If you are a sports betting enthusiast like all of us at BangTheBook.com are, then you probably start thinking about the betting impact of the day’s top stories. Not every top story has a relevance to betting, but you probably try to connect the dots anyway. In a new feature each weekday, we will take a look at the top six sports stories of the day in an article titled the Daily Six Pack. They say that an apple day keeps the doctor away. Well, we like to think that a six pack a day keeps the bookie away.

With that, let’s take a look at the six top stories for Thursday March 19:

Let’s Get Weird

The Field of 64 is set with wins by Robert Morris and Dayton in the play-in games on Wednesday night and that means that the NCAA Tournament is officially ready to begin. I’m a traditionalist in that sense and feel like the tournament really starts with the Round of 64, but maybe that’s just me. In any event, all of the excitement and the two best days of the college basketball season are finally upon us.

Northeastern and Notre Dame begins the day’s festivities shortly after noon Eastern and basketball will go on all day until the final buzzer of the nightcap between Eastern Washington and Georgetown, unless of course Wofford and Arkansas goes long or an earlier game at a site goes deep into overtime.

Hopefully your brackets are filled in already. If they’re not, there’s plenty of excellent college basketball betting information in both Monday’s edition and Wednesday’s edition of Handicapping the Hardwood. Picks on nearly every game in the first round were given on Monday and a look at the possible second round matchups and the NCAA Tournament futures were the centerpieces of Wednesday’s show. Don’t miss out on making money because you didn’t take the time to listen to these phenomenal podcasts.

Syracuse Shake-Up

Earlier this college basketball season, the Syracuse Orange self-imposed a postseason ban because of some academic transgressions. The fallout has continued. Athletic director Daryl Gross has resigned and head coach Jim Boeheim announced that he will retire after three final seasons at the helm of the storied program.

The NCAA came down hard on March 6 following the findings. Boeheim is suspended for nine ACC games. Over the basketball and football programs, 108 wins had to be vacated. Twelve scholarships were lost overall in the scandal, including both the basketball team and the football team. The athletic department is also under probation for the next five years.

Having personally experienced what goes on between the athletic department and the professors and instructors at a Division I college campus, none of this is particularly surprising. The issue for Syracuse is that they got caught doing what plenty of other universities do in order to protect athletes. In some instances, what happened at Syracuse did go above and beyond simply bending the system, and the punishment appears to be justified. Syracuse is going to appeal some of the penalties, likely the loss of scholarships in order to get that reduced, but it seems like a pretty fair penalty given what transpired.

Boeheim’s three-year announcement is not particularly surprising. The Orange have a tremendous freshmen class coming in and most of the best players in that group will be gone within that three-year window. It’s about the student-athletes, right?

Statement Game or Something Else?

The Golden State Warriors beat the Atlanta Hawks by 19 points in a game that was never. The Warriors got revenge for the loss earlier this season in Atlanta during the Hawks’ epic winning streak. The Warriors were without Klay Thompson and the Hawks were without Kyle Korver.

What makes the Warriors so dangerous is how accurate they are on jump shots. The Warriors outscored the Hawks by 35 points on jumpers and shot almost 52 percent. The Warriors continue to impress with their defensive efficiency, even though they play at such a high tempo that one would think it would be hard to play defense. The Hawks could have clinched the Southeast Division in this one, but clearly failed to do that.

Atlanta fell to 21-5 against the Western Conference this season and there was an interesting result in the Eastern Conference that could impact the Hawks’ futures odds.

An NBA Recap

The Cleveland Cavs rolled the Brooklyn Nets and looked nearly flawless doing it. The Cavs shot 52 percent from beyond the arc and seven players finished in double figures. The Brooklyn Nets are obviously not on the Cavs’, or Hawks’, level, but this was a good bounce back performance from the Cavs. With the Hawks getting blown out at Golden State, it’s going to add more fuel to the Cavs to win the Eastern Conference fire. That train seems to be running out of control right now. Don’t sleep on the Hawks just because the Cavs have finally reached their potential.

The best win of the night belonged to the Washington Wizards. The Wizards have won five straight and downed a Utah Jazz team that has been playing extremely well of late. The Wizards were in a tricky situation, in a bit of a sandwich spot between games against Portland and the Clippers and with travel to Utah on Tuesday. They’re starting to turn it around at the right time.

Oklahoma City won, but they failed to cover once again and trailed by five at home at halftime to the mediocre Boston Celtics. All that matters in the standings is that they won, but once again, this is a team that has serious issues. Serge Ibaka could miss the next six weeks and Russell Westbrook has to start wearing down at some point soon because he is shouldering all of the burden for the team. Westbrook has played at least 35 minutes in every game since February 26 and has the ball in his hands a ton during that stretch.

Are the Indiana Pacers done? Two straight blowout losses are the lead-in to Friday night’s game in Cleveland against the Cavaliers. The Pacers have lost three straight and have a very tough schedule to wrap up the month of March with games against Cleveland, Houston, Washington, Milwaukee, and Dallas. They are tied with Boston for the final playoff spot, but they may have peaked too early.

NHL News and Notes

There were only three games in the NHL, but all three of them had a lot of meaning. The Chicago Blackhawks responded to Tuesday night’s big win over the Islanders with an even more impressive triumph by a 1-0 score over the New York Rangers. The most interesting part about the game is that the Blackhawks did not send Corey Crawford back for a second consecutive night between the pipes. Instead, it was Scott Darling who posted the 25-save shutout.

The Anaheim Ducks won in overtime over the Los Angeles Kings to widen their lead in the Pacific Division. Points are important for the Kings, Vancouver Canucks, Calgary Flames, and San Jose Sharks in the race for the final three playoff spots in that division. The Kings dictated the tempo and gave up a late lead in the game, so losing that second point was disappointing.

The Columbus Blue Jackets clearly don’t understand how to tank. The Edmonton Oilers fired 47 shots at Curtis McElhinney to Columbus’s 20 and the Jackets still won. This game had NHL Draft Lottery implications as the Oilers keep improving their standings.

Henrik Lundqvist was cleared to return to practice for the aforementioned Rangers.

MLB Spring Training Update

After yesterday’s scary “forearm tightness” announcement for Alex Cobb, the Tampa Bay Rays were able to breathe a sigh of relief that the diagnosis was simply tendinitis. Cobb will miss Opening Day and probably three or more starts, but it’s better than the alternative.

Jacoby Ellsbury suffered an oblique injury and will miss Opening Day. It was termed a very mild strain, but there’s no point to push it for Opening Day with a six-month regular season. The Yankees can ill afford more injury questions with their rotation, as I discussed in yesterday’s Six Pack.

Jarrod Parker threw a simulated game on Wednesday, one of the biggest steps in a pitcher’s return from Tommy John surgery. The A’s expect him back around June or July.

Finally, Kyle Kendrick is the Colorado Rockies Opening Day starter. Their win total has been rising because of the offense, but this is a sign of just how bad the pitching staff is,

Join us every weekday for the Daily Six Pack, covering six of the top stories from the sports world.