CBB Picks: NCAA Tournament Round 1, Day 1

I’m typically somewhat selective when picking games, but it’s the NCAA Tournament, so why not blow it out and pick all 67 this year?

Princeton (+6.5) over Notre Dame

Slow game, low amount of turnovers, minimal fouls, shooters all over the floor. It’s gonna be beautiful. I don’t know what Princeton is going to do with VJ Beachem, but they’re a tough team and they’ll make enough shots from outside to stick in the game and possibly win.

Virginia (-7) over UNC Wilmington

The Seahawks have a fun, fast paced offense that is pretty dependent on that fast pace to score. This Virginia team has its flaws, but they’ll be able to force UNCW into playing in the halfcourt and methodically break down a porous Seahawk D.

Winthrop (+11) over Butler

I just don’t trust Butler at all, specifically the defense. Keon Johnson and Xavier Cooks are both legitimate scorers from a variety of spots on the floor.

South Dakota St. (+22.5) over Gonzaga

I basically never bet big spreads like this, but every game is every game. I’ll take the Jackrabbits and, really, I’m taking the Dauminator. He’s always a threat to get hot and Tellinghuisen and Hess can shoot, too. I love the Zags, but the offense hasn’t been as crisp lately. Fair warning, it has the potential to get going against the SDSU defense, which is one of the worst in the country.

Bucknell (+14) over West Virginia

I hate the matchup for the Bison, but they’re still a good, balanced team and I think the Mountaineers would be the most overrated team in the country if UCLA didn’t exist. 14 gives you a lot of wiggle room.

ETSU (+10.5) over Florida

To me the tale of the game will be told by who’s able to generate more turnovers/steals. Both teams rely on it, but the Gators are typically better at taking care of the ball. Still, I think the Bucs can stay in it behind TJ Cromer and the fact that there’s not the usual big athleticism mismatch you typically see in these games.

Minnesota (+1) over MTSU

I’ve mentioned this elsewhere, but I think the Gophers perimeter athleticism/quickness and bevy of rim protectors matches up really well with the MTSU offense. It hurts that Akeem Springs is out, but the Minnesota offense has been at its best lately.

Northwestern (+2) over Vanderbilt

I don’t have a great feel for this game. When in doubt, bet against the team that lives and dies by the three and has lost more games than any at-large team in the history of the NCAA Tournament. Also, THEY LOST TO MISSOURI BY 20 FREAKING POINTS.

Xavier (+2) over Maryland

Both teams kind of backed their way into the field, so it’s hard to love either one right now. I think the Muskies might abuse Maryland on the glass and I think Trevon Bluiett is the best player in the game and seems to be on a mission lately.

Villanova (-26) over Mount St. Mary’s

Even when Nova has had those failures in the second round recently, they’ve at least buried the tomato cans in the first round.

VCU (+4.5) over Saint Mary’s

It worries me that I like VCU so much in this game, but I do feel like they’re a bad matchup for the Gaels. The SMC defense has been good for so many years by driving people off the three-point line and the Rams have little interest in generating offense out there. The VCU defense attempts to do the same thing and when the Gaels aren’t getting it going from outside, it’s problematic.

Purdue (-9.5) over Vermont

I hate how much I like Purdue in this game, but Vermont doesn’t present many of the issues that have plagued the Boilers at times this season.

Florida State (-12) over FGCU

I just think it’s going to be too hard for the Eagles to deal with the size, length, and athleticism of the Noles. They have guys that can get hot from the outside, but not at the frequency worthy of betting on their side. I think FSU is going to live in the paint on the other end.

Wisconsin (-5.5) over Virginia Tech

Virginia Tech has the type of shooting that can be a problem for the Badger defense, but I’m not sure what Plan B would be if they’re not falling. The Hokies are very likely going to get thrashed on the boards and the Badgers don’t foul.

Arizona (-17) over North Dakota

I’ve fallen out of love with the Wildcats, but I’m searching for any advantage ND could exploit and I’m having a hard time finding one. They’re either going to have to force Arizona into some turnovers – the Cats take care of it well – or Crandall and Hooker are going to have to create a ton in the halfcourt.

Nevada (+6) over Iowa State

What a nightcap we have here, boys. ISU’s obviously been hot lately, but the Wolfpack are a pretty confident group that matchup fairly well here. They’ve got a couple pros of their own, so it’s not like the talent disparity is overwhelming. It’s tough to bet against Monte Morris, but I really don’t have any strong feelings on either side, so I’ll grab the six points.

 

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