^One of my Final Four picks
- GONZAGA BULLDOGS (26-0)*^
- NORFOLK STATE SPARTANS (17-7)*
Gonzaga -33.5 / 154.5
If you followed my Top 25 rankings throughout the season, you should know how highly I think of this Gonzaga team. They are my pick to win the National Championship. So, there is not much else to say here. They are a machine. They score at will. This will be a rout. It is a lot of points to cover, however. Personally, I am staying away from betting this one, but I am certainly not going to advise anyone to bet against Mark Few’s high-flying Bulldogs. I am not too keen on the total either, but the best move in this matchup may be to take the over and root for a lot of buckets.
Picks: Gonzaga -33.5 / Over 154.5
- IOWA HAWKEYES (21-8)
- GRAND CANYON ANTELOPES (17-6)*
Iowa -16 / 144.5
I think this one could get a little interesting. I am not saying it is going to come down to the wire or anything like that, but I believe Grand Canyon will be able to keep Iowa from pulling away far enough to cover the 16 points. The Antelopes have an eFG% of 52.8% and hold their opponents to an average eFG% of just 44.7%, good for 6th in the nation. Of course, they have not yet seen a player as dynamic as Luka Garza. Grand Canyon’s struggles from downtown and from the charity stripe are enough to make me hesitant, but if I were forced to bet this one, I would take the points and hope they can hang around.
Picks: Grand Canyon +16 / Under 144.5
- KANSAS JAYHAWKS (20-8)
- EASTERN WASHINGTON EAGLES (16-7)*
Kansas -11.5 / 142
The Jayhawks have heated up at the right time. After a sloppy start to conference play, by Kansas’ standards at least, Bill Self’s team has won 8 of their last 9 games. I look for them to continue to roll in this matchup. This stingy Jayhawks defense, led by Marcus Garret, will try to clamp down on an Eastern Washington team that shoots well.
Picks: Kansas -11 / Under 142
- VIRGINIA CAVALIERS (18-6)
- OHIO BOBCATS (16-7)*
Virginia -10 / 132
The Bobcats are on my upset radar here. They have won 9 of their last 10, led by dynamic play from G Jason Preston. This will be a matchup between two PG’s who excel at the position, with Kihei Clark who holds the reins of Virginia’s offense. Virginia certainly has the better supporting cast, but Jason Preston should be able keep his squad in this game.
Picks: Ohio +10 / Over 132
- CREIGHTON BLUEJAYS (20-8)
- UC-SANTA BARBARA GAUCHOS (22-4)*
Creighton -8 / 140
Creighton will look to bounce back after falling to Georgetown in the Big East title game. The Bluejays, led by G Marcus Zegarowski, will look to put up some points after uncharacteristically scoring only 48 against Georgetown. They will take on UC-Santa Barbara, who are no slouches on offense themselves. I look for both offenses to be on display here, with Creighton edging out the Gauchos.
Picks: UC-Santa Barbara +8 / Over 140
- USC TROJANS (22-7)
- DRAKE BULLDOGS (26-4)
USC -6 / 135
Drake was flying below the radar for a good portion of the season. There was not a lot of attention for the Bulldogs, despite starting the year 18-0. They will take on Evan Mobley’s USC Trojans, who are averaging almost 75 points per game. I am not wild about Drake in this spot after a shotty offensive performance in their play-in game.
Picks: USC -6 / Under 135
- OREGON DUCKS (20-6)
- VCU RAMS (19-7)
Oregon -5.5 / 138
VCU managed to wrangle an at-large bid after falling in the A-10 season. They have a stout defense that will be put to the test by an Oregon team with an eFG% of 54.4%. The Ducks offense operates much better than the majority of teams that VCU has faced, but they should be able to keep it close enough to give their offense a chance to pull ahead down the stretch.
Picks: VCU +5.5 / Under 138
- OKLAHOMA SOONERS (15-10)
- MISSOURI TIGERS (16-9)
Oklahoma -2 / 141
I really like this Oklahoma team. They play a responsible game led by PG Austin Reaves. As a member of the Big 12, they have been put through the wringer this season. I like their chances against a Missouri team that is sometimes loose with the ball.
Picks: Oklahoma -2 / Under 141
- MICHIGAN WOLVERINES (20-4)
- TEXAS SOUTHERN (17-8)*
Michigan -26 / 142.5
How long will it take for Michigan to feel the loss of Isaiah Livers? My guess is not long, but it should not make too big of a difference here. The Wolverines have more than enough scoring throughout their lineup to handle Texas Southern without issue, but I would be hesitant about backing them to cover the spread.
Picks: Texas Southern +26 / Over 142.5
- ALABAMA CRIMSON TIDE (24-6)*
- IONA GAELS (12-5)*
Alabama -17 / 145.5
Rick Pitino is back in the Big Dance! I am not sure he will enjoy his time there this year as much as he had in years past, however. Even in conference play, his Gaels did not dominate as you might expect. He will take on a high-octane Alabama team who shoots and seemingly makes three-pointers at will. I do not see Iona being able to keep up here.
Picks: Alabama -17 / Over 145.5
- TEXAS LONGHORNS (19-7)
- ABILENE CHRISTIAN WILDCATS (23-4)*
Texas -8.5 / 140
At the beginning of the year, I thought it capable of this Texas team to make a run in March. My opinion has not changed. The Longhorns brought back all 5 starters from last year and spent some time in the AP Top 5 this season. Abilene Christian boasts one of the best defenses in the country, however. I like the Horns to win this game, but I am weary of them spotting 8.5 to a team that can make generating offense turn into a nightmare.
Picks: Abilene Christian +8.5 / Under 140
- FLORIDA STATE SEMINOLES (16-6)
- UNC-GREENSBORO SPARTANS (21-8)*
Florida State -11 / 145.5
The ‘Noles were a preseason Final Four pick for several expert analysts. After a season that has seen them lose multiple games that they should not have, I cannot say that level of confidence is still there. This game should not be an issue, however. Florida State’s athleticism, defense and ability to convert from long-range should make it hard for the Spartans to keep up.
Picks: Florida State -11 / Under 145.5
- COLORADO BUFFALOES (22-8)
- GEORGETOWN HOYAS (13-12)*
Colorado -5 / 139
The only question you need to ask here is if Georgetown can carry the momentum that won them the Big East Conference Tournament into the NCAA Tournament. I am saying they will. The Hoyas will come with a lot of confidence into a game against a Colorado team who lost a heartbreaker in the PAC-12 title game. I see this game coming down to the wire, which makes me value Georgetown’s 5 points.
Picks: Georgetown +5 / Under 139
- BYU COUGARS (20-6)
- UCLA BRUINS (18-9)
BYU -4 / 138.5
The Bruins showed a lot of resiliency in their play-in game. They trailed Michigan State by 11 at the half but were able to pull themselves back into the game to eventually move into the Round of 64 via an overtime victory. They will take on a BYU team, who in their last game, collapsed against Gonzaga after leading by 12 at halftime over the nation’s #1 team. I generally do not like backing teams who had to play themselves into the tournament, as they have a little extra fatigue, but Mick Cronin had them playing great basketball on Thursday night after having lost their previous 4 games.
Picks: UCLA +4 / Over 138.5
- CONNECTICUT HUSKIES (15-7)
- MARYLAND TERRAPINS (16-13)
Connecticut -2.5 / 131
This game piques my interest. I expect it to be a slow-paced, defensive battle. I am a sucker for gritty games where every basket is earned. I am backing the Terrapins here, as they have a more balanced offensive attack. If both teams are able to clamp down on defense, then give me the team with more scoring options.
Picks: Maryland +2.5 / Under 131
- LSU TIGERS (18-9)
- ST. BONAVENTURE BONNIES (16-4)*
LSU -1 / 144.5
I sense trouble for LSU here. The Bonnies have a ferocious defense that is allowing only 60.4 points per game, which is 3rd best in the nation. LSU has trouble against stout defensive teams and the line tells me that oddsmakers agree.
Picks: St. Bonaventure +1 / Under 144.5