Do any of your friends of family work for one of billionaire Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway holdings? This week, Buffett announced that he would pay any employee of his company $1 million per year for the rest of their life if they have a perfect NCAA Tournament bracket this year entering the Sweet 16. I actually think that's doable, although obviously highly unlikely. It used to be Buffett was offering $1 billion for a perfect bracket all the way through. You have a better chance of being struck by lightning on Mars tomorrow than doing that (1 in 9.2 quintillion). Last year, Buffett rewarded Berkshire employees with a $100,000 purse to those who predicted the most consecutive winners during the tournament -- a challenge he's issuing again this year. So at least we know one person will take home $100K.
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Houston at No. 18 Cincinnati ( -8.5 )
American Athletic Conference game at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN2. This is vital for Houston. As of ESPN's most recent bracketology update, the Cougars are among the "next four out" of the NCAA Tournament. UH has an RPI of 54 but with only two Top-50 wins (Vermont and Rhode Island). Houston enters having won seven of eight - the only loss to an excellent SMU team - and edged Memphis 72-71 on Sunday in Tennessee. Damyean Dotson scored 31 points to lead the Cougars. Tied at 71, Dotson was fouled with 3.3 seconds left and went 1-for-2 from the line to put Houston back on top by a point. When Memphis got the ball back, UH's Galen Robinson blocked a 3-point attempt. I believe a win here, one Sunday at home vs. East Carolina and then at least one in the AAC Tournament will be enough for Houston. Nothing short of that.
Cincinnati likely lost its chance at the AAC regular-season title with Sunday's 53-49 upset loss to Central Florida. It was UCF's first win over a Top 25 team since 2011 and first-ever against Cincinnati. The Bearcats are a game behind SMU, which should beat Tulsa on Thursday and Memphis on Saturday (both in Dallas). Cincinnati closes with a tough one at UConn on Sunday. The Bearcats won at Houston 67-58 on Jan. 7. NC State transfer Kyle Washington, who has perhaps been UC's best player this year, had 19 points and nine rebounds. The Cougars shot 37 percent and just 3 of 19 from beyond the arc.
Key trends: The Cougars are 5-11 against the spread in their past 16 vs. teams with a winning record. The Bearcats are 1-5 ATS in their past six.
I'm leaning: Houston.
Iowa at No. 22 Wisconsin (-10.5)
Big Ten game at 9 p.m. ET on ESPN. A few weeks ago, Wisconsin thought it deserved a No. 2 seed in the Big Dance. However, the Badgers have lost four of five and will fall out of next week's Top 25 if they lose this one. They are down to a No. 6 on ESPN's projections. At least Wisconsin is done with true road games as its past three defeats (Michigan State, Ohio State and Michigan) were all away from Madison. The Badgers had gone 24-4 in February over the past four seasons but were 3-4 this year, their first losing February since the 1998-99 season. As long as UW wins its next two, it will be no worse than the No. 2 seed in the Big Ten Tournament.
Iowa (16-13, 8-8) isn't mentioned among any NCAA projections. But if the Hawkeyes could finish 10-8 in regular-season conference play with an upset here and then Sunday at home vs. Penn State, they should get some at-large consideration. Iowa is trending up with back-to-back wins. It won at No. 24 Maryland last Saturday, 83-69. Freshman Jordan Bohannon scored a career-high 24 points, hitting 8 of 10 3-pointers. He came in averaging 9.2 ppg. Fellow frosh Tyler Cook had his first career double-double with 21 points on 8 of 13 shooting and a career-best 10 rebounds. Iowa made 16 3-pointers (in 26 attempts) -- the most in a Big Ten game in school history. This is the only scheduled meeting between Iowa and Wisconsin. The Badgers have won the past six in the series.
Key trends: The Hawkeyes are 4-12 ATS in their past 16 road games. The Badgers are 1-6 ATS in their past seven. The road team is 5-1 ATS in the past six games.
I'm leaning: Iowa.
California at Utah (-2.5)
Latest-starting game of the night at 11 p.m. ET from the Pac-12 and on ESPNU. Very important game for both. Cal is listed among ESPN's "last four byes," while Utah surprisingly isn't even listed despite a 9-7 record in arguably the second-best conference in the country (behind ACC). The Bears are No. 51 in the RPI with just one Top-50 win (USC), while Utah is 82 nd with one (also USC). The Utes also have a terrible loss to Oregon State.
Cal broke a three-game skid last time out with a 76-46 wipeout of those Beavers in the Bears' home finale. Ivan Rabb scored 16 points with nine rebounds in what likely will be the sophomore's final game in Berkeley. A win here locks down fourth place in the Pac-12 for Cal. Utah stopped a two-game slide with an 66-61 win at Colorado last Thursday. Junior Kyle Kuzma had 25 points and is averaging double-double on the season with team-highs in both points (16.2 ppg) and rebounds (10.0 rpg). Utah's 77.9 points-per-game scoring average in conference play in on pace to eclipse the program's highest-scoring average since joining the league in 2011-12. Cal beat Utah 77-75 in double OT on Feb. 2. Jabari Bird converted an alley-oop layup with 2.1 seconds left in the second overtime and finished with a career-high 26 points.
Key trends: The Bears are 5-1 ATS in their past six games. The Utes are 7-2-1 ATS in their past 10 vs. teams with a winning record. Cal is 2-5 ATS in the past seven meetings.
I'm leaning: Utah.
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Read more articles by Alan Matthews
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