Tuesday’s NCAA Tournament First Four betting preview and odds

The NCAA Tournament tips off on Tuesday night with a pair of play-in games – the NCAA definitely doesn’t want you to call them “play-in” games but they are definitely play-in games. The battle of potential No. 16 seeds has New Orleans taking on Mount St. Mary’s and Wake Forest and Kansas St. will battle for the right to take on Cincinnati as a No. 11 seed in the Big Dance.

First Four games to be played at University of Dayton Arena in Dayton, Ohio.

(16) New Orleans Privateers vs (16) Mount St. Mary’s Mountaneers (+1.5, 131)

A guaranteed berth to the NCAA Tournament appeared to be the unlikeliest of endings for Mount St. Mary’s after a woeful start, but an inspiring midseason turnaround has the Northeast Conference Champions in the Big Dance for the fifth time in school history. The Mountaineers attempt to continue their second-half surge Tuesday when they meet fellow East Region No. 16 seed New Orleans in a First Four game in Dayton, Ohio.

Mount St. Mary’s paid the price for scheduling aggressively during its non-conference slate, going 1-11 during a stretch in which it faced six NCAA Tournament teams, highlighted by three conference tournament champions in Iowa State, Michigan and Bucknell. The Mountaineers’ fortunes changed immediately after their Dec. 19 loss to the Bison, however, as a rout of Coppin State three days later triggered an 18-4 finish. The Privateers ended a 21-year NCAA Tournament drought by claiming the Southland Conference regular-season and tournament title en route to posting their first 20-win campaign since 1996-97. The winner of this contest will face the tall task of trying to defeat No. 1 overall seed Villanova in Buffalo, N.Y. in first-round action Thursday.

TV: 6:40 p.m. ET, truTV

LINE HISTORY: New Orleans opened as two-point favorites over Mount St. Mary’s but that line has come down slightly to 1.5. The total hit the board at 131, jumped up a full point to 132, before returning the the opening number Tuesday morning. Check out the complete line history here.

BETTING STATS:

ABOUT NEW ORLEANS (20-11 SU, 2-1 ATS, 1-1-1 O/U): Southland Conference Player of the Year Erik Thomas has scored in double figures in every game this season and earned tournament MVP honors after averaging 16 points and seven boards in the Privateers’ two-game march through the league tournament. The 6-5 senior forward, who ranks first in the conference in field-goal percentage (59.1), second in scoring (19.5 points) and fifth in rebounding (7.8), posted his 11th double-double of the season with 14 points and 11 boards in the title-game overtime win over Texas A&M – Corpus Christi. Travin Thibodeaux (8.6 points, 7.5 rebounds, team-high 3.3 assists) – a 6-9, 242-pound forward – gives New Orleans an all-around inside presence, while senior guards Christavious Gill (11.6 points) and Nate Frye (10.3) join Thomas in double figures.

ABOUT MOUNT ST. MARY’S (19-15 SU, 3-3 ATS, 3-3 O/U): The Mountaineers are led by their undersized backcourt duo of 6-0 guard Elijah Long (team-high marks of 15.4 points, NEC-high 4.4 assists and 1.6 steals to go along with 5.4 rebounds) and 5-5 Junior Robinson (14.1 points), who combined for 46 points in Tuesday’s 71-61 NEC title-game win over St. Francis (Pa.). Long was named the tournament MVP after averaging 21.7 points during Mount St. Mary’s three-game run and has recorded multiple steals in five straight games. The Mountaineers’ only other double-digit scorer is fellow guard Miles Wilson (11.3 points, 3.6 rebounds), a 6-5 freshman who posted 15 points and a season-high 10 boards for his first career double-double Tuesday.

MATCHUP CHART:

TRENDS:

* Privateers are 5-1 ATS in their last 6 neutral site games.
* Mountaineers are 0-4 ATS in their last 4 neutral site games as an underdog.
* Over is 7-1-1 in Privateers last 9 neutral site games as a favorite.
* Under is 6-1 in Mountaineers last 7 games as an underdog.

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

COVERS CONSENSUS: The early consensus data has 57 percent of bettors taking the points with Mount St. Mary’s, while 52 percent of wager are on the Over. Click here for complete consensus data.

(11) Wake Forest Demon Deacons vs (11) Kansas St. Wildcats (-2, 151.5)

Danny Manning made his name as a college basketball player at Kansas, which he led past Kansas State nearly 30 years ago en route to a NCAA championship. The third-year Wake Forest coach will face his former in-state rival for the first time since that meeting in the 1988 Elite Eight on Tuesday when the Demon Deacons square off in an NCAA Tournament South Region matchup against the fellow-11th seeded Wildcats in a First Four game at Dayton, Ohio.

Two games before pulling an upset of heavily-favored Oklahoma in the title game, Manning willed a group of Jayhawks famously dubbed “Danny and the Miracles” to a 71-58 win victory over a Kansas State team led by another Hall-of-Fame player in Mitch Richmond. Thanks to another late-season surge with less on the line, Manning has Wake Forest in the Big Dance for the first time since 2009-10 after the Deacons finished at .500 in the ultra-competitive ACC. The Wildcats ended a two-year NCAA Tournament drought this season despite an 8-10 mark in Big 12 play, cracking the field of 68 largely on the strength of three Top-25 victories – two over Baylor and one against West Virginia. The winner of this contest will head to Sacramento, Calif. on Thursday to face No. 6 seed Cincinnati in first-round action.

TV: 9:10 p.m. ET, truTV

LINE HISTORY: This game opened as a Pick ‘Em and wavered between Pick and Wake Forest -1 for the first 24 hours. The number on Tuesday morning was WF -1 but shortly before noon ET the spread jumped the fence and currently sits at K-State -2. The total opened at 152, rose up to 153, and was then bet down to 151.5 on Tuesday morning. Check out the complete line history here.

BETTING STATS:

ABOUT WAKE FOREST (19-13 SU, 16-14 ATS, 21-8-1 O/U): John Collins ranks third in the ACC in scoring (18.9 points) as well as second in rebounding (9.8) and first in field-goal percentage (62) – marks that allowed the 6-10 forward to win the conference’s Most Improved Player award and finish second in the ACC Player of the Year balloting. Fellow sophomore Bryant Crawford (16.1 points, team-high 5.4 assists, team-high 1.4 steals) is averaging 22.3 points over his last three outings in large part due to ability to get to the foul line, going 32-for-34 from the free-throw line over that span. Crawford – the first Deacon since Randolph Childress in 1994-95 with over 500 points and 150 assists – and Collins are the first Wake Forest duo since Tim Duncan and Childress to record 500 points in the same season.

ABOUT KANSAS STATE (20-13 SU, 15-12-2 ATS, 13-16 O/U): All five Wildcat starters score between 9.4 and 12.5 points per game – a balanced offensive attack that mirrors a stingy team defense which has allowed an average of 54.3 points over its last three contests and ranks third in the Big 12 in scoring defense overall (66.9). Senior forward Wesley Iwundu leads the team in scoring and rebounding (6.4), while sophomore guard Barry Brown averages 11.7 points and 2.4 steals – the second-best mark in the Big 12. Forwards D.J. Johnson (11.2 points, 5.8 rebounds, 1.5 blocks) and Dean Wade (9.4 points, 4.6 boards) each hold their own offensively, but their biggest task Tuesday will be trying to slow down Collins, who has been held under 10 points only twice this season.

MATCHUP CHART:

TRENDS:

* Demon Deacons are 1-10 ATS in their last 11 NCAA Tournament games.
* Wildcats are 4-0 ATS in their last 4 games overall.
* Over is 13-3 in Demon Deacons last 16 games as a favorite of 0.5-6.5.
* Under is 5-1 in Wildcats last 6 vs. Atlantic Coast.

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

COVERS CONSENSUS: The early consensus has 58 percent of bettors siding with Wake Forest, while 53 percent of wager are on the Over. Click here for complete consensus data.


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