The NCAA Tournament got off to a nice start last night, although neither game was particularly competitive, both were compelling for different reasons. First, Florida Gulf Coast reminded everyone how FUN 2013’s Dunk City team was in their thorough thrashing of Fairleigh Dickinson last night. Can the magic continue Thursday? Well… their opponent is North Carolina, so… probably not. But the name value of FGCU does at least make the game a lot more interesting to tune into (for the first ten minutes).
Meanwhile, Wichita State used a 40-20 second half to bury Vanderbilt and work their way into the “real bracket” once again. They may be an #11 seed, but I sure wouldn’t want any part of the Shockers if I were Arizona, a team constructed not too much differently than Vanderbilt personnel-wise.
We are now 1-0 ATS in the NCAA Tourney, and we will try to make it two straight before we get to the Round of 64 and the frantic Madness of the weekend.
But first, a quick NIT note. Seven of the eight home teams won their game last night, with the notable exception of North Florida, who was actually the far lower seeded team (Florida declined to host). The Osprey certainly didn’t take advantage of their big opportunity and got absolutely housed. Every favorite won their game, a perfect 8-0 SU. Does that impact tonight’s games? I still like Belmont with the seven points at Georgia and Hofstra getting six at GW, but it will be interesting to see if any underdogs can break through with a win in the NIT.
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Today’s Free Pick:
Michigan Wolverines -3.5 vs. Tulsa Golden Hurricane
I’m picking (insert team) because (insert team) shouldn’t even BE in the tournament!
That’s a fair argument no matter how you spin it tonight. Tulsa is probably the most ridiculous inclusion in the field, as evidenced by more than 80 “bracketologists” (I feel ridiculous typing that word as if it were a Sociology professorship) ALL left them out of their projected fields. The reason why everyone missed Tulsa? Because they DIDN’T miss – the Committee did.
Meanwhile, Michigan is also dancing despite losing a DOZEN games by double digits this season. Barf.
So, neither should be here, but nonetheless one will continue to be here on Friday, and once that game rolls around, there isn’t any reason in this parity-mad season they couldn’t upset Notre Dame (especially Michigan). So who advances?
Michigan obviously has had lower lows, but also has the much higher ceiling. They own wins over Texas, Maryland, Purdue and Indiana, all top six seeds in the Bracket. The also have plenty of talent led by Derrick Walton. Tulsa’s best wins are UConn, Cincinnati, Iona, and Temple. They were also beaten by SMU, Little Rock, South Carolina, Oral Roberts and Memphis twice. Seriously, how the hell is this team in the field?
At least they shall depart it tonight. Use last night as a guide – the undeserving team got quickly run from the field. I think the same thing happens tonight. Michigan has played a better schedule, has better wins, and has more talent. Three points is way too slim. I’m rolling with Beilein and the Blue tonight.
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I like two road underdogs tonight in the NIT. Belmont visits a mediocre Georgia team and is getting 7.5 points. They opened as a +10 dog, and money quickly went the Bruins direction. It is smart money. I think Belmont could win straight up, but will at least cover.
Meanwhile, Hofstra is catching six points at George Washington. GW beat Virginia in that building to open the season, but that was long ago. The Colonial lost five of their last ten games including losses to Davidson and Richmond. Other than the UVA upset to open the season, their only good win was VCU. Hofstra on the other hand, has a Top 35 RPI despite going completely unrecognized all season. They won their final eight games before being surprised by UNC Wilmington in their conference tourney. They beat Florida State and St. Bonaventure on the road this year. This team can play, and I like them with the points against a fading GW squad.