The most common request I get is “Who’s the best handicapper to follow in (insert sport here)? Invariably, my recommendation is to do your own handicapping. I don’t think anyone should follow anyone blindly (and that includes yours truly). Now, that might seem at odds since I work for VSiN – where we have a lot of people giving good information and picks – but it’s really not. What I’m saying is you can certainly listen to handicappers you respect, but it has to be your decision when it comes time to put your money down. Everyone has winning streaks (which you’re more likely to hear about as that what everyone’s publicizes and shouts from the mountaintops) and everyone has losing streaks (yes, even the greatest, most-consistent sports bettors have stories of slumps that would make your skin crawl).
The reason I say this is because I had a disastrous Thursday with my NCAA best bets here. I only lost four in a row, but did it twice as I went 1-8 ATS on the day, starting with four straight losses with St. John’s, Louisville, Boston College and Oklahoma St. before UNLV covered (barely) in its 79-74 loss to Nevada as 5.5-point underdogs; and then concluded the rest of the day with consecutive losses on Colorado, Notre Dame, Marquette and Baylor. Now, I know some critics are going to say “that’s what you get for just betting underdogs,” but the truth is it’s random and can happen to anyone, just like flipping a coin can yield 10 straight heads or 10 straight tails if you’re playing long enough (even if your coin hits 55% or better over the long haul). To further illustrate the streaky nature of this activity that we all love, I improved to 7-1 ATS with my NBA picks posted in Point Spread Weekly as the Spurs covered as 11-point underdogs in their 110-107 loss to the Warriors. Go figure.
So, heading into Friday’s NCAA action, all we can do is pick ourselves up, lick our wounds and get back in the game. The true carnage can be seen with so many bubbles being burst as there’s a death of underdogs with that extra motivation (note: as I sit here late Thursday night, SportsCenter just posted a stat that ranked teams went 10-0 against unranked teams on the day); however, we do have a few matchups that sneaked through with NCAA hopefuls against teams securely in the field of 68:
1 p.m. ET/10 a.m. PT (845) Alabama plus-5.5 vs. Auburn (did Tide secure bid with buzzer-beater vs. Texas A&M? They might need one more solid effort to keep from slipping off the bubble)
7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT (825) Temple plus-9.5 vs. Wichita St. (Temple needs to continue run in AAC and is 2-0 ATS vs. Shockers with outright upset on Feb. 1)
11:30 p.m./8:30 p.m. PT (879) Oregon plus-2 vs. USC (Ducks lost both meetings, but covered in second loss on road and are 5-1 SU & 3-2-1 ATS in last six games while Trojans should be in NCAA field)