March Mania

Which team will upset a tournament favorite? How will your bracket hold up? Who will be holding the trophy at the end? Nobody knows, but when March rolls around each year there is only one certainty in college basketball — it will be absolute madness!
Stay on top of all the NCAA tournament action and enjoy the games in style with viewing parties, drink specials, several betting opportunities and perhaps your very own “man cave.”
Below are the specials available in Laughlin.

Harrah’s Laughlin
For the utmost viewing comfort, reserve a March Mania Man Cave at Harrah’s for you and up to five friends to settle in for an entire day of basketball, beer and a buffet. Each personal cove will include a 50-inch TV, a couch and recliners, a 24-pack of domestic beer and an unlimited buffet of stadium-style grub. Call 702-298-8562 to reserve your cave.

Avi Resort & Casino
You can’t root for your team and keep up with your bracket all day without some refreshments. The ArrowWeed Lounge (opening at 3 p.m. on game days) within the Avi has you covered, serving up specialty burgers and plenty of beer as you watch on the big screen within the bar. They will be offering a limited edition beer stein for $7, which comes with a draft beer of your choice. Refills will be $3 for domestic or $4 for craft beers.

Bikini Bay Bar & Nightclub
Voted Best Sports Bar every year by the Mohave Daily News readers’ poll, Bikini Bay is a prime place to watch the mayhem unfold. They have several flat-screen TV’s and will be showing all of the games. They are offering two specials: a pitcher and pizza for $25 and a bucket of domestic beer for $18.

Laughlin River Lodge
Bourbon Street casino is another hot spot with leather couches, TVs, a bar, specialty alcoholic slushies, as well as arcade games and slot machines, all available to amp up game day. There is also a William Hill kiosk at the cage by the front desk to place a quick bet.

Golden Nugget Laughlin
King of the River has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it? You can claim the title by entering and winning the Golden Nugget’s King of the River college basketball contest. Entry is $20 (up to five entries per person), and is open to 24K Select Club card members until 1 p.m. Thursday, March 21.
Entrants will pick one team by the point spread each day, and that team must cover the points for the contestant to advance in the competition. The last man standing will win the entire prize money from the entry fees and bragging rights, of course. See the Golden Nugget Sports Book for full rules.
Guests can watch the tournament at the sports book, as well as Gold Diggers Nightclub. Various food and drink specials will be offered in Gold Diggers during the games.

William Hill Promo
William Hill, the leading sports book chain in the U.S., is offering a $1 million March Mania parlay card for only a $5 entry. If you go 20 for 20, you win the grand prize. The card is only available for purchase until Friday, March 22. There are William Hill books at the Riverside, Avi, Tropicana and Edgewater casinos. See one of these locations for details.


March Mania Predictions by Doug McDonel

Team to win the NCAA tournament:
Gonzaga Bulldogs (5-1)
The Zags were my preseason pick and after posting a 30-3 record, I see no reason to jump ship. That said, I can’t endorse playing them at 5-1. A rollover moneyline parlay on Gonzaga would likely pay much better than 5-1. You could do that or just pick your spots with them, especially when they get deeper into the tournament.
My hope is that at some point they get an opportunity to avenge one of their regular season losses. North Carolina lit them up like a Christmas tree when the two schools met up back in December. UNC’s offense is high-powered, but giving up 103 points is unacceptable. Mark Few realizes this; if they get another crack at UNC, their intensity level will be much higher. Tennessee was one of the other few teams to beat the Zags this season. The Vol’s are legit title contenders but I would like Gonzaga in a rematch.

Core Four:
I would love to give out a true final four prediction, but unfortunately my deadline is a few days before the brackets are released. Instead, I will give you four value-based selections for future betting purposes. Below is my list of teams and their current odds as of March 10.

Tennessee (18-1)
I feel like the Vols are the fourth best team in the country, behind Gonzaga, Virginia and Duke. Although I am not a fan of his coaching style, Rick Barnes has been a perfect fit in Tennessee. They rank seventh in offensive efficiency and eighth in points per game.
Grant Williams just picked up his second straight SEC player of the year award for the Vols. Williams is a polished player who averaged more than 19 points per contest this season. He makes his foul shots and his rebounding has improved. It goes without saying that he is the best player on this team. The X factor for Barnes could be Jordan Bone. The 6-foot 1-inch point guard is a tremendous defender. He’s also a great facilitator with a very high basketball IQ. Every time I watch the Vols, I just can’t take my eyes off this young man. There are so many things to like about his game. Bone just might lead Tennessee to a national title.

Auburn (80-1)
Since their embarrassing 80-53 loss in Lexington, Auburn has won four straight, including a win over Tennessee. Chuma Okeke has been playing like an All-American as of late. The 6-foot eight-inch forward is a wonderful defender who can guard anyone on the floor. Although the experts are projecting Okeke as a second-round pick, the “Sacramento Sweetheart” believes that he will go in the first round. Okeke is also an underrated shooter — leave him open behind the arc and he will bury you. It also appears that the Tigers will have a healthy Austin Wiley for the dance. Wiley’s ability to rebound and block shots is something the Tigers have missed. It looks like Auburn is hitting their stride at just the right time.

Purdue (40-1)
Fans of Michigan and Michigan State might quibble with this statement, but I honestly believe that Purdue has the highest upside of any Big 10 team. The fact that they won a share of the conference title with their star player struggling , is a testament to the talent on this team. Carson Edwards has made just 34 percent of his shots overall. The problem with Edwards is that he has never seen a shot he didn’t like. However, if he can break out of his shooting slump, Purdue can pop anyone on a given night.

Iowa State (80-1)
A couple of weeks ago, before their game against Texas Tech, I called the Cyclones the sleeping giant in the Big 12. As I write this, they have lost three straight and five of six overall. After reviewing the film from their 7-point loss at home versus Tech, I was actually impressed with their performance. If they can put it all together, the Cyclones can make some noise here. Can they win the whole thing? Of course not, but I don’t think a Sweet Sixteen appearance is out of the question.

Paper Tigers:
Basically a Paper Tiger is a team who looks great on paper but in reality they don’t have what it takes to make a run in the big dance. Identifying such squads is a specialty of mine.

Houston (projected No. 2 seed)
Great defensive team and they are well coached. They get the most out of their ability, unfortunately Houston doesn’t have enough raw talent to be a serious threat to win this tournament.

Louisiana State University
(projected No. 2 seed)
I’ve actually heard some fairly smart people try to make a case for LSU to be a No. 1 seed. They did win the SEC regular season title, I can’t take that away from them. I just don’t think they have enough shot makers to make a deep run.

Cinderella/Sleeper Team:
To be a true Cinderella, you have to be sixth seed or worse and you absolutely cannot be ranked in the top 25.

Florida (No. 11 seed)
Florida might not even make the dance. They lost a heartbreaker to LSU late, that might have cost them a bid. If they do get in, they are capable of winning a game or two.