March Madness ‘Upsets’ No Huge Surprise: Bookmaker

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March Madness ‘Upsets’ No Huge Surprise: Bookmaker
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With top March Madness favorites like Arizona, Purdue and Kansas already eliminated from The Big Dance this year, upsets seem normal.

These games have thrown a wrench into everything from March Madness betting to office brackets.

What’s going on in college basketball? asked Las Vegas handicapper Casey Lewless, now managing Penn Entertainment sportsbooks in Louisiana, to assess the bracket busters so far this year. 

Below is his answer, with some suggestions for improving the college game.

5 Ways To Improve College Basketball

We are in the midst of figuring out the best chances to win March Madness, and all I hear is “upset this and upset that.” 

But are these really upsets?

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Let’s break down the game I love which is college basketball and examine whether these early “upsets” are really a surprise.

Here are the things that got us to where we are:

  1. The officials appear to be younger but not better. When the players only get five fouls, that’s a factor.
  2. All of a sudden coaching at the D-1 level has become almost nonexistent. Undisciplined play and stupid mistakes are everywhere.
  3. Teams like Furman, Princeton or Florida Atlantic would beat the Power 5 schools 3-4 times out of 10 in the regular season, but the Power 5 schools won’t play them — or the smaller schools have to go to places like Chapel Hill. That being said, there are fewer nonconference games for Power 5s nowadays because of larger conference schedules.
  4. Do spectators want to see the best play the best? Of course, they do, but for some reason, the NCAA seems reluctant to add a sixth foul. I’m not saying the NCAA needs to be like the NBA, but this would help teams that aren’t as deep.
  5. One of the biggest factors in college basketball is the transfer portal. Basically, free agency now exists in college sports with no salary cap, thanks to NIL money. Team depth is rare. Most good teams are a solid 1-7, but the 8-12 players enter the portal and move on for perceived greener pastures. When the coaches look down their benches, there isn’t much. This past weekend, who really went deep on their benches.

So I say again, were these really upsets?

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Larry Henry

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