NCAA Tournament Midwest Region Preview
First Round—Mar. 19-20
Clean yourself up from your St. Patty's Day hangover and get your bookie on the phone. It's time to place your bets for the NCAA Tournament. Here's a quick rundown of the lines and my insider take on each game. Let the Madness begin!
No. 1 Louisville vs. No. 16 Morehead State
Spread: Louisville -22.0
Backcourt Advantage: Louisville
Frontcourt Advantage: Louisville
Bottom Line: Louisville is the hottest team coming into this tournament and they were rewarded for that by being given the overall top seed. They will keep their momentum going in this first round game, where historically No. 1 seeds have been beating the play-in game winner by an average of 27 points per game.
There's no reason to think this game will be any different.
Shaun's Pick: Louisville -22.0
No. 8 Ohio State vs. No. 9 Siena
Spread: Ohio State -3.0
Backcourt Advantage: Even
Frontcourt Advantage: Ohio State
Bottom Line: If this wasn't essentially a home game for OSU, I'd be more confident with this pick, but Siena should at least keep this within a bucket. Almost the entire core is back from last year's team that blew out Vandy in the first round.
Shaun's Pick: Siena +3.0
No. 5 Utah vs. No. 12 Arizona
Spread: Arizona -1.0
Backcourt Advantage: Utah
Frontcourt Advantage: Even
Bottom Line: Utah is the better team and should beat the underachieving Wildcats. The Utes are a senior-heavy group that will run their offense through seven-footer Luke Nevill, but if Arizona collapses on him, they can bury outside shots as well.
Shaun's Pick: Utah +1.0
No. 4 Wake Forest vs. No. 13 Cleveland State
Spread: Wake Forest -8.5
Backcourt Advantage: Wake Forest
Frontcourt Advantage: Wake Forest
Momentum: Wake Forest
Bottom Line: Wake could get a scare here, but they should still be able to win by double-digits. Cleveland State will try to force half-court action, while the Demon Deacons will want to run and score in transition.
This could be too close for comfort early, but Wake should find a way to break the game open late.
Shaun's Pick: Wake Forest -8.5
No. 6 West Virginia vs. No. 11 Dayton
Spread: West Virginia -8.5
Backcourt Advantage: West Virginia
Frontcourt Advantage: West Virginia
Momentum: West Virginia
Bottom Line: I like West Virginia to win the game, but Dayton should keep it close. The Mountaineers are the better team and they're tournament-tested, but I'll take the points on a hunch.
Shaun's Pick: Dayton +8.5
No. 3 Kansas vs. No. 14 North Dakota State
Spread: Kansas -10.0
Backcourt Advantage: Kansas
Frontcourt Advantage: Kansas
Bottom Line: Bill Self will have his young team ready and Kansas will not take this team lightly. The Bison feature four senior starters, led by guard Ben Woodside and forward Brett Winkelman.
The problem is they aren't good defenders, so Kansas should have no trouble scoring in this one. The Bison have the talent to hang with the Jayhawks for a while, but Cole Aldrich will be too much for them to handle inside.
Shaun's Pick: Kansas -10.0
No. 7 Boston College vs. No. 10 USC
Spread: USC -2.5
Backcourt Advantage: Boston College
Frontcourt Advantage: USC
Bottom Line: USC's on a roll, but they haven't shown they can beat a quality team yet, and Boston College is a quality team. Led by senior Tyrese Rice, the Eagles should be able to wear down the bench-less Trojans.
Shaun's Pick: Boston College +2.5
No. 2 Michigan State vs. No. 15 Robert Morris
Spread: Michigan State -17.0
Backcourt Advantage: Michigan State
Frontcourt Advantage: Michigan State
Momentum: Michigan State
Bottom Line: Finally healthy at the right time, Sparty rolls in this one. Michigan State is the best rebounding team in the country and will dominate Robert Morris inside.
Shaun's Pick: Michigan State -17.0
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