Posted 03/18/2010 at 05:32 PM
What a great start to the NCAA tournament we have been treated to Thursday morning. First a thrilling game between Notre Dame and Old Dominion that was down-to-the-wire from both a S/U and an ATS perspective. While the low-scoring might seem like it was a dull game, that was far from the case as every possession had such importance. BYU and Florida were in an incredible battle with the Gators up most of the first half and then a big BYU lead in the second half. The Gators had golden opportunities to close out the game at the end of regulation and then the end of the 1st overtime but failed. I opted to buck the public on this one and backed Florida plus the points and it looked like a sure cover most of the way but once Boynton fouled out the Gators really started to struggle and BYU pulled away for a seven-point cover.
The biggest story of the morning should have been Robert Morris, who nearly led wire-to-wire against #2 seed Villanova. A lot of people had doubts about the Wildcats despite a final four run last season as the late season play had been poor. Villanova eventually snuck by in overtime but it was highway robbery in my mind as the Wildcats got several favorable calls late in regulation to get bailed out of a tough spot. Robert Morris backers still got an easy spread win but this really should have been an upset and serves as a serious alarm for Villanova fans (and perhaps Big East fans with the Irish also falling). Don't assume Villanova will be a go-against team in round two however as highly seeded teams often bounce back well from a close call. Hopefully the afternoon games provide the same type of excitement.