First Four betting preview: Southern vs Holy Cross, Tulsa vs Michigan


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Games to be played at University of Dayton Arena, Dayton, OH

Southern Jaguars vs Holy Cross Crusaders (+2, 129.5)

Despite going one-and-done in the NCAA Tournament eight times since earning its last victory at the Big Dance in 1953, Holy Cross has been a headache for the big-time programs it has faced in those contests. The Crusaders will attempt to end their 63-year postseason winning drought Wednesday when they meet fellow No. 16 seed Southern in a First Four game in Dayton, Ohio.

Holy Cross gave Kentucky all it wanted in 2001 in a 73-69 setback, led Kansas at halftime before falling 70-59 in 2002 and put a scare into an eventual Final Four team in 2003, losing 72-68 to a Dwyane Wade-led Marquette squad. After dropping five straight to end the regular season, the Crusaders caught fire as the No. 9 seed in the Patriot League tournament, upsetting Loyola Maryland, top-seeded Bucknell, Army and Lehigh in succession to become only the fifth team NCAA Tournament history to make the field after losing as many as 19 games. The Jaguars are in the Big Dance for the first time since 2013, when they stretched top-seeded Gonzaga to the limit before dropping a 64-58 decision. Southern collected the Southwestern Athletic Conference’s automatic bid Saturday, getting a go-ahead tip-in from Adrian Rodgers with 17 seconds left to rally past Jackson State.

TV: 6:40 p.m. ET, truTV

LINE HISTORY: Southern opened as 2.5-point favorites in the early of the two First Four Wednesday matchups and have been bet down to -2. The total opened at 131 and was quickly dropped to 129.5 before being bet down another full point to 128.5. The total sat at 128.5 for half of the day Monday before being bumped back up to 129.5 where things seem to have settled.

MATCHUP CHART:

ABOUT SOUTHERN (22-12, 3-3 ATS, 2-4 O/U): The Jaguars like to push the pace, relying on a guard-oriented, dribble-drive offense that leads the SWAC in shortest time of possession, and also possesses the conference’s best turnover rate (16.3 percent). Trelun Banks (12.6 points), son of Jaguars coach Roman Banks, is the team’s second-leading scorer and was named conference tournament MVP after averaging 17 points in Houston. All-SWAC first-team selection Rodgers (team-high 16.6 points, 5.4 rebounds), who made up for a seven-point effort on 2-of-7 shooting in the title game by hitting the game-winning shot and grabbing a career-high 11 boards, has only been held below 10 points three times all season.

ABOUT HOLY CROSS (14-19, 5-0 ATS, 2-3 O/U): The Crusaders run a Princeton-style offense led by 6-7 junior forward Malachi Alexander (12 points, 5.5 rebounds), who scored 26 points in the Patriot title game and a tournament-record 83 points during Holy Cross’ four-game run. Reserve guard Eric Green (4.6 points) missed most of the first half of the season with a knee injury but saved two of his best offensive games of the season for the conference tournament, scoring 10 in a double-overtime victory at Bucknell and a season-high 13 in the title game. Junior 6-11 center Matt Husek (18.1 minutes) is the only regular that stands taller than Alexander, which has contributed to Crusaders’ woeful rebounding margin (minus-5.5, 323rd in Division I).

TRENDS:

* Southern is 0-3-1 ATS in their last 4 non-conference games.

* Holy Cross is 4-0 ATS in their last 4 games following a straight up win.

* Under is 5-0 in Southern’s last 5 non-conference games.

* Under is 10-3 in Holy Cross’ last 13 non-conference games.

Tulsa Golden Hurricane vs. Michigan Wolverines (-4, 143)

Michigan likely locked up its at-large bid in the NCAA Tournament with a Big Ten tournament win over top-seed Indiana on Friday, but Tulsa has to be feeling pretty lucky it made the Big Dance after leaving a poor last impression on the committee its last time out. The Golden Hurricane look to prove their doubters wrong Wednesday in a First Four game against Michigan in a battle of No. 11 seeds in the East Region at Dayton, Ohio.

Tulsa was one of several teams on the bubble entering the weekend and own regular-season wins over fellow tournament teams such as Wichita State, Connecticut and Temple, but did its postseason hopes no favors with a 22-point loss to Memphis in the American Athletic Conference quarterfinals Friday. Perhaps of more concern than the Golden Hurricane’s second double-digit loss to Memphis in three games was the fact they trailed the Tigers by as many as 31 points. The Wolverines finished the regular season by losing four of five, but edged Northwestern by two in overtime on Thursday before upsetting the Hoosiers 72-69 a day later on a 3-pointer from little-used Kameron Chatman with 0.2 seconds remaining. Michigan, which lost both of its senior captains (leading scorer Caris LeVert and Spike Albrecht) to season-ending injuries, is back in NCAA Tournament for the fifth time in the last six years after missing out in 2014-15.

TV: 9:10 p.m. ET, truTV

LINE HISTORY: Michigan opened as 3-point favorites and the public bet the line up to -4. The total began at 143.5 and was dropped slightly to settle in at 143.

MATCHUP CHART:

ABOUT TULSA (20-11, 14-13-3 ATS, 17-13 O/U): The Golden Hurricane’s three-guard lineup accounts for all of the team’s double-digit scorers, as James Woodard is only the third player in school history to compile 1,800 points and 700 rebounds, and leads the team in scoring (15.6 points) while ranking second in rebounding (5.2) and assists (2.4). Fellow senior Shaquille Harrison is second in scoring (14.8) and first in rebounding (5.5) and assists (4.1), and became the first player in Tulsa history to post 1,300 points, 400 assists and 200 steals. Sharp-shooter Pat Birt (12.4 points) rounds out the trio and averaged 21.7 points in the first seven games of February before averaging just fewer than nine over the team’s three most recent contests.

ABOUT MICHIGAN (22-12, 16-16 ATS, 19-12-1 O/U): Derrick Walton Jr. (11.7 points, 5.6 rebounds, 4.5 assists) has been the team’s most consistent all-around performer all season long and snapped a two-game offensive funk by scoring 14 in Saturday’s 76-59 loss to Purdue. Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman (8.2 points) essentially filled the void left behind by LeVert (16.5) since the team’s leading scorer played his final game on Feb. 13, as Abdur-Rahkman scored in double figures six times over his last seven outings and averaged 14.7 in three Big Ten tournament games. Zak Irvin (11.7 points, 4.6 rebounds) has seen his production dip slightly from his breakout sophomore campaign, although he averaged 20.3 points in the Wolverines’ three upsets of ranked Big Ten foes.

TRENDS: 

* Tulsa is 0-7-1 ATS in their last 8 neutral site games.

* Michigan is 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games vs. a team with a winning % above .600.

* Over is 7-1 in Tulsa’s last 8 overall.

* Over is 4-1 in Michigan’s last 5 NCAA Tournament games.
 


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