No. 12 Arkansas-Little Rock Trojans vs. No. 4 Iowa State Cyclones (-6.5, 145)
Game to be played at Pepsi Center, Denver, CO
No. 12 seed Arkansas-Little Rock pulled off one of the first upsets of the NCAA Tournament and Thursday and will try to rip off another when it faces No. 4 seed Iowa State in the second round on Saturday in Denver. Senior guard Josh Hagins played the hero for the Trojans in the opener and will try to keep up with a Cyclones squad that dropped 94 points in their first-round win.
Hagins buried a tying 3-pointer from just in front of half court to force overtime against Purdue and banked in a layup to force a second overtime as Arkansas-Little Rock squeezed out an 85-83 win. “We’re a fantastic team,” Hagins told reporters. “We’re a bunch of guys that like to fight. That’s the bottom line, man. We didn’t come here to kind of show up and be happy to be here. We’re here to win. We really believe in ourselves and we’re here to win.” Iowa State lost in its opening round NCAA Tournament game last season to No. 14 seed UAB and was determined not to make that mistake again. The Cyclones put all five starters in double figures, led by Georges Niang’s 28 points, and jumped out to a big lead en route to a 13-point win over Iona.
TV: 6:10 p.m. ET, TNT
LINE HISTORY: Iowa State has opened as 6.5-point faves over upset minded Arkansas-Little Rock and the line hasn’t moved since. The total has been bet down one point from 146 to 145. Check out the complete line history here.
ABOUT ARKANSAS-LITTLE ROCK (30-4, 20-10 ATS, 11-19 O/U): The Trojans were down by 13 points with 3 1/2 minutes left in regulation on Thursday before Hagins took over and finished with a career-high 31 points, seven rebounds, six assists and five steals. Arkansas-Little Rock sailed through the Sun Belt during the regular season and is united in its belief that it can make a deep run in the NCAA Tournament. “We’re not done yet,” Trojans coach Chris Beard told reporters. “I’ve always thought there’s different kinds of teams that go to tournaments. Teams that are happy to be in the tournament and teams that go to try to win the tournament. That’s kind of our objective right now. We think we have a team that can advance in this tournament.”
ABOUT IOWA STATE (22-11, 16-13-1 ATS, 14-15-1 O/U): The Cyclones got over the mental hurdle of last year’s early exit and look like a stronger team than the one that came into the Tournament off back-to-back losses thanks to the health of guard Monte Morris. The junior strained the AC joint in his right shoulder during the regular-season finale and went 1-of-9 from the field in the opening loss of the Big 12 tournament against Oklahoma but was 7-of-12 in 37 minutes on Thursday. “Now you got the pressure to go to the Sweet 16,” Iowa State coach Steve Prohm told reporters. “There’s a constant pressure in this business. But you want to be at jobs where there’s pressures and expectations or really what are you coaching for and what are you playing for?”
* Arkansas-Little Rock is 4-0 ATS in its last four neutral site games, but 0-5 ATS in its last five versus Big 12 opponents.
* Iowa State is 4-1 ATS in its last five games overall.
* Under is 4-1 in Arkansas-Little Rock’s last five neutral site games.
* Over is 5-1 in Iowa State’s last six NCAA Tournament games.
No. 8 Butler Bulldogs vs. No. 1 Virginia Cavaliers (-7.5, 130)
Game to be played at PNC Arena, Raleigh, NC
Virginia was knocked out in the Round of 32 in last season’s NCAA Tournament, a fate it hopes to avoid when it meets No. 9 seed Butler on Saturday in a Midwest Region affair in Raleigh, N.C. The top-seeded Cavaliers shook off a slow start – and a scare when coach Tony Bennett fainted just before halftime before returning to coach the second half – to rout Hampton 81-45 in Thursday’s first round.
They shot 55 percent, made 12 3-pointers and turned the ball over only five times in their most lopsided win since the season-opener against Morgan State. “It just started with … getting into the paint, having our bigs be aggressive down low and just finishing down low,” London Perrantes – who scored all 12 of his points on four 3-pointers – told reporters. “It opened up for us around the 3-point line.” The Bulldogs also worked past some early issues to take control and knock off Texas Tech 71-61. They are seeking their first Sweet 16 berth since 2011, when they were national runners-up for the second straight time.
TV: 7:10 p.m. ET, TBS
LINE HISTORY: No. 1 seed Virginia opened as seven-point favorites and have been bet up to -7.5. It no surprise with defensive-minded Virginia involved, the total has been bet down two points from 132 to 130. Check out the complete line history here.
ABOUT BUTLER (22-10, 17-14-1 ATS, 16-14-1 O/U): Kellen Dunham scored 23 points and Kelan Martin had 11 in the final eight-plus minutes in the win over the Red Raiders. Tyler Wideman also hit double digits with 14 points on 6-of-6 shooting while Andrew Chrabascz chipped in 13 for the Bulldogs, who have won at least one game in nine of their last 10 tournament appearances. To keep pace with the Cavaliers, Butler may need more from senior forward Roosevelt Jones, who has a total of nine points on 2-of-17 shooting over his last two games.
ABOUT VIRGINIA (27-7, 18-14 ATS, 12-20 O/U): Senior forward Anthony Gill was seen praying with one hand on his coach’s shoulders after the brief collapse on the sidelines, and later joked that he had been the one to heal Bennett. The Cavaliers are getting used to Gill stepping up in postseason play, as he has now scored in double figures in five of six career NCAA Tournament games while some of the other big names around him have struggled. Marial Shayok provided a boost Thursday with 10 points off the bench and he has reached that mark in two of his last three games after 11 straight single-digit efforts.
* Butler is 6-1 ATS in its last seven games overall.
* Virginia is 6-1 ATS in its last seven games overall.
* Under is 4-0 in Butler’s last four non-conference games.
* Under is 6-1 in Virginia’s last seven non-conference games.
No. 11 Gonzaga Bulldogs vs. No. 3 Utah Utes (Pick, 140)
Game to be played at Pepsi Center, Denver, CO
Third-seeded Utah meets No. 11 seed Gonzaga on Saturday in the second round of the NCAA Tournament in Denver in a Midwest Region contest featuring a pair of sophomore big men at the top of their games. Seven-footer Jakob Poeltl, the Pac-12 Player of the Year, recorded 16 points and 18 rebounds in the Utes’ 80-69 victory over Fresno State on Thursday while 6-11 Domantas Sabonis registered 21 and 16 in a 68-52 triumph over Seton Hall.
Utah also boasts a backcourt featuring senior Brandon Taylor and junior Lorenzo Bonam, who combined for 33 points Thursday with Taylor also providing six assists and four steals. The teams are loaded with experience as the Utes reached the Sweet 16 last season while the Bulldogs made it to the Elite Eight before losing to eventual national champion Duke. Gonzaga is appearing in its 18th consecutive NCAA Tournament – fourth-longest behind Kansas (26), Duke (21) and Michigan State (19) – and is coming off its eighth straight first-round victory, matching the Jayhawks for the longest current run. ”This group of guys, as well as the guys before them, have just done an unbelievable job of making streaks that just seemed impossible when you look back at them,” Bulldogs coach Mark Few told reporters.
TV: 8:40 p.m. ET, TNT
LINE HISTORY: Despite this being a matchup between a 3-seed and an 11-seed the line has opened at a Pick’em. The total has been bet up one points from 139 to 140. Check out the complete line history here.
ABOUT GONZAGA (27-7, 16-15-1 ATS, 16-16 O/U): Senior forward Kyle Wiltjer (20.5 points per game) is the highest scorer on either team and leads four Bulldogs in double figures. Sabonis (17.5 points) is seventh nationally at 11.7 rebounds while senior Eric McClellan (10.5 points) – the West Coast Conference Defensive Player of the Year – and freshman Josh Perkins (10.2) add scoring punch out of the backcourt. Senior guard Kyle Dranginis (6.6 points, 4.4 rebounds) adds veteran leadership while sophomore guard Silas Melson (6.8 points) also contributes.
ABOUT UTAH (27-8, 17-15-1 ATS, 19-13-1 O/U): Poeltl (team highs of 17.6 points and 9.2 rebounds) receives support down low from sophomore forward Kyle Kuzma (10.6 points, 5.8 rebounds), who could be the top candidate to help slow down Wiltjer. Senior forward Jordan Loveridge (11.9 points) scored 16 versus Fresno State while Bonam (10.1 points, 3.1 assists) and Taylor (9.8, 3.9) are the Utes’ other top scorers. Coach Larry Krystkowiak uses an eight-man rotation that averages at least 13 minutes and includes senior forward Dakarai Tucker (5.3 points).
* Gonzaga is 6-0 ATS in its last six games overall.
* Utah is 8-2 ATS in its last 10 games overall.
* Under is 6-1 in Gonzaga’s last seven non-conference games.
* Over is 4-0 in Utah’s last four games overall.