Game to be played at Barclays Center, Brooklyn, NY
Following a disappointing conclusion to the Big East tournament – combined with an NCAA Tournament seed and region that are slight letdowns, as well – Villanova tips off in the Field of 68 on Friday in Brooklyn against UNC Asheville. After losing to Seton Hall in the Big East tournament title game on Saturday, the Wildcats had to settle for a No. 2 seed in the South Region (instead of their ideal No. 1 seed in the East) but must regroup quickly against a 15th-seeded Bulldogs squad that defeated Georgetown earlier this season.
Villanova has not made it out of the NCAA Tournament’s opening weekend since 2009, but the current crop of Wildcats was ranked No. 1 in the nation as recently as last month and comes in with a variety of dangerous weapons. Josh Hart, a first-team All-Big East selection, is Villanova’s best and most consistent player, although Kris Jenkins and Ryan Arcidiacono are effective complements to the junior guard. UNC Asheville, which upset top-seeded Winthrop in the Big South tournament championship game, will try to be as physical with Villanova as Seton Hall was on Saturday. “I think we’re going to learn a lot from this game,” Wildcats coach Jay Wright told reporters after losing to the Pirates. “This was a tough, physical, athletic team that that really got into us in the first half and took us out of our offense. And I think they’re the kind of teams you meet in the (NCAA) Tournament. So it’s great to have that experience. We made a lot of mistakes because of what they did.”
TV: 12:40 p.m. ET, truTV
LINE HISTORY: Villanova opened as 17.5-point favorites. The total opened at 141.5 and
has held tight all week. Check the complete line history here.
ABOUT UNC ASHEVILLE (22-11, 6-0 ATS, 2-4 O/U): The Bulldogs are in the Big Dance for the first time since 2012, when they were seeded 16th and nearly upset No. 1 seed Syracuse before falling 72-65 in a controversial Round of 64 matchup. Freshman Dwayne Sutton was named MVP of the conference tournament after capping his run with a 25-point, 18-rebound performance – both career highs – against Winthrop. Sutton averages 12 points per game, joining four of his teammates in double-figures, a group that is led by Dylan Smith (13.5 points), who made 77 3-pointers – 41 more than anyone else on the team.
ABOUT VILLANOVA (29-5, 15-17-1 ATS, 17-15-1 O/U): The Wildcats had won 12 of 13 before losing to Seton Hall in a game where they got very little production from Arcidiacono and backcourt mate Jalen Brunson, who combined to shoot 2-of-11 for five points. Jenkins drained five 3-pointers in that contest and averages 13.3 points, although he has surpassed that average in each of his last nine games. Hart (15.5 points) recorded eight double-doubles in the first three months of the season but has not come particularly close in his last seven games, although his scoring production and shooting efficiency remain steady.
* Bulldogs are 6-0 ATS in their last 6 games overall.
* Wildcats are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games vs. a team with a winning straight up record.
* Under is 4-0 in Bulldogs last 4 vs. Big East.
* Over is 8-1 in Wildcats last 9 overall.
No. 11 Hawaii Warriors vs. No. 4 California Golden Bears (-4.5, 141.5)
Game to be played at Spokane Arena, Spokane, WA
California’s highly touted defense will be tested Friday as the fourth-seeded Bears meet No. 13 Hawaii in the first round of the NCAA Tournament’s South Region in Spokane, Wash. Cal earned its first top-five seed since 1997 despite falling to Utah in overtime of the Pac-12 tournament semifinals, while Hawaii beat Long Beach State in the Big West tournament title game to clinch its first trip to the Big Dance since 2002.
The Bears led the Pac-12 in scoring defense (67 points per game) while holding opponents to 39.3 percent shooting but need to be careful not to underestimate a Hawaii team that averaged a Big West-high 77.8 points per game. The game features a matchup of two dynamic senior point guards in Hawaii’s Roderick Bobbitt and Cal’s Tyrone Wallace, who averaged 15.3 points and 4.4 assists and had a season-high 26 points in Friday’s loss to Utah. Bobbitt, a native of Oakland, led the Big West in steals and assists but was limited by foul trouble in Saturday’s 64-60 win over Long Beach State. Hawaii also matches up well in the frontcourt, where Big West player of the year Stefan Jankovic will be tasked with slowing down Cal freshmen forwards Jaylen Brown and Ivan Rabb.
Update: California’s Tyrone Wallace suffered a broken right hand and will miss the rest of the season.
TV: 2 p.m. ET, TBS
LINE HISTORY: California opened at 6.5-point favorites but a potentially disasterous injury to Cal’s Tyrone Wallace has moved the line all the way down to -4.5. The total opened at 141 and went up as high as 143.5 at one point during the week, but it has settled back down to 141.5 – also as a result of Wallace’s injury. Check the complete line history here.
ABOUT HAWAII (27-5, 14-12 ATS, 13-12-1 O/U): The Rainbow Warriors, who were picked to finish third in the Big West preseason poll under first-year coach Eran Ganot, shared the regular-season title with UC Irvine before tying the school’s single-season wins record with the victory over Long Beach State. The 6-foot-11 Jankovic averages 15.7 points and 6.6 rebounds and was named to the Big West all-tournament team along with guard Aaron Valdes, who scored 14 points in the title game. The team’s opportunistic backcourt includes senior Quincy Smith, a Bay Area native who averaged 7.7 points and 1.7 steals.
ABOUT CAL (23-10, 18-14-1 ATS, 16-17 O/U): After opening Pac-12 play 4-5, Cal won eight of its final nine regular-season games and defeated Oregon State in the conference quarterfinals before falling to Utah. Brown was named Pac-12 freshman of the year after averaging 15.0 points and 5.5 rebounds, and Rabb has likewise been as good as advertised while averaging 12.5 points and 8.5 rebounds. The Bears’ veteran backcourt features a trio of sharpshooters in Wallace, Jordan Mathews and Jabari Bird, who rediscovered his stroke during the team’s late-season surge and averaged 16.5 points in the Pac-12 tournament.
* Warriors are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games vs. a team with a winning % above .600.
* Golden Bears are 0-4-1 ATS in their last 5 neutral site games.
* Under is 5-1 in Warriors last 6 neutral site games.
* Under is 5-0 in Golden Bears last 5 non-conference games.
No. 10 Temple Owls vs. No. 7 Iowa Hawkeyes (-7.5, 140)
Game to be played at Barclays Center, Brooklyn, NY
Seventh-seeded Iowa makes its third straight trip to the NCAA Tournament and faces No. 10 Temple in the first round of the South Regional on Friday in Brooklyn, N.Y. The Hawkeyes, who registered their fourth straight 20-win season under coach Fran McCaffery, attempt to make it past the second round for the first time in its sixth try since 1999.
McCaffery’s team put together an impressive run of 16 wins in 18 games between November and February, but have lost six of its last eight games, including its only game in the Big 10 tournament. The Hawkeyes are carried by the tandem of senior forward Jarrod Uthoff and junior guard Peter Jok, who have accounted for 44 percent of the team’s scoring and 53 percent of its made 3-pointers. “It’s March now and it’s win or go home so we need to stay positive and regroup,” Jok told the media. The Owls return to the tournament after a two-year absence on a roll, winning 13 of their last 17 games after opening with an 8-7 record under coach Fran Dunphy, who takes the Owls to their sixth NCAA tournament in his 10 seasons but first since 2013.
LINE HISTORY: Iowa opened as seven-point favorites and were bet up slightly to -7.5. The total opened at 138.5 and rose to 140 throughout the week. Check the complete line history here.
ABOUT TEMPLE (21-11, 17-13 ATS, 15-14-1 O/U): The Owls don’t do anything particularly spectacular aside from playing defense, but even that wasn’t there in a 77-62 loss to Connecticut in the American Athletic Conference tournament. Overall, Temple limits the opposition to 41.7 shooting from the field and 31.4 percent from 3-point territory, but occasionally its will throw in a clunker as it did against the likes of Villanova, Tulsa and UConn. Quenton DeCosey is the main cog on offense, averaging 15.6 points and Jaylen Boyd cleans up underneath with 8.3 rebounds per game.
ABOUT IOWA (21-10, 14-14 ATS, 14-14 OU): Uthoff and Jok appeared to go through a shooting slump toward the end the season, which could explain the Hawkeyes’ swoon. Over a five-game span that included four losses, Uthoff made 35.3 percent and Jok 34.8 percent, but the duo seem to come out of it in a loss to Illinois in the Big 10 tournament. The other main contributors for the Hawkeyes are Anthony Clemmons, Mike Gesell, who leads the team with 6.3 assists per game, and Adam Woodbury, the top rebounder at 8.5 per contest.
* Owls are 14-3 ATS in their last 17 games following a double-digit loss at home.
* Hawkeyes are 2-11 ATS in their last 13 neutral site games.
* Over is 5-0-1 in Owls last 6 neutral site games.
* Under is 4-1 in Hawkeyes last 5 games following a straight up loss.
No. 12 South Dakota State Jackrabbits vs. No. 5 Maryland Terrapins (-9.5, 143)
Game to be played at Spokane Arena, Spokane, WA
At times this season it looked like Maryland might end up on a top line come NCAA Tournament time, but the Terrapins finished out the season with losses in five of their last eight games – including the Big Ten tournament – to end up as the No. 5 seed in the South. Maryland will take on No. 12 seed South Dakota State in the first round on Friday in Spokane, Wash.
The Terrapins were 15-1 before running through the gauntlet of a tough Big Ten schedule but remain one of the most talented teams in the country behind sophomore guard Melo Trimble and the front line of Diamond Stone, Robert Carter and Jake Layman. Trimble was held to 11 points on 2-of-15 shooting in the 64-61 loss to Michigan State in the semifinals of the Big Ten tournament and is hoping to guide his team out of the first weekend after falling in the second round to West Virginia in the NCAA Tournament as a freshman. Trimble and company will not have an easy road to Sunday with Jackrabbits, who rolled through the Summit League tournament to reach the NCAA Tournament for the third time in the last five years. South Dakota State will test Maryland’s front line with freshman forward Mike Daum, who has scored in double figures in 20 straight games.
TV: 4:30 p.m. ET, TBS
LINE HISTORY: Maryland opened as nine-point favorites and the public has bet that number up to -9.5. The total opened at 145 and has been bet down a full two points to 143. Check the complete line history here.
ABOUT SOUTH DAKOTA STATE (26-7, 15-14 ATS, 14-15 O/U): The Jackrabbits are peaking at the right time with wins in six straight games after knocking off rival North Dakota State in the Summit final. “Our kids, literally, this is as hard as I’ve seen them play all year in terms of being in tune with each other,” South Dakota State coach Scott Nagy told reporters. A team defensive effort, a team rebounding effort. I’m super happy for the seniors, particularly Deondre (Parks), George (Marshall) and Keaton (Moffitt), because last year we weren’t able to go, but they’re going to get the NCAA experience this year.” Marshall (14.9 points) and Parks (14.7) will get the job of stopping Trimble.
ABOUT MARYLAND (25-8, 15-16-1 ATS, 12-19-1 O/U): Three of the Terrapins’ last four losses came by five or fewer points, and they managed only two field goals over the final 10 minutes of the semifinal loss to the Spartans in the Big Ten tournament. “To be honest with you, through the ebbs and flow of the season, you just kind of have to look at your last game,” guard Rasheed Sulaimon told reporters after the latest setback. “Sometimes you’re going to play at your highest level. Sometimes you’re not. We definitely had both throughout the whole season. Just looking at this game, I’m proud of everything we accomplished.” Sulaimon averages 11.1 points but failed to reach double figures in five of the last six contests.
* Jackrabbits are 0-5 ATS in their last 5 Friday games.
* Terrapins are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 NCAA Tournament games.
* Under is 5-0 in Jackrabbits last 5 overall.
* Over is 5-1 in Terrapins last 6 NCAA Tournament games.