2019 March Madness: NCAA Tournament Free Picks and Predictions
The 2019 NCAA Tournament bracket has been announced, which means the only thing left to do is get those winning college basketball picks in. Before you put your favorite picks in and potential cinderella teams reaching the final four, take a look at what the Pickswise basketball experts have to say. With over a decade of combined winning experience, Pickswise is your number one resource to win daily march madness money. Every game will include an against the spread and over/under winner. Enjoy these free NCAA Tournament Free Picks and Predictions? Give @Pickswise a follow and get a first hand-look on his daily research.
Game: Texas Tech vs. Virginia Cavaliers
Line: Virginia -1.0
Pickswise Expert Picks: Virginia ML/Under
It is often said that defense wins championships, and the only certainty heading into Monday night in Minneapolis is that defense will do just that. Two of the three best scoring defenses in all of college basketball will be on display when the Virginia Cavaliers and Texas Tech Red Raiders battle for the National Championship. Texas Tech forward Tariq Owens is expected to play, but he was in a walking boot after getting injured against Michigan State on Saturday and it would take a miracle for him to be 100 percent. Even with Owens, the Red Raiders do not go more than eight deep. Speaking of miracles, Virginia survived thrillers against Purdue and Auburn to get to this point. Are the Wahoos a team of destiny following last year’s disaster? Maybe. But even if you aren’t a “destiny” kind of bettor, there is a lot to like. Kyle Guy and Ty Jerome have been clutch, Kihei Clark is running a mistake-free offense, and Mamadi Diakite is a defensive force down low. Texas Tech is 1-6 ATS in its last seven against the ACC. The Cavaliers are 45-21-1 ATS in their last 67 overall, 18-8 ATS in their last 26 non-conference contests, and 20-9 ATS in their last 29 following a win. VIRGINIA is the pick.
You just know this is either going to defy the odds and be something like a 96-94 shootout or set defensive records like everyone expects and end 50-48. I’ll go with the latter of those two extremes. Virginia sophomore guard De’Andre Hunter (14.9 ppg) has scored below his average in four straight games. Texas Tech star Jarett Culver was wildly off in the Elite Eight and Final Four. The under is 4-1 in the Red Raiders’ last five overall, 20-8 in their last 28 at neutral sites, and 4-0 in their last four against the ACC. It is also 4-1 in the Cavaliers’ last five overall, 8-2 in their last nine non-conference contests, and 4-1 in their last five at neutral sites. Take the UNDER.
Game: Auburn Tigers vs. Virginia Cavaliers
Line: Virginia -6.0
Pickswise Expert Picks: Auburn ATS, UNDER
The Virginia Cavaliers and Auburn Tigers will contest the first national semifinal at the Final Four in Minneapolis on Saturday. Auburn has become the first team ever to beat Kansas, North Carolina, and Kentucky in three consecutive NCAA Tournament games. Senior guard Bryce Brown poured in 25 points against Kansas and pinned 24 on Kentucky. Virginia struggled with both Oregon and Purdue, and even trailed No. 16 seed Gardner-Webb by double-digits in the first round. Head coach Tony Bennett’s squad may be the best defensively in the entire nation, but its style of play obviously leads to competitive, low-scoring games. Auburn is 8-2 ATS in its last 10 overall, 4-1 ATS in its last five at neutral sites, and 5-1 ATS in its last six against opponents with winning percentages over .600. The Cavaliers are 2-6 ATS in their last eight NCAA Tournament games. Take AUBURN, but you are probably going to need the 6.0 points.
Auburn, of course, is without forward Chuma Okeke (12.0 ppg)—who suffered a torn ACL in the Sweet 16 against UNC. Virginia sophomore guard De’Andre Hunter (14.9 ppg) has gone three straight games without scoring more than 11 points. The under is 5-1 in the Tigers’ last six against the ACC. It is also 6-1 in the Cavaliers’ last seven against the SEC, 7-2 in their last nine non-conference contests, and 5-2 in their last seven at neutral sites. Go with the UNDER.
Game: Texas Tech vs. Michigan State
Line: Michigan State -3
Pickswise Expert Picks: Red Raiders +3, Under
The Michigan State Spartans and the Texas Tech Red Raiders are the second game to tip off on Saturday night and these two teams are almost identical in terms of stats as of late. Over the last five games each team is averaging right around 72 points per game and both teams are giving up 61 points per game. This game will play out as a back and forth affair and it should go down to the last basket. When that is the case the play you need to go with is the underdog and taking the three points with the Red Raiders. In terms of the total it’s going to be a game that both teams have problems scoring. And I could see this game ending right around 63-61. Red Raiders are 5-0 ATS in their last 5 vs. Big Ten.Red Raiders are 13-3 ATS in their last 16 games overall. Red Raiders are 10-1 ATS in their last 11 games vs. a team with a winning % above .600. Red Raiders are 11-1 ATS in their last 12 games vs. a team with a winning straight up record. Under is 4-1 in Red Raiders last 5 NCAA Tournament games. Under is 5-1 in Spartans last 6 overall. Under is 5-2 in Spartans last 7 vs. Big 12. Back the Red Raiders and under with confidence.
Elite 8 games
Game: Auburn Tigers vs. Kentucky Wildcats
Line: Kentucky -4.5
Pickswise Expert Picks: Auburn ATS, Over
I suppose Auburn had the stunner of the Sweet Sixteen with how they dispatched North Carolina. Now it is on to very familiar Kentucky. The Tigers lost twice to the Wildcats during the regular season, a close loss at home and a blowout on the road as part of an overall disappointing year. They are making up for it in March by playing their best basketball though. The key is making their three pointers because they take a lot of them. Their guards are so tough too. Kentucky got all it could handle from Houston and there is still uncertainty about top scorer PJ Washington – he looked good with 16 points against Houston but is still listed as questionable. In the Tournament the Wildcats have been playing some real defensive battles but Auburn is going to try and turn that around and push the pace. Against Houston only Washington and Tyler Herro scored more than 7 points. They are going to need at least one more player to step up in this one. Auburn is in great form and I expect it to continue here. Take the Tigers.
The two in season games in this series went over and under. Kentucky broke 80 in cash but the Tigers had one of their worst shooting games at Rupp Arena in the other. It is a good sign that the ball was dropping through the net against North Carolina. Sometimes it is hard to adjust to new arenas for teams but that was not the case for the Tigers. Bruce Pearl said the game would go over and he was right on the money. Auburn pushes the pace effectively hear and gets this one over too
Game: Duke vs Michigan State
Line: Duke -2.5
Pickswise Expert Picks: Spartans Under
It’s the Elite 8 and two of college basketball blue bloods face off with Michigan State and Duke facing off. There is no other way to put it, the Blue Devils have gotten lucky in each of the last two games. Against Virginia Tech they only won by two, and against UCF they only won by one. They have been playing with fire but I think this is the game where Duke loses it. The Spartans held a good LSU offense to only 63 points and that defense will be the difference in this game. Look for the Spartans to win this game outright, but take the 2.5 points just to be safe. In terms of the total this number has been moving down but I still think the play is with the under. The Spartans defense is going to keep this game low scoring. Spartans are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 neutral site games. Blue Devils are 1-6-1 ATS in their last 8 games overall. Under is 4-1 in Spartans last 5 overall. Under is 7-1-1 in Blue Devils last 9 non-conference games. Back the under and Spartans with confidence.
Game: Gonzaga Bulldogs vs. Texas Tech Red Raiders
Line: Gonzaga -4.0
Pickswise Expert Picks: Gonzaga ATS, Under
The Gonzaga Bulldogs and Texas Tech Red Raiders will battle for the West Region title and a berth in the Final Four when they collide in Anaheim, Calif. on Saturday. Both teams are peaking at the right time on the heels of disappointing exits in their respective conference tournaments. Gonzaga scored 87 points against Fairleigh Dickinson, torched Baylor for 83, and then beat a red-hot Florida State team 72-58 on Thursday. The Bulldogs’ only real question mark heading into this week was struggling sophomore guard Zach Norvell Jr., but he emerged with 14 points on 4-for-8 shooting from three-point range against the Seminoles. In addition to being 33-3 overall, the Zags are 24-1 in their past 25 contests and two of their losses have come at the hands of Tennessee and North Carolina. For Texas Tech, sophomore guard Jarrett Culver (18.9 ppg) has been outstanding and fellow sophomore guard Davide Moretti (15 points) also played well in a Sweet 16 rout of Michigan. On the offensive end, however, Culver and Moretti did not get any help on Thursday. Gonzaga is 6-1 ATS in its last seven non-conference contests and 9-4 ATS in its last 13 against the Big 12. Go with GONZGA.
Texas Tech put the absolute clamps down on the Wolverines, holding them to a laughable 44 points. Both teams feature long, athletic defenders who can make it tough on opponents to score. The under is 19-7 in the Red Raiders’ last 26 at neutral sites, 4-0 in their last four NCAA Tournament games, and 5-1 in their last six after allowing less than 50 points in their previous outing. It is also 6-1 in the Bulldogs’ last seven non-conference contests and 5-2 in their last seven NCAA Tournament games. Look for this one to stay UNDER the total.
Game: Virginia vs Purdue
Line: Virginia -4.5
Pickswise Expert Picks: Purdue +4.5, Over
A spot in the Final Four is on the line as the One-seeded Virginia Cavaliers face-off with the three-seeded Purdue Boilermakers in the South Region. The Cavaliers escaped the upset-minded Oregon Ducks in the Sweet 16, in a tough low scoring 53-49 victory. The Boilermakers outdueled the Tennessee Volunteers in overtime in their Sweet 16 shootout that resulted in a 99-94 victory for Purdue. These teams most recent meeting was in 2006 which resulted in a two-point victory for the Boilermakers.
In their last five games, Purdue is 4-1 ATS. The Cavaliers have really struggled ATS with a 2-3 record Against the Spread in their last five games. The over-under in Purdue’s last five games is 3-2 in favor of the over. The Cavaliers have only had one game in their last five reach the over and that came four games ago in a loss against Florida State. Purdue as a four and a half point dog has great value, as they are playing at a high level at the right time. Roll with Purdue in this game as they will cover and take the Over.
Sweet 16 Games
Game: LSU vs MSU
Line: LSU +6
Pickswise Expert Picks: Tigers +6, Under
One of the more obvious plays from the Sweet 16 card is the LSU Tigers getting six points against the Michigan State Spartans. In the Tigers last game against the Hawkeyes they really didn’t seem to have much respect for them and thought they could just cruise in the second half. That backfired quickly and I don’t think that is a mistake they will make again. The Tigers like the Spartans are a veteran led team and getting six point is a gift.In terms of total the under is the play. The Spartans are a solid defensive team giving up only 60 points per game over the last five and although I don’t think they will hold the Tigers down that much, they don’t want to get into a shootout. Under is 5-2 in Tigers last 7 overall. Under is 5-2 in Spartans last 7 neutral site games. Tigers are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 vs. Big Ten. Spartans are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 NCAA Tournament games. Back the Tigers with confidence and give a slight lean to the under.
Game: Duke vs VT
Line: Duke -7.5
Pickswise Expert Picks: Duke -7.5 Over
A lot of people are going to be scared off of Duke in this game for a couple of reasons but they are still the play. Virginia Tech did beat Duke earlier in the season but Zion wasn’t playing in that game. Duke also struggled in their last game but the Hokies don’t have someone like Tacko Fall to match up against Zion and I think he will be back to his dominant self in this game. All the Blue Devils did the last time they faced a good defensive team in Virginia was put up 81 points so I don’t think the Hokies defense will be an issue in this game. The books also seem to be begging you to take the over in this game and I think that is the right side to be on.
The Blue Devils don’t care about good defensive teams and will push the pace on anyone. UCF was a good defensive team most of the season they put up 77 points on them. Over is 4-1 in Blue Devils last 5 NCAA Tournament games. Hokies are 1-5 ATS in their last 6 NCAA Tournament games. Hokies are 2-5-1 ATS in their last 8 games following a straight up win. Back the Blue Devils and the over.
Game: Houston Cougars vs. Kentucky Wildcats
Line: Kentucky -2.0
Pickswise Expert Picks: Houston ML, OVER
The line for this one is probably going to come out late because the injury status of PJ Washington is unknown. If he plays it would be a big boost as the Cougars do not have a lot going on inside. Kentucky was no slam dunk against Wofford who played them really tough. The Wildcats have a high ceiling but the variability of their play seems to be really high too. The crowd will probably be against them. Houston has advanced through two rounds and barely broken a sweat – they also haven’t let a team break 60 points. Their defense forces you to be solid all of the time and they are blessed with great guard play. The Wildcats have been felled by a great guard performance earlier in the season – see Myles Power. Corey Davis Jr. could be the one to eliminate them. Go with the Cougars who could easily advance.
Projected totals are putting this one into the low 130s. That assumes a strong defensive game and neither team really pulling away. If Washington is back and healthy that could nudge things up but either way I am going to suggest the over and this one comes down to final possessions and free throws being key. Kentucky is solid in that area this season.
Game: Florida State Seminoles vs. Gonzaga Bulldogs
Line: Gonzaga -7.5
Pickswise Expert Picks: FSU+7.5, OVER
The Gonzaga Bulldogs and Florida State Seminoles will square off in a Sweet 16 rematch when they meet again on Thursday in Anaheim, Calif. They faced each other in the same round of the NCAA Tournament last spring, when Florida State prevailed 75-60 in Los Angeles. While Gonzaga may be eager for another shot in this matchup, it does not appear to be coming at the right time for the Bulldogs. After all, the Seminoles are perhaps the hottest team in the entire nation. They are 16-2 in their last 18 games, with losses only at North Carolina and to Duke in the ACC Tournament final during this stretch. FSU has advanced in the Big Dance with victories over Vermont and Murray State, the latter via a 90-62 blowout. Gonzaga has eased past Fairleigh Dickinson and Baylor to rebound from a West Coast Conference Tournament final setback against Saint Mary’s. Sophomore guard Zach Norvell Jr. (15.1 ppg) has been wildly off of late, averaging a mere 8.0 ppg over the past three outings while shooting 8-for-32 from the field. Gonzaga is 3-8-1 ATS in its last 12 NCAA Tournament games and 1-6-1 ATS in its last eight against the ACC. The ‘Noles are 9-3-2 ATS in their last 14 at neutral sites. This +7.5 spread is way too big to pass on FSU.
Thanks mostly to Rui Hachimura, Gonzaga overcame Norvell’s struggles to pin 87 points on Fairleigh Dickinson and 83 on Baylor. Florida State scored an eye-popping 90 at Murray State’s expense. Forward Mfiondu Kabengele is averaging 21.5 ppg in the NCAA Tournament. The over is 6-0 in the Seminoles’ last six non-conference contests. It is also 5-2 in the Zags’ last seven following a win. Take the OVER.
Game: Purdue Boilermakers vs. Tennessee Volunteers
Line: Tennessee -1.5
Pickswise Expert Picks: Purdue +1.5, OVER
The Purdue Boilermakers have been impressive in the tournament thus far. They have won both games by double digits and were able to cover both spreads. They defeated Old Dominion in the 1st round by a score of 61-48 and the reigning national champion Villanova Wildcats in the 2nd round by a score of 87-61. Purdue is 19-14-1 ATS overall, 13-11 ATS after a win, 2-2 ATS as an underdog and 2-0 ATS in the tournament. They will face Tennessee with the winner going on to the Elite 8.
The Tennessee Volunteers led the game against the Iowa Hawkeyes by 21 points at halftime in what should’ve been an easy win in the second half they saw their lead evaporate as the Hawkeyes forced OT. Tennessee defeated Colgate in round 1 by a score of 77-70 and the Iowa Hawkeyes in round 2 by a score of 83-77. The Volunteers are 17-17-1 ATS overall, 16-14 ATS after a win, 15-15-1 ATS as a favorite and 0-2 ATS in the tournament. The Volunteers have failed to cover either of the spread in the tournament thus far and will play one of the best teams in the Big Ten in this round.
Purdue has looked impressive in the tournament so far while Tennessee has won both games they haven’t looked good and survived a scare in the 2nd round against Iowa. I look for Purdue +1.5 to be the play in this game. Both of these teams are above the average in terms of points scored with the Volunteers ranking 17th with 81.69 points per game and Purdue ranking 67th with 76.06 points per game this season. I look for the over 146 to be a solid play in this game as well.
Game: Texas Tech Red Raiders vs. Michigan Wolverines
Line: Michigan -1.5
Pickswise Expert Picks: Michigan -1.5, OVER
The Michigan Wolverines and Texas Tech Red Raiders will battle for a spot in the Elite Eight of the West Region when they clash on Thursday in Anaheim, Calif. Second-seeded Michigan was national runner-up in 2017-18 and there is a lot to like about its chances of making another major NCAA Tournament run. The Wolverines, who have coasted past Montana and Michigan so far, are 30-3 against all opponents other than Michigan State this season and they have not lost anything other than a true road game to any team other than the Spartans.
Senior guard Charles Matthews went for 22 points and 10 rebounds against Vermont and did a little of everything (nine points, seven boards, two blocks, and two steals) in round two. The Red Raiders are also in fine form, but an opening loss to lowly West Virginia in the Big 12 Tournament remains a cause for concern. Texas Tech is 5-16 ATS in its last 21 on Thursdays. The Wolverines are 4-1 ATS in their last five overall, 42-19-4 ATS in their last 65 at neutral sites, 4-1-1 ATS in their last six NCAA Tournament games, and 36-15-2 ATS in their last 53 against opponents with winning records. Roll with MICH.
There won’t be any scoring records broken in this one, but such a low total can be exposed. Texas Tech has not been kept under the 70-point mark since Feb. 9. Sophomore guard Jarrett Culver is averaging 18.8 ppg and he has poured in at least 26 points in four of the past five contests. The over is 6-2 in the Red Raiders’ last eight following a win. It is also 5-2-1 in the Wolverines’ last eight against the Big 12. Go with the OVER, but don’t do it with a ton of confidence.
Game: Oregon vs. Virginia
Line: Virginia -8.5
Pickswise Expert Picks: Virginia -8.5, Over
The 12th-seeded Oregon Ducks squares-off with the number one-seeded Virginia Cavaliers in the Sweet 16 of the South Region in the NCAA Tournament. The Ducks (25-12) have been one of the hottest teams and surprises of this season’s NCAA Tourney as Oregon enters this game on a 10-game winning streak. The Cavaliers (31-3) have advanced to the Sweet 16 on a pair of games with slow starts, but the Cavaliers look built for a shot at the Final Four. Virginia is 9-1 in their last 10 games. Oregon is 10-0 ATS in each of their last 10 games, while Virginia is 5-0 ATS in each of their last five games. It has been up and down in the over-under department for the Ducks in their last five games with Oregon having only two games that reached the over.
For Virginia the over-under in their last five games, the final total was under in three of those games, including in both tournament games so far. The Ducks and Cavaliers have met twice in recent years with Virginia winning each of those meetings. Both teams are shooting the ball very well and this could be a defensive battle in this game. Back the Cavaliers to cover and take the Over in this one.
First Four Predictions
Game: Fairleigh Dickinson vs. Prairie View A&M
Line: Fairleigh Dickinson -1.5
Pickswise Expert Picks: Dickinson -1.5, Over
The Fairleigh Dickinson Knights are looking for a chance to showcase why they deserve to take on Gonzaga in the first round as they have to take down the Prairie View A&M Panthers on Tuesday night. For the Knights, they enter this game with an impressive eight game winning streak as they captured the Northeast Conference Tournament with a win against the No.1 ranked Saint Francis Red Flash. On the flip side, the Panthers have won 11 straight games, but diving into their schedule a bit more, they struggle against winning teams. The Panthers are 1-4-1 ATS in their last 6 games vs. a team with a winning % above .600 as well as 0-4-1 ATS in their last 5 non-conference games. As for the Knights they are on an offensive tear with being 7-1 ATS in their last 8 games overall as well as 6-1 ATS in their last 7 games following a straight up win.
This is going to be a close game, but the Knights are going to come away with a victory in a high scoring game. The Knights are averaging 79.2 points per game in their last three games as the Panthers are averaging 86 points per game in their last three games. The Over is 4-0 in Panthers last 4 overall as well as 5-0 in Panthers last 5 Tuesday games. Back the Knights to cover and lean the Over here.
Game: Temple Owls vs. Belmont Bruins
Line: Belmont -3.0
Pickswise Expert Picks: Temple +3.0/ML, Under
The Temple Owls are ready to shock the world as they take on the Belmont Bruins on Tuesday night. In all honesty, the Owls probably should not be playing in this first four games as there are other teams who I think deserve the spot, but they get a very favorable matchup. They will be taking on the Belmont Bruins who have not been the best at these march madness games as all four prior trips to the NCAA Tournament have ended in double-figures losses. On the other side, the Temple Owls have had close games all season as seven of their nine losses came by single figures.
Smart choice would be to take the points as the Bruins are 2-5 ATS in their last 7 NCAA Tournament games as well as 2-5 ATS in their last 7 neutral site games. On the flip side with the Bruins struggling in these tournament games, the Under has been a great pick as the Under is 4-0 in Bruins last 4 non-conference games as well as 4-0 in Bruins last 4 Tuesday games. Back the Owls to cover (sprinkle some money line on them as well) and lean the Under here.
Game: NC Central vs. N. Dakota St
Line: N. Dakota St -5.0
Pickswise Expert Picks: N. Dakota St -5.0/ Under
The NC Central Eagles are looking for the upset win against the North Dakota State Bison on Wednesday night, but it most likely will not go their way. Here is why: The Bison are no stranger to this March Madness tournament as this will be the third time in the past six years they have gone dancing. They know how to get it done, and will. They are also in almost a league above the Eagles with playing in the Summit League as the Eagles play in the low MEAC conference.
With the Bison have nearly a week to prepare for this game as well as a four game winning streak along with them, expect a strong Bison win here. In the past two games for the Eagles, they are averaging 57.5 points per game as I can see yet another hopeful attempt at trying to control the game. However the Eagles will under perform and will help hit the Under as it is 6-0 in Eagles last 6 overall as well as 20-5-1 in Eagles last 26 games following a ATS win. Roll with the Bison and the Under here.
Game: St. John’s vs Arizona State
Line: Arizona State -2.0
Pickswise Expert Picks: Arizona State -2.0/ML, Over
The St. John Red Storm are looking to break their recent trend of losing left and right as they take on the Arizona State Sun Devils on Wednesday night. Even though the public might be favoring the Red Storm as of late, they have lost four out of five coming into the game with their last victory coming against the DePaul Blue Demons. As for the Sun Devils, they have one of the best offenses heading into this dance as it is ranked 68th with their defense being ranked 79th.
With the Devils offense ready to showcase why it deserves to be in the dance against a weak Red Storm defense that is the only team outside of the top 100 ranked in points allowed per game, I’m loving the Devils value here. On the flip side, these type of one sudden games usually tend to hit the Over as I’m leaning that way as well as the Over is 10-4 in Red Storm last 14 non-conference games as well as 5-2 in Red Storm last 7 neutral site games. Take the Devils and Over here!
First Round Thursday March 21st
Game: Louisville vs. Minnesota
Line: Louisville -5
Pickswise Expert Picks: Gophers +5, Under
The Minnesota Golden Gophers seem to play best when everyone counts them out, and it seems once again everyone has counted them out of this game. Just a couple of weeks ago it was said they needed a win against Purdue on Senior night to get into the tournament but they came in as big underdogs. They won the game outright and also beat the same Purdue team during the Big Ten Tournament. The Cardinals haven’t been all that impressive as of late winning only three of the last ten games. Getting five points here is a gift. Golden Gophers are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games following a straight up loss. Cardinals are 3-7 ATS in their last 10 neutral site games. Cardinals are 2-5 ATS in their last 7 NCAA Tournament games. These are both teams who are scoring only in the 60’s over the last five games and that will held keep this game under. Under is 7-2 in Cardinals last 9 overall as well as 6-1 in Golden Gophers and 9-4 in Golden Gophers last 13 overall. Back the Gophers with confidence and lean towards the under.
Game: LSU vs Yale
Line: LSU -7.5
Pickswise Expert Picks: Yale +7.5, Over
If you like two teams who are going to push the pace and try to run up the score as high as possible, make sure you tune into the game between LSU and Yale. These are both teams who score over 80 points per game and also give up more than 73 points per game. In Yale’s last game they put up 97 points in a game that ended in regulation and in this game they know it won’t be the defense that wins them the game. It’s hard to make a prediction on this side but have to take the points with these two high scoring games. However there is no doubt the true play is with the over. Bulldogs are 6-1 ATS in their last 7 games vs. a team with a winning % above .600. Bulldogs are 11-3 ATS in their last 14 neutral site games. Over is 4-0 in Tigers last 4 neutral site games. Over is 5-2 in Bulldogs last 7 overall. The Over is also 5-1 in Tigers last 6 games following a straight up loss. Back the over with confidence and also give a slight lean to Yale.
Can the Auburn Tigers keep their momentum going here? That’s what they’ll be trying to do as they take on the New Mexico State Aggies here in this 5/12 seed matchup. Auburn had been getting really unlucky earlier in the season, but they were always an elite team. Things finally started to bounce their way, and they ended the season on fire. They won the SEC Tournament, and enter this one with a ton of momentum which I love to see. They haven’t just been winning games, they’ve been covering them too, as they’ve gone 5-1 against the spread in their last six games.
The Aggies are 1-5 against the spread in their last 6 games vs. a team with a winning straight up record, and 1-5 against the spread in their last six NCAA Tournament games. Auburn is out for revenge after getting embarrassed in the second round of last year’s tournament, and they’ll come out angry here. They’ll easily cover this modest spread. I also like the over a lot here. The over is 5-1 in the Aggies’ last 6 games vs. a team with a winning % above .600, and New Mexico State knows their only chance here is to play fast and push the tempo. Auburn and the over are the plays here.
Vermont vs. Florida State
Line: Florida State -9
Pickswise Expert Picks: Florida State -9, Under
The Florida State Seminoles will begin their bid for a Final Four berth (or more?) when they go up against the Vermont Catamounts in the NCAA Tournament on Thursday. Florida State is red hot right now, having compiled a 12-1 record in its last 13 regular-season contests. The Seminoles then beat Virginia Tech and Virginia in the ACC Tournament before succumbing to Duke in the championship game. As usual, head coach Leonard Hamilton’s squad is led by a daunting defense. Four of FSU’s last five opponents have failed to score more than 61 points in regulation.
Vermont went 14-2 in the America East Conference and beat 2018 Cinderella story UMBC last weekend for the automatic berth. Kansas was one of the Catamounts’ tough early-season opponents and they lost 84-68. Vermont is 13-27-2 ATS in its last 42 against opponents with winning records and 1-4 ATS in its last five NCAA Tournament games. Florida State is 8-2-2 ATS in its last 12 at neutral sites and 3-0-1 ATS in its last four NCAA Tournament games. The Under is 5-2 in the Catamounts’ last seven overall and 6-2 in the Seminoles’ last eight overall. The plays are the Seminoles and Under here!
Game: Michigan State vs Bradley
Line: Michigan State -18.5
Pickswise Expert Picks: Bradley +18.5, Under
Bradley has upset on the mind against Michigan State and I think they can give them a battle. These are two teams who play different styles, but I think the Spartans the will take their foot off the gas late in the game and that will lead to a cover for Bradley. Over the last five games Bradley is giving up only 57.2 points per game and that will be key. For the total with both teams playing good defense this season the under is the play. So far this season both teams are giving up 65 points per game and in this game Michigan State should be able to keep them well under this number. Under is 11-4 in Michigan State’s last 15 Thursday. games. Under is 7-3 in Bradley last 10 vs. Big Ten. Under is 24-8 in Bradley last 32 neutral site games. Back the under and Bradley with confidence in this game.
Game: Belmont Bruins vs. Maryland Terrapins
Line: Maryland -3.0
Pickswise Expert Picks: Maryland -3.0/ML, Under
The Maryland Terrapins are looking for the ultimate revenge as they are taking on the Belmont Bruins on Thursday night. The Terrapins have been one of the worst teams coming into this big dance and were not so happy about their results last year. Maryland missed the NCAA Tournament last year after going only 19-13, and were barely given some life for this dance as they lost in the first round of the B1G Tournament to No. 13 seeded Nebraska. However the Terrapins usually bounce back after these type of awful losses as they are 9-2 ATS in their last 11 games following an ATS loss as well as 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games following a straight up loss. On the flip side, the Bruins come into this game off a nice win against the Owls in the first four games of March Madness, but got off to a slow start. With that in mind, the Under is a nice play as well as it is 4-0 in Bruins last 4 overall as well as 5-0 in Bruins last 5 non-conference games. Take the Terrapins and the Under here.
Pickswise Expert Picks: Northeastern +6.5, Over
Can the Northeastern Huskies upset a true blue blood program here? That’s what this scrappy 13 seed will attempt to pull off against the fourth-seeded Kansas Jayhawks. I’ve been intrigued by this Northeastern team all year, and they have a ton of talent for a mid-major team, led by senior guard Vasa Pusica. Pusica averaged nearly 18 points per game, and should be able to score easily on this mediocre Jayhawks defense. This Kansas team is nowhere good as they usually are, and they’ll be vulnerable here. If a 13 seed is this narrow of an underdog, it’s for a pretty good reason, and Northeastern has a legit shot here.
Kansas has already lost to several mediocre teams this season, and I think they could be taking Northeastern lightly here and planning on using their superior athleticism to dominate. That won’t happen against this Northeastern team. The Huskies are 6-0-1 against the spread in their last seven games, and they should be able to keep this one very close. They’ll cover this spread, and might even win this game outright. I also like the over a lot here. Kansas’ defense has really regressed recently, and the over is 5-1 in their last six games. The over is also 10-4 in Northeastern’s last 14 non-conference games. Northeastern +6.5 is one of my favorite plays of the tournament, and the over makes a lot of sense here as well.
Murray State vs. Marquette
Line: Marquette -4
Pickswise Expert Picks: Murray State +4, Over 149.5
From an individual matchup perspective, Marquette vs. Murray State on Thursday is one of the most intriguing NCAA Tournament first-round games. Marquette junior guard Markus Howard is averaging 25.0 points per game while shooting better than 40 percent from three-point range. But he does not have a ton of help; forward Sam Hauser is the only other Golden Eagle averaging in double-figures. Once 23-4 overall and 12-2 in the Big East, Marquette has since gone 1-5 in its past six games. For Murray State, sophomore guard Ja Morant is a potential top-three pick in the upcoming NBA Draft. He poured in 36 points during the Racers’ Ohio Valley Tournament final win over Belmont.
Murray State is 4-1 ATS in its last five overall as well as 12-5 ATS in its last 17 against opponents with winning records. Marquette is 1-5 ATS in its last six overall, 1-5 ATS in its last six at neutral sites, and 1-5 ATS in its last six against opponents with winning records. The over is 5-2 in the Racers’ last seven overall and 5-1 in the Golden Eagles’ last six non-conference contests. Give me the Racers and the Over here.
Florida vs. Nevada
Line: Nevada -2
Pickswise Expert Picks: Nevada -2, Under 133.5
This may be No. 7 vs. No. 10, but both the Nevada Wolf Pack and Florida Gators should have aspirations of making a deep run in a wide open West Region. Florida is armed with plenty of talent, but it has dropped four of its past six games. This stretch includes a 61-55 home loss to Georgia, which went 2-16 in the SEC. The Gators, who have failed to reach the 70-point mark four times in the last six, do not boast a single player averaging more than 12.0 ppg. The Wolf Pack were among the National Championship favorites when this season started but they lost four times in an unspectacular Mountain West Conference (including to San Diego State in the tournament semifinals).
Still, brothers Caleb Martin and Cody Martin are forces on both ends of the floor. Florida is 2-5 ATS in its last seven following a loss. Nevada is 19-6-1 ATS in its last 26 following a loss. The Under is 11-3 in the Gators’ last 14 overall, 7-1 in their last eight at neutral sites, and 16-5 in their last 21 non-conference contests. It is also 6-1 in the Wolf Pack’s last seven non-conference contests. Take the Wolfpack and Under please!
Abilene Christian vs Kentucky
Line: Kentucky -22.0
Pickswise Expert Picks: ACU +22.0 Under 132.0
It took some time but over the second half of the season Kentucky finally started to play like one of the most talented teams in the country. They can definitely win it all. Unfortunately, their ATS numbers are not great though so they definitely might be a team you might want to do a rolling parlay on if you really like them. They are a huge favorite in this one which makes sense but they are just 2-4 ATS when the spread is bigger than 18 points. That is all early season action but worth noting. Anyone who says they are an Abilene Christian expert is lying.
What we do know is they finished second in the Southland and avoided the more familiar Sam Houston State, who were upset in the conference tournament. This a strong defensive team but does not have nearly the size that Kentucky has. They are balanced on offense though with four players scoring between 10 and 13 points per game. I would go with the ACU but only because the spread is so large.
When Kentucky is at its best they are a really good defensive team. Few teams are more athletics and they can be really aggressive in this one because they have the depth – they are 12-12 O/U on the season. ACU games are not always lined but and they have showed no real trends this season, one game over .500 O/U. Their only comp was a blowout at Texas Tech. That game went over even though they only scored 48 points. The total for this one is higher than that at 132. Take the under here.
Pickswise Expert Picks: St. Mary’s +4.5 Under 130.0
Pickswise Expert Picks: Gonzaga -27.5 Under 130.
Game: Montana vs. Michigan
Line: Michigan -15.5
Pickswise Expert Picks: Montana +15.5, Under 130.5
The Michigan Wolverines are not exactly on a roll right now, but they still managed to snag a No. 2 seed and will begin their NCAA Tournament campaign against the Montana Grizzlies on Thursday. Michigan, the 2017-18 national runner-up, started the season 17-0 (6-0 Big Ten) but now finds itself at 28-6 (15-5 Big Ten, followed by a loss to rival Michigan State in the conference tournament final). Senior guard Charles Matthews (12.0 ppg) has been kept to single-digits in five consecutive contests.
Montana went 16-4 in the Big Sky Conference and rolled to the tournament title, winning all three of its game by at least six points. The Grizzlies are giving up just 68.3 points per game—including 55.5 ppg in its past two outings. Montana is 6-2 ATS in its last eight against opponents with winning records. Michigan is 0-4 ATS in its last four non-conference contests. The Under is 4-1 the Grizzlies’ last five NCAA Tournament games; it is also 6-1-1 in the Wolverines’ last eight NCAA Tournament games and 4-0 ATS in their last four at neutral sites. With that being said, I’m loving the points and under here!
Game: Seton Hall vs Wofford
Line: Wofford -2.5
Pickswise Expert Picks: Wofford -2.5, Over 144.5
Often there is conspiracy talk when it comes to the seeding and placement in the Tournament. This does not seem to be the case in this one as Wofford receives a seven seed and a very beatable opponent in Seton Hall. The Terriers dominated in the Colonial with a perfect 18-0 record, followed up by a SoCon Tournament win. They have more than held their own when playing up including a win at South Carolina.
They have been profitable at 19-11 ATS this season and this is a game they can easily win. Good Seton Hall can be very good with wins over the likes of Kentucky but they have struggled with consistency all season long. Myles Powell is a shooter that can keep them in any game but if he is off or contained they struggle offensively. The Pirates may have better athletes in this one and rebounding could play a factor. Seton Hall is a high variance team. They come into this one having covered in five straight. That streak ends with Wofford winning and covering.
Wofford is one of the best offensive teams in the NCAAs this season. They are 12th in scoring at 83ppg thanks to being 10th in FG% and 2nd in 3Pt FG%. Fletcher Magee is a guy not too many are familiar with but if he explodes this weekend could get some NBA consideration. Wofford wants to get up and down and Seton Hall, a mediocre defensive team is likely to oblige that. They generally play to unders but the Big East can be a pretty rugged and physical conference. Their strategy might be to clutch and grab but eventually the shooting prowess of the Terriers wins out. Take the over in this spot.
Game: Old Dominion vs Purdue
Line: Purdue -12.5
Pickswise Expert Picks: Old Dominion +12.5, Over 126.0
The Purdue Boilermakers has a great season in the Big Ten finishing 2nd in one of the best conferences in college basketball. They failed to earn the automatic bid after losing in the quarterfinals to Minnesota by a score of 73-75. Still they had good wins over a few tournament teams including Michigan State, Wisconsin, Ohio State and Maryland. Purdue is averaging 76.19 points per game which ranks 66th in college basketball while they are allowing 66.81 points per game. With an above average offense and one of the better defenses in college basketball they have the talent to make a deep run this season in the tournament.
Not many people know about Old Dominion out of Conference USA, but they won both the regular season and tournament title this season after beating Western Kentucky in the conference championship by a score of 62-56. They finished the season with a 26-8 record which is impressive and had two quality wins against tournament teams after beating VCU by a score of 62-52 as well as Syracuse by a score of 68-62. Old Dominion is averaging 66.24 points per game which ranks 242nd in college basketball while ranking 6th in points allowed per game at 60.79 points per game. They have the defense to compete against a lot of teams in the tournament, but with a lackluster offense they won’t make it far.
Both of these teams have solid defenses and although Purdue has a solid offense Old Dominion’s offense is one of the worst in college basketball which is why I look for the under 129 to be a solid play in this match-up. Purdue is more battle tested than Old Dominion and have the better quality wins even though the Monarchs are 2-0 this season against tournament teams. These teams have played one other team prior to this season in which Purdue won 61-39 which is a small sample size. Even though it is a smaller sample size and Purdue covered in that game I still look for Old Dominion +13 to be a strong play, but Purdue will win this game.
Baylor vs. Syracuse
Line: Syracuse -2
Pickswise Expert Picks: Syracuse -2, Over 131.5
The 8 vs. 9 games are always some of the toughest to pick, and one is Syracuse vs. Baylor on Thursday. Head coach Jim Boeheim has taken his Syracuse squad to another NCAA Tournament after compiling a 10-8 record in the ACC that included an overtime win at Duke. His son, Buddy, is in fine form at the moment with four consecutive double-digit performances. The freshman guard went for 20 points in the regular-season finale against Pittsburgh. Baylor, which went 10-8 in the Big 12, heads into the Big Dance on a four-game losing streak. The Bears have not exceeded the 70-point mark in any of their past four outings. Of course, they also don’t play much defense; Iowa State just pinned 83 on them at the Big 12 Tournament. Baylor is 1-8-2 ATS in its last 11 overall and 0-3-1 ATS in its last four against opponents with winning records. Syracuse is 5-2-1 ATS in its last eight at neutral sites and 8-1 ATS in its last nine following a loss. The over is 15-5 in the Bears’ last 20 overall and 5-0 in the Orange’s last five neutral-site games. Those are all great reasons to side with the Orange and the Over here.
First Round Friday March 22nd
Pickswise Expert Picks: Cinnci -4.0, Under
The Cincinnati Bearcats finished the season with a 28-6 overall record and a 14-4 conference record which was good enough for 2nd in the AAC, but they made the tournament with an automatic bid after knocking off Houston in the conference championship game by a score of 69-57. Cincinnati had nine games in which they faced tournament teams and went 5-5 after beating Ole Miss, Northern Kentucky, UCF, Temple and Houston and losing to Mississippi State, Ohio State, Houston twice and UCF. Cincinnati is averaging 71.71 points per game which ranks 152nd in college basketball while giving up 62.21 points per game which ranks 11th in college basketball. The Bearcats defense may be good enough to get out of the first round, but they aren’t likely to advance further than that. The Iowa Hawkeyes play in one of the best conferences in the Big Ten and finished in 6th place in the conference with a 22-11 overall record and a 10-10 conference record.
They were knocked out of the Big Ten tournament in the quarterfinals against the Michigan Wolverines by a score of 74-53, but were able to get into the tournament with an at large bid. Iowa had four wins over tournament teams during the regular season after beating Oregon, Iowa State, Ohio State and Michigan. Iowa is averaging 78.30 points per game which ranks 37th in college basketball while giving up 73.64 points per game. The Hawkeyes are one of the best offensive teams in college basketball, but with a below average defense they may struggle winning this game.
The Iowa Hawkeyes are the more tested team as they play in the Big Ten, but struggled winning against top notch teams this season while the Bearcats are 5-5 against tournament teams this season. With the defense of Cincinnati Iowa could have struggle making baskets in this one and the Hawkeyes defense is below average which is why I look for the Bearcats -4.0 to be a solid play in this one. The total in this game is more of a toss-up as you have one of the best defenses going against one of the best offenses in college basketball, but I look for the defense to play a bigger role which is why I look for the under 137.5 to be the play in this match-up.
Game: Mississippi vs Oklahoma
Line: Mississippi -2
Pickswise Expert Picks: Mississippi -2, Over
A Big-12-SEC Match-up in the first round of the NCAA tourney could have some intrigue as the number nine seeded Oklahoma Sooners (19-13) squares off with eighth-seeded Mississippi Rebels (20-12). This match-up is intriguing as neither team really has an impressive record this season but are very similar. The Sooners have struggled in their last 10 games with only four wins in that span. The Rebels were knocked out by Alabama in their conference tournament, and only has one win in their last five games. Like Mississippi, Oklahoma was upended by Big 12 bottom feeder West Virginia in the Big 12 tournament opening round.
The Sooners most notable wins this season include three wins against tournament teams including a victory over Kansas. The teams share two similar opponents this season, as Ole Miss got the Best of Baylor, while Oklahoma was able to not a victory over Florida earlier this season. In the Sooners, last four games the over-under is 2-2. Likewise, the Rebels last four games the over-under is 2-2. Mississippi has a 23-9 ATS record this season, while Oklahoma is 19-10-3 ATS. This should be a closely contested match-up. Back the Rebels to cover and take the Over in this one.
Northern Kentucky vs. Texas Tech
Line: Texas Tech -14
Pickswise Expert Picks: Northern Kentucky +14, Over 137
The Texas Tech Red Raiders will be trying to get back on the winning track when they run into the Northern Kentucky Norse during first-round action on Friday. Texas Tech had won nine games in a row before exiting the Big 12 Tournament right away with a loss to West Virginia. That isn’t a good loss, either, as WVU went 4-14 in conference play and 14-20 overall. Red Raiders senior guard Brandone Francis has been held to single-digits in seven of the last eight outings. Northern Kentucky went 13-5 in the Horizon League and won the conference tournament for an automatic bid. The Norse are 26-8 overall and have won five in a row. Senior forward Drew McDonald (19.1 ppg) leads four players in double-figures. Northern Kentucky is 9-2 ATS in its last 11 at neutral sites. The Red Raiders are 17-35-1 ATS in their last 53 at neutral sites, 1-6 ATS in their last even non-conference games, and 3-14-1 ATS in their last 18 following a loss. The Over is 5-1 in the Norse’s last six following a win and 6-1 in the Red Raiders’ last seven overall. Give me the points and the Over here.
Game: Kansas State vs. UC Irvine
Line: Kansas State -4.5
Pickswise Expert Picks: UC Irvine +4.5, Under
In yet another match-up that could easily be an upset sees the 13-seeded UC Irvine Anteaters squaring-off with the number four-seeded Kansas State Wildcats in San Jose. The Anteaters (30-5) brings a 16-game winning streak along with a Big West Conference Title and one of the NCAA’s best records. The regular season co-Big 12 champion Wildcats fell in the Semifinals of the Big 12 Tournament against eventual champion Iowa State, which ended Kansas State’s four-game winning streak. These teams last met in November 2017 with the Wildcats getting a 22-point victory, however, this time around the Anteaters are a team to reckon with. UC Irvine’s last tourney appearance the Anteaters gave the Louisville Cardinals all they could handle in a 57-55 win for Louisville. The Wildcats returned a solid squad that reached the Elite Eight last season and may yet have what it takes to make another deep run. Its defense for UC Irvine and they should be able to show why they won 30 games this season in this one. UC Irvine is 20-13-1 ATS, while Kansas State is 19-14 ATS. The over has been very favorable for either team this season as the Anteaters over-under is 17-17, while Kansas State has an over-under of 13-20. Back the Anteaters to Cover and take the Under in this one.
Game: Colgate vs Tennessee
Line: Tennessee -17.5
Pickswise Expert Picks: Vols -17.5, Over
The Tennessee Volunteers are coming off a blowout loss in the SEC Championship game against the Auburn Tigers by a score of 64-84, but are still one of seven or eight teams that have a legitimate chance of winning the national championship in college basketball this season. The Volunteers finished the season with a 29-5 overall record and a 15-3 conference record which was good enough for 2nd place in the SEC. Tennessee went 9-5 against tournament teams as well which means they won against some of their best competition and are battle tested this season. The Volunteers are averaging 81.79 points per game which ranks 17th while giving up 68.85 points per game. The Volunteers are one of the best teams in college basketball and with the talent they have they should be able to make a deep run in the tournament this season and could win it all.
Not many people know who Colgate is, but the Red Raiders made the NCAA tournament with the automatic bid after defeating Bucknell in the Patriot League championship game by a score of 94-80. They finished the season with a 24-10 overall record and a 13-5 conference record giving them both the regular season and conference tournament championship. They only had one game against a tournament team this season and they lost that game to Syracuse by a score of 56-77. They aren’t tested despite their record and as a result they should be knocked out early in the tournament.
Tennessee has the overall talent on offense and defense to make a deep run in the tournament and have been tested this season after going 9-5 against tournament teams while Colgate only had one game against a tournament team and that resulted in a loss. I look for Tennessee to roll past Colgate easily and I don’t see them having any problem covering the 17.5 point spread in this game either. With the way the Volunteers should be able to score easily as well as being up big late in the game I look for the over 148 to be a solid play in this game.
Game: Virginia vs. Gardner-Webb
Line: Virginia -23.5
Pickswise Expert Picks: Virginia -23.5, Over
The Gardner Webb Bulldogs will look to replicate what the UMBC Retrievers did in the 2018 NCAA Tourney as Gardner Webb will get their shot against the number one seeded Virginia Cavaliers. The Bulldogs (23-11) will look to improve their current five-game winning streak. The Cavaliers (29-3) have looked pretty dominant this season, and they did what they need to secure a one seed. Coming off a tough loss against the Florida State Seminoles in the ACC Tournament Semifinals, Virginia will look to get back on track in their 1st round match-up with Gardner-Webb.
These teams have met only once and that was in December 2002, which resulted in a 72-65 victory for the Cavaliers. Virginia has done well ATS this season with a 23-9 ATS, on the flip side Gardner-Webb has posted a solid ATS record at 18-13-1. The Over is 3-1 in Gardner Webb’s last four games, like the Bulldogs the over is also 3-1 in the Cavaliers last four games. Kyle Guy and Deandre Hunter are the keys for the Cavaliers avoiding their second straight upset against a 16-seed. Back the Cavaliers to cover and lean the Over here.
Game: Arizona State vs. Buffalo
Line: Buffalo -4.5
Pickswise Expert Picks: Sun Devils +4.5, Under
The Arizona State Sun Devils are looking to keep their winning ways alive as they were one of the four teams to earn their way into the big dance in a victory against the St. John Red Storm in the first four games. Now they take on a Buffalo Bulls team who I think are getting talked about way too much. They come into this game with a horrible against the spread record with covering just two of the past seven games. They might have an impressive story and record, but they have been cutting it close as of late. The last time the Bulls took on a great team, was back in December when they lost to the Golden Eagles of Marquette by 18 points. Give me the free points.
On the flip side, the Sun Devils defense has been stepping it up as of late and not allowing those cheap quick turnover points. With that in mind, taking a look at the Under trends, it shows the Under is 6-1 in Sun Devils last 7 non-conference games as well as 17-8-1 in Sun Devils last 26 games vs. a team with a winning % above .600. Going to be a nail bitter, but the Under is a nice play here.
Game: Wisconsin vs Oregon
Line: Wisconsin -1
Pickswise Expert Picks: Oregon +1, Under
One of the most common occurrences in the NCAA Tournament is the 12 seed upsetting a five seeded team in the first round. That could very well be what could happen in this game. The five-seeded Wisconsin Badgers (23-10) meets 12-seeded Oregon Ducks (23-12) at the SAP Center in San Jose. The Ducks are arguably one of the hottest teams entering the NCAA tourney as they have won eight straight games, including winning four games in four days to capture the PAC-12 Conference Tournament championship to steal the automatic bid in a league that at one point may have only gotten one team in the tournament. The Badgers four-game winning streak was ended in the Big Ten Tournament semi-finals as Ethan Happ and Wisconsin came up short against Michigan State.
In their last two meetings, the Badgers have the advantage with wins in both. The Ducks bring a strong 5-1 record on a neutral court, while the Badgers are 3-2 on a neutral court this season. Wisconsin has struggled going 16-16-1 ATS, while Oregon is 20-15 ATS. Neither team has favorable overs this season. The Ducks last five games the under is 4-1, while Wisconsin has an over-under of 2-3 in their last five games. Back the Ducks to Cover and take the Under in this one.
Pickswise Expert Picks: Utah State -3, Over
It’s an 8/9 game here as the Utah State Aggies battle with the Washington Huskies. Utah State is having a great season, and recently knocked off San Diego State to win the Mountain West Tournament, which no one would’ve seen coming at the beginning of the season. They’ve also been great against the number recently, covering the spread in seven of their last nine games. The Huskies have been cold however, going 1-6 against the spread in their last seven games. For a few reasons, I’m really not sold on this Washington team.
They had a good record overall, but they didn’t beat a single team that received an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament the entire season. They mostly beat up on weak competition in a down year for the PAC 12, and I think they’ll get exposed here. They don’t have the offense to hang here, as their offense ranks 119th in efficiency on Kenpom, compared to 31st for Utah State. I also like the under a lot here. Washington’s strength is their defense, and Utah State plays a bunch of young guys who could struggle here in their first NCAA Tournament action, so I think this one will be pretty low scoring. Utah State and the under are the plays here.
Pickswise Expert Picks: Duke -27.0, Under
I was originally in favor of the North Dakota State Bison here as 27 points is a lot to cover here especially in March, however after watching what these top teams have done so far in the dance has changed my mind. Kansas, Michigan, Kentucky all had powerful and easy covering wins as I can see the same happening to Duke here as Zion is going to lead a nice charge. Looking at the Bison regular season schedule, they took on ranked Gonzaga earlier in the year and lost by 42 points. Against Iowa State they lost by 20 points. They do not do well against ranked teams. The Blue Devils are 4-0 ATS in their last 4 non-conference games. Give me the Blue Devils here with confidence.
On the flip side, the Blue Devils have one of the best defenses in the NCAAB as they are only allowing 67.6 points per game which is 69th in the league. Do not expect the Blue Devils to allow the Bison any chance in this game as they control it from start to finish. The Under is 20-6-2 in Blue Devils last 28 games following a straight up win as well as 18-6-2 in Blue Devils last 26 games following a ATS win. Give me the Under here.
Houston enjoyed a great regular season but lost in the AAC Tourney to Cincinnati. They are well coached so I do not expect that result to linger and they are eager to build on last year’s successful run. Houston was a great team to back this year, especially on the road where they went 9-2 ATS, at neutral sites they were just 1-2 ATS though. Houston is going to make it very tough for GSU from the opening tip and the Panthers are not used to that sort of toughness. The Panthers are a small team so taking on Houston is not a terrible matchup. I do worry that they are going to get killed on the board though by the bigger and tougher Cougars. If that happens and the the shots are not falling frequently enough this one could get very ugly very quickly. D’Marcus Simonds is the top scorer for the Panthers and he is going to need to be sharp early.
The Cougars should be able to win this one with relative ease. The Panthers are well coached but they are the smaller team and I worry they are going to get killed on the boards. Shooting in new environments can be tough and even though that will be the case with both teams I trust Houston a lot more. They will be able to get after misses and I think the Panthers will find it tough to score against their set defense. Houston is not the most explosive team so look for this one to go below the total.
Game: Mississippi State vs Liberty
Line: Mississippi St -7.0
Pickswise Expert Picks: Flames +7, Under
Liberty will try to pull the big upset as a 12 seed when they take on Mississippi State on Friday night. These two teams have very similar stats, but there is one place that Liberty has a huge advantage, on the defensive side of the ball. Mississippi State has played the tougher schedule but Liberty is giving up only 62 points per game compared to the 70 that Mississippi State is giving up.
Earlier in the season Liberty took on UCLA and ran away with an easy victory. I think in terms of side Liberty is the play. For Liberty to have a chance in this game they know defense is the key and that will help push the total under. Over the last five games Liberty is giving up only 59.8 points per game. The under is 7-1 in Flames last 8 games following a ATS win. The under is 8-3 in Bulldogs last 11 overall. Back the under with confidence and give a slight lean to the Flames.
Pickswise Expert Picks: UNC -23.5, Over
Can the Iona Gaels replicate UMBC’s strategy from last year and become just the second 16-seed ever to win in the first round of the NCAA Tournament? That’s what they’ll be trying to do here as they take on the North Carolina Tar Heels. Just a couple of months ago it would’ve seemed unthinkable that Iona would make the NCAA Tournament, as they sat at 7-15. But then they caught fire, and they’ve rattled off ten straight wins entering this one. While they don’t have much of a shot to win, I think they can cover this massive spread. They’ve been a money-making machine recently, going 8-1 against the spread in their last nine games.
North Carolina is an elite team, but they haven’t been great in these situations in recent NCAA Tournament’s, as they’re just 1-3-1 against the spread in their last five tournament games. Iona was in the tournament last year, so it’s not like they’ll be phased by the big stage or overwhelmed here. They know what it’s like to play in March Madness, and they’ll be well prepared here. With all their momentum, they should be able to start hot here. The Tar Heels always tend to play in high scoring games, so I also like the over a lot here. The over is 4-1 in Iona’s last five games, and there should be a lot of points in this one.
Game: VCU vs. UCF
Line: UCF -1
Pickswise Expert Picks: VCU ATS, Over
One of the most exciting matchups of the round of 64 takes place Friday night between the VCU Rams and the UCF Knights in a 8/9 showdown. The Rams enter march as one of the hottest teams winning nine of the last ten games with the only loss coming in their last game against Rhode Island when star Marcus Evans went down with injury. They struggled to score without him but the good news is he should be back for this game and that gives them the edge here. They are the better defensive team giving up only 61 points per game and that will be the difference. The Knights are 2-5 ATS in their last 7 games following an ATS loss.As far as the total both of these teams average in the 70’s in terms of points scored so the over is a lean. The over is 5-0 in the Rams last five tournament games. Back VCU with confidence as long as Evans plays. If he is out I would stay away from the against the spread pick. Also back the over as a lean.
Game: Iowa State vs. Ohio State
Line: ISU -5.5
Pickswise Expert Picks: ISU -5.5, Under
I am not sure Ohio State would have made my 64 but nevertheless here they are. They probably needed that win in the Big Ten Tournament and they played well against Michigan State even though they lost. The biggest factor might have been the return of Kaleb Wesson, their best player. He can be a beast inside. I am not hearing much buzz about the Buckeyes advancing and they have not been a good spread team this season, 14-19. Iowa State was hot early but they couldn’t sustain and be part of the group that denied Kansas another B12 title. Still I like this group a lot. They are definitely the stronger of the two teams on the perimeter and they are deeper too. Lindell Wigginton was a star last season as a freshman and now he comes off the bench. Take the Cyclones at -5.5. They will close it out at the line where they are solid.
One thing I like about Iowa State is that they can play a few different styles. For Ohio State their best bet in this one is to play slow and try and maximize Wesson. Given that shooting often takes a little while to get going in most first tournament games going under on this one looks like the right play. It is set at 140.5 which is neither high nor low. Take the under here, especially in the first half if you can get it.
Game: Virginia Tech vs. Saint Louis
Line: VT -10.5
Pickswise Expert Picks: VT -10.5, Under
When Virginia Tech and St. Louis face off St. Louis is going to have upset on the mind but early on they are going to find out that won’t be what plays out. The Hokies are the more talented team and they are expected to get guard Justin Robinson back in this game which is a huge boost.
Over the last five games the Hokies are averaging almost ten more points a game and during St. Louis last game against St. Bonaventure they didn’t look focused early and they had to claw their way back. Against the Hokies that will lead to a blowout loss. Hokies are 5-1 ATS in their last 6 neutral site games. In terms of total both of these teams like to focus on defense and that will lead to the under. Over the last five games St. Louis is giving up only 57.2 points per game. Under is 4-1 in Billikens last 5 overall. Lock in the Hokies and Under in this showdown.
Second Round Saturday March 23rd
Game: Maryland vs LSU
Line: LSU -2.5
Pickswise Expert Picks: LSU -2.5 Over 147
Everyone seemed to be on the Yale Bulldogs because of the turmoil surrounding the LSU Tigers but the Tigers didn’t seem to mind that and opened up a lot of eyes with their play. They were focused against the Bulldogs and only having to cover 2.5 points against the Terrapins is a layup. For the Terrapins they escaped with a win against Belmont and they probably shouldn’t have won it. The Tigers offense is just as good as the Bruins and I think they will have no issue scoring against the Terrapins. With the total set at 147 the Tigers should have no issue pushing the pace and that should lead to the over. Tigers are 4-0 ATS in their last 4 vs. Big Ten. Terrapins are 1-7 ATS in their last 8 NCAA Tournament games. Terrapins are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 neutral site games. Over is 4-0 in Terrapins last 4 non-conference games Over is 4-1 in Tigers last 5 neutral site games. Over is 5-0 in Tigers last 5 vs. Big Ten. Take the Tigers and the over in this one.
Game: Wofford vs. Kentucky
Line: Kentucky -5.5
Pickswise Expert Picks: Wofford +5.5, Over
This is an interesting matchup. Kentucky won with ease against Abilene Christian even though PJ Washington did not play. Now it looks like he is going to miss this one too which begs the question – Is that going to be enough for them to fall against a Wofford team that has the look of a Cinderella? It shouldn’t be but stranger things have happened. Washington is their best scorer and rebounder a real difference maker. Kentucky has options but still. Wofford dispatched Seton Hall in their first round matchup. They were up early, the Pirates came back and then they pulled away late with a barrage of three pointers. This team can really shoot and it will have to be on target to keep it close. The Terriers are getting spotted 5.5 and I say take it. They have lots of experience on their side too.
To bet the total you have to focus on whether Wofford can continue to play like they have done in getting here. If you think they can make their shots then you have to go over. If not under. Kentucky will get points but they are inconsistent. They can play good defense and own the boards but if the three are falling this total will go over easily. I like Wofford ATS and for them to push the total over too.
Game: Florida vs. Michigan
Line: Michigan -6.5
Pickswise Expert Picks: Florida +6.5, Under
The Michigan Wolverines and Florida Gators will battle for a spot in the Sweet 16 of the West Region when they collide on Saturday. Second-seeded Michigan was national runner-up last season it began its bid for a return trip to the Final Four by disposing of Montana on Thursday. The 10th-seeded Gators knocked off Nevada in the opening round. That was an especially impressive performance in which center Kevarrius Hayes went for 16 points and three blocks. Hayes (8.3 ppg) has turned in four double-digit scoring performances in the last five outings—including 19 against Kentucky. By its lofty standards, Michigan (29-6) has struggled since starting the season 17-1. Florida is 5-0 ATS in its last five overall, 6-0 ATS in its last six at neutral sites, and 4-0 ATS in its last four against opponents with winning percentages over .600. The Wolverines are 1-4 ATS in their last five non-conference contests and 1-4-1 ATS in their last six against the SEC. This could be more competitive than the touchdown spread suggests, so go with FLORIDA.
In Michigan’s four most recent outings, the losing team has not scored more than 60 points. Only once this entire season in a UM game a team has scored more than 70 points and lost. Florida put the clamps down on Nevada also surrendered just 65 points in its SEC Tournament loss to eventual champion Auburn. The under is 12-3 in the Gators’ last 15 overall, 8-1 in their last nine at neutral sites, and 17-5 in their last 22 against non-conference opposition. It is also 4-1 in the Wolverines’ last five at neutral sites and 6-2-1 in their last nine NCAA Tournament games. The UNDER is the play here.
Game: Murray State vs. Florida State
Line: Florida State -5.0
Pickswise Expert Picks: Murray +5.0, Under
As if the Ja Morant hype train wasn’t chugging along with enough speed, the opening Thursday of the NCAA Tournament happened. Morant delivered a triple-double as the Murray State Racers, seeded 12th in the West Region, destroyed Marquette. It was not entirely unexpected of Murray State, which is 28-4 overall (16-2 in the Ohio Valley Conference). Next up for the upstart Racers are the Florida State Seminoles, who finished runner-up to Duke in the ACC Tournament and then got started on Thursday with a hard-fought victory over Vermont. Florida State went on a 14-1 stretch prior to its ACC final loss, but it generally plays close, low-scoring games and that hot streak was no exception. The Racers are 5-1 ATS in their last five overall, 8-2 ATS in their last 10 non-conference contests, and 4-1 ATS in their last five against opponents with winning records. Florida State is 1-4 ATS in its last five against non-conference opposition. A handful of points should be enough for MURRAY STATE.
FSU is one of the best defensive teams around and it will undoubtedly turn this into a half-court game in order to limit Morant’s opportunities. The under is 5-1 in the Racers’ last six non-conference games, 7-1 ATS in their last eight NCAA Tournament games, and 6-2 ATS in their last eight at neutral sites. It is also 4-1 ATS in the Seminoles’ last five NCAA Tournament games and 9-4 ATS in their last 13 at neutral sites. Roll with the UNDER
Game: Baylor vs. Gonzaga
Line: Gonzaga -13.5
Pickswise Expert Picks: Baylor +13.5, Under
The Gonzaga Bulldogs generally capture the West Coast Conference title and then come up short in the Big Dance. They have to hope that roles are reversed this time around, as the Zags fell to Saint Mary’s in the WCC Tournament final. Gonzaga’s Big Dance bid got off to a fine start on Thursday, when it hammered Fairleigh Dickinson 87-49. Sophomore guard Zach Norvell Jr. will need to be better than 4-for-12 from the field when the competition level picks up in a major way. Seeded ninth in the West Region and now getting their shot at a top seed on Saturday, the Baylor Bears advanced by beating Syracuse 78-69. Baylor shot better than 50 percent from the floor and 47.1 percent from three-point range. The Bears are 6-0 ATS in their last six against the West Coast Conference and 4-0 ATS in their last four non-conference contests. Gonzaga is 3-7-1 ATS in its last 11 NCAA Tournament games. Take BAYLOR and the points.
Gonzaga got back on track against Fairleigh Dickinson (which isn’t saying a lot!), but it scored only 47 points in the conference tournament final loss to Saint Mary’s. Baylor had scored no more than 70 points in four straight games prior to Thursday. The under is 8-1 in the Bears’ last nine non-conference contests. It is also 5-0 in the Bulldogs’ last five non-conference contests, 10-4 in their last 14 against the Big 12, 4-1 in their last five NCAA Tournament games, and 6-1 in their last seven against opponents with winning percentages over .600. Side with the UNDER.
Game: Minnesota vs Michigan State
Line: Michigan State -10.5
Pickswise Expert Picks: Gophers ATS, Under
Not often do you get conference matchups in round two of the NCAA Tournament but that is the case on Saturday when the Spartans and Gophers face off.These two teams faced off once this year in February with the Spartans winning 79-55. This is a Gophers team that is playing with a lot more confidence now and against the Cardinals in round one, the three ball was draining from deep.Look for the Gophers to use that to keep them in this game and cover the spread. The Spartans defense has been good this year and that will help keep the total under. Over the last five games they are giving up only 62 points per game. Golden Gophers are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 neutral site games. Spartans are 0-4 ATS in their last 4 NCAA Tournament games.Under is 20-7 in the last 27 meetings. Under is 9-4 in Golden Gophers last 13 vs. Big Ten. Back the Gophers with confidence and take the under as a lean.
Game: Purdue Boilermakers vs. Villanova Wildcats
Line: Purdue -4.0
Pickswise Expert Picks: Purdue -4.0, Under
The Purdue Boilermakers had an easy win as expected against Old Dominion in the 1st round of the tournament winning 61-48 and covering the 12.5 points spread, but things will get interesting in the 2nd round as they will be taking on the reigning national champions in the Villanova Wildcats. Purdue is averaging 61 points in the tournament while giving up 48 points. They are also 1-0 ATS after covering the 1st round 12.5 points spread.
The Villanova Wildcats are reigning National Champions, but aren’t as talented this season as they were last year. They were able to cover the 3.5 point spread against Saint Mary’s in the 1st round after winning by a score of 61-57. They are playing well right now as they have won four of their last five games including four wins in a row. Things will get harder this round as they will take on the Purdue Boilermakers who finished 2nd in the Big Ten. The Wildcats are 1-0 ATS in the tournament thus far after covering the 3.5 point spread in the 1st round.
Both of these teams are talented and either one could realistically win this game. Vegas has Purdue listed as a 4 point spread and I believe they will cover the spread as I think they have a chance to make a deep run in the tournament and the Wildcats aren’t nearly as talented as they were last season. I look for Purdue -4 to be a solid play in this game. Both teams scored 61 points in their first round match-up while Purdue allowed the fewer points at 48. I look for Purdue to score a decent amount of points against Villanova in this one while I don’t see the Wildcats being able to score as many points in this game. I look for the under 137 to be a solid play as well.
Second Round Sunday March 24th
The Iowa Hawkeyes surprised everyone in the opening round as they were able to showcase their top defense against the Cincinnati Bearcats. It was a perfect game for them as they were passing the ball left and right and shooting the perfect shots at the right moment. There is a strong reason why the Hawkeyes are ranked 13th in offensive efficiency as they never make the same mistake twice. Even though Tennessee comes into this game with some slight momentum, they had some holes in their first round match against Colgate. A lot of points are being given to a team that is ready to take on one of the best in the league. Give me the points. As for the flip side of this game, the Hawkeyes are going to slow this game down which will only increase the chance of this Under hitting. The Under is 7-3 in Hawkeyes last 10 games vs. a team with a winning % above .600.
Game: UCF vs. Duke
Line: Duke -13.0
Pickswise Expert Picks: Duke ATS, Over
One of the most interesting matchups on Sunday is between Duke and UCF better known as Zion vs Tacko Fall. It matches one of the most athletic centers college basketball as ever seen against one of the tallest. This is actually a horrible matchup for UCF and Duke should have no issue dispatching them early on. Even with Fall’s height, Williamson’s jumping ability is going to be too much and that should help lead to an easy cover by Duke. In terms of the total the over should be the play. Against NDSU the Blue Devils had scoring issues early and still only missed the cover by the one point. Those struggles won’t happen again which makes the over the play. Knights are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 vs. Atlantic Coast. Blue Devils are 6-2 ATS in their last 8 games following a straight up win of more than 20 points. Blue Devils are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 non-conference games.Over is 4-1 in Knights last 5 Sunday games. Back the Blue Devils with confidence and also take the over as a slight lean.
Game: Buffalo Bulls vs. Texas Tech Red Raiders
Line: Texas Tech -4.0
Pickswise Expert Picks: Buffalo, Over
The upstart Buffalo Bulls will try to keep their stellar season going and march into the Sweet 16 when they go up against the Texas Tech Red Raiders on Sunday. Buffalo is 32-3 overall, rolled to the MAC regular-season and tournament titles, and pounded Arizona State on Friday. Senior guard Jeremy Harris scored 31 points in the MAC final and delivered a double-double against Arizona State. The Red Raiders lost right away in the Big 12 Tournament to a disappointing West Virginia squad, but they at least managed to take care of Northern Kentucky in their Big Dance opener. Senior guard Brandone Francis has been held to single-digits in eight of the past nine contests. He will have to regain his form for a team that really does not go more than seven deep and cannot afford any subpar individual performances. The Bulls are 9-2-1 ATS in their last 12 non-conference contests and 20-6-2 ATS in their last 28 at neutral sites. Texas Tech is 11-24 ATS in its last 35 at neutral sites and 2-6 ATS in its last eight against non-conference opposition. BUFFALO +4 looks like a good play.
For Texas Tech, sophomore guard Jarrett Culver’s three most recent scoring performances are 31, 26, and 29 points. Buffalo has poured in more than 80 in six straight games. The over is 19-9-1 in the Bulls’ last 29 non-conference contests and 6-1-1 in their last eight at neutral sites. It is also 6-2 in the Red Raiders’ last eight overall, 6-1 in their last seven following a win, and 4-1 in their last five against opponents with winning percentages over .600. Take the OVER.
Game: Liberty vs Virginia Tech
Line: Virginia Tech -8.5
Pickswise Expert Picks: Liberty ATS, Under
When Liberty and Virginia Tech face off on Sunday it will be two teams who like to play similar style of plays. They both know how important defense is, and try to use that defense to spring the offense. Liberty has already shown that they can put up a ton of points when they need to like against Mississippi State when they put up 80 points. The Hokies are the better team but with the way Liberty is playing, that is the side you want to be on because of the confidence they have. The strong play in this game is with the under. These are both teams who give up in the low 60’s points per game and the defense is going to be the focal point for both teams in this game. Look for this to be an old school grind it out type of game with a lot of physical defense. Flames are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games overall. Flames are 5-0 ATS in their last 5 games vs. a team with a winning straight up record. Under is 7-2 in Flames last 9 games following a ATS win. Under is 4-0-1 in Hokies last 5 non-conference games. Under is 7-3 in Flames last 10 neutral site games. Back the under with confidence and also a slight lean to Liberty.
Game: Virginia vs. Oklahoma
Line: Virginia -11.5
Pickswise Expert Picks: Virginia -11.5, Over
The nine-seeded Oklahoma Sooners pulled the upset against eighth-seeded Mississippi in the first round and will look to continue with their hot shooting in a match-up with the number-one seeded Virginia Cavaliers. The Cavaliers survived an early square against 16th-seeded Gardner-Webb in the first round. The Sooners really came out quickly against the Rebels in their tournament opener as they got an impressive 95-72 victory. Oklahoma was finally able to end their 0-2 ATS record in their previous two games and they were able to cover convincingly against Ole Miss. Virginia failed to cover the spread for the third time in their last four games.
That performance doesn’t really help the Cavaliers cause, but they survived and advanced and could be in a high scoring battle for a spot in the Sweet 16 in this contest. The most recent meeting between the Sooners and Cavaliers was all the way back in November 2010 which resulted in a very convincing Virginia win. Both teams aren’t afraid to shoot the ball from deep. This should be an interesting battle between the Sooners and Cavaliers. Back the Cavaliers to cover and take the Over in this one.
Game: Houston Cougars vs. Ohio State Buckeyes
Line: Houston -6
Pickswise Expert Picks: Houston ATS, OVER
The Buckeyes beat Iowa State in a low scoring affair. Kaleb Wesson keeps proving how important he is to the program as a scorer, rebounder and someone who can influence the action inside. He should be able to have success against a Houston team that is not big inside. OSU was the the underdog against the Cyclones and they won outright obviously covering in the process. Houston looked very sharp in dispatching Georgia State in their first round game, easily covering a large number. In this game we saw a lot of what we saw during the regular season with stingy defense and Corey Davis Jr making shots from all over the floor. We also saw some real production from their inside player which if they can keep up will be critical long term and could allow them to dominate again in this matchup. Take the Cougars to advance and cover.
Houston is no stranger to defense and the Buckeyes would definitely prefer to keep this one to as few possessions as possible. The biggest difference is that Houston has way more firepower and their ability to make three pointers means they can go on runs. I think this total opens at a modest number and then gets bet down. Look for Houston’s supremacy to enable them to go over in this spot.
Game: Oregon vs. UC Irvine
Line: Oregon -5
Pickswise Expert Picks: Oregon -5, Over
A second-round match-up between a pair of 1st round bracket busters as the 13th-seeded Anteaters of UC Irvine march on after their upset of fourth-seeded Kansas State in the first round and will square off with the Oregon Ducks who are a 12 seed who upset fifth-seeded Wisconsin in their tourney opener. The Anteaters have done well ATS for much of the season including covering the spread in three of their last four games. The Ducks not only have a nine-game winning streak, but they also have covered the spread in each of those games. These teams have met five times, with Oregon coming out on top in each of those meetings.
Their most recent meeting was in December 2015 in a 78-63 victory for the Ducks. Both teams were able to reach a the over in their respective first round match-ups and that should continue in this game. Rebounding could be a big factor in this one, and that is where the Anteaters make a living as they are eighth in the country in rebounding averaging around 40 per game. The Ducks and Anteaters could be in for a tough duel at the SAP Center in San Jose. Back the Ducks to cover and take the over in this game.
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