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Sticking with Georgetown

Joe Ellison
Nevada Appeal Betting Columnist

For some reason Cinderella forgot to show up at this year’s NCAA Tournament. The big upset never came, leaving two No. 1 seeds and two No. 2s to play for the championship. That’s a far cry from last year, when a No. 2, a No. 3, a No. 4 and a No. 11 seeded team reached the Final Four, and it was truly March Madness.

But at least the tournament has delivered some excellent games, especially last week when half of the battles went down to the wire. With four heavyweights left, there is great potential for at least one more barnburner.

Florida vs. UCLA – This is a rematch of last season’s championship game, dominated by Florida 73-57. All of Florida’s starters returned to defend the title, again leading the nation in field goal percentage. However, the Gators will be going up against UCLA’s tough defense that during the tournament is giving up a paltry 50 points per game. Considering that Florida also plays good defense, this should be a slugfest.

Florida cannot afford another one of its patented slow starts, because the Bruins will clamp down on them. The Gators should also learn how to take care of the ball better, because steals and turnovers are UCLA’s game. Florida has been shaky with its free throws, too.

The last time there was a rematch in the Final Four was 1991, when Duke avenged a 30-point embarrassment to UNLV. The following year, Duke would become the last team to repeat as champion, which is the difficult task that Florida is trying to accomplish. Watching the Gators’ Joakim Noah beat his chest and scream about people hating his team makes people really start to hate them. Prediction: UCLA +3 and Under 130 1/2 points.

Georgetown vs Ohio State – This is another close match-up, with both schools having already squeaked by with overtime and one-point victories. These teams can score, as evidenced by their performances in the Regional Finals. It seems backwards that the total on the betting board is lower for this game than in UCLA’s.

My pre-tournament pick was on Georgetown to win the title, and there’s no reason to change it now. Ohio State’s overreliance on freshmen and its occasional offensive lapses will be their downfall. Prediction: Georgetown -1 1/2 and Over 129.

Championship Game – The last three times a Big East team reached the Final Four, it won the title. Georgetown defeats UCLA in a physical low-scoring contest.

Note – The women’s basketball Final Four and men’s hockey Frozen Four will be bettable over the course of the week.

THE MASTERS

Wednesday is the last day to place wagers on golf’s first major of the year and my favorite tournament, the Masters, from Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia.

Picking the winners of golf tournaments is never easy, but one would think that the Masters is the easiest because it is always played on the same course. Some players know and love Augusta, and there have been many repeat champions.

Predictions: Wagering on player vs player match-ups is a good way to bet because obviously, it’s a helluva lot easier to beat one golfer than the entire field. In recent years, the best golfers consistently at Augusta have been Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Vijay Singh, Jose Maria Olazabal, Retief Goosen and Mike Weir.

BASEBALL

Major League Baseball begins Sunday. Future odds are available for the World Series, League Pennants, divisions, over and under wins for some teams, and team vs team win match-ups. Predictions: Sunday we’ll try St. Louis and Under. Other predictions will come next week.