South Region

Thursday, March 20th 12:15 PM EST on CBS

11 Dayton Flyers vs. 6 Ohio State Buckeyes

Game Line: Ohio State -6 Game Total: 130 (from Betonline)

The Dayton Flyers take on the Ohio State Buckeyes in the first round of the NCAA tournament from Buffalo, New York. The Buckeyes come into the matchup coming off a narrow 72-69 loss to Michigan in the Big ten semi-finals. The Buckeyes have been inconsistent this season; they started the season 15-0, but stumbled when conference play started. After starting Big Ten play, the Buckeyes failed to win more than 3 games in a row. They are a good defensive team, yet struggle to score as they are ranked 201st in the country averaging just 69.8 ppg. They don’t rebound the ball well, as they rank 216th in the country in that category as well. Their defense does keep them in games though, as they are limiting opponents to 40.9% shooting from the field, and giving up only 59.8 ppg. Dayton lost in the Atlantic 10 quarterfinals to eventual conference champion St. Joseph’s 70-67. Going into the conference tournament, Dayton was one of the hottest teams winning 10 of their last 11 regular season games. They have wins against Gonzaga and Saint Louis this year, and have been pretty impressive in a conference that put 6 teams in the tournament this year. Dayton averages 73.4 ppg while shooting 46.6% from the field.  Defensively they allow 67.6 ppg while allowing opponents to shoot 43.9% from the field.

I’m grabbing the points with Dayton on Thursday. Ohio State has a great defense, without a doubt, but in order to be successful in the tournament, you have to be able to score. The Buckeyes might slip past the Flyers on Thursday, but not by more than the 6 points that is posted. Dayton is the better rebounding team, and actually led their conference in rebounding margin, compared to Ohio State who ranked near the bottom of the conference in that department. Ultimately, Ohio State’s defense will bail them out of the first round, but we’ll grab the points in this one. There’s no doubt that there will be a little extra motivation for Dayton trying to knock off the big program in the state of Ohio.

 

Dayton Flyers vs. Ohio State Buckeyes Free NCAABB Pick: Dayton +6 Over 131.5

Dayton Flyers vs. Ohio State Buckeyes Game Prediction: Ohio State 67 Dayton 65

 

 

 

West Region

Thursday, March 20th 3:10 PM EST on truTV

10 BYU Cougars vs. 7 Oregon Ducks

Game Line: Oregon -5.5 Game Total: 158.5 (from Betonline)

 

The Oregon Ducks Flyers take on the BYU Cougars in the second round of the NCAA tournament from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The Cougars lost their WCC conference final to Gonzaga 75-64 while Oregon ran into a buzz saw in the Pac-12 tournament, losing 82-63 to eventual conference champion UCLA. Both teams like to score, as BYU averages 84.2 ppg and Oregon averages 81.8 ppg. BYU doesn’t have too many impressive wins on their resume, with only one win against a ranked opponent, which was at home on February 20th against then 25 ranked Gonzaga. Against other ranked opponents like UMass (then ranked), Iowa State, and Oregon they have come out on the short end. Oregon had a bit of a mid-season swoon losing 5 straight in the month of January, yet ended the season strongly with a 7 game win streak, including wins over UCLA and Arizona.

 

These two teams met back in December with Oregon coming out on top 100-96 in OT. When you look at the body of work for both teams, you would have to wonder why BYU isn’t favored in this game. The Cougars fought tooth and nail in Eugene back in December, and took the Ducks to the limit. They are the better rebounding team; they have the better assist to turnover ratio, and have the better stats on the defensive end. There is one disturbing trend this season however…BYU is 18-1 SU at home this year. Impressive right? Well away from Provo, they are just 5-10. The Cougars might be better when it comes to stats, but it’s a product of the tremendous home court advantage at high altitude. One would have to wonder what their record would be like if they were in a stronger conference and didn’t have the obvious home court advantage. Would they even have been in the field of 68? It has to make you wonder. I want no part of BYU away from their home court, and I’ll lay the 5 1/2 with the Ducks. They were playing much better basketball at the end of the regular season, and are without a doubt more battle tested, playing in the much tougher conference.

 

BYU Cougars vs. Oregon Ducks Free NCAABB Pick: Oregon -5.5 Over 158.5

BYU Cougars vs. Oregon Ducks Game Prediction: Oregon 86 BYU 76

 

 

Midwest Region

Thursday, March 20th 9:50 PM EST on TNT

13 Manhattan Jaspers vs. 4 Louisville Cardinals

Game Line: Louisville -16 Game Total: 142.5 (from Betonline)

The defending champion Louisville Cardinals will take their first step in trying to repeat as NCAA champions when they take on the MAAC champion Manhattan Jaspers.

The selection committee really laid out the red carpet for Manhattan, as they are taking on one of the hottest teams coming into the tournament. The Jaspers are 25-7 and won their conference tournament with a 71-68 win over Iona. The Jaspers haven’t lost many games as of late winning 11 out of their last 12 games. They are led by 6’4″ senior guard George Beamon who averages 19.2 ppg. As a team the Jaspers averages 77.4 ppg while shooting 45% from the field. They are decent on the glass, averaging 37.6 rebounds per game while averaging a rebounding margin of 1.4 per game. On defense, the Jaspers are limiting their opponents to 41% shooting from the field this season, and giving up 70 points per game. The most impressive wins on their schedule this year was a 99-90 win over LaSalle out of the Atlantic 10 and an 86-68 win at South Carolina out of the SEC.

What else is there to say about Louisville? They haven’t been just winning games lately, they’ve been wrecking teams. Since their 6 point loss at Memphis, the Cardinals have won 5 games in a row by an average of 29.1 points per game. They are led by senior guard Russ Smith (18.2 ppg) and sophomore forward Montrezl Harrell (14.2 ppg). They are averaging 82.1 ppg while shooting 47.4% from the field with a 1.52 assist to turnover ratio (6th in NCAA). Defensively, Louisville is one of the best teams in the country, ranking 1st in the nation in turnover margin (7.1) and are 2nd in the nation in steals (10.1 per game.) The Cardinals are limiting opponents to 39.4% shooting from the field, while giving up just 61 ppg.

I usually don’t lay this many points, because I really don’t see any value in it but in this case, I do think there’s value. Louisville is the defending champion and were the 5th ranked team in the country. How were they rewarded? By a #4 seed…Do you think that they might be a tad offended by that? I would be, especially after coach Rick Pitino said after winning the AAC title that they expected to be a #1 seed. So, instead they’re the #4 seed and I don’t think they’ll take the foot off the gas, seeing how continuity is so important in the tournament. Louisville will win this easily, and might even cover the number by extremely large margin.

 

Manhattan Jaspers vs. Louisville Cardinals Free NCAABB Pick: Louisville -16 Under 142.5

Manhattan Jaspers vs. Louisville Cardinals Game Prediction: Louisville 88 Manhattan 46

 

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