March Madness is back! The first Thursday and Friday are arguably the two best days in all of sports. I am back for the NCAA tournament, where I will try to pick every game against the spread. Follow along on twitter for random tournament thoughts (@alex_fisher11)
12:15 pm Minnesota v. Louisville (-5) Total: 134.5 – Louisville -5
Going to lean Cardinals here, due to this Gopher offense not being anything special. You can always expect close games in March, and this Minnesota team ranks near the bottom of the NCAA in free throw percentage. That could help Louisville stretch this lead out just enough to cover the 5.5
12:40 pm Yale v. LSU (-7.5) Total: 157 – LSU -7.5
Yale will probably be a popular pick here ATS and in brackets. Even without Will Wade on the sidelines, I think this LSU team is just an all-around better team, enough so to cover the 7.5. Over 60% of bets on Yale but less than 50% of the money, those numbers have me taking the Tigers.
1:30 pm New Mexico State v. Auburn (-5.5) Total: 145.5 – NMSU +5.5
This Auburn team live and dies by the three, 43% of their points coming from behind the arc. They will either make deep run in the tourney, winning every game by 20+, or get bounced in this game. NMSU is another popular pick in brackets, they will probably play slow and kill the pace of this game, and hopefully enough to stay in this game. Also, like the under here.
2:00 pm Vermont v. Florida State (-9) Total: 134 – Vermont +9
I see this as a classic “survive and advance” game here for Florida State. Catamounts cover but lose straight up.
2:45 pm Bradley v. Michigan State (-19) Total: 134 – Michigan St. -19
We have seen Michigan St. famously lose as a 2 seed before (MTSU 2016) but that is not happening this year. This MSU team is clicking on all cylinders right now. Not all games in the tourney a close.
3:10 pm Belmont v. Maryland (-3) Total: 147 – Maryland -3
Very interesting matchup here, this could wind up being one of the better games over the opening round of the tournament. 2nd game in 3 days with travel for Belmont plays a factor here.
4:00 pm Northeastern v. Kansas (-6) Total: 143.5 – Northeastern +6
Northeastern is another popular pick in both brackets and Vegas. I am also hopping on the Huskie bandwagon. Kansas has struggled after losing some key pieces this year. NE might not win outright but look for a cover.
4:30 pm Murray St. v. Marquette (-3.5) Total: 149 – Murray St. +3.5
Maybe the Thursday game I am most interested in, Ja Morant matching up against Markus Howard. Marquette relies on the 3 but Murray St. comes in as the 4th best team in defensive 3 point percentage, per KenPom. This one stays close the entire time with the two star guards going at it.
6:50 pm Florida v. Nevada (-2) Total: 133.5 – Florida +2
I really do not trust this Nevada team. Believe they are getting some left over hype from last years sweet 16 run. Lost a game in Mountain West conference play by 27. Do not trust this team to beat an SEC team. Florida wins outright.
7:10 pm Abilene Christian v. Kentucky (-22) Total: 132.5 – Kentucky -22
Looks like PJ Washington will be playing Thursday after suffering a foot sprain,also getting Reid Travis back at the right time. Look for the WIldcats to make a run, starting with a big win against Abilene Christian.
7:20 pm Saint Mary’s v. Villanova (-4.5) Total: 130.5 – Villanova -4.5
Do not get too carried away with the Saint Mary’s WCC tournament win over Gonzaga. Trust the Big East champions in this one. Also lean on the under, two very slow teams both bottoms in nation in average possession length.
7:27 pm Fairleigh Dickinson v. Gonzaga (-27.5) Total: 152.5 – FDU +27.5
FDU really impressed in the first four games by making a 13 point comeback to win their matchup. Gonzaga will win, by double digits. FDU is tops in the nation in 3 point percentage which has the potential to lead to a back door cover.
9:20 pm Montana v. Michigan (-14.5) Total: 130 – Michigan -14.5
2 seed Michigan does not really turn the ball over, and rank top 20 in adjusted offensive efficiency. Those numbers tell me that Michigan is going to be able to grab a lead and hold onto it. Wolverines stretch this lead out enough to cover the 15.
9:40 pm Seton Hall v. Wofford (-2.5) Total: 144.5 – Seton Hall +2.5
Wofford is already America’s favorite team this year before the tournament even really gets going. They come in as 2.5-point favorites against a hot Seton Hall team. With the momentum Seton Hall has I like taking the points.
9:50 pm Old Dominion v. Purdue (-12.5) Total: 126 ODU +12.5
Another team in Purdue that relies on scoring from deep. This ODU team guards the 3 fairly well, and both teams play slow enough to where the Monarchs could keep this one close
9:57 pm Baylor v. Syracuse (-1) Total: 130.5 – Syracuse -1
The Syracuse zone always has potential to trip teams up in March, but Baylor also plays a lot of zone, I do not see it playing too much of a factor. I just trust Syracuse when it comes to the NCAA tournament.
* All spreads via betonline.ag as of 7pm Wednesday March 20th.