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Degen Madness Opening Day Streaming Games: Odds, Previews, Picks, Best Bets

Coronavirus may take our way of life, but it’ll never take our MARCH MADNESS!!!

Welcome to the inaugural Degen Madness simulated college basketball tournament. Get your entries in before the games start on Thursday night! In conjunction with our friends over at MyBookie.ag, Sports Gambling Podcast is here to do what the NCAA could not – offer up live streaming NCAA tournament simulated games that, of course, can be wagered on.

Games will tip Thursday evening with live commentary from the SGP guys who, by the way, are giving away $3000 in prizes for those with the best brackets. With that said, here are the previews for the first two games on Thursday. Remember, all lines are courtesy of MyBookie.ag and can be bet on. Additionally, they are offering live betting during all contests. Sit back, allow us to be your oasis in this sports desert, and enjoy.

Michigan Wolverines @ Butler Bulldogs (-2.5, 82)

The Butler Bulldogs face off against the Michigan Wolverines in the first-ever Degen Madness simulated college basketball game.

The Bulldogs (8th seed) are slight favorites over the Wolverines (9th seed) with the winner moving on to face the #1 seed Kansas Jayhawks. Representing the Big East, Butler enters the tournament with a 22-9 record. They are led by (G) Kamar Baldwin who most recently dropped 36 on Xavier.

Other players of note who form the nucleus of the team are wingman Sean McDermott, big man Bryce Nze and 6th man Jordan Tucker (transfer from Duke). Butler has recorded nice wins over Minnesota, Florida, Stanford, Creighton, Purdue, Providence, and Villanova while also losing at Baylor by only one point. Ranked 341st in the country in adjusted tempo, they’ll be looking to slow the game down and grind out a victory. If Kamar Baldwin is on, Butler will be tough to beat.

Michigan comes limping into the tournament losing 3 of their last 4 games. It’s been an up and down season for the Wolverines who started the year red hot with wins over UNC, Gonzaga and Iowa State on their way to winning The Battle for Atlantis tournament. Around the same time (PG) Xavier Simpson hit a traffic light while driving a vehicle registered to the AD’s wife, Michigan hit a mid-season slump and lost five of six games. These struggles also coincided with an injury to wingman Isaiah Livers.

The aforementioned Simpson and Livers are joined by (C) Jon Teske, (F) Franz Wagner and (G) Eli Brooks to form the Michigan starting five. While all five average double digits, Livers and Simpson lead the team in scoring at only 12.9 per game. The scoring averages may be balanced but it leaves me wondering if the Wolverines have a go-to player in the clutch that can create offense on his own. I have similar concerns with Xavier Simpson who shoots just 57.4% from the free-throw line and has been known to miss important freebies over the course of his career. Lastly, first-year coach Juwan Howard lacks tournament coaching experience.

Prediction: This is going to be an all-out 40-minute slugfest(20 virtual minutes) that should be decided in the closing minutes. The difference will be Kamar Baldwin who will have a huge game and hit some big shots down the stretch. I wouldn’t be surprised if some untimely turnovers or missed free throws by Michigan help decide the game. I’ll lay the two points and expect a Butler win somewhere around the score of 44-41.

 

North Carolina Tarheels @ Gonzaga Bulldogs (-10.5, 85.5)

UNC must have greased the right people’s wheels in order to get into the Degen Madness tournament because they did not have the resume to get into the NCAA’s. Maybe it was their name brand, their ties with Jordan, or help from the army of southern lawyers the university produces, but here they are. Riddled with injuries throughout the year, UNC finished with a disappointing record of 14-19 that included a 7 game ACC losing streak in early February.

Coach Roy Williams was able to right the ship towards the end of the year finishing 4-2 and getting somewhat back to respectability. However, the season ended with a 28-point blowout loss to Syracuse in the second round of ACC tournament which I’m sure still leaves a bad taste in the mouths of most.

The Tar Heels are led by the electrifying and future one-and-done (PG) Cole Anthony and big man Garrison Brooks. Freshman (F) Armando Bacot gives UNC a nice one-two punch on the inside while steady veterans (G) Leaky Black and (G) Brandon Robinson round out the starting five. UNC’s strength (as usual) is on the boards where they rank ninth-best in the country in rebounding margin. Their weaknesses are in almost every other category but especially 3-point shooting, where they rank 310th in the country (30.4%) and defense efficiency where the rank 94th in the country. In fact, UNC will be the 2nd worst defensive team in the Degen tournament (only LSU is worse).

As usual, the Gonzaga Bulldogs easily won the West Coast Conference and are positioned to make a deep run in this tournament. The Zags finished the year with a 31-2 record with the only blemishes being vs Michigan at a neutral site and on the road in conference play @ BYU. Over the course of the season, they picked up quality wins against Oregon, Washington, Arizona, BYU, and Saint Mary’s (3 times!).

The Bulldogs are a well-rounded team that’s strong at every position. Star (F) Killian Tillie returned from injury in the conference tournament and is primed to go off on the big stage. He is joined in the frontcourt by Filip Petrusev and Corey Kispert, who both average double digits. The backcourt duties are split evenly between Admon Gilder, Joel Ayayi, and Ryan Woolridge who all also average double-digit points. If you’ve done the math correctly, you’ve already figured out that Gonzaga has six players averaging over 10 points a game. It’s no wonder they are ranked 1st in the country in offensive efficiency. Good luck stopping all of them.

Prediction: You have to go back all the way to December 18th, but we’ve seen this matchup already this year. UNC traveled across the country and lost at Gonzaga 94-81, but it should be noted that Cole Anthony was injured and did not play. When breaking down this rematch, I expect Gonzaga to pack it inside and protect the boards as much as possible.

By limiting UNC’s strength and exposing their weaknesses, the Zags will advance. Plus, I just can’t get past UNC’s last game and how they rolled over and played dead against an average Syracuse team. Due to the double-digit spread and UNC’s brand name, the Tar Heels will be a public dog and public dogs have fleas. Give me Gonzaga to roll and win by 14 – 16 points.

Watch the Preview Game – Starts at 01:30

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