Morning sports update: Experts predict which team will win the NCAA Tournament

Also: Some Ichiro-Red Sox trivia.

Zion Williamson Duke Tournament Odds
Duke's Zion Williamson dunks during the ACC Conference Tournament Championship. –AP Photo/Chuck Burton

The Celtics lost a high-profile matchup with the 76ers in Philadelphia on Wednesday night, 118-115. Joel Embiid led the game with 37 points and 22 rebounds. Boston travels to Charlotte for a game against the Hornets at 6 p.m. Saturday.

The Bruins are in New Jersey to face the Devils at 7 p.m. tonight.

The men’s NCAA Tournament gets underway today at 12:15 p.m. (Louisville vs. Minnesota). Yale plays LSU at 12:40, Vermont plays Florida State at 2 p.m., and Northeastern faces Kansas at 4 p.m.

NCAA Tournament odds: Twenty percent of American adults are expected to bet on the men’s NCAA Tournament, according to a new report from the American Gaming Association. The total wagered on March Madness will approach $8.5 billion.


But who is going to win? Expert bracket predictions are in, with the AGA noting that a plurality (29 percent) favor Duke to win it all. Of ESPN’s 29 predictors, 24 believe Duke will win; three of the dissenting votes picked Michigan State instead.

This is reflected in the latest March Madness odds from OddsShark:

BetOnline released odds on each team’s chances of winning its region. Again, Duke leads the way as the only team to be favored to sweep through its region and reach the Final Four (-150). Gonzaga is next at +100, followed by Virginia (+120) and North Carolina (+175).

Of the three New England teams in the tournament, 13-seeded Northeastern has the best Final Four odds (+6,000). Yale, a 14 seed, is listed at +8,000 while 13 seed Vermont is worst at +10,000.

Here are the upset odds in the usually tumultuous games between the 12-5 seeds, according to Action Network:

  • Liberty (12) over Mississippi State (5): 17.2 percent chance
  • New Mexico State (12) over Auburn (5): 18.3 percent chance
  • Oregon (12) over Wisconsin (5): 30 percent chance
  • Murray State (12) over Marquette (5): 33.9 percent chance

Trivia: Ichiro Suzuki, who is reportedly going to retire from baseball, made his Major League debut in an extraordinary 2001 season in which he won both American League Rookie of the Year as well as Most Valuable Player. He went hitless in his first game against the Red Sox on May 1, 2001, largely thanks to a masterful performance from Pedro Martinez. A day later, he recorded his first of 167 career hits against Boston: an RBI triple. Which Red Sox pitcher did it come against? (Answer is at the bottom).


Hint: The Red Sox pitcher in question was originally drafted by the Mariners in 1991 and would later win the series-clinching game in three playoff rounds en route to a World Series victory.

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Speculating about Mookie Betts: After Angels outfielder Mike Trout signed a gargantuan contract extension, heads swiveled almost instantaneously to Red Sox outfielder Mookie Betts. “Mookie Betts is What’s Next,” wrote Jayson Stark of The Athletic.

“He’s Hank Aaron,” an unnamed agent told Stark. “He’s right there with the best players I’ve ever seen. He and Trout are like nothing we’ve seen in this sport. If he hits the market, he’ll explode it.” [The Athletic]

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A sprained ankle for Aron Baynes:

Joel Embiid remembered:

Dante Scarnecchia was at Boston College’s pro day on Wednesday:

Carles Gil is an exception to an otherwise lackluster start: The New England Revolution have started the season with two defeats and one draw. Still, new signing Carles Gil, a playmaking midfielder, has been a ray of sunshine amid March gloom. His presence is already reminiscent of another high-profile Revs signing. [The Boston Globe]

On this day: In 1953, the Celtics defeated the Syracuse Nationals in quadruple overtime of a first round playoff series, 111-105. The win clinched the best-of-three series for Boston. Bob Cousy set a Boston Garden record with 50 points.

Remarkably, 30 of those points came off of free throws. The two teams combined for an incomprehensible 107 fouls committed, shooting a total of 130 free throws. The Celtics would lose to the Knicks 3-1 in the following series.

Celtics 1953 Bob Cousy

Daily highlight: Not a bad move from Terry Rozier.


Trivia answer: Derek Lowe