#12 Indiana +4 (-110) Vs. #5 Saint Mary’s
Indiana is undoubtedly on a roll. The Hoosiers have taken down Michigan, Illinois, and Wyoming in three of the last five games, and only lost by a combined total of 5 points to Iowa and Purdue. This stretch has seen a great combination of defense and shooting, with Indiana being led by star forward Trayce Jackson-Davis. While the Saint Mary’s Gaels are talented, they really have failed to impress outside of one victory against Gonzaga. In the West Coast tournament, Saint Mary’s scraped by a mediocre Santa Clara and got molly whopped by Gonzaga. I believe the one fluke victory over the Bulldogs is the entire reason Saint Mary is a #5 seed, and the talent on the roster is not nearly as high as some may expect. This is a hot Hoosiers team running into an overrated Saint Mary’s, and I love Indiana to pull off a convicting upset in round one.
Author: Matthew “Hoosier” Amato
#13 South Dakota State Vs. #4 Providence
This is hardly being priced as an upset on the market with Providence only two-point favorites, a much lower line than you’d expect to see for a #4 vs #13 matchup. Matt wrote about why South Dakota State could be primed for a deeper tournament run than most expect, and it starts with their offense where they rank 12th on KenPom and knock down almost ten three-pointers per game, ranking in the top 25 in the country. Providence was the luckiest team in the country this season per KenPom’s luck metric, and that luck ran dry when they hit just 3 of 24 three-pointers in a 27-point blowout loss to Creighton in the Big East Tournament. The Jackrabbits are just 0-2 in Quad 1 games this season, but Providence ranks just 315th in turnover rate this season and won’t put up enough of a fight against them defensively. In what looks to be a first-round shootout, I’ll take the team that ranks first in the country in effective field goal percentage over the team that has ranked 194th in that category over the past month.
Author: Jacob Wayne
#11 Virginia Tech Vs. #6 Texas: Virginia Tech ML (-105)
Virginia Tech is a very dangerous 11th seed, and Texas should be wary. Virginia Tech finished the season 23-12, and their top eight players played all 35 games. The chemistry and cohesion is there for them. As a team, they shoot an astounding 47.1 FG% and 39.3 3PT%. The Hokies were one of the best spot up and pick and roll offenses in the country. Defensively, Virginia Tech limits their opponents to 62.3 PPG and stifles the pick and roll. They were only 8 spots behind Texas in KenPom’s Adjusted Net Efficiency Rating, which should not be the case between an 11th seed and 6th seed. Texas is a great defensive team, but I think their offense struggles here. It’s going to be a close game, yet I like the Hokies to pull off the upset win.
Author: Braxton Reynolds
#13 Vermont Catamounts Vs. #4 Arkansas Razorbacks: Vermont ML (+168)
This game has upset potential written all over it. Arkansas is a well-coached and solid basketball team; however, Vermont has been on absolute fire, winning 22 of its past 23 games. The Catamounts’ sole loss during that period was against Hartford by one point in overtime. During that stretch, they have been beating teams by just shy of 20 points on average and posting a team shooting split of 52/41/76. Yes, those numbers are team numbers and not an individual player’s numbers. Vermont can get extremely hot from the floor and KenPom’s adjusted offensive efficiency rates the Catamounts 44th in the nation, which certainly proves that theory. Arkansas may run into a buzzsaw here.
Author: Andrew Norton
14 Colgate ML vs 3 Wisconsin
At +270 on the moneyline this game has great value right now. Between the fact that Colgate has one of the most balanced offensive attacks in college basketball, with 5 guys averaging double figures on the season, and the fact Wisconsin feels more like a 5 seed than a 3 seed ever since Johnny Davis went down with an ankle injury in the Badgers final game of the regular season — and hasn’t looked the same since — and this game has all the makings you’d want out of a major upset. Every year a high seeded Big 10 team with Final Four expectations falters in one of the first 2 rounds. Last year it was Illinois, Iowa, and Ohio State, and in 2019 it was Wisconsin and Iowa. Reeling after getting bounced early in the Big 10 tournament and with Johnny Davis’ confidence waning, I believe Wisconsin to be that Big 10 team this year, especially as they go up against a Colgate team that is playing their best basketball of the season. Both teams play it at a slower pace, and, with this game being played in the half court, the closer Colgate can keep it, the more pressure there will be on Wisconsin. I expect Colgate to feed off this pressure and pull off the stunner.
Author: Patrick Monnin
No. 12 UAB over No. 5 Houston
Why not take a shot with the Blazers here, especially with Jordan “Jelly” Walker averaging 28 points over his last five games.
Jordan "Jelly" Walker for UAB just notched 40 points to advance to the C-USA final.
He's the most impactful offensive player in the conference, and his Box Offensive BPR, which estimates offensive value based only on individual stats, is by far the best in the C-USA. pic.twitter.com/a53psARzo3
— Evan Miyakawa (@EvanMiya) March 11, 2022
He should torch a Houston defense that’s primed for regression from behind the arc. The Cougars allow the 34th-highest opponent 3-point rate nationally, but those same opponents are hitting less than 30% of those shots. That number has to go up.
Meanwhile, I’m a little worried about Houston’s ability to crack UAB’s pesky on-ball defense without Marcus Sasser. UAB is top-30 nationally in defensive turnover rate and top-15 in steal rate.
I’m obviously taking the 8.5 points with UAB, but why not throw a small dart at a ML that should be above 3-to-1. Give me the Blazers to storm past the Cougars on the back of the electric Walker.
Author: Tanner McGrath