NCAA tournament's First Four games present tight matchups
Eight teams fighting to make the field of 64 in the 2017 NCAA tournament will get their chance to advance on Tuesday and Wednesday in the First Four at University of Dayton Arena.
Each game looks to be fairly even from a betting perspective, with the winners facing very tough assignments in their next matchups.
In the first game on Tuesday, the New Orleans Privateers (20–11) are listed as small 1.5-point favorites at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com as they take on the Mount St. Mary’s Mountaineers (19–15). The Privateers and Mountaineers each won their respective conference’s regular-season and tournament titles, and the winner must take on the defending national champion Villanova Wildcats (31–3) in the East Region.
The second game on Tuesday matches up the ACC’s Wake Forest Demon Deacons (19–13) against the Big 12’s Kansas State Wildcats (20–13) as a pair of No. 11 seeds trying to advance to meet the sixth-seeded Cincinnati Bearcats (29–5) in the South Region. This is essentially a pick’em game according to the oddsmakers, with the Demon Deacons the slightly hotter team, winning four of their last five games and riding a 3–1 run against the spread.
On Wednesday, the first game will pit the North Carolina Central Eagles (25–8) versus the UC Davis Aggies (22–12) for the right to face the top-seeded Kansas Jayhawks (28–4) in the Midwest Region. The Eagles are four-point favorites but just 3–2 in their last five games following a season-high 13-game winning streak. Meanwhile, the Aggies are 6–1 straight up and 5-1-1 ATS in their past seven games.
And in the last First Four matchup on Wednesday, the USC Trojans (24–9) will battle the Providence Friars (20–12) in a rematch from last year’s NCAA tournament. The Trojans lost to the Friars 70–69 in the first round of the 2016 tournament but covered the spread as a 2.5-point underdog. USC is a three-point favorite this time around. The Trojans have gone 5–2 ATS in their last seven games as the favorite while Providence is 8–1 ATS in its last nine games as an underdog. The winner will advance to play the sixth-seeded SMU Mustangs (30–4) as a No. 11 seed in the East Region.