It was a tough day of NCAA action. We got out of the day even at 2-2 ATS but both losses were stinging ones. Kentucky held a seventeen point lead in the final seconds before allowing Cincinnati to score two easy layups sandwiched around two Andrew Harrison missed free throws to allow the backdoor cover to Cincinnati. Butler also notched a meaningless layup with 0.9 seconds to steal a half-point cover. We were oh-so-close to a perfect 4-0 ATS tournament day, but will have to settle with a split (and the joy of watching that Notre Dame vs. Butler game and the old-man ridiculous brilliance of Roosevelt Jones)
It’s the final day of the opening weekend of the NCAA Tournament and more amazing games are on tap. Kansas v. Wichita State and Michigan State v. Virginia leap off the page, but can Northern Iowa knock off the traditional power of Pitino and the Cards? Can Dayton replicate last year’s Cinderella run but vanquishing another highly seeded Big Twelve foe? Does Oregon have a miracle in their pocket against Wisconsin? Let’s dive in to another great day of action.
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Today’s Free Picks: Afternoon Sessions
Michigan State Spartans vs. Virginia Cavaliers -4.5
Is it cliché to mention Tom Izzo and his March magic? It may well be, but there is a reason things become clichés, because they happen really often. And so here we go again – a dangerous top seed looming but Sparty buckin’ up and flexing some muscle.
I know Virginia’s defense is awesome, but I still fall back on my honest appraisal that Virginia just isn’t the same since Anderson’s injury. They are still a decent offensive team (ignore total points, look at efficiency) but they are not longer an elite team on the offensive end. They can defend and play a grinding physical style, but I just don’t see that phasing Michigan State and crew.
Michigan State is peaking at the right time. They closed the season strong, including an impressive run in the Big Ten Tournament that ended one rimmed-out shot shy of a championship. I think UVA is ripe for the picking and who better to do it than Michigan State?
San Diego State Aztecs vs. Duke Blue Devils -9.5
I don’t think this one will be close. SDSU can defend well, but there is no way they can score with the Blue Devils today. SDSU is a great program and the job Steve Fischer has done is amazing, but this is not one of his vintage teams. I think they will struggle to score points against Duke and it won’t take more than one or two patented Duke scoring blitzes to move the game from competitive to boring.
Look for Duke to control the game most of the way and to cruise to a double-digit victory.