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March-19-2008,
65 Facts about the Madness, 2008...By Jay Graziani

This is the first year since 1980 that neither of the previous year's finalists managed to make the cutoff for the field of 64. Here are 64 more facts, one for each of the teams lucky enough to make the NCAA tournament field this year.

EAST

The biggest "home field advantage" goes to North Carolina, who has the opportunity to potentially play their first 4 games in their home state.

Mount St. Mary's has won 9 of their last 10, but is 0-2 lifetime in the NCAA tournament.

Indiana doesn't exactly have momentum on their side - interim coach Dan Dakich is only 3-3 since taking over (and 1-5 against the spread).

Arkansas is 1-9 against the spread in their last 10 games as an underdog, and has failed to cover in 4 straight tournament appearances.

The long range specialists of this year's tournament are Notre Dame, as they manage to sink 42.5% of their 3-point shots, highest of all teams in the tournament.

Call them the Kings of March - George Mason has covered 5 of their last 6 NCAA tournament games.

While Washington State finished third in the tough PAC-10 conference, they were a pathetic 0-5 against league leaders UCLA and Stanford.

Watch for Winthrop to create turnovers - guard Chris Gaynor is 2nd in the nation in steals.

Oklahoma has been keeping the scoring low - unders are on a 7-0 run for them, and they are on a 5-1 under streak in their last 6 non-conference games.

Home sweet home? Not for St Joe's, whose 13-7 road mark tops their home record, including 4-1 on neutral courts.

The top shooter in the tournament is Louisville's David Padgett. He shoots over 67% from the field.

The worst defense belongs to Boise State, who allows over 75 points per game.

While a number of teams are being heavily backed by the public, Butler seems to be the soup du jour of the first round. Four different "ticket counts" had Butler receiving a consensus 88% of wagers.

South Alabama was an impressive 5-0 against the spread this season when facing teams that made this year's field of 65.

Tennessee is one team that does not wear the "favorite" tag well. They are 4-17-1 against the spread in their last 22 neutral site games as a favorite, and 1-5-1 against the spread in their last 7 NCAA tournament appearances as a favorite.

American is on a hot streak coming into the tournament - they have won 10 of their last 11.

MIDWEST

The best shooters are Kansas, with a 50.5% field goal percentage.

Portland State is 16-2 in their last 18 and making their first tournament appearance of all time.

UNLV is 23-8-1 (74%) against the spread in their last 32 games outside the Mountain West Conference.

Kent St. won both the MAC regular season and conference titles, with a 16-0 home record and a 4-1 neutral site mark.

Clemson may be the most dangerous team in the tourney - they took UNC to overtime twice this year and split their season series with Duke.

Villanova has had trouble beating the total, going 19-10 for the under this season, and 5-1 under in their last 6 NCAA tourney games.

Vanderbilt wishes they were playing in Nashville. They are 19-0 at home this year, but only 7-7 on the road or at neutral sites.

"I wish I was a little bit taller". Siena has no players taller than 6'7", one big reason they rank 308th nationally in rebounding margin.

The USC Trojans are out to prove the dominance of the PAC-10 - they are 20-8 against the spread in their last 28 non-conference games.

The most prolific regular-season scorer to make it into the tournament is Michael Beasley from Kansas State, averaging 26.5 points per game. He is also the best rebounder in the nation.

Wisconsin allows less scoring than any tourney team, under 54 points per game on average.

Cal State Fullerton has been on fire, winning 10 of their past 11, with the same record against the spread.

You can always count on Gonzaga to run up the score in the tourney. They are 10-4 to the over in their last 14 NCAA tournament games.

The most likely "upset" this year is 10-seed Davidson over Gonzaga. They are the worst seed to be favored (-2) on the betting line and get to play close to home.

Georgetown is the worst team for shooters to face, allowing only a measley 36.7% of their opponents' field goals to fall in.

UMBC might be making their first tournament appearance, but they are on a roll, having won 12 of their past 13.

SOUTH

The worst tournament team from the line? Memphis, of course, at under 59%.

Texas-Arlington sported a pathetic 7-9 conference record before sweeping their way through their conference tournament.

The guy you least want to meet in the paint is Mississippi State forward Jarvis Varnando. He leads the nation in blocks with 148.

Oregon leads the strong PAC-10 in three point percentage and three-pointers per game.

Michigan State is perennially one of the strongest teams in the tournament. They have gone 41-20 in 21 appearances, and coach Tom Izzo sports a 24-9 record in his 10 tournament showings.

Temple has struggled against Big 10 opponents, going 1-4 against the spread in their last 5.

Pittsburgh carries one of the most impressive tournament resumes, including wins against Duke and Louisville, and a pair of wins against 2-seed Georgetown.

Oral Roberts is in the tourney for the third consecutive year, although they have had little success, with a 2-4 record overall and 0-2 under current coach Scott Sutton.

Marquette's defense is worth watching, as they average almost 10 steals a game.

Kentucky has some serious against-the-spread trends working for them, as they are 9-1-1 in their last 11 versus Big East teams, and 4-1 in their last 5 games as an underdog.

On the flip side, Stanford has some mojo working against them in this game. They are 1-5 against the spread in their last 6 games as favorites of 13 or more, and 1-4 in their last 5 NCAA tournament games.

The best free throw shooting team is Cornell at over 76% on the year.

Miami looks to be underrated, with wins against Duke and Clemson and a 15-7-3 against the spread record this year.

The best under team is Saint Mary's (CA), who have seen 67% of their games stay under the posted total.

Texas has already beaten many of the real contenders this year, including Kansas, Tennessee, and UCLA.

The worst team against the spread this year, if you ignore teams with less than 5 lined games: Austin Peay, at a sad 11-17-4 versus the number, despite, going 24-10 outright.

WEST

The "due" factor plays to UCLA this year, as they reached the Final Four the past two years without walking away with a title.

Mississippi Valley State is the lowest scoring team in the tournament, averaging less than 63 points per game.

BYU has not won an NCAA tournament game since 1993, and are 11-25 lifetime in the Big Dance.

The Texas A&M Aggies lost 5 of their last 7 regular season games, but are 4-1 against the spread in their last 5 NCAA tourney games.

The team with the best performance against the spread is Drake, who put together a 20-7-1 record against the number for 74% covers on the year.

The smartest program? Western Kentucky is the only tournament team to have a 100% graduation rate in a recent 6-year study.

The forces are aligning against Connecticut. They are 3-14 against the spread in their past 17 as a favorite at a neutral site, and are 0-6 in their last 6 NCAA tournament games.

Not only has San Diego beaten Kentucky, Gonzaga, and St Mary's this year, they are also 21-9 against the spread overall.

Purdue wins with defense, which is why they are 8-1 to the under in their last 9 games as a favorite.

The best "over" team is Baylor, at 18-6 overs on the year.

Xavier has rewarded its tournament backers with a 6-1 against the spread record in their last 7 NCAA tournament games.

While Georgia gets a lot of press for winning 4 games in 4 days to win the SEC tournament, they also only won a total of 4 conference games prior to that.

West Virginia is another strong tournament team, going 6-0-1 in their past 7 against the spread.

Unfortunately, Arizona is just as strong in tournament situations, going 6-1 in their past 7.

Duke is in possession of the most potent offense in the tourney, with a team that averages over 84 points per game.

Belmont may well be the hottest team in the tourney. They've won 18 of their past 20 including 13 straight, and this is their third consecutive appearance in the tournament, although they were crushed in their previous two appearances (both as 15 seeds) by a combined 59 points.

3-19-08
Jay Graziani
MajorWager.com
graziani@majorwager.com

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