Trust me, I’m not bragging, but it was a nice 4-0 ATS day in the NCAA Tournament to get things back on track. It was a brutal day two and three, and it is nice to have some good wins to level things out.
We will be back with plenty of picks for the Sweet Sixteen in beyond, but in the meantime there are some good wagering opportunities in the lesser tournaments that are going on this week; mostly the NIT but also a few hidden gems in other two tournaments. So be sure to check back each day this week for some picks.
Before we get to tonight’s NIT pick, here are some quick conference grades in rundown of the NCAA Tournament’s weekend past.
Big Ten: (A) – sorry Charles Barkley, it turns out the Big Ten is NOT overrated. Michigan and Michigan State were as impressive as any team in the tourney (with the possible exceptions of Louisville, Florida, and YES, Florida Gulf Coast). Indiana and Ohio State survived and live on, and Illinois and Minnesota showed themselves well in their appearances, particularly Illinois. Only Wisconsin under-performed to seed as the Big Ten went 8-3 in the opening two rounds.
Pac 12: (A-) – Only two teams remain, but other than UCLA, every team has ALREADY outperformed their seed (except Colorado, who lost their opener as a #10). Oregon and Arizona have looked awesome, which more than makes up for UCLA’s stinkbomb (unless you are Ben Howland…)
ACC: (B) – Duke and Miami advanced as they were supposed to. NC State lost a tough game to Temple and North Carolina played a good game and a half. Every team has lived up to seeding, none has embarrassed themselves.
Atlantic 10: (C+) – Great first day, rough second round. La Salle’s surprising run boosts them up a letter grade, however, the manner in which VCU and St. Louis lost is disappointing.
Big East: (C) – Louisville and Syracuse look great. Marquette survived (twice) and advanced. Georgetown, Pitt, and Notre Dame embarrassed the league though, balancing things out for a “C” grade.
Big 12: (D) – Kansas lives on, but the very perception they wanted to avoid; “Kansas and everyone else” lives on after the disappointing showings by Kansas State and Oklahoma State. Iowa State did show-up to play as well…
SEC: (C+) – Florida looks great and Ole Miss made some noise. That’s about it for the SEC.
Mountain West: (F) – This is how you make an entire year of good press go up in smoke in 48 hours. Well done RPI-scheming Mountain West. This weekend sets the conference back light years in terms of perception. An absolutely disastrous tourney.
On to today’s NIT picks… (oh, and Florida Gulf Coast gets the Atlantic Sun an A+++++)
FREE NIT PICK: Mercer Bears at BYU Cougars -7
Mercer advanced to the second round of the tournament by knocking off Tennessee at home. It’s just another classic example of a big school and a big-brand team having very little interest in playing in the NIT. We saw the same thing with Kentucky, and we see the same thing happen every season. Not that Mercer is a bad team… but they certainly don’t have Tennessee’s talent level. They had a nice season in the Atlantic Sun (home of the FGCU Eagles), in their games against big competition they showed well. The knocked off both Alabama and Florida State this season, and beat FGCU in overtime.
It is a good resume for an under-the-radar NIT team, but I hate the matchup for them tonight, and especially hate them having to go TO BYU. Many big schools and especially their fans could care less about the NIT. That will not be the case tonight. A packed house was rocking for their opening round blowout win over Washington. Tyler Haws was sensational pouring in 37 points and Brandon Davies will be a little too much to handle for Mercer tonight.
You watch BYU play and you wonder how they never got it together good enough to be an NCAA Tourney team… I like them big tonight at home.
Free Pick: BYU Cougars -7