamecocks are very much in the SEC race even though the media is paying more attention to Kentucky, Texas A&M, and even LSU because of Ben Simmons.
And, this after “#28” Notre Dame stunned North Carolina at home last Saturday night. The Irish were even further off the rankings radar when that game was played. It took the upset to launch them up to #28 in the voting. In all of these cases a rabid home crowd helped inspire a team that was already intent on making a TV statement. Great combination to have!
Oh, we can’t forget Duke at “#29.” They scored a Big Monday home win over Louisville even though the Cardinals only have a regular season title to play for after putting themselves on probation. Obviously the crowd was up for that one…because Duke students stay in line for hours just to get in and be a part of the experience.
So…that’s Iowa, South Carolina, Notre Dame, and Duke who all have big home TV wins this week from outside the Top 25. I’ll be very interested to see if they can keep that focus and intensity going through the weekend. Amazingly, ALL FOUR of those teams are once again playing big TV games against ranked opponents.
Duke hosts #7 Virginia Saturday
Notre Dame hosts #13 Louisville Saturday
South Carolina hosts #22 (but red hot) Kentucky Saturday
Indiana visits #8 Michigan State Sunday
If Duke beats Louisville and Virginia in a five-day span, you HAVE to take the defending National Champs seriously in the Dance no matter how sluggish they were looking several days ago. If defending Final Four team Notre Dame beats North Carolina and Louisville on back-to-back Saturdays, that’s going to be a tremendous confidence boost for their new contributors. If South Carolina can take down LSU and Kentucky within a week…particularly as hot as Kentucky’s been…the Gamecocks have to be on your radar as a danger team next month. And…if Indiana can go on the ROAD to add Sparty’s scalp…there’s going to be a lot to like about the Hoosiers come Dance time.
This year in particular, many of the teams in the 25-40 range in poll and computer rankings will have a real shot to run the table. The elite just isn’t very elite right now in terms of distance from the pack. It could be another instance where none of the four #1 seeds reach the Final Four. And, we may have another Wichita State/VCU type situation where a mid-major does go that far.
As you’re betting day-by-day in Las Vegas right now, remember that every game is a handicapping tool for picking winners down the stretch and in the postseason. Don’t watch the games to root for your bets. Watch the games so you can pick more winners!
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Have a great weekend. The TV schedule is LOADED because football is over and the networks want your eyeballs! Watch, learn, and win so you can make this your best MARCH MADNESS ever. Use your winnings from our Denver and Under Super Bowl sweep to keep piling up your profits. I’m the only man in the sports betting industry with a star on the “Walk of Fame” here in Las Vegas because I win in ALL sports! It’s time for you to go to W.A.R. alongside WAYNE ALLYN ROOT!