Xavier and North Carolina headline the West, but is Michigan the real sleeper in the bracket? Betting wise, Missouri vs. Florida State is the true toss-up in this region. Let’s take a look at that game and more…
#1 Xavier vs. #16 NORTH CAROLINA Central or Texas Southern
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)
#8 Missouri vs. #9 Florida State (-1)
538 Win Prob: Florida State 79%
Ken Pom says: Florida State 75-74
Joes vs. Pros: RLM alert. The line started at Missouri -1. The public is all over Missouri, but the line has now gone to FSU -1.
ATS Pick: Missouri +1
With Michael Porter Jr. back, I am going to go against the RLM and take Missouri. I see Porter knocking down some shots and being more of a facilitator in this one. This was one of the toughest calls of the tournament for me, but I’ve watched Missouri play several times, and they have always come to play against good teams.
#5 Ohio State (-7.5) vs. #12 South Dakota State
538 Win Prob: OSU 77%
Ken Pom says: OSU 79-71
Joes vs. Pros: The public is all over SDSU in this one, over 80% of the bets are on them.
ATS Pick: Ohio State -7.5
I am going contrarian here and fading the trendy dog in SDSU. Yes the Jackrabbits have one of the best scorers in the game in Mike Daum (23.8 ppg), but Keita Bates-Diop and Jae’Sean Tate will be too much to handle for this SDSU squad. OSU has surprised me all year long, and I don’t see them letting up in this one.
#4 Gonzaga (-12.5) vs. #13 UNC Greensboro
538 Win Prob: Zaga 92%
Ken Pom says: Zaga 73-63
Joes vs. Pros: The public is all over Gonzaga in this one, with 75% of the tickets.
ATS Pick: UNCGB +12.5
I’m fading the public and taking UNCGB. They played Virginia and Wake Forest tough this year, and beat NC State. This is not a team to sleep on. Gonzaga will be looking ahead in this one, so I will take the points.
#3 Michigan (-11) vs. #14 Montana
538 Win Prob: Michigan 89%
Ken Pom says: Michigan 70-62
Joes vs. Pros: The public is all over Michigan, but the sharps took Montana early. The line opened at 11.5 and has now settled in at 11.
ATS Pick: Michigan -11
Normally I would take the dog, but this is a battle-test Michigan team with a great coach who will have them prepared. Moritz Wagner will eat and Michigan blows this game open in the second half.
#6 Houston (-4) vs. #11 San Diego State
538 Win Prob: Houston 72%
Ken Pom says: Houston 74-69
Joes vs. Pros: The public and sharps are pretty even in this one, no big movements or sides yet.
ATS Pick: Houston -4
Houston comes into this game red-hot and are a very balanced basketball team. Their defense is what will help them win and cover this line. SDSU will be happy to be here.
#7 Texas A&M (-3) vs. #10 Providence
538 Win Prob: Texas A&M 58%
Ken Pom says: Texas A&M 70-66
Joes vs. Pros: Providence comes into this game as a trendy dog after how well they played in the conference tournament. The public is hitting them big with over 84% of the tickets on them so far.
ATS Pick: Texas A&M -3
With the public all over Providence (recency bias), I will go the other way and take the Aggies. The Aggies are a tough matchup defensively for the Friars. I also think Providence will be out of gas after their amazing tourney run last weekend. All their guys logged heavy minutes, so look for some tired legs in the second half of this game.
#2 North Carolina (-19) vs. #15 Lipscomb
538 Says: NC 96%
Ken Pom says: NC 93-74
Joes vs. Pros: The public is all over the Tar Heels in this one after their conference tourney run. NC is getting 70% of the tickets. The sharps have not really jumped in yet.
ATS Pick: Lipscomb +19
Yes, you read that right. I am taking Lipscomb! The Bisons have played Alabama, Texas, Tennessee, and Purdue this year. They lost, but they battled against some of the best teams in the country, so they should not be scared to play the Tar Heels. Have the time these smaller named schools have just never played against these kind of athletes before. They also come into this game hot, winning 8 games in a row. The Tar Heels will put this game into cruise control in the second half, so give me the points.