The wait for our NCAA tournament is over. The first NCAA college basketball tournament for men in almost two years officially started with the warm-ups on Thursday evening and really gets going on Friday and Saturday. Here’s your TV guide to the Midwest and South Region games on Friday. The first of 16 games ends shortly after noon ET. All times listed below are Eastern times and the odds are provided by BetMGM.
The first game of the day has the lowest spread of the day. These teams seem very evenly matched, and it was the game where Yahoo Tourney Pick’Em users were the most divided.
Both Arkansas and Colgate like to pick up the pace. Colgate was the hottest pick among teams ranked 14th and below. It has the highest over / under of Friday’s slate.
The Illinois should have an easy game in this one. Drexel entered the CAA tournament 9-7 before booking three straight wins on an NCAA tournament offer.
Utah State was one of the last teams on the field not to be in a play-in game had to play. Both teams play exceptional defense, and this may not be as helpful as Arkansas and Colgate, for example.
Oral Roberts shoots out nearly 39 percent from behind the three-point arc. It will likely take 40 percent for ORU to challenge the state of Ohio.
Baylor was undefeated for most of the season before losing to Kansas in the regular season and to Oklahoma State in the Big 12. A Deep Bears team should be able to cross here without any problems.
This is one of the most fascinating matchups of the day. Loyola was only number 8, despite making the top 15 in the AP poll. Georgia Tech turned hot at the end of the season and won the ACC tournament but was only number 9. Both teams can argue they deserved a number 6.
Tennessee was 10-1 before ending the season finished with 8-7. The state of Oregon won the Pac-12 tournament as number 5. UT is number 21 on KenPom.com’s rankings, while the Beavers are number 85.
The first game of the evening offers casual fans the chance to Oklahoma State Star Freshman Cade Cunningham seen. He averages over 20 points per game for the Big 12 tournament champions and could be number 1 on the 2021 NBA draft.
The winner of that game will likely get Baylor in the second round. Wisconsin only took the lead 4-8 in the last 12 games of the season, but all eight of those losses went to teams ranked 4th or higher in the NCAA tournament. North Carolina is the best offensive rebounding team in the country.
The Cougars are one of the best defensive teams in the country, while Cleveland State only shoots 32 percent of three. This could turn into a blowout early on.
The Boilermakers won five games in a row to end the regular season before losing to Ohio State in the Big Ten tournament. North Texas ranks 71st on KenPom.com’s rankings and won four straight wins to win the C-USA tournament after ending the regular season after three losses.
Both teams play solid defense and acceleration not the pace. This is why it has one of the lowest over / under of the day. Rutgers is performing for the first time since 1991.
This is a game of strength against strength. The Syracuse offense is one of the most efficient in the country, and the state of San Diego has a stifling defense.
West Virginia shoots nearly 40 free throws per game, while not many teams commit fewer fouls than Morehead State. The Eagles commit less than 15 fouls per game.
Villanova is without point guard Collin Gillespie, while Winthrop only lost one game during the season. That made the Wildcats a trendy pick to get excited about after the bracket was announced, though the betting line clearly favors them.
Rick Pitino pioneered the use of the 3-point shot in college, taking advantage of the first season of the shiny , new 9-inch toys to help Providence become the first six seeds to make the Final Four. Pitino had led Boston University to the NCAA tournament a few years earlier, but when March Madness went through a second program with just a few pockets of success, the sharply clad New Yorker was one of the hottest coaching candidates in college or the NBA. There’s never been a mighty long time in college basketball, and that quote is good for a chuckle these days – except maybe in Rhode Island – because no coach like Pitino has snuck through glamorous jobs in the NBA and college, except maybe for Larry Brown.
Three Notre Dame newbies have entered the transfer portal after a 10:10 success in the first season of head coach Niele Ivey, as @ Raoul_000 first reported on his Twitter. Two of them were eagerly awaited – point guard Alasia Hayes and guard Alli Campbell – while a third striker Amirah Abdur-Rahim might have been a bit of a surprise.
Oral Roberts coach Paul Mills has an assignment that goes on every fall his players will be waiting when they return to the quiet campus in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Kevin Obanor, the team’s second top scorer, finished the job in six days. That commitment spurred the Golden Eagles to the NCAA tournament, the program’s first appearance in 13 years.
Jason Preston of Ohio has the potential to be one of the breakout stars of this NCAA men’s basketball tournament.
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