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March Madness Survival Guide

March Madness is finally here. As usual, the NCAA basketball tournament selection committee made its normal blunders by leaving out some teams that are better than the ones it chose as at-large selections. This year, Alabama got the shaft while Georgia, a team Alabama beat by 8 points in a regular-season game, was invited to the tournament.

The selection committee also erred by seeding Iowa above Creighton, Penn State above Providence, Georgia Tech above St. Joseph's and Texas above Temple. We will find out in the first round whether my analysis is better than that of the selection committee.

Here is a list of the opening-round games on Thursday and Friday, in the order in which they appear in the Las Vegas sports books.

NCAA Tournament Matchups
Thursday's Games
Team Power Rating Lieberman Line Official Line
Holy Cross 75
Kentucky 94 19 19
Creighton 88 3 1
Iowa 85
Southern Utah 79
Boston College 90 11 13
Oklahoma State 84
Southern California 88 4 3 1/2
Monmouth 69
Duke 102 33 35
Missouri 86 1
Georgia 85 1
Utah State 85
Ohio State 88 3 2 1/2
Hofstra 83
UCLA 91 8 7
Hampton 74
Iowa State 92 18 17
Georgetown 88
Arkansas 89 1 1
George Mason 82
Maryland 97 15 16
Georgia State 83
Wisconsin 89 6 6
NC Greensboro 71
Stanford 100 29 31
St. Joseph's 88 3 1
Georgia Tech 85
BYU 86
Cincinnati 90 4 4 1/2
Kent 85
Indiana 90 5 5

NCAA Tournament Matchups
Friday's Games
Team Power Rating Lieberman Line Official Line
Winthrop/NW State 66
Illinois 97 27 31
NC Charlotte 88
Tennessee 90 2 1
Hawaii 84
Syracuse 88 4 7 1/2
Cal Northridge 83
Kansas 95 12 12 1/2
Eastern Illinois 79
Arizona 100 21 22
Butler 85
Wake Forest 90 5 5
Iona 77
Mississippi 89 12 9 1/2
Xavier 87
Notre Dame 88 1 2
Alabama State 69
Michigan State 98 29 29
Fresno State 89
California 89 Pick 1 1/2
Gonzaga 89
Virginia 92 3 3 1/2
Indiana State 82
Oklahoma 89 7 7
Princeton 26
North Carolina 86 20 18 1/2
Providence 87 3 2 1/2
Penn State 84
Western Kentucky 84
Florida 94 10 10 1/2
Temple 88 1 1
Texas 87

This chart can be used in all future rounds, since it has my power ratings for each team. For those of you who are filling out brackets for an office pool, the higher the power rating listed, the better the team.

Of course, in this tournament there are always upsets and the best teams do not always advance to the Final Four. But my choice for the Final Four teams this year are Arizona, Stanford, Michigan State and Duke, with Maryland, Illinois, Florida, Kansas, Iowa State and Kentucky not far behind.

In the first round, I like all teams where my theoretical point spread has more than a two-point differential than the official point spread. My best bet in the first round is Hawaii, receiving 7 1/2 points from Syracuse. Hawaii is a very good shooting team and should be able to keep the game close against the Orangemen, who exclusively play a 2-3 zone defense. I will go out on a limb and predict that the Warriors will defeat the Orangemen straight up.

As always, I appreciate any feedback from readers and can be reached at

Who will win the NCAA tournament? Duke Stanford Michigan State Illinois Somebody else

Barry Lieberman was a litigator with the U.S. Department of Justice for nine years and is currently the general counsel for a company that operates four hotel/casinos in Las Vegas. He has been an amateur gambler for more than 20 years and successfully concluded last football season by winning on 55% of his college and pro selections posted on He welcomes your feedback at .

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