LAS VEGAS -- Thursday was being called one of the most exciting days in NCAA tournament history, so Friday had a lot to live up to -- and it wasn't too shabby.
While it only had one overtime game compared with Thursday, Friday saw underdogs go 9-7 against the spread with four outright upsets. This included No. 14 Mercer knocking off No. 3 Duke right off the bat as a plus-800 dog on the money line. Stanford (plus-190) beat New Mexico, Gonzaga (plus-170) and Stephen F. Austin (plus-220) also pulled off upsets, but several other lower seeds gave scares before falling.
After the round of 64, underdogs are 16-14-2 ATS with unders ahead 16-15-1. In ESPN Insider's NCAA Tournament Betting Guide, I somehow managed to navigate the minefields to go 5-0 ATS with my best point-spread picks and 5-0 with over/unders. That's pretty hard to duplicate and there are no guarantees, but we'll try our best.
If you're reading this Saturday, check out Teddy "Covers" Sevransky's breakdown of Saturday's round of 32 games. P.J. Walsh of sportsinsights.com and yours truly also offer up two picks apiece.
As for Sunday, here's my take on the eight matchups in Don Best betting rotation order, with an assist from Sevransky and Walsh, as well. Good luck and enjoy the madness.
No. 11 Tennessee Volunteers versus No. 14 Mercer Bears
LVH line: Tennessee minus-8.5
PickCenter consensus pick
As I wrote in Saturday's piece, I love this round because after filling out a ton of brackets earlier in the week, I've already handicapped most potential matchups in advance and have had the chance to watch both teams in action and project how they'll match up. Well, I admit I didn't look ahead to this matchup until Mercer pulled off its upset of Duke. Like most people, I think I was guilty of overrating the Blue Devils.
The argument can be made that both these teams were underseeded, but even though we probably had Mercer too low, the Vegas Rankings we did heading into the tournament still had Tennessee 10 points better than Mercer. We can upgrade the Bears, but the Vols would have to be upgraded, as well. This number just looks a little short to take the 'dog.
ATS pick: Tennessee