Drexel was 4-5 in the Colonial Athletic Association during the regular season, so yeah, hardly anybody outside of 34th & Market gave them much of a chance to win the conference tournament and get to the NCAAs for the first time in 25 years.
“The only thing I knew about Drexel is there was a guy named Bruiser Flint who was their coach for a while,” joked Nick Bogdanovich, director of trading for William Hill-US sportsbook. “That’s about all I know about Drexel.”
Drexel (12-7 overall) quietly was one of the better teams in the nation against the spread, going 12-5-2 (70.6%). The Dragons, the No. 16 seed in the Midwest Regional, opened as 23.5-point underdogs to top-seeded Illinois for Friday’s first-round game. The total is 145 points.
Some of the blue blood was drained from Villanova after losing Big East co-player of the year Collin Gillespie to a torn ACL on March 3. The Wildcats lost their two games without their star point guard and are favored by 6.5 points against Winthrop on Friday (total 139 points). CBS analyst Seth Davis said Winthrop was going to win outright.
“The main deal is injuries and what they’re worth,” Bogdanovich added. “What is Gillespie’s injury worth? Is it two points? Is it three points? Five points?”
Drexel’s last appearance in the NCAAs was with Public Leaguers Malik Rose and Jeffrey “Jay” Myers in 1996, when they won the North Atlantic Conference (which was three leagues ago) under Bill Herrion (who was three coaches ago).
They are led now by Zach Spiker, who succeeded Flint five years ago.
“It’s one of the classic coaching names of all-time: BRUISER FLINT,” Bogdanovich said. “You definitely don’t want to throw a punch at a guy named Bruiser Flint.”
Well, at least he knew that much.
This & That
Gonzaga is a No. 1 seed for the third time in the last four tournaments. The Zags won their opener by 20 in 2017 and by 38 in 2019.
Remember, no betting on Rutgers in New Jersey where wagering on state schools is prohibited. Psst: It’s legal in Pennsylvania.
Drake (20-6-1) was the best team against the spread, according to TeamRankings.com. The worst team against the spread is Michigan State (9-18).
Rick Pitino is 17-4 in NCAA Tournament openers. This will be a little different for him, however. Pitino is at Iona, which opened as a 16-point underdog to SEC champion Alabama.
Michigan is the team Bogdanovich is sweating out the most as far as futures liability. He’s written a $30,000 ticket at 8-1 and then another $30k at 11-2. Way early on, a bettor put up $1,000 at 125-1 on the Wolverines, the No. 1 seed in the East Regional. “They whacked us pretty good with Michigan, but that’ll change in the next four days,” he said early Sunday. “We’ll get some good liability on a good couple teams.”