NCAA TOURNAMENT EVENING SESSION:
I am writing this before the morning games commence, as I am at the First Round games in Columbus today, so no commentary on the morning action, but hopefully we are sitting on some winning momentum with the picks and got to witness some more thrilling action overall…
Let’s get right to the evening picks.
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Tonight’s Free Picks:
Albany Great Danes vs. Oklahoma Sooners -13
The Sooners have been a bit Trick or Treat offensively this season. They certainly have plenty of talent to make a deep run. But if the opening day performance of the Big Twelve, especially very similar teams in Baylor and Iowa State, then it is difficult to lay double digit points today with the Sooners.
Albany played a thrilled in Providence to open the season and has gone on the road and beaten Yale, so they have a reasonable win on their resume. They went 15-1 in conference play as well, so they enter with great momentum. They also have sentimentality of their side with the emotional story of the Australian point guard losing his mother to cancer in January and surging into the national spotlight with a three-point last second game winner to propel the Danes to the Dance. Even without the deserved tugging of the heartstrings, the crowd will always rally to support the underdog.
Oklahoma should win the game, but this tournament has been walking a razor thin line through the halfway point of round one. I am a big fan of getting a huge pile of points right now, and especially with a quality veteran ballclub facing a Big Twelve opponent. In the end, Spangler and the beefy frontline will enjoy facing a 6’10’’ 175 pound center – but the game still won’t be easy.
Free Pick: Albany Great Danes +13
Dayton Flyers vs. Providence Friars -3
Dayton didn’t have to travel far after the dramatic First Four win Tuesday night, just a short hour down the road to Columbus. Expect a lot of Flyer faithful to make the trip with them for another UD partisan crowd.
However, that was barely enough to beat Boise and Boise doesn’t have Kris Dunn. Dunn might be the best player in the country that no casual fan has heard of, but he very easily could have been the Big East Player of the Year. They played Villanova really tight in the conference tourney, and despite losing to them three times, never gave the impression they didn’t belong on the same floor one of the nation’s top teams.
Providence owns wins over Notre Dame, Miami, UMass, Butler, Xavier, St. John’s and Georgetown twice. This is a good team no one is talking about. They very well might be by Sunday night if the Friars as still standing, as I suspect they will.
BONUS QUICK PICK:
Oregon is one of the hotter teams in the country. Oklahoma State barely backed their way into the tourney after losing six of their final seven games including losses to TCU and Texas Tech. I’m not sure they even deserved to make the field, but I will wager that they exit it as quickly as most of their conference rivals.