Thursday's early games provided little drama and chalk players are making out like bandits for the third year in a row on the first day of the tournament. In 2006, Thursday's first round favorites went 10-5-1 against the spread, last season Thursday favorites went an astonishing 13-3 ATS. In the day time games today, favorites went 7-1 ATS with only UNLV as a small underdog prevailing. Friday chalk has not been as strong in the first round in recent years but still delivered a 9-7 mark last season.
Georgia was the only team to put a scare into a top seed so far as the Bulldogs took a hot start to a first half lead. It looked like big trouble for the Musketeers but Xavier led a composed rally as Georgia ran out of gas in the final minutes. Those playing Georgia plus the points had a painful morning as Xavier was able to cover as a modestly large favorite despite trailing for most of the game. The Kentucky/Marquette game was the only other game that provided drama with an exciting finish as Marquette pulled away despite an impressive 35-point performance from Joe Crawford.
Many of the popular underdogs did not even come close as Oral Roberts and Temple were blown out. Those hoping to catch value with big underdogs suffered a tough day with Portland State missing two 3-point shots in the final seconds that would have earned a win and seeing Cornell completely shut down by Stanford. The Big Ten displayed a strong start with Michigan State and Purdue winning easily, as did the Big East with Marquette and Pittsburgh. A-10 fans should be a little worried with Temple's performance and Xavier's narrow escape. St. Joseph's is a popular underdog tomorrow but the conference has not performed well through two games.
Let's hope some more exciting games in the evening schedule and hopefully one of the live dogs can deliver an upset, as March Madness is all about underdogs.