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

(13) Vermont Catamounts vs (4) Purdue Boilermakers (-10.5, 134.5)

Game to be played at Bradley Center, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Purdue rode the stellar play of Big Ten Player of the Year Caleb Swanigan and Isaac Haas to the top of the conference, only to see porous foul shooting against emotionally charged Michigan result in an early exit in the conference tournament. The fourth-seeded Boilermakers look to rebound in the Midwest Region of the NCAA Tournament in Milwaukee on Thursday, when they face 13th-seeded Vermont, which extended its winning streak to 21 games by claiming the American East Conference championship.

“Every game could be your last game,” the 7-2 Haas, who knows that full well after seeing the Boilermakers bounced in their first contest of the NCAA Tournament each of the last two seasons, told reporters. “You have to fine-tune those things and come into the NCAA Tournament playing your best basketball.” Sophomore power forward Swanigan (team-leading 18.5 points, 12.6 rebounds) tied a single-season conference record with 26 double-doubles and recorded 14 points and 13 rebounds in Purdue’s 107-79 victory over Vermont in the Naismith Hall of Fame Tipoff on Nov. 15, 2015. Ernie Duncan scored 18 points and Trae Bell-Haynes added 17 in that contest for the Catamounts, who clinched their sixth Tournament appearance and first since 2012 with a 56-53 win over Albany on Saturday.

TV: 7:27 p.m. ET, truTV

LINE HISTORY: Purdue opened the betting period for this game Sunday night as 8.5-point favorites and they have been steadily bet up all week to the current number of -10.5. The total opened at 136 and has dropped slightly to 134.5. Check out the complete line history here.

BETTING STATS:

ABOUT VERMONT (29-5 SU, 4-4 ATS, 2-6 O/U): Freshman forward Anthony Lamb (12.6 points), junior forward Payton Henson (11.4) and Bell-Haynes (11.1) led the attack for the Catamounts, who benefited from balanced scoring and the nation’s 12th-ranked defense to set a school record in victories. “That’s what we are. It’s defense and rebounding here,” coach John Becker told reporters. “I just believe that’s how you win championships, that’s why we were able to win 21 games in a row. Offense can come and go, and these guys – especially after last year – bought into that.” Lamb, who matched Duncan by making 40.4 percent of his 3-point attempts, drilled a career-high six long-range shots in a 74-71 win over New Hampshire on Monday before collecting 12 points and 10 rebounds against the Great Danes en route to being named tournament MVP.

ABOUT PURDUE (25-7 SU, 17-10-2 ATS, 16-12-1 O/U): In addition to Haas (12.8 points, 5.1 rebounds), the Boilermakers feature a strong junior class that includes Vince Edwards (12.2, 4.8) and Dakota Mathias (9.9, 3.8). Edwards scored a team-high 25 points and Mathias added 13 in a 69-65 Big Ten victory over Northwestern last Sunday before the combining for just 11 on 4-of-17 shooting in a 74-70 setback against the Wolverines. Free-throw shooting was a huge part of the problem as Purdue made 17-of-19 foul shots against the Wildcats before converting just 6-of-13 attempts versus Michigan.

MATCHUP CHART:

TRENDS:

* Catamounts are 4-16-1 ATS in their last 21 games vs. a team with a winning straight up record.
* Boilermakers are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 neutral site games as a favorite.
* Under is 6-1 in Catamounts last 7 NCAA Tournament games as an underdog.
* Over is 13-3 in Boilermakers last 16 games as a favorite of 7.0-12.5.

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

(12) Nevada Wolf Pack vs (5) Iowa St. Cyclones (-6.5, 156)

Game to be played at Bradley Center, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Iowa State was one of the top 3-point shooting teams in the nation during the regular season, and the fifth-seeded Cyclones will be up against one of best 3-point defenders in 12th-seeded Nevada when they meet Thursday in a Midwest Region first-round game of the NCAA Tournament in Milwaukee. Iowa State was 14th in the country with a 40.2 shooting percentage from beyond the arc this season, but opponents of the Wolf Pack have shot 30.7 percent from 3-point range – the 15th-lowest mark.

The key player in this matchup will be Iowa State senior point guard Monte Morris, who averages a team-high 16.3 points and 6.1 assists while his 5.17 assist-to-turnover ratio put him atop the nation in that category for the third time in the last four years. Morris also has the experience of reaching the Sweet Sixteen twice and has played in seven NCAA Tournament games overall, averaging 13.3 points, shooting 9-of-17 from 3-point range and recording 34 assists and 11 turnovers. Morris should have added incentive to play well after he was passed over as one of the five finalists for the Bob Cousy Award, which annually goes to the nation’s top collegiate point guard. Nevada beat Colorado State on Saturday to win the Mountain West Conference tournament and gain its first NCAA Tournament berth in 10 years, and the Wolf Pack feature four players who average from 14.1-to-19.8 points.

TV: 9:57 p.m. ET, truTV

LINE HISTORY: Iowa State opened as 6.5-point favorites and, despite a brief drop to -6, the point spread currently sits on that opening number. The total hit the board at 155.5 and as of Wednesday night sits at 156. Check out the complete line history here.

BETTING STATS:

ABOUT NEVADA (28-6 SU, 23-10-1 ATS, 18-14-2 O/U): The Wolf Pack faced their toughest opponent this season in the opener in Saint Mary’s, which ended the campaign ranked No. 18 – six spots ahead of Iowa State. Marcus Marshall is the go-to player on offense for Nevada, as the 6-3 senior guard averages 19.8 points on 42.5 percent shooting. Utah State managed to hold him to 1-of-12 shooting and San Diego State to 1-of-10 during conference play, but he’s otherwise been consistent and has been getting to the free-throw line more frequently of late, combining to shoot 21-of-28 in his last two games.

ABOUT IOWA STATE (23-10 SU, 18-12 ATS, 18-12 O/U): Morris certainly won’t have to win this game by himself, as he has two other senior guards who can score in a variety of ways. Nazareth Mitrou-Long (15.5 points) has made six or more 3-pointers five times this season, including a 6-of-11 effort in an overtime win Feb. 4 against then-No. 2 Kansas. Deonte Burton (14.8 points) can score from outside or above the rim, evident by his thunderous slam dunk off a lob pass in Saturday’s win over West Virginia in the Big 12 tournament final – the sixth straight game in which he bettered his scoring average.

MATCHUP CHART:

TRENDS:

* Wolf Pack are 20-4-2 ATS in their last 26 games vs. a team with a winning straight up record.
* Cyclones are 8-2 ATS in their last 10 games overall.
* Under is 5-0 in Wolf Pack last 5 neutral site games as an underdog.
* Over is 8-0 in Cyclones last 8 games following a straight up win.

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


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