03/21/2013 07:13 AM
Valparaiso is most experienced team in country, with two juniors and six seniors in rotation; Crusaders won last six games and 16 of last 18, but lost by hoop at Nebraska, one of worst teams in Big Dozen. Michigan State is 3-4 in last seven games, with all four losses to teams in top 15; they beat Loyola by 12, in only game vs Horizon foe. Spartans played toughest schedule in country; since 2000, Izzo is 3-2 as double digit favorite in this round, but covered just one of last four first round games. Last six years, #3 seeds are 16-8 against spread in this round; first round favorites of between 10-20 points are 27-22 vs spread.
Since 2001, Patriot League teams are 9-3 vs spread in this round, 2-1 if a single digit underdog; LY, Lehigh upset Duke in 2-15 game. Bucknell has a good resume, beating Purdue-New Mexico State-Kent State-LaSalle, losing by hoop at Missouri- this is highest seed for Patriot squad since Bucknell (+4) upset Arkansas 59-55 in an '09 8-9 game. Last four years, dogs are 11-5 vs spread in 6-11 games; since '09, first round underdogs of 5 or less points are 38-19 vs spread. Butler is 10-6 last 16 games after a 16-2 start; Stevens is master when given prep time- Butler was 3-1 as a favorite in two years they went to Finals (dog in six of ten wins).
Over last six years, underdogs are 18-6 vs spread in 8-9 games; since '99, underdogs of 4+ points are 5-2 in 8-9 games. Since '89, dogs are 16-8 SU in the 8-9 game in West region. Pitt missed tourney LY, then played the #339 non-league schedule this year; Dixon is 7-1 in first round tilts (5-3 vs spread), but all seven wins were as 5-seed or higher, loss as 9-seed to Pacific in '05. Wichita split its last six games, losing to Creighton twice; they lost to VCU in 5-12 game LY, their first tourney under Marshall. This figures to be a physical, low-scoring game. First round underdogs of 5 or less points are 38-19 against the spread.
Saint Louis played in Brooklyn last weekend, winning final on Sunday, now has early Thursday game in San Jose, not easiest travel schedule for veteran team that is fashionable pick as Final Foul sleeper. Billikens had rough 3-3 start, but are on 15-1 run now- they've got four juniors, three seniors in rotation, are in top 20 in country at getting to foul line, which could hurt if game isn't called tight. #4 seed in Midwest got upset four of last five years; other #4's are 9-6 vs spread (13-2 SU) during that time. New Mexico State has 7-5 freshman center; they've won 18 of 20 after a 6-8 start, are #3 team in country getting to line, but their best assist guy (Watson) has been injured. Aggies were in Vegas last week; less travel.
Davidson is very well-coached; they made run to Elite 8 in ’08 with Steph Curry, but those are SoCon’s only tournament wins since ’97. Since ’02, Wildcats are 1-4 in first round, losing by 5-8-12-7 points (lost 69-62 (+7) to Louisville LY). Marquette is 4-1 in last five first round games, winning last two years by 11-20 points (won 88-68 (-6) as 3-seed LY). Wildcats won last 17 games; they went 6-6 vs #16 non-conference schedule; best teams they beat were #83 Richmond, #85 Vandy. Marquette won six of last eight games, but lost in first Big East tourney game. First-round underdogs of 5 or less points are 38-19 vs spread, but over last 14 years, #3’s are 53-3 SU in this round.
Lot of pressure on Memphis coach Pastner, who went 19-0 in C-USA but has yet to win NCAA game, losing by 2-7 points last two years as replacement for Calipari, who was 12-3 in NCAAs three years prior to that. Tigers lost non-league game 64-62 at Xavier Feb 26, only loss since Dec 15 at home to Louisville. Memphis plays at #28 tempo; they'll try to wear down St Mary's with their better athletes. St Mary's played three starters 35+ minutes in methodical win Tuesday over an athletic Middle Tennessee team; Gaels are 24-4 in last 28 games, losing all three games with Gonzaga, by 5-17-14 points. Over last four years, underdogs are 11-5 vs spread in 6-11 games. St Mary's is 3-4 in NCAA games under Bennett, upsetting #2 Villanova on short prep time after beating #7 Richmond two days earlier, scenario similar to this one.
This is first time in five years the SWAC rep hasn’t gone to play-in game; they’re 2-4 vs spread in last six regular first-round games, losing last two by 43-41 points. Southern won 22 of last 26 games after its 1-6 start, losing to Iowa State by 23, Nebraska by 11, Wyoming by 7- they won at Texas A&M. Jaguars have #2 eFG% in country (41.6%) but no one in SWAC can shoot. From 2004-6, Gonzaga was #2-3-3 seed, won first round games by 27-10-4 points; this is its first #1 seed. Bulldogs are 11-0 vs teams ranked outside top 150, with 10 of 11 wins by 16+ points; they could be looking ahead to second round, vs Pitt/Wichita winner. Over last five years, #1’s are 13-7 vs spread in this round.
Oregon was 17-2 when PG Artis hurt his foot; they went 5-4 while he was out, are 4-2 since he came back, but 14 minutes he played in Pac-12 title game, and totals of 7-24 from floor, 2-11 inside arc since he came back indicate he isn’t close to 100%. Oklahoma State is in NCAAs for first time in three years, third time in seven years since Eddie Sutton retired; they won 12 of last 15 games, have one of two best freshmen in country in Smart (4-19 from arc in their last three losses, 3.4 3’s/game (13-41) in their last 12 wins). Last five years, underdogs are 12-8 vs spread in 5-12 games; since 1994, dogs are 15-4 vs spread in 5-12 Midwest game. Ducks took advantage of Jordan Adams’ injury to beat UCLA Saturday; 12-seed says they might be in NIT had they lost that game.
Since 1993, Louisville is 3-11-1 vs spread in first round games, losing in first round two of last three years; only other time they were a #1 seed, Cardinals (-20.5) beat Morehead State by 20. North Carolina A&T used four starters 31+ minutes in 73-72 play-in win Tuesday; Aggies lost at Cincinnati 93-39 in its only game against a Big East team. A&T is in serious trouble vs Louisville; they turn it over 22.5% of time, bad news vs Cardinal club that forces turnovers 27.6% of time, #2 in US. #1 seeds are 13-7 vs spread in this round, over last five years. Louisville is 3-0 vs teams ranked outside top 200 this season, winning by 26-41-52 points; they had 44-10 run in second half vs Syracuse, after being down 15 early in second half. Question is, will they let down after winning conference tournament, and looking ahead to winner of Missouri-Colorado State?
South Dakota State is solid offensive team that won at New Mexico, lost by 3 at Alabama, but also lost at Hofstra/Bakersfield. Jackrabbits make 39.4% behind arc, are #26 in eFG% (53.5%) but also lost by 24 at Minnesota, in their only game vs Big Dozen team. State doesn’t sub much, but is #43 experience team in country, while Michigan is #338. Wolverines (two juniors, no seniors in rotation) went 6-6 in last 12 games, after starting season 20-1; six of its seven losses came vs top 10 teams. Michigan is 2-1 in first round under Beilein, winning by 3-30, with dog covering all three games- they lost as 4-seed to Ohio LY. Last seven years, #4 seeds are 17-11 vs spread in this round. Summit League teams are 0-5 last five years, 2-3 vs spread, losing by 19-10-23-4-8 points, all as 13-14 seeds. Playing in Auburn Hills can’t hurt Michigan.
Belmont is in NCAAs for 6th time since 2006; they’re 0-5 SU, 1-4 vs spread, losing by 34-25-1-14-15 points, with only cover 71-70 (+20) loss to Duke in 2-15 game five years ago- they lost by 14-15 points last two years. Bruins won at Stanford, but lost to VCU by 10, Kansas by 29. Belmont’s 56.8% eFG% is #2 in country; they make 37.6% behind arc, 57.1% inside arc (#1 in country). Since 1985, Arizona is 3-7 SU in first round of NCAAs when lower than a 4-seed; they’re 5-5 in last 10 games after a 20-2 start. First round underdogs of 5 or less points are 38-19 vs spread; over last four years, underdogs are 11-5 vs spread in 6-11 games. Game is in altitude in Salt Lake City; Belmont ranks #284 in bench minutes; will longer TV timeouts save them from getting worn down?
UNLV (+1.5) won 76-75 at Cal Dec 9; Thomas put back airball for win at buzzer, in game Birch didn't play and Moser got hurt in, playing five minutes. Now Rebels go back to NoCal (San Jose) for semi-road game vs Bears, who lost last two games after winning previous seven. Solomon was 7-13 from floor in first game; doubt he'll do as well with defensive ace Birch in paint. Over last five years, dogs are 12-8 vs spread in 5-12 games; underdogs of 5 or less points are 38-19 vs spread. UNLV lost its last three first round games (favored in all three), so certain amount of pressure on Coach Rice, who doesn't have true PG on this roster. Cal lost three of its last four first round games, losing play-in game LY to South Florida. Bears hardly sub; they get 62% of points on 2-pointers (#5 in country), so Rebels' edge inside should be the difference.
Missouri PG Pressey is loose cannon, not a dependable PG, turning ball over 25.5% of time; Tigers are 8-6 in last 14 games, with all six losses by 3 or less points, or in OT- one of losses was on this floor in OT Feb 23. Colorado State starts five seniors, but PG Greene tweaked ankle at end of UNLV game Friday, is a ? here. Rams are #308 in bench minutes, so they need Green to be healthy, especially vs Missouri team that will be anxious to atone for upset loss in a 2-15 game LY. Colorado State is top rebounding team in country (#2 on offensive, #1 on defensive boards); Iverson-Oraihki matchup will be fun. Over last six years, underdogs are 18-6 vs spread in 8-9 games; over last 13 years, dogs are 11-2 vs spread in Midwest 8-9 game in. Winner of game gets Louisville Saturday, when Lexington locals will pull for them and against the Cardinals.
Akron PG Abreu got arrested/suspended two weeks ago; Zips won the MAC tourney without him, thanks to double bye, but now face a VCU team that forces turnovers 28.7% of time, #1 in country. Important for VCU to make 3's (35.2% from arc) to negate 7-foot Marshall, defensive force for Zips- two teams Akron played without Abreu, Kent/Ohio, are not good shooting teams. Rams beat Akron 70-53 in '10 Bracket Buster game, then won by point in OT at Akron in return game LY. Since 2006, first round favorites of between 5-10 points are 28-23 vs spread. Dogs are 10-6 vs spread in 5-12 games last four years. VCU won 10 of last 13 games, with only losses to Saint Louis/Temple, teams with outstanding guards. Atlantic 16 is #8 conference this year, MAC is #15. Since 2004, MAC teams are 1-7 in first round games, covering four of last five.
New Mexico is underrated as #3 seed, winning nine of last 10, beating UNLV on its home floor in MWC title game. Key here is to defend the 3-ball; Harvard is #8, making 40.8% behind arc. Crimson didn't exactly dominate Ivy League, losing three games; since 1999, Ivy League teams are 1-13 in first round games, 3-11 vs spread; Harvard (+6.5) lost 79-70 to Vandy in LY's tourney, but two guys from LY that were supposed to return didn't for off-court reasons, so they're #286 in experience, #343 in bench minutes, which will hurt in Salt Lake altitude. Crimson lost its last two road games; they're #2 in country at getting to foul line- Lobos are #8 team in country at not fouling- their two big fellas inside should enjoy playing vs Ivy League bigs after banging with more athletic Mountain West bigs all winter.
Long road trip for Syracuse after playing four games in four days in New York last week; they've won last four first round games, by 15-23-17-7 points. Montana is 93-34 last four years, so they've got guys who are used to winning, but without 6-7 inside star Ward, would have to shoot high percentage of 3's (37.8% for year) against team thats more athletic across board. Over last six years, #4 seeds are 14-10 vs spread in this round; last time #4 seed in East got beat was 1991, though six other #4's have lost in last five years. Cal's fans will be there too; their coach was Montana's coach long time ago (he coached Griz coach Tinkle for year), so if this game stayed close, expect the crowd to turn on eastern favorite and pull for underdog Griz, but Big Sky teams are 1-13 in first round last 14 years, losing last six years (1-5 vs spread) by 28-24-18-5-18-24.
Very difficult to prep for Princeton offense in a day, but Maryland beat Northwestern by 20 back in December, so they've worked on it before. Long travel for Denver (18-2 in last 20 games)- they were 15-29 at the foul line in four-point win over Ohio Tuesday.