Wednesday’s NCAA Tournament First Four betting preview and odds

Wednesday night in the NCAA Tournament features the final 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 UC Davis taking on NC Central and Providence and USC will battle for the right to take on SMU as a No. 11 seed in the Big Dance.

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

(16) UC Davis Aggies vs (16) North Carolina Central Eagles (-3.5, 133)

Big West champion UC Davis makes its first appearance in the NCAA Tournament on Wednesday night when the Aggies take on North Carolina Central in the First Four in Dayton, Ohio. UC Davis, which finished its transition to Division I in 2007, has won six of its last seven games, while the Eagles took the MEAC tournament to make the Big Dance for the second time and the winner of the 16th-seed matchup faces top-seeded Kansas in the first round of the Midwest Regional Friday in Tulsa, Okla.

The Aggies beat Cal State Fullerton in overtime in the semifinals before holding top seed UC Irvine to 16 points in the first half en route to a 50-47 victory in the Big West championship game. “Defense is underrated and overlooked,” UC Davis coach Jim Les told reporters after the final, “but our players brought their hard hat with them for every game.” North Carolina Central, which lost to Iowa State in its only other appearance 93-75 in 2014, won 13 straight at one point this season and knocked off Missouri as well. Senior guard Patrick Cole leads the way for the Eagles, averaging team highs of 19.5 points and 5.7 assists.

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

LINE HISTORY: North Carolina Central opened Sunday night as 3.5-point favorites over UC Davis. The point spread went as low as 3 and as high as 4 before settling back into the opening number of -3.5. The total hit the board at 131.5, went as high as 132.5, dropped slightly to 132, before rebounding up to 133 on Wednesday morning. Check out the complete line history here.

BETTING STATS:

ABOUT UC DAVIS (22-12 SU, 17-12-1 ATS, 12-17-1 O/U): Junior forward Chima Moneke (14.4 points, 9.4 rebounds) was named Big West tournament MVP, while leading scorer Brynton Lemar (16.1 points), a senior guard, scored 20 in the final. Sophomore guard Siler Schneider is the only other player averaging in double figures scoring (10.5) and senior guard Darius Graham tops the team in assists (3.2). The Aggies only shot 34.6 percent from the field in the Big West championship game, but held UC Irvine to 38 percent shooting and forced 20 turnovers.

ABOUT NORTH CAROLINA CENTRAL (25-8 SU, 6-0 ATS, 1-5 O/U): The Eagles won the MEAC regular-season title by going 13-3 with just two players scoring more than 10 points per game. Cole, who also averages seven rebounds, was named Most Outstanding Player of the MEAC tournament and senior guard Dajuan Graf averages 14.3 points and 5.2 assists overall to add support. Junior forward Kyle Benton tops the team in rebounding (8.2) and shoots 63.4 percent from the field, while senior guard Rashaun Madison boasts a team-high 89 makes from 3-point range.

MATCHUP CHART:

TRENDS:

* Aggies are 5-1-1 ATS in their last 7 games overall.
* Eagles are 6-0 ATS in their last 6 games overall.
* Under is 6-0 in Aggies last 6 overall.
* Under is 7-1-1 in Eagles last 9 neutral site games as a favorite.

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

COVERS CONSENSUS: The early consensus data has 60 percent of bettors laying the points with North Carolina Central, while 51 percent of totals wagers are on the Under. Click here for complete consensus data.

(11) Southern California Trojans vs (11) Providence Friars (+2.5, 141)

Providence and USC won’t have to wait very long for an NCAA Tournament rematch, as the teams meet in a First Four contest on Wednesday in Dayton, Ohio. Providence edged the Trojans 70-69 in a first-round game last season on Rodney Bullock’s basket with 1.5 seconds remaining, and the teams will face each other again for the right to move on as the 11th seed in the Eastern Region and play sixth-seeded SMU in Tulsa on Friday.

USC is making its second straight appearance and 18th overall in the Big Dance, finishing tied for fifth in the Pac-12 before losing 76-74 to rival UCLA in the conference tournament quarterfinals. The well-balanced Trojans, who dropped five of their last eight games, have plenty of size up front while junior guard Jordan McLaughlin provides 13.1 points and 5.5 assists per game. The Friars finished the season strong to reach the Tournament for the 19th time and fourth year in a row, posting six straight victories – four against teams that qualified for the event – before losing to Creighton 70-58 in the Big East quarterfinals. Bullock leads Providence in scoring (15.7 points) and rebounding (6.4) but must recover after averaging just 3.5 points and missing 11 of his 12 field-goal attempts over the last two games.

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

LINE HISTORY: USC opened the betting period for this game as one-point favorites and by Wednesday morning that number was all of way up to 3. The total hit the board at 140 and rose slightly to 141. Check out the complete line history here.

BETTING STATS:

ABOUT USC (24-9 SU, 16-16 ATS, 15-16-1 O/U): The Trojans have four players scoring at least 12 points per game, and the 6-10 Bennie Boatwright (14.6 points) does a lot of his work outside with 38 baskets from 3-point range while 6-11 fellow sophomore Chimezie Metu (14.5, team-best 7.8 rebounds) works inside. McLaughlin has stepped up his production over the last four games, averaging 16.8 points on 25-of-49 shooting while dishing out 7.8 assists. Junior guard Elijah Stewart also chips in with 12.4 points per contest and a team-high 69 3-pointers after scoring 17 against UCLA in the Pac-12 quarterfinals.

ABOUT PROVIDENCE (20-12 SU, 20-12 ATS, 14-16-2 O/U): Bullock, a junior forward, recorded at least 16 points in each of his first 10 games of the season but has been inconsistent since then, scoring in single digits in back-to-back games three times. Junior forward Emmitt Holt is second on the team at 12.4 points per game and junior point guard Kyron Cartwright was next at 11.4 while dishing out 6.7 assists to place first in the Big East and fourth in the nation. Junior guard Jalen Lindsey also averages in double figures (10.2 points) and freshman guard Alpha Diallo scored a total of 27 points in his last two games.

MATCHUP CHART:

TRENDS:

* Trojans are 2-9 ATS in their last 11 games vs. a team with a winning % above .600.
* Friars are 13-3 ATS in their last 16 neutral site games as an underdog.
* Over is 6-1-1 in Trojans last 8 games as a favorite of 0.5-6.5.
* Under is 5-1 in Friars last 6 NCAA Tournament games.

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

COVERS CONSENSUS: The early consensus has 58 percent of bettors siding with the favorites from USC, while 64 percent of the totals wagers are on the Over. Click here for complete consensus data.


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