Manhattan is playing its best basketball at the right time as it prepares to face Hampton in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Tuesday in Dayton, Ohio. The Jaspers have won four in a row and seven of eight, including a run to their second straight Metro Atlantic Athletic tournament title, and a victory over fellow 16th seed Hampton sets up a Midwest region second-round game against top-seeded Kentucky. The Pirates makes their fourth NCAA appearance after winning the MEAC tournament as the sixth seed.
Hampton has five players averaging at least 9.7 points, but leading scorer Dwight Meikle (13.0) and rebounder (7.5) missed the last three games with an ankle injury and his status is uncertain. Manhattan boasts an experienced group that has held its last eight opponents to 39.5 percent from the field combined and gave Louisville a battle before losing in last year’s NCAA Tournament. Senior Emmy Andujar leads the Jaspers in scoring (16.5), rebounding (7.6), assists (3.5) and steals (2.1).
TV: 6:40 p.m. ET, TruTV
LINE HISTORY: Oddsmakers opened Manhattan as 7.5-point faves.
INJURY REPORT: Hampton – G Dwight Meikle (Questionable, ankle). Manhattan – N/A.
WHAT CAPPERS SAY: “Hampton owns the distinction of being the 22nd team with a losing record to enter this tournament. Not only that they have also allowed more points than they have scored this season – the only team in the tourney to make that claim. On the flip side, Manhattan returns to the party for the 2nd year in a row after nearly upending Louisville in an opening round affair last season. Despite being a negative rebounding team, you would have to look to the Jaspers with the experienced they gained in this event last year.” Covers Expert Marc Lawrence
ABOUT HAMPTON (16-17 SU, 7-0 ATS, 3-2 O/U): The Pirates, who upset Iowa State in the 2001 NCAA Tournament, pulled away from Delaware State for an 82-61 victory after being tied at halftime in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference final. “I feel like it was just poise,” Hampton guard Deron Powers told reporters after being named tournament Most Outstanding Player. “I felt like in crunch time, we didn’t make as many mistakes.” Reginald Johnson recorded 16.5 points per game over the last four and is second on the team overall (11.9), just ahead of Powers (10.5).
ABOUT MANHATTAN (19-13 SU, 17-13-1 ATS, 12-9-1 O/U): The Jaspers will play in their eighth NCAA Tournament and has been a tough team to beat in February and March the last two years at 20-5. Andujar shoots 51.5 percent from the field and the 6-10 Ashton Pankey is second on the team in scoring (13.5) while making 54 percent of his shots and was the MAAC tournament’s Most Outstanding Player. Shane Richards is Manhattan’s third major scoring option at 13.1 points per game and has drained a team-high 88 from 3-point range.
* Pirates are 8-0 ATS in their last eight games overall.
* Jaspers are 4-0 ATS in their last four neutral site games.
* Under is 4-0 in Jaspers last four overall.
COVERS CONSENSUS: At the time of writing, 58 percent of bets were on Manhattan.
Ole Miss Rebels vs. BYU Cougars (-3, OFF)
BYU’s Kyle Collinsworth missed last year’s NCAA Tournament with an injury and gets a second chance when his Cougars take on Ole Miss in the first round Tuesday at Dayton, Ohio, in a battle of 11 seeds. Collinsworth, who set a NCAA single-season record with six triple-doubles, was a key factor along with Tyler Haws as BYU won eight of its last nine games. Ole Miss struggled to a 1-4 mark in its past five contests and gets a major test against the nation’s second-highest scoring team.
The Rebels return to the NCAA Tournament for the eighth time with an experienced group that took top-ranked Kentucky to overtime in January. Stefan Moody finished fourth in the SEC in scoring (16.3) for Ole Miss and Haws boasts 2,687 career points while standing fourth in the nation at 21.9 per contest. The winner moves on to play sixth-seeded Xavier in the second round of the Western regional Thursday.
TV: 9:10 p.m. ET, TruTV
LINE HISTORY: Oddsmakers opened BYU as a 2.5-point fave.
INJURY REPORT: Ole Miss – N/A. BYU – F Jamal Aytes (Questionable, ankle), G Anson Winder (Questionable, knee), G Skyler Halford (Questionable, leg).
WHAT CAPPERS SAY: “A pair of 20-win teams square off for the right to enter the Big Dance as a No. 11 seed. For BYU, they must overcome an inability to compete head-to-head against fellow tourney teams, going just 1-5 SU and ATS this season. Meanwhile, Ole Miss went 10-5 SU and 12-3 ATS away from Oxford this season. The Rebels are also the best free throw shooting team in this tourney, canning 77.8% from the charity stripe. You have to like the SEC pedigree here tonight.” Covers Expert Marc Lawrence
ABOUT OLE MISS (20-12 SU, 16-14-1 ATS, 15-12-1 O/U): The Rebels dropped their last two against non-NCAA tournament teams — Vanderbilt and South Carolina — and will have to find the form that allowed them to win eight of nine from mid-January to mid-February. Moody has made a team-best 71 from behind the arc and senior Jarvis Summers runs the show while averaging 12.4 points and a team-high 4.6 assists. Those two must get ample support from a deep team, including LaDarius White (11.2 points) and Sebastian Saiz (7.6 points, team-high 5.4 boards).
ABOUT BYU (25-9 SU, 16-17 ATS, 16-11 O/U): Collinsworth tore the ACL in his right knee in the WCC championship game last season and the Cougars have injury concerns again. Third-leading scorer Anson Winder (13.1) missed the last two games with a knee injury while guard Skyler Halford suffered a lower leg injury in the last game and their status is uncertain. Collinsworth averages 14 points – including a career-best 28 in the West Coast Conference final loss to Gonzaga – 8.7 rebounds and 5.8 assists while Chase Fischer (12.9 points) is 97-of-236 (41.1 percent) from 3-point range.
* Rebels are 1-5 ATS in their last six games overall.
* Cougars are 4-10 ATS in their last 14 NCAA Tournament games.
* Over is 5-0 in Cougars last five neutral site games.
COVERS CONSENSUS: According to Covers Consensus, 73 percent of wagers are backing the Cougars.
Click here to download your bracket now!