#1 Kansas (-15) vs. #16 Penn – Penn will look to slow the game down and this favors in keep the game close. Kansas strength is shoot the 3 ball, and Penn ranks #2 in the county in 3 point defense. While I think the spread is going to be close because of the pace of play, we are still leaning Kansas at -15.
#8 Seton Hall (-2) vs. #9 NC State – NC State likes to apply full court pressure, and once their pressue is broken they rank dead last in the ACC in 2 point defense. We are taking Seton Hall at -2.
#5 Clemson (-5) vs. #12 New Mexico St. – This is a tough matchup for Clemson being a 5 seed. Clemson likes to a run a pick and roll offense, which New Mexico St is very good at defending. Clemson has 2 wings that are undersized and have trouble against bigger wing defenders which New Mexico St has. This is one of our favorite games to bet the spread, we are taking New Mexico St at +5.
#4 Auburn (-10.5) vs. #13 College of Charleston – Bruce Pearl’s team likes to utilize hybrid bigs for the pick and roll. Charleston has no one to defend this pick and roll, but they have a very solid back court that should give Auburn trouble. We are taking College of Charleston at +10.5.
#3 Michigan State (-13.5) vs. #14 Bucknell – This is a matchup nightmare for Bucknell who will have to face Sparty in Michigan. Bucknell relies on their big men and Michigan State can defend them with ease. We are taking Michigan State at -13.5.
#6 TCU vs. #11 Arizona State or Syracuse – No spread yet due to play in game.
#7 Rhode Island (-1) vs. #10 Oklahoma – Rhode Island has not been the same team the last few weeks as they were early in the season. They have struggled with committing fouls and letting opposing teams rack up points at the free throw line. Oklahoma is going to be very well rested and are our favorites at +1.
#2 Duke (-19.5) vs. #15 Iona – Duke is getting a tougher matchup than they would be used to as a #2 seed. Iona has become a regular team now appearing in March Madness the last few years. Duke is prone to turning the ball over and Iona likes to apply pressure. We like taking Iona here at +19.5.
#1 Virginia (-22.5) vs. #16 UMBC – Virginia is the best scoring defense in the NCAA, and they slow things wayyyyyy down on offense as they averaged the fewest possessions in the nation. UMBC, on the other hand, love to run, so this is pretty much the worst match-up possible for them. This is a huge number, but we are taking Virginia (-22.5).
#8 Creighton (-1.5) vs. #9 Kansas St. – First of all, everyone should definitely keep an eye on the status of the Wildcats’ Dean Wade who missed the Big 12 Semifinal against Kansas. While Creighton is the more exciting team in general (i.e. we should see more public money come in on this side), Kansas St. is the better one defensively. We like Kansas St. at +1.5.
#5 Kentucky (-6) vs. #12 Davidson – Kentucky’s athleticism might win out in the end, but this will be a really tough start for them. Davidson’s coach, Bob McKillop, runs a 2-3 zone, which is ideal against UK (especially since they cannot match-up in man defense). Their motion offense is unlike anything UK has seen all year, and we don’t really know how they can simulate it during prep, so we think it could come out and really surprise Kentucky at the start. We lean Davidson at +6.
#4 Arizona (-8.5) vs. #13 Buffalo – Deandre Ayton gonna eat here since Buffalo’s weakest point is their post defense, but we do think that the Bulls’ athleticism – and Arizona’s poor dribble containment – will let them keep this competitive. We like Buffalo at +8.5.
#3 Tennessee (-13) vs. #14 Wright State – Wright State’s offense is not good enough to swing the upset, but they are extremely well coached, so they will be prepared. We like Wright State at +13.
#7 Nevada (PK) vs. #10 Texas – Texas is a top-10 national defense, and this pick ’em line has us confused. Nevada doesn’t have a true PG since they lost Lindsay Drew, and Texas just got their stud 6’11” freshman back last game. In general, Nevada seems to struggle with physically imposing teams as we saw in the Mountain West tournament, so we think that Texas wins this one.
#2 Cincinnati (-15) vs. #15 Georgia St. – This is a tough draw for Cincy as they have had a lot of issues with their zone offense this year, but Georgia State will also have a lot of trouble scoring. We like the under and Georgia St. at +15.
(1) Xavier vs. (16) N.C. Central or Texas Southern – No spread is available yet. However, Xavier should easily handle both of these teams. They aren’t a great one-seed however so it will be interesting when the odds come out. However, the opponents aren’t great either so we will likely roll with Xavier unless the spread is absurd.
(8) Missouri vs. (9) Florida State – Porter is playing for the NBA draft. I think this should give Missouri the boost in this first round matchup. This could play a factor in messing up Missouri’s rhythm. I’m rolling with Missouri as 1 point favorites.
(5) Ohio State vs. (12) South Dakota State – The 7.5 spread seems low. However, South Dakota State has been here before and laid an absolute egg last year. However, SDSU likely won’t be able to compete with Ohio State. Ohio State has troubles defending the 3 but a low spread like this has me leaning Ohio State. I want to get on Ohio State before the line moves. Ohio State doesn’t rely on the 3-point which could pose troubles for South Dakota State.
(4) Gonzaga vs. (13) UNC Greensboro – UNC Greensboro won at NC State and played Virginia well. They are a decent team that can play well. The one issue with this game is that UNC Greensboro has to travel cross country. I think UNC Greensboro is going to pose trouble for the Zags but the experience of Gonzaga should prevail. I will likely follow the money on this to see where the trends are leaning.
(3) Michigan vs. (14) Montana – I don’t think we need to dig much into this game. Michigan gets a nice matchup against Montana as they will have trouble defending Wagner. Michigan should cover the 11.5 point spread.
(6) Houston vs (11) San Diego State – Houston’s defense is legit. I have seen people betting Houston as 100 – 1 to win the tourney. San Diego State has reeled off 9 wins in a row to make it to the dance. Houston is much bigger than Nevada and New Mexico. I will stick with the favorite here.
(7) Texas A&M vs (10) Providence – Providence has upset Xavier and took Villanova to Overtime in the Big East tournament. However, the Aggies are a much better team. I’m going to roll with Providence continuing their strong play here as 3.5 point dogs.
(2) UNC vs. (15) Lipscomb – UNC is coming out as 19 point favorites. I think they are going to have a tough time covering the spread here against a Lipscomb team running a drag-screen transition offense. They trounced FGCU in the Atlantic Sun tournament final and see them covering a large 19 point spread. I will lean with public money on UNC covering though against a first-time tournament team.
#1 Villanova vs. #16 LIU Brooklyn or Radford – No spread due to play in game.
#8 Virginia Tech (-2) vs. #9 Alabama – Alabama ranks 19th in the country in 3 point defense and it will be needed against VTech who shoots very well from 3. Both teams sstruggle at the line and are a pretty even match up, but we will lean Alabama here with the superior player in Collin Sexton. Alabama at +2.
#5 West Virginia (-9.5) vs. #12 Murray State – This is a tough first round matchup for WVU with Murray State having very solid guards. Murray State is a week rebounding team which could make it tough to keep this game close. We like VT at -2.
#4 Wichita State (-12) vs. #13 Marshall – This is a very tough matchup for Wichita State and this could be a potential upset. Marshall has a stud in Jon Elmore and will have the ability to score at will. We like taking Marshall here at +12.
#3 Texas Tech (-11) vs. #14 Stephen F. Austin – This is another potential tough matchup for a large seed differential. SFA will draw a big crowd in Dallas and they turn teams over at the high rate in the country. Texas Tech has trouble limiting turnovers so for this reason I think the game stays close enough and SFA covers at +11.
#6 Florida vs. #11 St. Bonaventure or UCLA – No spread due to play in.
#7 Arkansas (PK) vs. #10 Butler – Arkansas is a very poor defenseive team that goes on to play zone at times. Butler is a very strong team at the line (77% which ranks 21st in the country). With both teams struggling on the defensive side of the ball, look for alot of free throws and Butler winning this game.
#2 Purdue (-20.5) vs. #15 Cal State Fullerton – We think this could be the biggest blow out in the first round. CSUF has trouble scoring and they have a very bad defense. Purdue will outmatch CSUF with their length and be able to get buckets at will. We like Purdue at -20.5.