March Madness picks & analysis Round 1 (3/17-3/18)

The time has finally come and brackets have been announced as it is time to dig in to each matchup and see if we can find an edge or some underdogs that we can hit with some good value. Below will be an analysis of each game on Thursday and Friday with a pick of either ATS or O/U on the full game. This is part of a March Madness Capper Tournament held by some good friends over at which I am happy to be a part of and look forward to a fun competition as we try and make it out on top. This is probably the most wide open field of 64 that we have seen in some time as there are upsets expected and sure to happen especially in this first round of competition. Enough of the introduction, let's dig right in!

March 16, 2022. 11:30pm CST

Published by Paul Ramirez

(11) Michigan -1 vs. (6) Colorado St. | O/U 139.5

A very intriguing matchup here as we see Michigan seeded as the lower seed, but are favored here to win. Offensively, Colorado State has been a machine as they shoot 48.5% from the field while Michigan shoots 46.8%. From behind the arc, Colorado State also has the slight advantage there as they shoot 35.8% in that category compared to Michigan's 34%. However, a lot of these offensive stats have come against the smaller Mountain West conference opponents that Colorado State faces during the season and the stage may be just a little too big here. Michigan will key in on star player David Roddy as they throw out Dickinson and Diabate who will clog the paint and force Colorado State to prove that they are the great shooting team that the stats say. Michigan outrebounds Colorado State at 32.7 per game compared to 30 which leads us to believe that the Rams will struggle to get many second chance points. Both teams do not turn the ball over too much, nor do they run a fast pace which indicates a lot of half court offense and three point shots from the Rams while the Wolverines will look to take advantage of their size and go inside. The absence of Jones from Michigan will prove to be a little costly as he is the assist leader for this team and we will see Roddy shine.

Pick - Colorado St. +1 (-110) via BetAnySports

(4) Providence -2 vs. (13) South Dakota St. | O/U 149.5

Another great matchup that we get right away as one of the fastest and most efficient offensive schools faces a team that many have said have been lucky all year as they ran through the competitive Big East. South Dakota State has ran through their conference as their last loss was back on December 15th against Missouri State. That is not saying too much since the Summit League is not particularly good and can not defend at all, but the Jackrabbits have taken advantage and rank 2nd in the nation in field goal percentage and 1st in the nation in three point field goal percentage at a whopping 44.9%. One major obstacle that they will be presented with however, is defense. Providence ranks 150th in the nation in defensive rating which is really nothing too impressive, but then again, that is against teams like Villanova, Creighton, Xavier, Uconn, etc. and all the major players in the conference. Providence has had a hot run towards the back end of the season but lately have struggled defensively. The Friars do not have a real star player, but they do have a lot of really great players in Durham, Watson, Reeves and company. On the other end, this South Dakota State team is determined to prove that they belong and will look to force the slow paced Providence team to push the tempo and keep up. However, Ed Cooley will have his team prepared for this and Providence will show why they are not going to allow themselves to continue to be disrespected as they have all season.

Pick - Providence -2 (-110) via BetAnySports

(9) Memphis -2.5 vs. (8) Boise St. | O/U 133.5

A highly anticipated matchup here as this will be a very fun one to watch with two defensive powerhouses going at it. This Memphis team started off the season rather shaky but has really found their groove as of late as they beat Houston twice in the season and won 6 straight before their loss in the AAC tournament against Houston in a revenge spot. A difference of pace's here as Memphis ranks 49th in the nation in pace compared to Boise State which run one of the slowest paces and rank 336th in the nation. Boise State knows if they want any shot at winning this game, they will have to slow it down to a crawl and not let Memphis get out in transition as their players are athletic and love to run the floor including star big man Duren who is a force in the paint. Both of these teams can shoot the three at a decent pace, but where they both struggle is at the free throw line. Memphis only converts 69.2% from the line as Boise State only hits 64.9% which is good for 346th in the nation. It is no secret for both of these teams as they will key in on what has made them successful all season, and that is defense. Memphis boasts a defensive rating of 96.7 (61st in the nation) while Boise State also holds an incredible 93.7 rating (25th in the nation). This will most likely be a tough battle won in the half court and limiting transition buckets which makes for a recipe on an under.

Pick - Under 133.5 (-110) via BetAnySports

(1) Baylor -21 vs. (16) Norfolk St. | O/U 137.5

Not too much analysis to go into this one as the defending NCAA champs from last year will take on the winner of the MEAC in Norfolk State. Baylor has dealt with injuries all year and are hoping to be healthy enough to make a run here back to the championship game. Norfolk State has struggled as they escaped with slim wins against schools like SC State, Delaware State, and teams of comparable stature. The only chance Norfolk State would even have here is to just put up an abundant amount of shots and hope that they are some what on during this game as Baylor is just too physical inside and too oversized for the Spartans to even think about getting into the paint. Baylor will have no problem running with this team and will most likely find themselves with plenty of open looks as they run a very efficient offense with a rating of 112.2 which is good for 29th in the nation. Does Norfolk State have what it takes to cover? Not too sure, but what we do know is that they will try. Look for lots of transition points for Baylor here and quick shots from Norfolk State to get this game over the total.

Pick - Over 137.5 (-110) via BetAnySports

(3) Tennessee -17 vs. (14) Longwood | O/U 132

Coming out of the Big South is an accomplishment itself as Winthrop usually controls the conference but were routed by Longwood in the tournament final. Appearing for the first time in the NCAA tournament, Longwood hopes to make some noise and show why they belong. This team can shoot the ball surprisingly well from three along with their opponent as they hit 37.9% (18th in the nation) from behind the arc compared to Tennessee's 35.9% from three. Both teams run a very similar pace and are capable of getting buckets in transition as they tend to score very well on their points off of turnovers. Tennessee with their win in the SEC tournament may be finding themselves in a look ahead spot here as they just completed a tough task and may come out a little relaxed this game knowing they just need the win to move on. Longwood has an offensive rating of 112.6 (23rd in the nation) and know they will need to create efficient shots if they want any chance against the Volunteers. Defensively, both teams are able to cause some issues as Longwood ranks 49th in the nation in defense while Tennessee ranks 10th in the same category. Look for Longwood to leave it all on the floor while Tennessee looks ahead to the next round.

Pick - Longwood +17 (-110) via BetAnySports

(6) Iowa -10.5 vs. (12) Richmond | O/U 150.5

Richmond was able to win the A10 tournament to steal a tournament bid from another team that may have been a little more suited, but that is neither here nor there and we have a Richmond team that has the experience and chemistry to possibly give Iowa a challenge. Offensively, Iowa checks all the boxes and outmatches Richmond as the Spiders are sub par and really can only hope to slow this Iowa team down by forcing them in the half court. Keegan Murray is a matchup nightmare for Richmond as he has the size and is able to stretch the floor causing issues for Richmond's defense. One of Richmond's saving grace is their chemistry and ability to move the ball on offense while also not turning the ball over as they rank 10th in the nation in that category. Iowa does not play a suffocating defense, so expect for Richmond to be able to run their offense off of the ball and look to get guys open off of some screens as the size of Iowa will not allow them to penetrate the paint. We have seen that Richmond will tend to play up to pace of their opponent as witnessed in their game against George Washington whom is one of the fastest paced teams in the generally slow A10. Richmond will have to get quick efficient shots if they look to move on here as they try to keep pace with Iowa.

Pick - Over 150.5 (-110) via BetAnySports

(1) Gonzaga -23.5 vs. Georgia St. | O/U 149.5

A semi intriguing matchup as Georgia State actually has a little bit of size to compete with Gonzaga. We have seen from the past that this Gonzaga team during the regular season cares about blowout wins as they need it to boost their resume. Now that the tournament is under way, they just need to move on to the next round which has been an issue for them in crunch time. Offensively, this is too big of a mismatch as Georgia State ranks awfully in field goal percentage at 40.3% compared to Gonzaga's 52.7% from the field which is first in the nation. There are most likely two outcomes here which will be Gonzaga in a blowout by 40+ and limiting Georgia State to about 50 points, or a slowed down game that ends in more of a 80 - 60 type of game that settles closer to the line. Georgia State's really only chance is to lean on their defense which ranks 33rd in the nation and with that, whichever outcome we get, the Panthers will not score enough offensively to help get this game over the total.

Pick - Under 149.5 (-110) via BetAnySports

(8) North Carolina -3.5 vs. (9) Marquette | O/U 152

North Carolina has been the team all year that is Jekyll and Hyde and you never know what you are going to get from them. Offensively, both teams LOVE to run and push the pace and are able to shoot rather well as they both average exactly the same 45.3% from the field and can knock down free throws at a decent rate. UNC has the rebounding edge with big man Armando Bacot clogging up the paint, but struggle defensively. Marquette on the other hand have the edge defensively as they rank 120th in the nation compared to UNC's 202nd ranking. With the experience that Shaka Smart brings, you can never count his team out after what he was able to do with VCU during their magical run. For this type of game where we expect a lot of back and fourth where it will come down to the last possession, it is best to take the points as we look for the outright win as well.

Pick - Marquette +3.5 (-110) via BetAnySports

(5) Connecticut -6.5 vs. (12) New Mexico St. | O/U 132

We should get a fun matchup here to begin the evening games as one team shoots a lot better from the field and around the paint in New Mexico State at 45.8% while the UConn is able to knock down the three at a solid rate of 35.3%. The Aggies have the size to compete with the bigger schools, but with big man Sanogo in the interior, they are bound to struggle to find good looks and may have to resort to settling for mid range or three point shots. Defensively, both teams are neck and neck as the Aggies rank 53rd in the nation compared to the Huskies at 54th in the nation. This total is expecting it to be a slower paced type of game which will be focused on the defense. That will be an issue for New Mexico State as they struggle with turnovers and lose the ball at an alarming rate of 14 turnovers per game. Pair that with their extremely poor free throw shooting of 69.8%, and it is tough to ask a team like the Aggies to keep it close when it matters. UConn is able to knock down free throws at 75%, so as the game nears the end and New Mexico State is looking to play catch up, do not expect for the Huskies to make it easy.

Pick - UConn - 6.5 (-110) via BetAnySports

(2) Kentucky -18 vs. (15) Saint Peter's | O/U 132

Looking at this spot, do we really think Saint Peter's will cover the large spread? Probably not. But is the motivation there for Kentucky to blow them out? Doubt it. Kentucky is far and away the superior team and should realistically be favored by closer to 30 points if these teams were meeting outside of the tournament. Saint Peter's only real chance to keep this thing close will be to knock down the three point shot which they do at a decent rate of 35.3%, however, they only take 5.9 threes per game which is good for 312th in the nation in attempts. They run a very slow pace and keep their focus on the defensive end as they rank a surprising 12th in the nation defensively. Kentucky will have their way here as Tshiebwe will not allow anything in the paint and will look to just get by with a win here. I expect Saint Peter's to score in about the low 50's and Kentucky in the 70's. Look for this game to be focused on defense as it should.

Pick - Under 132 (-110) via BetAnySports

(5) Saint Mary's -3 vs. (12) Indiana | O/U 126.5

All year the main focal point for this Saint Mary's team has been their defense. They were able to pull off an incredible upset against Gonzaga in large part because of their defense and how they force teams into a half court game. This Gaels team shoots the ball effectively at 46.3% along with this Indiana team as well who shoot it 45.7%. Offensively, Saint Mary's can convert from the free throw line at a strong rate of 76.2% and do not turn the ball over often as they only average 11.3 per game (54th in the nation). What this allows them to do is hustle back on defense and not allow transition baskets which Indiana does not typically capitalize on as it is. The issue that this Indiana team will have is that they can not knock down the three ball as they only shoot 33.5% from behind the arc and over their last three games have only hit at a rate of 23.6% from that area. Indiana is going to struggle to get points in the paint which they usually feast on due to the presence of big man Tass for the Gaels. Look for Saint Mary's to cover this game late.

Pick - Saint Mary's -3 (-110) via BetAnySports

(8) San Diego St. -2.5 vs. (9) Creighton | O/U 119.5

Some might think this could be a snooze fest, but on the contrary, this is setting up to be an exciting physical battle as two slow paced teams will face off to the first to 60. What we have seen from the Creighton throughout the season is that when faced with a top defense, they buckled under pressure and are not able to be very effective. And San Diego State, well, just are not very efficient on offense at all unless facing inferior opponents that they can score on easily. Both teams have shown that their focus will be on defense when it counts. Both teams take a minimal amount of three point shots as Creighton attempts 6.7 per game (255th in the nation) and San Diego State attempts 6 (302nd in the nation). The Bluejays win the rebounding battle and when that is the case, the Aztecs are quick to get back on defense as they limit teams in transition points. This will be a tight game throughout the entire contest as we see a lot of shot clock being used and forced turnovers as neither team holds on to the ball well either. This low total is something that San Diego State is used to and will force on their opponent as they look to move on to the next round.

Pick - Under 119.5 (-110) via BetAnySports

(4) Arkansas -5 vs. (13) Vermont | O/U 139

This game has kept me going back and fourth for days now as Vermont has made it very difficult to understand as they have blown out the competition recently, but have also struggled with schools like UMass Lowell and Hartford. Vermont is extremely efficient on offense as they shoot the ball at 49.3% from the field (5th in the nation) compared to Arkansas who shoots at 44% (183rd in the nation). From behind the three point line, this Catamounts team is attempting 8.8 shots per game and hitting at an impressive rate of 36.4%. The way this team is clicking right now and with the size to compete with the bigger schools, they pose a very good threat to upset and keep moving on. Arkansas as of late has been impressive as well, but left the eyes a little concerned with how they performed against Texas A&M. On the defensive side of the ball, Vermont maintains a 92.9 rating (16th in the nation) while Arkansas has a 95.4 rating (41st in the nation). This game may very well come down to the end and have both defenses take over. If we are expecting a close one here, then getting points with a team ready to step up to the competition is the way to go.

Pick - Vermont +5 (-110) via BetAnySports

(7) Murray St. -1 vs. (10) San Francisco | O/U 137

Murray State has had an incredible season thus far due to their shooting abilities and their defense. They shoot 47.9% from the field compared to San Francisco who shoot 45.7% from the field which is still good in its own right. The thing that the Dons love to do though is shoot from deep as they rank 16th in the nation in three point attempts and connect at about the same rate as Murray State where they are at 35.4% and 35.3% respectively. Both teams are pretty evenly matched defensively as well as they both rank in the top 50, so the spread for this game makes sense as it is expected to come down to the end. The main factor for this pick will be the strength of schedule. San Francisco has been more battle tested as they have faced Gonzaga multiple times this season and have wins against some other tournament teams from earlier this season in Davidson, UAB, and two close losses against Saint Mary's. This may be the end of Murray State's successful season.

Pick - San Francisco +1 (-110) via BetAnySports

(4) UCLA -13.5 vs. (13) Akron | O/U 128

As a surprise team from last years Final Four run, UCLA has brought back the core of their team and look to make a deep run again. They have struggled a tad this year to generate offense as they shoot the ball at 45% compared to Akron who is able to hit at a rate of 46.2% from the field. UCLA is the type of team that has the chemistry to make the run, but fail to really blow out teams as they run a very slow pace which helps teams that can shoot the three well stay in the game. Akron is one of those teams as they hit 35.7% from three (74th in the nation) and are able to be efficient on offense by only turning the ball over at a rate of 11.5 per game (67th in the nation). Akron has shown that they can play up tempo when teams want to play fast and slow it down as well, so they are not afraid of the offense that UCLA will throw at them. With an offensive rating of 111.2 (40th in the nation), the Zips have the capability to keep this game a lot closer than the spread suggests.

Pick - Akron +13.5 (-110) via BetAnySports

(1) Kansas -21.5 vs. Texas Southern | O/U 144

Pace is all we are going to get from these teams. Texas Southern had a great season but unfortunately it will end here for them. However, if they can string together some runs and get a few stops, they have a chance to cover this big number. With Lightfoot most likely not going for this game, Kansas loses a little bit of size which will help Texas Southern with their already impressive rebounding abilities as they rank 21st in the nation at 36.1 per game all thanks in large part to Nicholas and Gresham. The rebounding may help Texas Southern with limiting the Jayhawks second chance points as well as pushing the pace and hoping to catch Kansas sleeping when getting back into transition. Defensively, Texas Southern sports a 94.6 defensive rating (33rd in the nation) while Kansas has a 98 defensive rating (86th in the nation). With all these factors taken into consideration along with the small high that this Tigers team may be on when coming to take on the number 1 seed, this may be just too many points for Kansas to really care to cover.

Pick - Texas Southern +21.5 (-110)

(7) Ohio St. PK vs. (10) Loyola Chicago | O/U 132.5

This Loyola team has been impressive all year and even last year as they won in the first round of the tournament. Offensively, they have it all led by star player Lucas Williamson as this team gets all players involved and assists at a rate of 15 per game (49th in the nation). There isn't much to really say besides this team is just going to outplay Ohio State and kill them with back door cuts, screens, passes, you name it. On top of that, they have been magnificent defensively as they rank 20th in the nation in defensive rating compared to Ohio State's terrible 264th ranking. The only slight edge that the Buckeyes would maybe have is their rebounding, but even then, it isn't significantly better than Loyola and will not help them with how bad their defense is. Not too much time spent on this one as with Zed Key and Kyle Young both questionable and not 100% for this game, it will be too tall of a task asking EJ Liddell to win this game on his own.

Pick - Loyola Chicago PK (-110) via BetAnySports

(2) Auburn -15.5 vs. (15) Jacksonville St. | O/U 138.5

Jacksonville State was able to sneak into the tournament due to NCAA rules after Bellarmine won the Atlantic Sun conference tournament. This team however is more than capable of putting up some numbers as they shoot from behind the three at a very high rate of 38.8% (5th in the nation). Offensively, they technically rank better than Auburn in field goal percentage and three point field goals, but of course that is against much lesser competition. The Gamecocks run a slow pace that will be sped up and forced to play keep up as Auburn ranks 42nd in the nation in pace and will control the tempo of this game. If Jacksonville State has any chance to cover, they know they have to knock down shots and get out in transition to keep up with Auburn. Jacksonville State also some what has some size and can rebound the ball effectively at 34.2 per game (68th in the nation) compared to Auburn who rebound at 35.9 per game (24th in the nation). The difficult task will of course be containing Jabari Smith and big man Walker Kessler for Auburn who is very difficult to guard in the paint and an incredible rim protector. Knowing the paint will not likely be an option, I like my chances with a team who can hit from deep at a solid rate.

Pick - Jacksonville St. +15.5 (-110) via BetAnySports

(3) Texas Tech -15 vs. (14) Montana St.

A very solid Texas Tech team that has been able to continue their defensive prowess since Chris Beard left for Texas is going to be a tough out during this tournament. Both teams can score as Montana State shoots 47.5% from the field (28th in the nation) and Texas Tech converts at 47% (40th in the nation) so there is not much discrepancy there. Texas Tech does struggle at the free throw line quite a bit as they only rank 238th in the nation in free throw percentage while Montana State excels in this area at 75.3%. The size that the Red Raiders poses is a little daunting to Montana State, but if they are able to shoot as well as they have throughout the year, then should be able to score with Texas Tech. Defensively, though, Texas Tech ranks 3rd in the nation and steal at a rate of 8.2 per game (39th in the nation). Montana State will most likely wear down as they turn the ball over at rate of 12.8 per game which the Red Raiders will take advantage of and go ahead and push the pace with Montana State if they like. With Texas Tech most likely winning the rebounding battle as well, this game could turn ugly quick if Montana State is not on which I don't expect them to be.

Pick - Texas Tech -15 (-110) via BetAnySports

(3) Purdue -16 vs. (14) Yale | O/U 143

This looks to be another lopsided game which of course is expected as a team that was able to dominate the BIG Ten faces an opponent that to some people's surprise was able to win the Ivy League. This one wont take too much time as Yale runs a fast pace (72nd in the nation) but is not very efficiently offensively. Purdue runs a bit slower pace but is far more efficient than Yale on the offensive end. Purdue will have its way with Edey in the paint and Ivey being able to create shots wherever he desires against this Yale defense. Compared to what Purdue has faced recently, this will be a step down in class in which they will be able to showcase that offensive talent that they had so much success with at the beginning of the season and will be more of a tune up game to get them ready for their next round matchup. Because of how poor Purdue has been defensively (218th in the nation), Yale may end up getting some easy transition baskets which should help push this game over the posted total as both teams are expected to get up and down quick.

Pick - Over 143 (-110) via BetAnySports

(2) Villanova -15.5 vs. (15) Delaware | O/U 133.5

This will actually be a pretty fun game to watch as Delaware actually has the size to somewhat compete with Villanova. Both teams run pretty much a snails pace as Delaware ranks 216th in the nation in pace compared to Villanova which rank 343rd in the nation in pace. Villanova loves to slow the ball down and run their half court offense through Gillespie and allow him to work the shot clock to get good looks. Delaware on the other side will look to do the same and work inside the perimeter as they shoot an effective 46.9% from the field. Both teams are not anything spectacular defensively which may be Villanova's downfall, but the Wildcats are able to take care of the ball as they rank 15th in the nation in turnovers compared to Delaware who rank 235th in the nation. We have seen what Villanova can do versus teams that do not defend well which is score with ease. First look would be to think about the under as Villanova is known for how well they defend, however, this total is a bit too low for where we like it.

Pick - Over 133.5 (-110) via BetAnySports

(7) USC -1.5 VS. (10) Miami | O/U 139.5

An evenly matched game here as two schools from completely different sides of the nation will meet for the first time since 93'. These teams have only met twice and USC won both contests which means absolutely nothing as those were teams from almost 30 years ago. Both of these teams do not shoot the ball very well but they can shoot at a decent rate as they match fairly evenly on the offensive side. This Miami team is very streaky and if they get hot from three then watch out because they can light it up from behind the arc since they know they do not have a great inside presence. This might be the most lopsided category that we see all tournament as USC ranks 12th in the nation compared to Miami who ranks 343rd in the nation. That right there is enough to tell you that if Miami is not hitting shots, it will be a long day for them. This USC team is the type of team that the Hurricanes will struggle with as they have lengthy defenders that are going to cause difficult shots to go along with their 75th ranked defense. When it really comes down to it, USC's size will just be way too much for Miami even with playmakers Wong and McGusty who can be careless at times and force bad shots.

Pick - USC -1.5 (-110) via BetAnySports

(6) Alabama -4 vs. (11) Notre Dame | O/U 153

After their win against Rutgers to get the final spot in the field of 64, Notre Dame will look to keep the momentum and hope to upset a team that his been trending in the wrong direction. Offensively, Notre Dame shoots the ball from deep at an incredible rate of 38% compared to Alabama whose forte was the three point shot lost year which now shoot it at 30.8%. Alabama has really struggled as of late with high expectations in the beginning of the season. What they do do well is rebound the ball at 36.4 per game compared to their opponent who only grabs 31.9 per game. As long as the Fighting Irish can maintain the impressive shooting, there won't be many rebounds to go around and they will have a good shot for the upset here. Add to the fact that defensively they rank a bit higher than Alabama, Alabama struggles with turnovers as they give the ball up 14.6 times per game to opponents. The wrong team is favored here.

Pick - Notre Dame +4 (-110) via BetAnySports

(6) Texas -1 vs. (11) Virginia Tech | O/U 123.5

One of the most popular 11 over 6 upsets that I am seeing a lot of people pick here as a reaction to seeing Virginia Tech beat Duke in the ACC tournament. Let's not forget what this Texas team is capable of as they have one of the best defensive rated teams in the nation as they rank 18th. Both teams rock some of the slowest paces in the nation as Virginia Tech ranks 349th in the nation and Texas ranks 341st in the nation. The Hokies tend to play to their competition and let them dictate the pace which Texas will be happy to do and play in the half court as they keep this game low scoring. However, Virginia Tech can shoot extremely well from the three as they knock down 39.3% from deep which is good for 3rd in the nation. One thing Texas can do is exploit those teams that are slow to get back in transition as this team steals at a solid rate of 7.7 per game (68th in the nation) and also rebound the ball offensively very well at 9.1 per game allowing them many second chance points. What Storm Murphy has brought over to this team with his experience to pair with Aluma has been magical to watch, but Texas is a bit of a tough matchup for this squad as Courtney Ramey is going to force the ball out of Murphy's hand and make other players create their own shots which they do not do well.

Pick - Texas -1 (-110) via BetAnySports

(4) Illinois -8 vs. (13) Chattanooga | O/U 135.5

Chattanooga gets to the tournament with an buzzer beater against Furman to put them up against a powerhouse in Illinois. It is no secret what Illinois will plan to do which is feed big man Cockburn in the paint and let him work. The main issue with that is that he will have to rely on the guard play by his teammates to get him the ball which honestly can not be counted on. This Mocs team has been very effective all year and somewhat has some size to match up with Illinois and give them problems. Defensively Illinois ranks 131st in the nation compared to Chattanooga's ranking of 94th in the nation. What Chattanooga can do is put pressure on the guards and cause steals then get out in transition with their highly rated offense which ranks 20th in the nation. They can also convert free throws at a great percentage of 75.2% which will come into play towards the end of the game if this thing is close. The guard play of this Illinois team may be a little too suspect for them and could actually see a possible upset here that everyone is looking over. With the points that we are getting because of how over rated this Illinois team is, we can look nowhere else but the points.

Pick - Chattanooga +8 (-110) via BetAnySports

(2) Duke -18.5 vs. (15) CS Fullerton | 0/U 146.5

Not much to say for this game. Of course Duke is a big heavy public favorite and rightfully so. After that disappointing loss to UNC to end the season then that embarrassing loss against Virginia Tech to lose the tournament, expect Coach K to have these guys ready for revenge and to show why they plan on making a run in the tournament with a statement win here. I usually hate to ride with a heavy public side, but they've got this one right. Offensively and defensively, this Duke team is going to run circles over the Titans. Good luck next year Fullerton.

Pick - Duke -18.5 (-110) via BetAnySports

(6) LSU -4 vs. (11) Iowa St. | O/U 127.5

Two extremely good defensive schools will face off here as LSU ranks 5th in the nation in defensive rating while Iowa State ranks 27th in the nation. After their impressive start, Iowa State has struggled to get their offense going when facing schools that can actually defend. Against the comparable defensive teams like the Texas, Texas Tech, and Baylor's of the world, the Cyclones struggle immensely to score when being pressured especially in the full court which LSU likes to do. I understand Wade got fired the day before selection Sunday, but the way this team has been playing will carry over to the first round of this tournament especially being out to prove that they can still compete despite losing their coach. LSU will match Iowa State's pressure and some as they will give a good 40 minutes of pressure and wear the opposition down till they just give up and allow LSU to run away with fast breaks. Ranked 1st in the nation in steals, expect for LSU to win this low scoring game down the stretch with the decent free throw shooting percentage of 73.2% while the Hurricane's miss crucial free throws by only converting 68.4% from the line.

Pick - LSU -4 (-110) via BetAnySports

(1) Arizona -21.5 vs. Wright St. | O/U 156

Another one of those games where the number 1 team should roll against the 16 seed, but like mentioned in a previous game, what's the point? Where does the motivation come from to cover this large spread with already being in the tournament and waiting on a piece of your offense to get healthy in Kriisa, I expect Arizona to just win and move on. Wright State has been a team all year that has put up a fight and has been able to score the ball at a nice rate of 46.5% from the field (50th in the nation). I understand they are outmatched and Arizona has the capability to run them out of the gym, but I expect Wright State to leave it all out there while Arizona looks to just cruise past them and hope that their sharpshooter will be back in time for round two of the tournament.

Pick - Wright St. +21.5 (-110) via BetAnySports

(5) Houston -8.5 vs. (12) UAB | O/U 136

A very exciting matchup here as we get my alma mater of Houston taking on the very defensive sound UAB. What UAB has done this year has been very impressive as they shoot the ball almost identical to Houston, but can hit the free throws a bit better as they convert 73.8% compared to Houston's 66.9%. Both teams are extremely physical and aggressive on the boards. If UAB wants any chance to upset here, they will be forced to play at the slow pace that Houston commands as we can see UAB has done with a defensive like opponent in North Texas. UAB forces 9.7 steals per game (7th in the nation) while Houston forces 8.2 per game (38th in the nation). Defensively, UAB overall is rated at 93.3 (20th in the nation while Houston is rated 89.5 (4th in the nation). This is a high total because of what UAB is able to usually do as far as pushing the pace, but this Houston team as mentioned will not let that happen as they look to control the glass and wind down the shot clock until they get a quality shot.

Pick - Under 136 (-110) via BetAnySports

(7) Michigan St. -1 vs. (10) Davidson | O/U 140.5

This is a game that I am actually really looking forward to to find out if Davidson really has what it takes against these bigger schools. Tyson Walker is a decent part of this Spartan's team starting 5, and without him, I do expect Michigan State to lose some scoring help. All year Davidson has been very efficient offensively as they shoot 48.1% from the field (18th in the nation) and 38.6% (7th in the nation) from behind the arc. All of this is due in large part to their scoring tandem Foster Loyer and Hyunjung Lee. This Davidson team has 4 players that average double digit scoring which makes sense as they assist at a rate of 14.7 per game due to their shot selection. Offensively they are rated 14th in the nation compared to Michigan State's 118th rating. On the defensive end, neither team really forces any turnovers or plays a suffocating defense which will be good for Davidson as they will match up well against the slightly undersized BIG Ten team in Michigan State. Expect for the sharp shooting to continue for this Davidson team while Michigan State gets bounced early.

Pick - Davidson +1 (-110) via BetAnySports

(3) Wisconsin -8 vs. (14) Colgate | O/U 139.5

All year this Colgate team has ran through the Patriot League in pretty much blowout fashion and look to showcase their shooting talents in this game as well. Both teams do not run a super fast pace, but are able to get enough shots off to make this a good back and fourth game. This is a pretty large spread, but we will not be touching a side as some late game antics like missed free throws could be a factor as Colgate only converts at a rate of 69.5% from the line compared to Wisconsin at 74.2%. Offensively, though, this Colgate team is no joke as they shoot 47.6% from the field (25th in the nation) and hit a whopping 40.3% from behind the arc which is good for 2nd in the nation. Along with shooting the ball well, Colgate can create good looks with the amount of assists they create at 17.2 per game. Now defensively, both teams are nothing to write home about which means we should get plenty of great shots and have a huge game from none other than the future lottery pick of Johnny Davis.

Pick - Over 139.5 (-110) via BetAnySports

(8) Seton Hall PK vs. (9) TCU | O/U 130

Last game of the first round is somewhat of a disappointment as there isn't much excitement around this game. Face it, no one really has Seton Hall or TCU moving past Arizona in the next round anyways, so this game does not hold too much weight. Both teams are rather even when it comes to what they do offensively as they both have struggled at times to get anything going. When facing tough defenses, they have been known to fold, however, TCU has been able to manage some quality wins as of late going against these tough opponents. Defensively, TCU is rated at 97.7 (82nd in the nation) while Seton Hall is rated 97.2 (69th in the nation). This sort of sets up for the perfect recipe for an under as two teams that can't score go against tough defenses.

Pick - Under 130 (-110) via BetAnySports

And there you have it, picks for every game in Round 1! Good Luck!

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