Wayne Root: Watch For Elite 8 Upsets



You just never know what's going to happen during March Madness...even when the media and the public think they've got everything figured out.

Last year, during Elite 8 weekend, three teams that the market favored...and many pundits loved...couldn't even win their games straight up to reach the Final Four. As you handicap this round Saturday and Sunday, it's important to remember what happened exactly a year ago.

  • Kentucky (-4) lost outright to West Virginia 73-66. Kentucky was a #1 seed, and many were picking them to win the whole tournament. They had coasted through their first three games, and certainly had the look of a champion. I remember the sportsbooks being full of public bettors who thought Kentucky was a steal at -4. They missed expectations by double digits.
  • Kansas State (-3.5) lost outright to Butler 63-56. Many expected this to be the end of the line for mid major Butler. Only George Mason had reached the Final Four from a non-power conference going back many years. Butler had a nice run, but it was going to come to an end against a Kansas State team that seemed to have everything in place to be a force over the Final weekend. The Wildcats watched that final weekend on TV with the rest of us. Everyone saying "there's no way Butler reaches the Final Four" had to go into hiding for awhile.
  • Tennessee (-2) lost outright to Michigan State 70-69. Tennessee had just knocked off #2 seed Ohio State in the prior round, and had performed more impressively through the eveny. Michigan State caught a break when Northern Iowa took out Kansas. Michigan State only had to take out Northern Iowa! The Spartans took Tom Izzo back to the Final Four once again. Interestingly, this is where the career of Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl took a turn for the worse. Heading into the game, Tennessee was a very popular choice among people in the know.
  • Duke (-4.5) beat Baylor 78-71, being the only favorite to survive the weekend. And, even Duke trailed at halftime before putting things together when it mattered most to pull away. We almost had four upsets! That would have been a SHOCK THE SYSTEM weekend!

Last year may have been a bit of an aberration. But, underdogs won two games the year before too. Michigan State (+6.5) beat #1 seed Louisville 64-52 in March of 2009. Villanova (+2) beat #1 seed Pittsburgh 78-76.

Here are some assumptions you CAN'T afford to make Saturday and Sunday.

  • Don't assume that any team that's looked great in its first three games is going to keep on playing at that high level. Anybody can have an off-night. Sometimes complacency sets in for superpowers who have had things too easy thus far.
  • Don't assume that an underdog who's just been barely sliding by is a pretender. There's a lot of parity in the college game right now. Dogs who barely slide by know how to execute late in close games.
  • Don't assume that the tournament seedings still matter! It's a whole new ballgame now. Some of the best teams aren't as dangerous as it first seemed. Some of the "surprises" were just misreads from the selection committee. Butler and Michigan State were both #5 seeds last year.
  • Don't assume that the oddsmakers are smarter than you. They had the wrong teams favored three out of four times last year, and twice the year before that. We're at a point now where the lines are strongly influenced by public perception and media hype, rather than the TRUE expectations for what's going to happen on the floor.

Historically I've had very big releases during Elite 8 weekend. Last year going 4-0 with West Virginia, Butler, Michigan State and Duke! Often a tournament "Game of the Year" falls within this four-game set because line value is greater now than afterward. You can purchase my top plays every day here at the website with your credit card. Lock yourself in for every big play by signing up for the full season. If you have any questions, call the office at 1-877-766-8946.

As the best teams in the nation battle for the championship, it's time for YOU to go to W.A.R alongside WAYNE ALLYN ROOT!

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