Top seeds Kansas and Kentucky don’t figure to have a lot or work on their hands in their opening games and No.3 seeds New Mexico and Georgetown are expected to move on and play on Saturday, but what about the other four games. This is where close contests are not only presumed, but upsets are thought to be a real possibility. Bring the shovel and start digging.
Are six seeds secure?
Marquette and Tennessee will both wear the favorite’s hat, but is it a snug fit or one that could be blown off under uncertain conditions. The Golden Eagles (22-11, 17-10 ATS) have won six of the last eight games, however have had issues with teams that prefer to play at fast pace. In three games in this stretch, the height-challenged Marquette squad has surrendered 50 percent or more in defensive field goal percentage to Seton Hall, Villanova and Georgetown.
In comes Washington, on a serious roll (7-0-, 6-1 ATS) as Pac-10 postseason champs. The Huskies average 79.8 points per game and like to “floor it” on offense. Washington (24-9, 14-18 ATS) has covered four of their last five NCAA tournament games and No.11 seeds that that average over 73 points a game are prime material to pull first round upsets. Washington is receiving 1.5-points at Bookmaker.com with total of 143, yet keep in mind the former Warriors from Milwaukee are 7-0 ATS when the total is 140 to 149.5 this season.
Prior to SEC semi-final contest, Tennessee (25-8, 13-17 ATS) had won five in a row and seven of eight and looking like a team on the come. The Volunteers brutally grotesque loss to Kentucky by 29-point evidently has left an impression against Mountain West team that won conference tournament on the road literally, with smallish spread.
Tennessee has covered their last four outings off a spread loss, however are only 3-7-1 ATS in Big Dance tournament games. The Vols play much better from the lead, since they shoot only 31.3 percent from three-point land.
San Diego State (25-8, 18-13 ATS) is not terribly tall, yet super aggressive on the offensive boards, accounting for +7 rebound margin. Like Tennessee, the Aztecs playing outstanding defense (40.5 vs. 39.4 for Vols) and they convert on 47.7 percent of shot attempts. S.D. State stifled UNLV on their own floor in MWC title tilt, holding them to 45 points on 32.7 percent accuracy and they are 22-9 ATS after a win by 10 points or more over the last two seasons.
Tennessee is a 3.5-point favorite, with only three covers the last 10 times they were the preferred choice.
8 vs. 9 or 9 vs. 8 who knows
In the last 11 tournaments, the lower seed has held a slight edge with 23-21 SU record and 23-19-2 ATS mark. That would give Northern Iowa (28-4, 21-10 ATS) a narrow margin in theory and they are one-point dogs to UNLV.
The Panthers are balanced and go 10 deep and don’t beat themselves. Northern Iowa is never in a hurry offensively, with C Jordan Eglseder and F Adam Koch the inside presence and bombers like Ali Farokhmanesh to do the scoring. UNI also can tie-up teams up on defense, holding them to 54.3 points per game (40.3 percent) and are willing to do the work for the entire shot clock if necessary. This patient club is 8-2 ATS after a win by 15 points or more this season.
UNLV (25-8, 19-12 ATS) had their six game winning streak snapped in the MWC finals. The Rebels have a stellar backcourt with Tre’Von Willis and Oscar Bellfield; however do not have a starter more than 6’8 to go against Northern Iowa’s big guys. UNLV is 15-4 ATS when the line is +3 to -3 under coach Lon Kruger the last three seasons, which gives this the feel of last basket wins conflict.
The other 8 vs. 9 matchup is more about survival than just being close encounter. Wake Forest (19-10, 15-11 ATS) has wallowed losing five of six. Al-Farouq Amino is their most productive offensive weapon and the Demon Deacons do a descent job working the glass, but lack consistent scoring from the guard spots. Wake is just 1-10 ATS in previous NCAA tournament tilts.
Texas (24-9, 11-18 ATS) fell like housing values, going from No.1 in the country to an eighth seed in the course of the season, an unprecedented event. As the year has worn on, its crystal clear this team lacks chemistry, focus and dreadful point guard play exacerbates the situation. Texas is a five point favorite for whatever reason and is 3-11 ATS versus teams outscoring their opponents by four or more points per game after 15 or contests have been played this season. Anybody have a coin?