NCAA Tournament East Region First Round: Gambling Breakdown and Picks

Top-seeded Villanova should roll through this bracket, but what we want to know is…will they cover?  More importantly, can Purdue or West Virginia finally break through?

Villanova vs. #16 Radford

538 Win Prob: N/A

Ken Pom says: N/A

Joes vs. Pros: N/A

ATS Pick: N/A (no spread yet with play-in game)

The line has not come out for this game yet, so we will have to wait and see.  Radford is a solid team defensively, so they are more likely to cover a huge number vs. Nova.

#8 Virginia Tech (-2) vs. #9 Alabama

538 Win Prob: Virginia Tech 59%

Ken Pom says: Virginia Tech 72-70

Joes vs. Pros: Nothing big in this matchup.  67% of the public and 58% of the money is on VT with the line staying steady at -2.

ATS Pick: Virginia Tech -2

Alabama will have the best player on the court in Collin Sexton.  But the problem is, Bama relies too much on him. And if there is one guy that will be ready, it is Buzz Williams. Give Buzz time to prepare and he will have his kids ready to defend.  Buzz will make anyone but Sexton beat them, and I don’t see anyone else stepping up for Bama.

#5 West Virginia (-9.5) vs. #12 Murray State

538 Win Prob: West Virginia 84%

Ken Pom says: West Virginia 78-72

Joes vs. Pros:  61% of the public is on Murray State, while 51% of the money is on West Virginia. The line started at WV -10 and is now down to -9.5.

ATS Pick: Murray State +9.5

Murray State is a little bit of a tougher draw than West Virginia was expecting, so I can see a possible 5/12 upset in this one. Murray State’s backcourt of Ja Morant and Jonathan Stark is well equipped to handle the Mountaineers’ pressing defense. Ultimately I think WV’s rebounding and toughness will wear Murray State out, but +9.5 points looks juicy.

#4 Wichita State (-11) vs. #13 marshall

538 Win Prob: Wichita State 91%

Ken Pom says: Wichita State 91-80

Joes vs. Pros: Marshall comes into this game as a trendy dog. The public is loving them at a 67% clip.

ATS Pick: Wichita State -11

I can see why the public is in love with Marshall.  Jon Elmore is a stud, and this Marshall team beat Middle Tennessee twice this year, and took Xavier to the wire, losing by only 4. That being said, I think this will be a tough matchup for Marshall. Wichita State’s offense will be too much for Marshall’s defense, as Shaquille Morris should eat. The Shockers will wear them out, and more importantly, cover.

#3 Texas Tech (-11) vs. #14 Stephen F. Austin

538 Win Prob: Texas Tech 89%

Ken Pom says: Texas Tech 75-64

Joes vs. Pros: It looks like the public and sharps are both on SFA in this matchup.

ATS Pick: Stephen F. Austin +11

The Lumberjacks play a crazy defense that causes a lot of turnovers. Oklahoma State is a team that plays a similar defensive style as SFA, and that caused TT some issues this year.  TT lost to the Cowboys once, and beat them by only 5 in the other. The Texas Tech Red Raiders are one of the best teams in the country, but do not have many ball handlers for a matchup like this. Texas Tech should win, but Stephen F. Austin’s style will keep them in this game.

#6 Florida vs. #11 St. Bonaventure

538 Win Prob: N/A

Ken Pom says: N/A

Joes vs. Pros: N/A

ATS Pick: N/A (no spread yet with play-in game)

The Bonnies took it to UCLA last night, and are a fun team to watch. Florida is known to have dry spells offensively, so it will be interesting to see what Vegas opens the line at for this game.

#7 Arkansas vs. #10 Butler (-1)

538 Win Prob: Butler 60%

Ken Pom says: Butler 78-76

Joes vs. Pros: This is what I like to call a “fishy” line, as the lower seeded team is favored.  The line also started at a pk, but has jumped up to Butler -1/ 1.5 in most books.  It looks like the public and sharps are both on Butler in this one.

ATS Pick: Butler -1

I love fishy lines, so give me the Bulldogs. Butler beat OSU, Nova, Creighton, and Seton Hall this year, so I like their resume.

#2 Purdue (-20) vs. #15 Cal State Fullerton

538 Win Prob: Purdue 98%

Ken Pom says: Purdue 83-66

Joes vs. Pros: The public and pros are both on Purdue in this one, but the number has not moved.

ATS Pick: Purdue -20

With the Boilermakers feeling like they earned a 1 seed, I think Purdue comes out and makes a statement in this one. Their size and three-point shooting especially will be too much for CSF.  If you are a contrarian, maybe you take a stab at CSF, but this one has blowout city written all over it.

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