Raise your hand if you nailed the Final Four in your bracket. Yeah, me neither.
It is somewhat fitting that in a year in which the Sweet 16 was the chalkiest of all time (seriously, since the tournament expanded to 64 teams, no Sweet 16 had a lower sum if you added the seeds of the 16 teams remaining), we would end up with a single No. 1 seed (Virginia), Michigan State, and two nontraditional college basketball powers in Texas Tech and Auburn.
Of course, while Texas Tech may not be a historic basketball power, it does have Jarrett Culver, a player many believe could be one of the first five players selected in the NBA Draft this summer. It's not all that uncommon to see a school led by one great player and excellent defense in a tournament. Auburn, on the other hand, is a little more unique. The Tigers beat Kentucky on Sunday, the historic blue blood, and the program that has ruled SEC basketball for decades. The same Kentucky that had a First Team All-SEC player in P.J. Washington, an SEC All-Defensive Team player in Ashton Hagans, as well as two members of the All-Freshman team in Tyler Herro and Keldon Johnson (who also won Freshman of the Year).
Do you know how many players Auburn had on the all-SEC first team, or its all-defensive or all-freshman teams? None. Bryce Brown and Jared Harper made the all-SEC second team, and that was all Auburn needed to beat Tennessee to win the SEC tournament, and then beat Kentucky to win the Midwest Regional to reach the Final Four.
In a Final Four of surprises, Auburn's the biggest.
Unfortunately, the wait until the Final Four is until Saturday, but we do have plenty of NBA to choose from for our top picks. All odds are via Westgate.
1. Chicago Bulls at New York Knicks: Knicks -3.5
NBA regular season, 7:30 p.m. ET (stream on fuboTV with NBA League Pass extension)
Taking the Knicks as a favorite is both terrifying and exhilarating. It just doesn't happen all that often, and considering how inept a franchise it is, you would think you should bet against it any time you see it. In fact, you probably should. The Knicks have been favored nine times this season, and they've gone 3-6 ATS in those games.
Tonight's situation is a bit different, however, as they're facing the Bulls. And while they're technically the Chicago Bulls, at the moment, they're really the Windy City Bulls, the franchise's G-League affiliate. Nobody who matters for the Bulls will be playing in this game. Honestly, I'm from Chicago, and I grew up a Bulls fan, and when I turned on their last game, I legitimately did not know four of the five guys on the court at the time. The Knicks suck, but they have a lot more talent on the roster right now than this Bulls team does.
Want winning picks? DFS millionaire Mike McClure provides them every day for your NBA daily fantasy needs. Check out today's picks today at SportsLine.
2. Orlando Magic at Toronto Raptors: Under 215.5
NBA regular season, 7:30 p.m. ET (stream on fuboTV with the NBA League Pass extension)
Orlando is a mediocre team thanks mostly to its defense. The Magic rank eighth in the NBA in defensive efficiency, which they pair with an offense that ranks 22nd. Perhaps that's why they've been one of the stronger under teams in the league, with the under going 44-33 in their games. The under is an even more impressive 29-18 in Orlando's conference games, as well as 23-15 with the Magic, are on the road. Toronto is a strong over team this season, but it's even better defensively than Orlando is, so I'm not worried about it in this matchup. We're counting on the Magic not to score much here.
3. Charlotte Hornets at Utah Jazz: Under 219.5
NBA regular season, 9 p.m. ET (stream on fuboTV with NBA League Pass extension)
I think there's value on this total as it's a bit too high. Utah ranks second in the NBA in defensive efficiency, trailing only the Bucks, and like most teams, they're better at home than on the road. While the under has just gone 20-18 in Utah's home games this season, it's 5-2 in their last seven home games, as well as 6-1 in their previous seven games against teams with a losing record. Furthermore, the under has just been a nice bet between these two when they play in Utah. Over the last seven seasons, the under is 6-1 when the Hornets visit Salt Lake City.