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Home / Articles / Mike Handzelek's March Madness Opening Week Analysis/Review

Mike Handzelek's March Madness Opening Week Analysis/Review

By: Point Shaver Handzelek
Date: Mar 19, 2018
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Sunday, March 18, 2018 Florida State vs. Xavier (NCAAB) - 8:40 PM EDT Premium Pick Pick: Money Line: -236 Xavier Pick Title: 10 Star Strongest Play On The Board (LOSS) This would have been an ATS selection until we find the public super-heavy (91%) on the X-Men as well as finding Xavier (RPI ranked 3rd) 24-6-2 ATS the last 32 NCAA Tournament games & Florida State (RPI ranked 54th) just 1-5 ATS their last 6 in the Big Dance. These teams faced each other last season with the Musketeers cruising to a 91-66 win after enjoying a FG% edge of 55-40 over the Seminoles. However, don't look for Florida State to get 42 more points from their bench like they enjoyed versus Missouri on Friday. The Tigers couldn't hit the broad side of a barn shooting 32.7% in a 67-54 loss to FSU. Even though revenge games do carry some merit for a closer contest, the talent edge is too great here for an outright upset. Xavier's J.P. Macura (12.7 PPG) moved into 19th place on the program's all-time scoring list after registering a game-high 29 in that 102-83 rout of Texas Southern. Team dominator Trevon Bluitt (who ranks 2nd on the X-Men all-time scoring list with 2,253 points) needs 1 more 3-pointer to top the most 3-pointers in 1 season in program history @ 105. In addition, Kerem Kanter tied his career high with 24 Friday despite playing only 20 minutes. Look for the X-Men to continue their SU winning ways as they got hot @ the right time winning 12 of 13 (loss to Villanova) to finish the regular season. I have Gonzaga marching on to the Final 4 in this West Regional but still wouldn't be shocked if Xavier wins up beating NC in the Elite 8. For this matchup, carrying heavy merit is the Musketeers ruling night games this season going an eye-opening 19-2 SU. FSU also comes in struggling from the FT line hitting just 68.8% compared to Xavier's 78.5%. Despite their bright spot with Terance Mann (12.8 PPG), he'll be coming into to this one with a groin injury. HC Chris Mack is out to tie the school record for team wins in a season with 30. I believe he can exploit an FSU defense that struggled in the ACC giving up 80.6 PPG. The X-Men proved they can beat stiff competition after knocking off Micky Cronin's Cincinnati entry (RPI of 6) earlier by an impressive 89-76. The ONLY way to go here (due to horrible line value) is to take the XAVIER MUSKETEERS SU as my 10 Star Strongest Play On The Board! Saturday, March 17, 2018 Seton Hall vs. Kansas (NCAAB) - 7:10 PM EDT Premium Pick Pick: Money Line: -200 Kansas Pick Title: Saturday's Outclasser (WIN) The Kansas Jayhawks are a seasoned-veteran team that's beaten Kentucky along the way to a 28-7 current record. HC Bill Self has a wealth of talent with Devonte' Graham (17.6 PPG, 4 RPG, 7.2 APG), Sviatoslav Mykhailluk (15.3 PPG, 4.1 RPG & a deadly 45.1% from 3-pt land) & Udoka Azubulke (13.7 PPG, 7.1 RPG & 1.7 BPG). Kansas did take yet another Big 12 regular season title but not quite in their usual dominating fashion this year. They were pushed a bit by Texas Tech & West Virginia to get hot down the stretch. The Jayhawks have enough size and can consistently hit from 3 (39.8%-2nd in Big 12) averaging 10 a game. HC Kevin Willard & his Pirates (lost to Rutgers earlier) will find that the Chalk-Talk Jayhawks are a good step up in class from facing North Carolina State & wither here in the end. Ohio State vs. Gonzaga (NCAAB) - 7:45 PM EDT Premium Pick Pick: Money Line: -165 Gonzaga Pick Title: Saturday's True Final 4 Hunter (WIN) Even though Arizona busted my perfect Final 4 bracket, Gonzaga is very much alive. The 17-1 West Coast Conference winner (31-4 overall) have experience from last season. Look for Johnathan Williams (13.5 PPG, 8.3 RPG), Killian Tillie (13.4 PPG, 6 RPG) & Josh Perkins (12.4 PPG, 5.4 APG) to lead a balanced attack (6 players average from 9.5 to 13.5 PPG) for HC Mark Few who has taken the Bulldogs to their 19th consecutive NCAA tournament appearance in as many years he was there. This team can score! They average 84.5 PPG & should make a serious run in getting back to the National Championship game. Even though OSU's Keita Bates-Diop (returned strong from injury last season) lead the team in scoring (19.4 PPG, 8.8 RPG) for Chris Holtmann. Will gladly take the Zags versus the Buckeyes (given more flaws) who were blown out 79-56 by Penn State just a few weeks back. Loyola Chicago vs. Tennessee (NCAAB) - 6:10 PM EDT Premium Pick Pick: Point Spread: 5.5/-110 Loyola Chicago Pick Title: Saturday's #1 Live Dog (WIN) No disrespect to HC Rick Barnes (31st season overall & 3rd with Vols) & Tennessee (3rd-seeded & an RPI of 8) here as the Ramblers continue to get disrespected. HC Porter Moser's (14th season) Missouri Valley Conference entry (seeded 11th) not only shoot a hefty 50.6% & 39.8% from long-range, they have a well-balanced offensive attack led by Clayton Custer (52.2 FG%, 13.4 PPG) who shoots a deadly 45.1% from 3. Marques Townes can also bang'em home from beyond the arc (40.3%) & has consistently hit in double-digits (11.2 PPG). Rounding out the trifecta for Loyola Chicago is Aundre Jackson (10.9 PPG) who scored 12 versus Miami & hits a very high percentage (57.3%) from the floor. In addition, Freshman center Cameron Krutwig cannot be left alone underneath since he also averages double-digits (10.5 PPG) & connects @ 60.3% from the field. The Volunteers (looking to make the Sweet 16 for the 1st time since 1985) have talent with a great defense & the scoring of Junior forward Admiral Sconfield (19.7 PPG over the last 7) while leading the team in rebounding @ 6.5 RPG. I feel the Ramblers are a "Live Dog" here as they look to break a school team wins in a season record of which they are currently tied. The 1962-63 NCAA Championship team also had 29 wins. Remember, this game starts in the day (6 PM) where Loyola Chicago has posted a 19-1 SU record. Where are we playing them? I'll take the Ramblers here to stay competitive as we play them @ a +8 & pretty much force the Vols to win by double-digits. Friday, March 16, 2018 New Mexico State vs. Clemson (NCAAB) - 9:55 PM EDT Premium Pick Pick: Money Line: -202 Clemson Pick Title: Friday Under The Radar Play (WIN) Don't write off Brad Brownell & his Tigers (set a program record for most ACC wins with 11) just yet! With an RPI of 11 & a win over defending champ North Carolina, look for Marcquise Reed to supply enough firepower to outlast a poorer perimeter squad (32% from 3-pt range) in New Mexico State. Bucknell vs. Michigan State (NCAAB) - 7:10 PM EDT Premium Pick Pick: Point Spread: 14.5/-110 Bucknell Pick Title: Friday Points Are Golden Play (WIN) The Bucknell Bison have a very good senior-laden team coming out of the Patriot League. They come in with some serious momentum winning 18 of 19 (8 in a row) for 3rd-year HC Nathan Davis. The combination of Zach Thomas (Patriot League POY), Nana Foulland & Stephen Brown should keep them competitive in the end. The Spartans with a size & a perimeter shooting edge get the "W" but let's buy the Bison to a +17 & cash this one! Butler vs. Arkansas (NCAAB) - 3:10 PM EDT Premium Pick Pick: Money Line: -125 Butler Pick Title: Mike's Small Chalk Advancer (WIN) LaVell Jordan's Big East entry won 20 games this season. I like All-Big East selection Kelen Martin to provide the leadership needed to advance. This team put up 101 points on Villanova & should rise to the occasion here. Unfortunately, I look for a 2nd round exit versus Purdue. Thursday, March 15, 2018 Loyola Chicago vs. Miami Florida (NCAAB) - 3:10 PM EDT Premium Pick Pick: Money Line: 123 Loyola Chicago Pick Title: 1st Round ML Dogger (WIN) Don't look now but the Ramblers have that Cinderella fever as Porter Moser should have a highly-motivated bunch who should have enough to get past a vanilla Miami squad in Dallas. Remember, Clayton Cluster & Marques Townes hit over 40% on 3's. Loyola Chicago wins it OUTRIGHT! San Diego State vs. Houston (NCAAB) - 7:20 PM EDT Premium Pick Pick: Money Line: -180 Houston Pick Title: 1st Round Under The Radar Selection (WIN) Hey, these Cougars have an RPI of 18 here! Kelvin Sampson's group now takes on a Aztecs' squad that had trouble with San Francisco! Struggling from beyond the arc will seal their fate as Houston with Rob Gray march on! Alabama vs. Virginia Tech (NCAAB) - 9:20 PM EDT Premium Pick Pick: Money Line: -143 Virginia Tech Pick Title: Thursday Night Madness Late Steam (LOSS) Buzz Williams' team has great potential to make the Sweet 16. They proved they could knock off Virginia on the road, have also beaten Duke & have a very solid 39% mark (1st in ACC) from 3-land compared to Alabama whose under 33%. The Hokies have lasting power to down a weaker Crimson Tide entry. Oklahoma vs. Rhode Island (NCAAB) - 12:15 PM EDT Premium Pick Pick: Money Line: -135 Rhode Island Pick Title: Atlantic 10 Advancer (WIN) HC Danny Hurley's crew are talented! The BIG 3 of James Terrell, E.C. Matthews & Jeff Dowtin will prove too much for the Sooners down the stretch. Davidson vs. Kentucky (NCAAB) - 7:10 PM EDT Premium Pick Pick: Point Spread: 5.5/-110 Davidson Pick Title: 9 Star Points Are Golden Play (WIN) Bob McKillop has a good shooting perimeter team that can knock down enough 3's to keep this game very uncomfortable foe Calipari's troops. Grab the Wildcats @ plus 7 /12 on the buy for the "W"! NOTES: Glad we had everyone aboard with us early as we've dominated Madness thus far. Still disappointed with HC Chris Mack & Xavier for changing game plan when Macura got in foul trouble. Blowing a 4th-stage 12-point lead & NOT designing better ways of getting Bluiett involved (shot 255 from field) on offense. Shooting a cold 63% from the FT-line (83% for FSU) was a major part of their demise down the stretch. Let's jump right back into Madness this Thursday & continue the dominance. Mike Handzelek's CBB March Madness Record: 10-2-----83% Mike Handzelek's CBB Overall Seasonal Record: 26-12-----68%

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