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Dan Ippolito

As Casino City's associate editor, Dan produces and edits all of our weekly newsletters, and he writes about the gaming industry for our websites and the GPWA Times Magazine. Dan graduated from Marist College in 2017 with a degree in Communications and a concentration in Sports.

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Casino City’s Friday Five: NCAA Tournament upset watch edition

19 Mar 2021

By Dan Ippolito
Last night kicked off this year’s March Madness that many are expected to glue their eyes to and place some wagers on. However, today and tomorrow are the most hectic days of the tournament with 16 games slated for each. Many have filled their brackets out with hopes of not seeing it busted after just a few hours by a major upset. Earlier this week, we broke down 10 teams we think can make a run and potentially win it all, but here we are going to take a look at a few teams that may have been overlooked. Here are five matchups from today and tomorrow that we think have upset alerts written all over them.

5. Utah State vs. Texas Tech
In the South region, the 11th-seeded Utah State Aggies are set to take on the No. 6 Texas Tech Red Raiders at LIST TIME ET.

The Red Raiders are on our upset list as they have shown signs of not being as strong as many had thought early in the season. However, the main reason they make this list is for rebounding. Tech finished the season 204th in rebounding while the Aggies dominated the glass and finished 14th in the nation in boards.

The Red Raiders aren’t the biggest team, so I see a big part of Utah State’s game plan being pounding the ball inside to their 7-foot star Neemias Queta, who averages 15 points and 10 rebounds a game.

One thing I’ve noticed from watching Utah State is that all five guys on the floor attack the glass and rebound as a team which will give Texas Tech a lot of problems.

At +160 on the money line at Intertops Sportsbook, I see the Aggies winning outright today at 1:45 p.m. ET as a serious possibility.

4. Oregon State vs. Tennessee
I haven’t been impressed by No. 5 Tennessee on several occasions this year and it continues going into the tournament. My doubt goes even deeper if starting forward John Fulkerson isn’t available for Tennessee. Fulkerson missed the SEC semifinal game due to a facial injury from a vicious throw of an elbow that hit him just under the eye the day prior. His status is still unknown as of Thursday night.

That being said, I also have to give credit where it is due for No. 12 Oregon State. The Beavers, who were probably looking at the NIT, strung together three-straight wins en route to a Pac-12 Tournament title.

It is safe to say Oregon State is playing their best basketball at the right time and at +350 on bet365 Sportsbook & Racebook, I like them to take down the Volunteers in today’s 3:45 p.m. ET matchup.

3. Winthrop vs. Villanova
The injury bug continues on this list and makes its way to the fifth-seeded Villanova Wildcats. Starting point guard and facilitator for the offense, Collin Gillespie, had his season cut short two weeks ago after suffering a knee injury. On top of that, Nova’s other important guard, Justin Moore, experienced a sprain ankle, but is expected to be good to go. I am not sure if he will be 100% playing a full game for the first time after an injury so I think he will still be affected, but regardless, without Gillespie, Nova is not the same team.

Move over to the No. 12 Winthrop Eagles and the first thing you see is their 23-1 record. I don’t care what conference you play in, 23-1 is still impressive and the team likes to get out and score averaging just under 80 points per game.

The biggest issue I see with Winthrop is the free-throw percentage as a team. Shooting just 68.6% from the stripe as a team is concerning for sure, but if they can knock down free throws and lock in defensively on Moore and Robinson-Earl of Villanova, don’t be surprised if the +230 moneyline on Intertops cashes tonight in this 9:57 p.m. start time.

2. Georgetown vs. Colorado
Yet another 12-5 matchup makes our upset list, which I am sure many have at least one 12 moving on past the round of 64.

Georgetown wasn’t even on the tournament’s radar before its incredible run in the Big East Tournament as the Hoyas claimed an auto-bid after routing Creighton in the title game. Head Coach and NBA Hall of Famer Patrick Ewing knows a thing or two about the NCAA tournament, winning the National Title in 1984 and being named the Final Four’s Most Outstanding Player the same year. With him at the helm, and the toughness his team has, Georgetown becomes a team that many do not want to face with the momentum it has going right now.

One key for 12th-seeded Georgetown is fouls. The Hoyas need to limit fouls and keep No. 5 Colorado off of the free throw line because the Buffaloes are second in the nation in free throw percentage at 82.2%.

Both of these teams are able to play fast after a made shot or a miss so be ready for some up-tempo action tomorrow starting at 12:15 p.m. ET.

At +210 on bet365, the Hoyas are a very tempting pick against a Colorado team that just had their hearts broken in the Pac-12 Championship game.

1. Syracuse vs. San Diego State
While this isn’t as heavy of an upset as some of the others, this is a double-digit seeded team I love in their opening matchup.

The 11th-seeded Syracuse Orangemen square off against the No. 6 San Diego State Aztecs. Similar to Oregon State, Cuse has been playing some of its best basketball as of late and look to continue that trend into the tournament.

Don’t get me wrong, the Aztecs can flat out play as they’ve shown with a 23-4 record, but Syracuse can get hot from three at any given moment and it is tough to beat them when the shots are falling from all angles.

Syracuse veteran head coach Jim Boeheim has five Final Four appearances to his name to go along with the 2003 NCAA Title. This isn’t anything new for Boeheim and he knows how to handle the “madness.”
Controlling the tempo will be a major factor in this one as the Aztecs like to get out and run but the Orange are able to shutdown any major runs by slowing things down in their half court offensive sets.

I like Syracuse at +140 on Intertops to take this victory tonight at 9:40 p.m. ET.
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