Friday’s NCAA Tournament first round betting preview: Midwest Region

The First Round of the Big Dance continues Friday with plenty of intriguing matchups on the board in the Midwest Region for you to sink your betting teeth into. We break down all six games so you can handicap the “Big Dance” like a pro.

No. 10 Oklahoma State Cowboys vs. No. 7 Michigan Wolverines (-2.5, 153.5)

Game to be played at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, Indiana

Seventh-seeded Michigan looks to build off its incredible run in the Big Ten Tournament when it takes on No. 10 seed Oklahoma State in the first round of the Midwest Region in Indianapolis on Friday. The Wolverines almost missed the conference tournament after their charter plan skidded off the runway en route to Washington, but proceeded to win four games in four days – capped by a 71-56 victory against Wisconsin in Sunday’s final – to lift their first conference tournament championship since 1998 and guarantee a spot in the NCAA Tournament.

Michigan won two straight meetings with the Cowboys, including a 75-72 triumph in the Sweet 16 in 1992. Oklahoma State won 10 of its last 14 games – but lost its last three – to earn an NCAA Tournament bid after missing out on the Big Dance in 2016. The Cowboys made the tournament four times in the last five years, but failed to win a game since advancing to the regional semifinal in 2005. Oklahoma State is led by dynamic point guard Jawun Evans, who was named to the All-Big 12 First Team after averaging 19 points and 6.2 assists, and hopes to continue his recent scoring tear – 26.7 points over his last three games – by leading the Cowboys to their first win against the Wolverines since 1982.

TV: 12:15 p.m. ET, CBS

LINE HISTORY: The Wolverines opened this 10-7 matchup as slight one-point favorites and bettors like Michigan here, moving hte line to the current number of -2.5. The total hit the board at 155 and has been bet down a point and a half to the current number of 153.5. Check out the complete line history here.

BETTING STATS:

ABOUT OKLAHOMA STATE: Evans scored a game-high 29 points and Jeffrey Carroll, who earned All-Big 12 Second-Team honors, added 21 points and seven rebounds in the 92-83 loss to eventual Big 12 Tournament champion Iowa State in the quarterfinals. Evans scored 20 or more points in three straight games and has achieved the feat 14 times during 2016-17. Phil Forte III, who needs one more start to move into third place on the Cowboys’ all-time list, leads the nation in free-throw percentage (95.3) and made both attempts against the Cyclones to extend his streak to 20 in a row.

ABOUT MICHIGAN: Derrick Walton Jr. was named the Most Outstanding Player of the Big Ten tournament after averaging 20.5 points and 6.3 assists in the Wolverines’ four victories. Walton Jr. led the way with 22 points and seven assists while fellow senior Zak Irvin added 15 points, seven rebounds and five assists against Wisconsin in the championship game. “All the adversity we’ve been through … we stuck together as a family and got the job done,” Irvin told reporters. “We’re playing well right now, have a lot of momentum and are ready for the NCAA Tournament.”

MATCHUP CHART:


TRENDS:

* Oklahoma State is 7-1 ATS in its last eight games as an underdog.
* Michigan is 6-0 ATS in its last six neutral site games.
* Over is 6-0 in Oklahoma State’s last six neutral site games.
* Over is 4-0 in Michigan’s last four non-conference games.

Click here for a complete list of hot and cold trends.

(14) Iona Gaels vs. (3) Oregon Ducks (-15, 152)

Game to be played at Golden 1 Center, Sacramento, California

After having its hopes for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament dashed by Arizona, Oregon was assigned a third seed and sent to the Midwest Region for a first-round matchup against 14th-seeded Iona in Sacramento on Friday. The Ducks lost 83-80 to Arizona in Saturday’s Pac-12 tournament title game in their first contest without senior forward Chris Boucher, who will miss the Tournament with a knee injury.

Pac-12 Player of the Year Dillon Brooks averages 16.3 points to lead the Ducks, who received a No. 1 seed last season but lost to Oklahoma in the Elite Eight. Oregon needs to regroup after falling to Arizona without Boucher, a key part of the team’s imposing frontline who averaged 11.8 points, 6.1 rebounds and 2.5 blocks coming off the bench. “We’ve got to bounce back from here, and we’ve got the group to do it,” Ducks coach Dana Altman told reporters. “(Our guys) are very competitive. I’d sure like to work with them three more weeks, but to do that, we’ve got to think about one game at a time.” The Ducks need to be careful not to underestimate Iona, which averages 80.5 points and earned the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference’s automatic bid for the second straight year after defeating Siena in the MAAC tournament championship game.

TV: 2 p.m. ET, TBS

LINE HISTORY: The Ducks hit the board as pretty big 16-point favorites for this first round matchup. They have been faded slightly however, now sitting at -15. The total opened at 151.5 and was bet up slightly to the current number of 152. Check out the complete line history here.

BETTING STATS:

ABOUT IONA: The Gaels’ offense revolves around Jordan Washington, a 6-8 senior forward averaging 17.9 points and 7.4 rebounds while shooting 55.1 percent. The deep backcourt includes Sam Cassell Jr., Rickey McGill and Jon Severe, who is averaging 11.3 points and converting 43 percent of his shots from beyond the arc. The Gaels, whose resume includes a win over Nevada along with surprising losses to Delaware, Fairfield and Quinnipiac, defeated Rider and Monmouth before edging Siena 87-86 in overtime last Monday.
 
ABOUT OREGON: Forward Tyler Dorsey scored 23 points in the loss to Arizona and appears to be peaking at the right time for the Ducks, who were Pac-12 co-champions after closing the regular season with eight straight wins. Boucher’s absence will place a greater burden on forward Jordan Bell, who averages 10.7 points and 8.1 rebounds while recording 72 blocks but will need to avoid foul trouble against Washington. Boucher’s replacement, Kavell Bigby-Williams, finished with three points, six rebounds and two blocks in 14 minutes off the bench against Arizona.

MATCHUP CHART:


TRENDS:

* Iona is 0-4 ATS in its last four NCAA Tournament games.
* Oregon is 5-1 ATS in its last six games as a favorite of -13 or greater.
* Under is 6-1 in Iona’s last seven non-conference games.
* Over is 4-1 in Oregon’s last five games overall.

Click here for a complete list of hot and cold trends.

(15) Jacksonville State Gamecocks vs. (2) Louisville Cardinals (-20, 134)


Game to be played at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, Indiana

A year after a self-imposed postseason ban, Louisville returns to the NCAA Tournament with a first-round matchup against Jacksonville State on Friday in Indianapolis. The Cardinals earned the second seed in the Midwest Region, finishing in a tie for second in the ultra-competitive ACC before being knocked out by Duke in the quarterfinals of the conference tourney.

Led by sophomore guard Donovan Mitchell, who paced the team in scoring (15.7) and topped the ACC in steals (2.1), Louisville secured several wins over tournament teams from the conference and also knocked off Kentucky, Purdue and Wichita State in a challenging non-conference slate. The 15th-seeded Gamecocks of the Ohio Valley Conference earned the fourth seed in the league tourney after a 9-7 regular season before pulling off back-to-back upsets in a run to the title. It is the first NCAA Tournament appearance for the program and it comes in coach Ray Harper’s first season at the helm. Louisville could face a dangerous Michigan squad – which just rolled to the Big Ten tournament crown – in the second round in what would be a rematch of the 2013 national championship.

TV: 2:45 p.m. ET, CBS

LINE HISTORY: Oddsmakers opened the Cardinals as massive 22-point favorites, but bettors think that may be a few too many points, as the number has dropped back down a bit to a still hefty Louisville -20. The total hit the board at 133.5 and has moved up a half-point to 134. Check out the complete line history here.

BETTING STATS:


ABOUT JACKSONVILLE STATE: Junior guard Malcolm Drumwright was named MVP of the OVC tournament after averaging 16.3 points while shooting 51.4 percent. He leads the way in a balanced attack that features four double-digit scorers and a fifth contributor – sophomore forward Christian Cunningham (8.4 points) – who leads the team in rebounding (8.2) and finished third in the OVC in shooting percentage (61.5). The Gamecocks led the league in scoring defense (68.2) and held opponents to an average of 56.5 points during their current four-game winning streak.

ABOUT LOUISVILLE:
Junior Quentin Snyder (12.7) and sophomore Deng Adel (11.9) follow Mitchell on the team’s scoring list but the trio combines to shoot just 40.7 percent, relying plenty on a perimeter game that produced nearly 75 percent of the team’s 3-pointers. Senior forward Mangok Mathiang averaged 13 points and 8.3 rebounds over the last three games and junior 7-footer Anas Mahmoud made all three of his attempts in the loss to Duke and is 17-for-24 over a seven-game stretch. Coach Rick Pitino is seeking his third national crown in his 21st appearance in the tournament and needs one win to tie Syracuse’s Jim Boeheim (54) for fourth on the event’s all-time list.

MATCHUP CHART:


TRENDS:

* Jacksonville State is 6-0 ATS in its last six neutral site games.
* Louisville is 5-0 ATS in its last five non-conference games.
* Under is 7-1 in Jacksonville State’s last eight neutral site games.
* Under is 7-0 in Louisville’s last seven versus Ohio Valley Conference opponents.

Click here for a complete list of hot and cold trends.

No. 11 Rhode Island Rams vs. No. 6 Creighton Bluejays

Game to be played Golden 1 Center, Sacramento, California

On track for a possible top-eight NCAA Tournament seed two months ago with an 18-1 start, Creighton instead settled for a No. 6 seed after losing star point Maurice Watson Jr. to injury and going 7-8 in its final 15 games. That seed also entails a first-round Midwest Region matchup Friday against 11th-seeded Rhode Island in Sacramento.

The Bluejays also were a sixth seed in the Big East Tournament but beat third-seeded Providence (70-58) and seventh-seeded Xavier (75-72) before falling to top-seeded and defending national-champion Villanova 74-60 in Saturday’s tourney title game. Creighton is making its first NCAA appearance since 2014 when Doug McDermott, son of current coach Greg McDermott, and the third-seeded Bluejays were routed 85-55 by sixth-seeded Baylor in the second round. Rhode Island, meanwhile, will be making its first Big Dance appearance since 1999. The Rams finished tied for third in the Atlantic 10 Conference regular season but wound up winning the conference title and the league’s automatic bid after winning three games in three days in Pittsburgh.

TV: 4:30 p.m. ET, TBS

LINE HISTORY: Despite being the 6-seed in this matchup the Bluejays hit the board as only slight 1-point favorites and the line has yet to move off of that number. The total opened at 142.5 and has been bet down a point to the current number of 141.5. Check out the complete line history here.

BETTING STATS:

ABOUT RHODE ISLAND: Despite ending the regular season on a five-game win streak, the Rams were on the NCAA tourney bubble entering the postseason but coach Dan Hurley’s squad removed any doubt by beating St. Bonaventure (74-63), Davidson (84-60) and VCU (70-63) in the conference tournament. Junior guard E.C. Matthews (14.9 points), senior forward Hassan Martin (14.1 points) and junior guard Jared Terrell (12.6) are the leading scorers, and Matthews and Terrell combined for 39 points, 12 rebounds and four assists in the Atlantic 10 title game. Senior forward Kuran Iverson (7.4 boards) and Martin (7.0) are the leading rebounders for Rhode Island, which owns an average rebound margin of plus-2.9.

ABOUT CREIGHTON: The Bluejays are making their sixth postseason and fourth NCAA tourney appearance in Greg McDermott’s seven seasons at the helm after reaching the NIT quarterfinals a year ago. Junior guard Marcus Foster, a transfer from Kansas State, leads the team in scoring at 18.3 points per game and was an All-Big East first-team and all-conference tournament selection. Foster has plenty of help in 7-foot freshman center Justin Patton (13.1 points, team-most 6.2 rebounds) and sophomore guard Khyri Thomas, who averaged 12.4 points and led the squad with 51 steals in being selected Big East Defensive Player of the Year.

MATCHUP CHART:


TRENDS:

* Rhode Island is 6-1 ATS in its last seven games overall.
* Creighton is 1-8-1 ATS in its last 10 NCAA Tournament games.
* Under is 4-1 in Rhode Island’s last five non-conference games.
* Under is 6-1 in Creighton’s last seven games overall.

Click here for a complete list of hot and cold trends.

(16) UC Davis Aggies vs. (1) Kansas Jayhawks

Game to be played at BOK Center, Tulsa, Oklahoma

Top-seeded Kansas begins its quest for a fourth NCAA Tournament title and first since 2008 when it takes on 16th seed UC Davis in the opening round of the Midwest Regional Friday night in Tulsa, Ok. The Jayhawks come in with a little more rest than expected after being upset by TCU on March 9 in the Big 12 tournament quarterfinals and make their record 28th consecutive appearance in the Big Dance.

“I think our guys are excited,” Kansas coach Bill Self told the Kansas City Star. “We’ve been seeded high several times. We have played up to expectations a few, certainly haven’t played up to expectations more than we wish to count. Hopefully, this is a year we go in with a free mind and certainly a focus that has been better than in some years past.” The Jayhawks are expected to have second-leading scorer Josh Jackson back in the lineup after he was suspended for the TCU game for being issued multiple traffic violations. Big West champion UC Davis earned a 67-63 victory over North Carolina Central in the First Four Wednesday at Dayton, Ohio in the program’s first appearance in the NCAA Tournament. Aggies’ coach Jim Les beat Kansas in the opening round in 2006 when he took Bradley to the Sweet Sixteen.

TV: 6:50 p.m. ET, TNT

LINE HISTORY: Kansas opened its opening round matchup with UC Davis as hefty 22.5-point chalk and have since been bet up to -23. The total hit the board at 144.5 and has yet to move off of that number. Click here for a complete line history.

BETTING STATS:


ABOUT UC DAVIS (23-12 SU, 18-12-1 ATS, 12-18-1 O/U): The Aggies lean on their defense, which has held four consecutive opponents to under 40 percent shooting from the field after limiting the Eagles to 35.8 on Wednesday. Junior forward Chima Moneke (14.5 points, 9.5 rebounds), the Big West tournament MVP, scored 18 and hauled in 12 boards Wednesday for his third double-double in four games. Senior guard Brynton Lemar lead the team in scoring (16.1), sophomore guard Siler Schneider (10.3) is also in double figures and senior guard Darius Graham chips in a team-high 3.2 assists.

ABOUT KANSAS (28-4 SU, 11-18-1 ATS, 14-16 O/U): Despite going 16-2 to win their 13th straight Big 12 regular-season title, the Jayhawks played in plenty of close games along the way – going 10-1 in contests decided by six points or fewer in league play. Senior point guard Frank Mason III had a lot to do with that success rate, averaging team highs of 20.8 points and 5.1 assists while draining 48.7 percent from 3-point range. Jackson, a 6-8 freshman, averages 16.4 points on 51.1 percent shooting from the floor and junior guard Devonte’ Graham (13.1) has also contributed to a team scoring 82.7 points per game.

MATCHUP CHART:


TRENDS:

* UC Davis is 3-0-1 ATS in its last four games overall.
* Kansas is 0-5 ATS in its last five games as a favorite of -13 or greater.
* Under is 7-0 in UC Davis’ last seven games overall.
* Under is 5-1 in Kansas’ last six games following a SU loss.

Click here for a complete list of hot and cold trends.

(9) Michigan State Spartans vs. (8) Miami Hurricanes

Game to be played at BOK Center, Tulsa, Oklahoma

An intriguing 8-9 matchup in the Midwest Region of the NCAA Tournament has No. 8 seed Miami of the Atlantic Coast Conference taking on No. 9 Michigan State of the Big Ten in a first-round game in Tulsa, Okla., on Friday. Both teams come in having lost three of their last four after losing in the quarterfinals of their respective conference tournaments, though the Spartans have a long history of tournament success under coach Tom Izzo.

Miami is one of the better defensive teams in the country, holding opponents to 63.7 points per game, but the Hurricanes also struggle to score at times, failing to reach 65 points in their last six contests. Senior guard Davon Reed averages 15 points to lead the offensive attack, with nearly half his baskets coming from 3-point range, while guard Ja’Quan Newton adds 13.4 points. Michigan State had its share of growing pains as it relies on a quartet of freshmen, led by high-flying forward Miles Bridges, the team’s leading scorer (16.7 points) and rebounder (8.3 rebounds). Forward Nick Ward is an undersized force inside (13.7 points, 6.5 rebounds) at 6-8, though both Bridges and Ward must avoid foul trouble because the Spartans’ frontcourt has very little depth.

TV: 9:20 p.m. ET, TNT

LINE HISTORY: Oddsmakers pegged the slightly more consistent Hurricanes as slight 2.5-point favorites and the line has yet to move off of that number. The total also hasn’t seen any movement as it currently sits at the low opening number of 125.5. Check out the complete line history here.

BETTING STATS:

ABOUT MIAMI: Coach Jim Larranaga is hoping his team will show some more passion for winning than they did in the ACC tournament loss to North Carolina, with the Hurricanes getting outhustled and outplayed by the Tar Heels from the start. Larranaga had his share of success in the NCAAs, taking George Mason to the Final Four in 2006 (including a first-round win over the Spartans), so he can certainly motivate a team. But Miami must play with much more passion against a Michigan State team that is hungry to make up for last year’s first-round loss or it could be a short stay in the Big Dance.

ABOUT MICHIGAN STATE: A young lineup is giving Izzo fits this season, especially with the team’s penchant for turnovers, as Michigan State ranked next-to-last in the Big Ten in turnover margin at minus-3.2. Against a solid defensive team like Miami, the Spartans are going to look to push the ball up the floor even more than they usually do, but if it only results in turnovers, it won’t help. Point guards Cassius Winston and Tum Tum Nairn must make good decisions in the open floor, getting Michigan State easy baskets or the Miami defense could be the difference in this matchup.

MATCHUP CHART:


TRENDS:

* Michigan State is 4-0 ATS following an ATS loss.
* Miami is 0-7 ATS in its last seven non-conference games.
* Over is 5-0 in Michigan State’s last five versus ACC opponents.
* Under is 6-0 in Miami’s last six games overall.

Click here for a complete list of hot and cold trends.


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