The real start of the NCAA Tournament is my favorite day of the year! That Thursday that gives you 12 hours of college hoops in a win or go home manner is awesome each year! I thought I’d give you my opinion and Against The Spread pick on each of today’s 2nd round games for the 2013 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament in order of tipoff.
Valparaiso vs. Michigan State
This game is going to be closer than people think. Valpo has a good squad that will challenge Sparty but Tom Izzo’s crew will advance.
ATS Play: Valpo +10.5
Bucknell vs. Butler
This is the game I’m most looking forward to today. I think it’s a great matchup that’s going to come down to the final possession. The winner here could go far in the tournament. I like both of these teams and how they pose matchup problems for other teams in their region.
ATS Play: Bucknell +3.5
Wichita State vs. Pittsburgh
Craig Marshall is a great coach for the Shockers and this could be his last game with them as a major conference team could come calling. Pitt I think is going to impose their will inside a little more than Wichita State will but this is going to be a slow, physical game. Pitt tends to win those type of games.
ATS Play: Wichita State +4.5
New Mexico State vs. Saint Louis
A lot of people like Saint Louis to make a run to the Elite 8 or even Final Four. I just don’t see it. I think NMSU is going to really challenge them and I could see them pulling off the outright upset in this game. There has been a 13 beat a 4 in each of the past four tournaments.
ATS Play: New Mexico State +9
Saint Mary’s vs. Memphis
Saint Mary’s is playing well while Memphis had to scrape by to get wins down the stretch. This truly is a toss up game. I think Memphis finds a way to edge out a W.
ATS Play: Memphis +1
Davidson vs. Marquette
Davidson hasn’t lost since January 14. Many people like this as an upset pick but I don’t see it. Marquette is a battle test team from their trip to Maui and a difficult Big East schedule. Buzz Williams will coach his team to the next round.
ATS Play: Marquette -3.5
Southern vs. Gonzaga
Southern will have a very difficult time defending the Zags. If you’re looking for a 16 over a 1 here keeping looking. Gonzaga big.
ATS Play: Gonzaga -22
Oregon vs. Oklahoma State
Oregon is massively underseeded and drew a team that matches up well against them. This is a strong candidate for game of the day. I’ll take the best player on the court to win so look for the Cowboys to advance.
ATS Play: Oklahoma State -3
North Carolina A&T vs. Louisville
Louisville will determine what the score is on this one. NC A&T is erratic and a very streaky team as you saw against Liberty. Louisville’s pressure could force a ton of turnovers which lead to easy baskets. It basically depends on how mahy the Cardinals want to win this one by. Are they happy to advance or do they want to send a message?
ATS Play: Hard to get a feel for this one so I’d pass but if you have to have a play I’d take Louisville.
South Dakota State vs. Michigan
Nate Wolters is a great player and was a SportsFormulator.com All-American this year. Michigan is better than a four seed and I think the Jackrabbits will have a tough time defending the Wolverines. I think the spread is a little too big though for this game.
ATS Play: South Dakota State +11
Belmont vs. Arizona
Belmont is very overrated. Each season people pick them to be a Cinderella and they massively underperform. I don’t think it’ll be any different this year. Arizona has a tournament proven coach and the talent to advance.
ATS Play: Arizona -4.5
California vs. UNLV
This is a rematch of an early season game won by the Rebels. I don’t see this one much different. I think the Rebels could knock off Syracuse on Saturday as well. Cal is too up and down to depend on so take the Runnin’ Rebels here.
ATS Play: UNLV -3
Missouri vs. Colorado State
Missouri is one of the most underperforming teams in the country this year. They are stacked with talent but find ways to lose close games. Colorado State starts five seniors who’ve been waiting for this moment. They blew a lead against Murray State in last year’s first tournament game so they want to go out with a better performance. Missouri scares me in close games so take the points.
ATS Play: Colorado State +3
Akron vs. VCU
Akron is the Rodney Dangerfield of the field. They’re getting no respect. People expect VCU to just run over them. Granted VCU’s style is havoc and difficult to go against but Akron is a solid team. I think they make this a game.
ATS Play: Akron +7.5
Harvard vs. New Mexico
I’m not sure why people see the Lobos going to the Final Four. I give them credit for winning the Mountain West regular season and tournament but they struggled in games against elite competition. Harvard keeps this low scoring and hangs around.
ATS Play: Harvard +11
Montana vs. Syracuse
Montana is going to challenge the ‘Cuse but it shouldn’t go to the wire. I think Montana will get some open looks against the zone but the Orange advance.
ATS Play: Montana +12.5
Enjoy the games today and check back tomorrow for my ATS thoughts on Friday’s games.
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