Betting the West Region

Kelly Olynyk, center, and the Gonzaga Bulldogs are the No. 1 seed in the West Region. AP Photo/Julie Jacobson

Who should be a No. 1 seed? Who's on the bubble? Who got an easy draw? Who got snubbed?

Who cares? It's time to put all that talk from the past month or so behind us. None of those philosophical discussions matter anymore. The teams have to perform in the matchups that have been determined by the selection committee and we as handicappers/bettors can only concern ourselves with the games in front of us. The NCAA tournament begins in earnest on Thursday (OK, there's the "First Four" on Tuesday and Wednesday night, but we know it really begins with the Thursday matchups that tip off our tournament brackets).

I went 12-8 (60 percent) against the spread the past month in my picks columns on ESPN Insider, but that's ancient history as well since all anyone will care about these next three weekends is how I fare in the Big Dance. Those who have been following me (or were present during the NFL season) know that I'm an underdog-or-pass bettor. I believe it is important to be selective in your wagering and I take some heat for passing on so many games. However, I also know that as much as we all try to be disciplined, this is the NCAA tournament and most of us will end up playing more games than we should.

So, I'm going to pass on passing and make a pick in each game this Thursday and Friday in the Midwest and West regionals. I'll mark my best bets with an asterisk (*) and those are the ones I'll be betting with my own money here in Vegas. You'll note they're all underdogs and you can assume that if I'm "picking" a favorite I'm probably not cracking open my wallet on that pick, but that's just me. So let's get to the games (and we'll add the three games involving matchups from the First Four when the lines become available and I make my decisions).

Good luck and enjoy the madness!

Betting the NCAA tournament:


WEST REGIONAL (in bracket order)

No. 1 Gonzaga Bulldogs versus No. 16 Southern U. Jaguars

Vegas consensus line: Gonzaga minus-22
PickCenter breakdown