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Evan Altemus’ March Madness Handicapping


Thursday was the first day for conference tournament action from the biggest conferences in the NCAA.  There were some interesting results from those games, but they were not as surprising as you might think.  Let’s take a look at how we can use these outcomes to help predict what will happen in the NCAA tournament, when it matters the most.


First and foremost, several bubble teams struggled over the last few days, as there are reasons why they were on the edge of making the tournament in the first place.  Teams like Providence, Arizona, UNLV, Kansas State, and Notre Dame all lost or did not play particularly well in the last two days.  These bubble teams have been inconsistent all season, yet the betting public feels that they will automatically cover a spread just because it’s a “must win” game of the.  They had several games though down the stretch that they desperately needed and sometimes weren’t able to get, which is why they are now in this position.  These teams haven’t shown the ability to develop as the season has progressed, which is why they now have to scramble to get into the tournament.

However, teams like Michigan, Oklahoma State, Virginia Tech, and Baylor all had very impressive blowout wins or wins against top caliber competition in their opening round conference tournament games.  All of those teams, except Baylor, have improved as the season has gone on and/or lost several close games that could have gone either way.  They have developed throughout the season and are better than the oddsmakers and betting public are giving them credit for. 

 One interesting note about Baylor is that they are a team loaded with seniors which under performed all season.  They have the talent and experience capable of a run and finally played up to their ability with wins over Nebraska and Kansas in the Big 12 tournament.  Watch out for supposed lesser teams with a great deal of experience over the next three days.

One last trend to take away from the last two days of conference tournament action is the parity in almost every game.  Supposed Final Four locks like Pittsburgh, Connecticut, and Oklahoma were all challenged or beat by under-rated conference competition.  The main point to take away is to look for under-rated quality underdogs in the tournament, especially if these teams have improved significantly over the second half of the season.  These teams will come in confident because of their recent play.  They will also be facing opponents which are over-confident and over-rated.  These dogs not only have an outstanding chance of covering, but winning outright as well.  Teams that come to mind are West Virginia, Villanova, Oklahoma State, Michigan, Wisconsin, Syracuse, VCU, Virginia Tech, Florida State, and Auburn.  Now of course this is assuming that these teams make the tournament.  These teams might seem like obvious choices based on their recent performances, but if they are that obvious then why didn’t you take them over the last few days?  The betting public will continue to ignore these improving teams capable of pulling off several wins as underdogs in the NCAA tournament.

There is a tremendous amount of parity in college basketball this season.  The best way to be successful in the NCAA tournament is to look for undervalued underdogs which have consistently improved throughout the season.  Look for the rest of March Madness to be loaded with upsets and top teams losing earlier and more often than expected.


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  1. With both Pitt and UConn losing yesterday, this should be Louisville’s opportunity to lock up a number 1 seed by winning the Big East. I’m still picking Villanova to win this tournament, after barely surviving a close game against Marquette

  2. I agree with you 100% – the door is wide open now, but maybe Syracuse goes on to play spoiler now?? We’ll see! Thanks for your post.