#11 Michigan Vs. #6 Colorado State ML (+125)
The fact that Colorado State is an underdog speaks volumes to the power big fanbases can have over a line. Colorado State is not only an extremely solid team with upset potential throughout, but Michigan may be one of the worst teams in this entire tournament. Colorado State and Michigan are remarkably comparable on the offensive end, with a 108.2 vs. 106.5 rating in favor of Michigan. However, this game will be won is on the defensive side, where the Rams have an extreme edge of a 96.1 rating to a 103.5 rating for the Wolverines. (The lower the number, the better.) The Rams will get stops in this game, while the Wolverines will be hoping the Rams run cold instead of doing anything on the defensive end to influence that. These terrible defensive performances are what lead to the up and down season for the Wolverines, and why I think +125 is a screaming value for Colorado State.
Author: Matthew “Madness” Amato
10 Davidson (+1) vs 7 Michigan State
Michigan State has one of the worst half court offenses in college basketball, struggling to finish at the rim all season and ending the year ranked 97th in team offensive efficiency according to Team Rankings. Davidson, meanwhile, has one of the best half court offenses in college basketball, ranking 12th in team offensive efficiency. The Wildcats both shoot well from three, with 4 players shooting over 40 percent from behind the arc, and finish in the paint. While Michigan St likes to play more in transition, Davidson is going to want to slow the game down — the Wildcats finished the season ranked 304th in adjusted tempo, according to KenPom. When push comes to shove, the team that likes to slow the game down tends to have their way in March Madness. I like the A10 Champion Wildcats to cover and even win this game outright. It’s fitting that the house that built Steph Curry meets the house that built Draymond Green in round one. Much like Steph’s shooting prevails more than Draymond’s defense, Davidson’s grind it out offense will be the deciding factor in this one.
Author: Patrick ‘PMoney’ Monnin
10 Loyola Chicago ML vs 7 Ohio State
Heading into Selection Sunday, I knew I wanted to bet on Loyola Chicago and fade Ohio State in the first round. I was very pleased to see that I could do both at the same time in this matchup! The Buckeyes are falling fast lately with losses in four of their last five games along with injuries to key players in Kyle Young and Zed Key. Those two players are their third and fourth-leading scorers and average a combined 16.3 points per game. Loyola Chicago has the 22nd-ranked defense per KenPom and is the 24th-ranked team overall, and now Ohio State may have to face them short-handed. Cameron Krutwig, the team’s outstanding tournament hero over the past few years, has graduated, but fifth-year senior Lucas Williamson is averaging 14 points per game as the team’s new go-to player. Drew Valentine, an assistant on some of the teams that have made deep tournament runs in recent years, has taken over for Porter Moser, and there hasn’t been any hiccups with that transition. Loyola Chicago is a veteran, defensive-oriented team that knows how to win in the tournament, and Ohio State is reeling. E.J. Liddell has had an excellent season, but his team’s defense is underwhelming and he won’t be able to beat the Loyola defense without Young and Key.
Author: Jacob Wayne
#9 Memphis Vs. #8 Boise St: Memphis ML (-145)
Boise St is solid on offense and has a good defense, but I don’t like their matchup here. They struggled all year to defend around the basket, and that is Memphis’ strength. Jalen Duren is a 6’11” nightmare who terrorizes opponents in the paint. Boise St will struggle to contain him and likely has to send help. Spot up shooters will be free all night if that happens, and players like Lester Quinones (38.5 3PT% on 4.4 3PA) can make them pay. Duren also impacts the game on the other end of the court with 2.2 BPG. Even though Emoni Bates probably won’t play for Memphis, I still like their roster here. It’s a bad matchup for Boise St, and I think they get sent home early.
Author: Braxton Reynolds
#14 Yale Bulldogs Vs. #3 Purdue Boilermakers: Yale +16.5 (-110)
Over the past few months, whenever Purdue has a double-digit spread, I have been all over the other team ATS. For whatever reason, Purdue has not been able to blow teams out that it should in 2022. According to my calculations, the Boilermakers are the third-worst team in the tournament against the spread, and that includes a hot start in the beginning of the season when they were smoking no-name teams by between 30-50 points. As a favorite, Purdue is 12-19-2 against the spread this season. While I definitely have the Boilermakers winning this game, it should be close, and the Ivy League schools seem to keep games relatively close.
Author: Andrew Norton
San Diego State ML vs. Creighton (-134 at FanDuel)
I think Creighton is due for a letdown game after an incredible Big East tournament run. The Bluejays squeaked by Marquette as underdogs, dominated Providence wire-to-wire, and then kept up with Villanova for 40 minutes.
All while adjusting to losing their starting point guard.
But Matt Bradley has been rolling of late. When the Aztecs’ lead scorer is hot, he can carry his team to any victory. Especially because San Diego State’s defense is one of the best in the nation (second in KenPom adjusted defensive efficiency, fourth in effective field goal percentage allowed).
Creighton has been uber-efficient inside the arc, on both ends of the floor. However, they’re about to run into a buzzsaw with San Diego State, who plays stifling, overpowering interior defense.
I don’t see how Ryan Hawkins and Ryan Kalkbrenner can compete with that.
I’ve been backing Creighton all year long, but I’ll be fading the Bluejays in the first round here.
Author: Tanner McGrath