NCAA Tournament Betting News and Notes

NCAA Tournament Betting News and Notes

Tournament Outlook
By Brian Edwards
VegasInsider.com
    
The No. 1 seeds for the 2014 NCAA Tournament are Florida, Wichita State, Virginia and Arizona. The Gators are the No. 1 overall seed and bring a 26-game winning streak into the NCAA Tournament. The LVH Superbook has UF installed as the 4/1 favorite to cut the nets down in Dallas.

Michigan St. has the second-shortest odds (+450), but the Big Ten Tournament champs are a No. 4 seed. I have the Spartans third in my updated power rankings, behind No. 1 Florida and No. 2 Louisville.

The next-shortest odds belong to Arizona (6/1), Kansas (8/1), Wichita St. (15/1), Virginia (15/1), Duke (15/1), Syracuse (15/1) and Louisville (15/1).

Speaking of the Cardinals, they are also a No. 4 seed. I understand that the Selection Committee has to take into account every team's entire resume. Therefore, I'm ok with Michigan St. and Louisville not being top seeds. But four seeds?! Really?

Tom Izzo's team had late-season home losses to Nebraska and Illinois, so I can see the Spartans being a No. 3 seed. But U of L should be no worse than a two seed.

Let's cruise through each region with some instant analysis...

South Region

Florida will face the winner of Mt. St. Mary's vs. Albany on Thursday in Orlando. In the 2006 NCAA Tournament, the Great Danes faced top-seeded UConn and led by a 50-38 score with 11 minutes remaining. The Huskies would rally to win, but Albany gave us one of the biggest challenges from a No. 16 seed in Tournament history.

Assuming the Gators advance, they'll face the winner of Colorado vs. Pittsburgh. I liked how the Panthers played in the ACC Tourney and expect them to get past the Buffaloes.

In the 5/12 matchup, VCU will take on Stephen F. Austin in San Diego. Bettors should check the status of VCU's Melvin Johnson, who injured his knee in the Atlantic 10 Tournament semifinals.

Johnson was on crutches for the Rams' loss to St. Joseph's in the A-10 Tourney finals. He averages 10.4 points per game. Shaka Smart owns a 7-3 career record in the NCAA Tournament, leading VCU to the 2011 Final Four.

Stephen F. Austin hasn't lost since Nov. 23. The Lumberjacks only played one team in the Top 95 of the RPI. They led at Texas by four at intermission but ended up on the wrong end of a 72-62 decision.

If form holds in the South, the Sweet 16 matchups would be Florida vs. UCLA and Kansas vs. Syracuse. That would give Memphis a pair of national-title game rematches. Carmelo Anthony led the 'Cuse past KU in the finals of the 2003 Tourney, while Florida put on a dunk contest against the Bruins in the 2006 finals.

West Region

Arizona's path to North Texas is littered with potholes. In fact, the Wildcats are in the most danger of failing to get to the Sweet 16 out of the No. 1 seeds. Why, you ask? Well, because they might have to go against Oklahoma St. the first weekend.

Since Marcus Smart returned from a three-game suspension, the Cowboys are playing like the Final Four contender they appeared to be back in November and December. Travis Ford's team will go up against Gonzaga in its first game.

If Arizona gets to Anaheim, the host city for the West Region semifinals, it will most likely be looking at a matchup against Oklahoma or San Diego St., both of whom are capable of beating the Wildcats.

The West's No. 2 and No. 3 seeds, Wisconsin and Creighton, respectively, have difficult paths to Anaheim, too. The Badgers might have to face Oregon, albeit in Milwaukee. The Ducks, who get to play a BYU team that'll be without its second-best player Kyle Collinsworth (ACL tear), had won eight in a row before losing to UCLA in the Pac-12 Tournament.

The Bluejays and National Player of the Year Doug McDermott will get the winner of Baylor-Nebraska if they advance past No. 14 seed UL-Lafayette, which upset Ga. St. in overtime to earn its first NCAA bid since 2005 when it lost to Louisville.

Like Oklahoma St., Baylor has put its January/early February woes in the rearview mirror and Scott Drew's squad would have a significant size advantage against Creighton. The Bears also have one of nation's best 3-point shooters in Brady Heslip.

Midwest Region

The top-seeded Shockers might face the last team it lost to in the Midwest semifinals. That would be fourth-seeded Louisville, which trailed for a big chunk of its national semifinal showdown against Wichita St. last year before rallying to win and eventually capture the 2013 national championship.

That rematch isn't a given by any means, however. For starters, Gregg Marshall's team will have to take on the Kansas St.-Kentucky winner. There's no doubt that both groups of Wildcats have the talent to beat Wichita St and Louisville. In fact, UK knocked off Rick Pitino's team earlier this season at Rupp Arena.

The third-seeded Duke Blue Devils better be on upset alert when they collide with Mercer. The Bears won at Ole Miss, at Ohio and vs. Seton Hall during the regular season, and they lost by just three at Texas. Bob Hoffman's team also has two wins over Florida Gulf Coast, which advanced to the Sweet 16 last season.

If form holds in the Midwest, Duke would face second-seeded Michigan in the region semifinals in Indianapolis. That would be a rematch of the 1992 finals and a hotly-contest second-round game in the 2011 Tournament.

East Region

In order, the top seeds in the East are Virginia, Villanova, Iowa St. and Michigan St. This region's semifinals will take place at Madison Square Garden in New York City.

The top-seeded Cavaliers will face Coastal Carolina, which is coached by 68-year-old Cliff Ellis. Coastal Carolina is the fourth school Ellis has taken to the Tournament. He was Clemson's head coach in the 1990 Tourney when UConn's Tate George hit the baseline buzzer beater after receiving the length-of-the-court pass from Scott Burrell at the Meadowlands. (Who could ever forget the look of disbelief on Elden Campbell's face?) If the Cavs advance, they would get the winner of George Washington vs. Memphis. I'm not certain that we'll get a Michigan St.-Virginia showdown at MSG, and it's not because I think Memphis or GW will knock off UVA.

I find it ridiculous that Cincinnati seems to be the team everyone is sleeping on in this region. In fact, like I've been saying for months, I won't be surprised if the fifth-seeded Bearcats make it to Dallas. With the exception of Florida, Cincy probably defends and rebounds better than any team in America.

B.E.'s Bonus Nuggets

UCLA fans had to cringe when they saw the Bruins in the same region as Florida. The Gators have sent UCLA packing from the NCAA Tournament three times since 2006.

Speaking of cringing, how pissed were Stephen F. Austin fans when d-bag Seth Davis (the college hoops equivalent of Mark May) predicted it to get all the way to the Sweet 16? Davis gave the Lumberjacks the kiss of death. I'm not sure that dork has ever given out an accurate prediction on Selection Sunday.

I felt like the Selection Committee made a number of mistakes. The worst was leaving SMU out of the field. I would have had the Mustangs in ahead of BYU. I wouldn't have had a problem with BYU getting a bid if not for the injury to Collinsworth, who was the Cougars' top rebounder, leading assist man and second-leading scorer. And Dave Rose's team didn't even have to go to Dayton? I already noted the seeding mistakes with U of L and Michigan St., but what about New Mexico?! The Lobos are a seven seed? That's deplorable. They beat fifth-seeded Cincy by 19 points and have two wins over fourth-seeded San Diego St. With that said, I'm not that pissed if I'm 'Noodles' Neal, the former Ga. Tech guard who is in his first season as head coach at UNM. That's because I think UNM will handle Stanford in its opening game and would face Kansas without Joel Embiid. In other words, you'd rather be a seven seed than a three seed in KU's region because you want to get the Jayhawks with Embiid in street clothes.

When I think of a true sleeper team, I'm talking about a team that seeded fifth or worse and is capable of producing a six-game winning streak. In this year's field, I think the legit sleepers include Cincy, UNC, Oklahoma State, Baylor, Kentucky and Kansas State, Oklahoma and North Carolina State.

I left New Mexico, Providence, Pittsburgh and UConn off the above list of legit sleepers, but none of those four teams will get eliminated without a fight.

I've always liked Clark Kellogg, but I can't give him a pass on his egregious error during the Selection Show on CBS. Who the hell is Peter Dinwiddie?! Colorado's Spencer Dinwiddie has been one of the best players in the Pac-12 the last two years. Moments after Kellogg's mistake, Peter Dinwiddie was trending on twitter. If I'm CU coach Tad Boyle, Kellogg's first name is either Leonard or Eugene moving forward.

Best First-Round Games

1-Harvard vs. Cincinnati
2-Kentucky vs. Kansas St.
3-North Carolina vs. Providence
4-Baylor vs. Nebraska
5-Gonzaga vs. Oklahoma St.
6-Tennessee vs. Iowa

I guess UT-Iowa is technically the only first-round game these days, but I don't subscribe to this new verbiage that calls the games in Dayton first-rounders and refers to the Round of 32 as the third round.

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Re: NCAA Tournament Betting News and Notes

Longest and Shortest NCAA Tournament Travel Distances
By Covers.com

The term "March Madness" is meant to portray the frenetic nature of the NCAA tournament - but it also describes the disparity in travel time between schools participating in the college basketball spectacle.

For some teams, the opening rounds of the tournament represent the closest thing to home-court advantage without actually having it. For others, they mean road trips measuring hundreds or even thousands of miles. And those extra clicks on the odometer can mean the difference between a deep run and a one-and-done.

Here are three of the longest and shortest trips teams face as the NCAA tournament draws near:

Longest trips

Harvard Crimson (No. 12, East Region)


You don't need to be wicked smart to realize that the Ivy League champions have a grueling trip awaiting them. The Crimson must cross the country for its opening two rounds, with a 2,259-mile straight-line distance and a 2,763-mile driving distance between Boston and Spokane, Wash. Harvard tangles with Cincinnati in its first game with Michigan State or Delaware up next if it advances.

Virginia Commonwealth University (No. 5, South Region)

The Rams were rewarded for earning a fifth seed in the South by being made to travel almost exactly as far - at least by air - as Harvard. VCU will make a 2,254-mile straight-line trek (or roughly 2,634 driving miles) from Richmond, Va., to San Diego, Calif., for a Friday evening tilt with No. 12 Stephen F. Austin. The winner of that game will face either UCLA or Tulsa in the next round.

Colorado Buffaloes (No. 8, South Region)

While not the grueling trek Harvard or VCU face, the Buffaloes do have one of the most arduous trips of any of the other 66 teams in the tournament, with a straight distance of 1,572 miles and a driving distance of 1,859 miles from Boulder to Orlando, Fla. Colorado will face Pittsburgh in its opening game, with a daunting matchup against the nation's top team, the Florida Gators, likely awaiting it in the round of 32.

Shortest trips

Duke Blue Devils (No. 3, Midwest Region)


Jabari Parker and friends won't have far to go when the Blue Devils kick off their NCAA tournament Friday afternoon. The boys from Durham, N.C., will only have to travel 28 miles for their opening two rounds, which take place in nearby Raleigh. Duke opens the competition against Mercer and will face either Massachusetts, Iowa or Tennessee in the next round if it prevails.

UCLA Bruins (No. 4 seed, South Region)

On the heels of its stunning Pac-12 championship win over Arizona, the Bruins find themselves dealing with even more good news - they won't have far to go for the opening two rounds of their NCAA tournament schedule. UCLA will head 111 miles down the coast to San Diego, where Bruins fans are expected to support the Bruins in droves. They'll open against Tulsa with a second-round date against VCU or Stephen F. Austin up next.

Florida Gators (No. 1, South Region)

It isn't enough that the Gators are the top-ranked team in the nation entering the tournament - they'll also enjoy the comforts of a rabid fan base that won't have far to go. Florida kicks off its quest for its first national title since 2007 with a pair of games in Orlando - just 112 driving miles from the school's Gainesville campus. The Gators play Albany or Mount St. Mary's in its opener, with the winner of the Colorado-Pittsburgh showdown to follow.

Wisconsin Badgers (No. 2, West Region)

Another program that gets to play it's opening round games in-state is Wisconsin. The Badgers  were given a No. 2 seed in the West Region and will drive some 80 miles East to Milwaukee to get their tourney started versus American Thursday. If the Badgers knock off the Eagles, they'll face the winner of Oregon and BYU.

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Re: NCAA Tournament Betting News and Notes

East Region Capsules and Analysis
Usatoday.com

Best round of 64 matchup: Perhaps no other team in the East Region kicks off the tournament with more confidence than No. 11 Providence, which played itself off the bracket bubble by winning the Big East tournament title, the school's first in two decades. On the flip side stands No. 6 North Carolina, which capped a 12-game winning streak with losses to Duke and Pittsburgh to end the regular season. Providence is hot; UNC is, well, warm. In a bracket that's hard to project, both teams could have grand March plans.

Potential upset: Harvard is not your normal No. 12 seed: the Crimson have reached the NCAA tournament three years in a row, beating New Mexico in the second round a year ago for the school's first win in tournament history. With a top-35 defense in tow, this year's group looks like coach Tommy Amaker's best. This defense might be an issue for Cincinnati, which has an all-conference pick in guard Sean Kilpatrick but has been prone to lulls offensively. Besides, the 5-12 matchup has historically seen its share of early upsets – so mark your brackets accordingly.

The sleeper: Is it fair to call a team that ranked No. 2 nationally in the preseason, opened the year 18-1 and won a high-major conference championship a sleeper? Despite the early-season hype – and Sunday's Big Ten tournament title – Michigan State sits as the East Region's No. 4 seed, behind No. 1 Virginia, No. 2 Villanova and No. 3 Iowa State. By seeding, at least, and like Louisville in the Midwest Region, the Spartans are flying in under the radar.

The winner: Even as the region's fourth-seeded team, Michigan State's blend of size, experience, senior leadership and coaching makes the Spartans the region's best bet to reach Dallas. The Spartans' issue is how injuries have prevented this title contender from competing as a healthy unit during much of the regular season. If Michigan State stumbles, Virginia showcased a tournament-friendly blend of clutch scoring and defensive intensity in winning the ACC crown.

No. 1 Virginia

Nickname: Cavaliers.Location: Charlottesville.

Record: 28-6, 16-2. Bid: ACC champ.

Last appearance: 2012, lost to Florida in second round.

Coach: Tony Bennett, 3-3 in three appearances.

Overview: It was a historic year for the Cavaliers, who won their first ACC regular-season title since 1981 and the conference tournament for first time since 1976. Stopping opponents is the backbone of the Cavaliers, who lead the nation in scoring defense. The biggest challenges for a long tournament run will be scoring and free-throw shooting. But they have help from the bench with Justin Anderson and Anthony Gill.

Twitter: @UVABasketball.

Did you know? Virginia's home arena is named for John Paul Jones, but not for well-known Navy hero of the Revolutionary War. It's named after the father of a major donor.

Statistics: G Malcolm Brogdon, 6-5, So. (12.6 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 89.3 FT%) G Joe Harris, 6-6, Sr. (11.4 ppg, 41.0 3FG%); G London Perrantes 6-2, Fr. (5.1 ppg, 3.8 apg, 41.8 3FG%, 82.1 FT%); F Akil Mitchell, 6-8 Sr. (7.1 ppg, 6.9 rpg, 54.9 FG%); F/C Mike Tobey, 6-11, So. (6.6 ppg, 4.0 rpg).

No. 2 Villanova

Nickname: Wildcats.Location: Villanova, Pa.

Record: 28-4, 16-2.Bid: Big East at-large.

Last appearance: 2013, lost to North Carolina in second round.

Coach: Jay Wright, 12-10 in 10 appearances.

Overview:Before a loss to Seton Hall in the Big East tournament, the Wildcats' losses were to Syracuse and Creighton (twice). But just one win came against a ranked team (Kansas), and that was Nov. 29. Outside shooting will be critical. Villanova is one of the nation's leaders in three-point percentage and three-pointers made.

Twitter: @NovaMBB.

Did you know? Musicians Don McLean, Toby Keith and Jim Croce all attended Villanova, as did Oscar winner Bradley Cooper.

Starters: G James Bell, 6-6, Sr. (14.9 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 81.0 FT%); G Darrun Hilliard, 6-6, Jr. (14.4 ppg, 41.4 3FG%); G Ryan Arcidiacono, 6-3, So. (10.0 ppg, 3.5 apg); F JayVaughn Pinkston, 6-7, Jr. (14.3 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 52.7 FG%); F Daniel Ochefu, 6-11, So. (5.8 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 62.1 FG%).

No. 3 Iowa State

Nickname: Cyclones.Location: Ames.

Record: 26-7, 11-7.Bid: Big 12 champ.

Last appearance: 2013, lost to Ohio State in third round.

Coach: Fred Hoiberg, 2-2 in two appearances

Overview:Big 12 player of the year Melvin Ejim leads a Cyclones team that is adept at winning high-scoring games — they are first in the conference and sixth in the country in scoring offense, and among the worst at scoring defense, tied for 272nd.

Twitter: @CycloneATH.

Did you know? The school's original colors were black, silver and gold, but were changed in the 1890s to cardinal and gold because it was easier to find red sweaters.

Starters:G DeAndre Kane, 6-4, Sr. (17.1 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 5.9 apg); G Monté Morris, 6-2, Fr. (81.7 FT%, 3.7 apg); F Melvin Ejim, 6-6, Sr. (18.2 ppg, 8.6 rpg, 51.3 FG%); F Dustin Hogue, 6-6, Jr. (10.4 ppg, 8.6 rpg); F Georges Niang, 6-7, So. (16.2 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 3.6 apg).

NO. 1: Top seeds revealed

No. 4 Michigan State

Nickname: Spartans.Location: East Lansing.

Record: 26-8, 12-6. Bid: Big Ten champ.

Last appearance: 2013, lost to Duke in Sweet 16.

Coach:Tom Izzo, 39-15 in 16 appearances.

Overview: Michigan State started 18-1 and was No. 1 in the nation, but injuries hit the team hard during Big Ten play. The Spartans went 5-7 in their final 12 regular season games but back at full strength, won the Big Ten tournament, showing that they are a force to be reckoned with.

Twitter: @MSU_Basketball.

Did you know?Guard Gary Harris' mother Joy Holmes Harris played in the WNBA with the Detroit Shock in 2000.

Starters: G Gary Harris, 6-4, So. (17.5 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 80.3 FT%); G Keith Appling, 6-1, Sr. (12.7 ppg, 4.8 apg, 45.6 FG%); G Denzel Valentine, 6-5, So. (8.4 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 3.9 apg); F Branden Dawson, 6-6, Jr. (9.7 ppg, 8.4 rpg, 58.2 FG%); C Adreian Payne, 6-10, Sr. (16.1 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 42.3 3FG%).

No. 5 Cincinnati

Nickname: Bearcats. Location: Cincinnati.

Record: 27-6, 15-3.Bid: American at-large.

Last appearance: 2013, lost to Creighton in second round.

Coach: Mick Cronin, 3-5 in five appearances.

Overview: The Bearcats plan to stick around a little longer this time. The formula isn't complicated, create shots for Sean Kilpatrick and let Justin Jackson and Titus Rubles clean the glass, but there isn't a lot of scoring depth.

Twitter: @GoBEARCATS.

Did you know? Hall-of-fame pitcher Sandy Koufax was a basketball walk-on at UC before making the varsity baseball team, where he drew the attention of big-league scouts and eventually signed with the Dodgers.

Starters: G Sean Kilpatrick, 6-4, Sr. (20.9 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 2.5 apg, 84.4 ft%); F Justin Jackson, 6-8, Sr. (11.0 ppg, 7.1 rpg, 2.9 bpg, 54.8 fg%); F Titus Rubles, 6-7, Sr. (7.5 ppg, 6.7 rpg); F Shaquille Thomas, 6-7, So. (6.7 ppg); G Ge'Lawn Guyn, 6-2, Jr. (4.8 ppg).

No. 6 North Carolina

Nickname: Tar Heels.Location: Chapel Hill.

Record: 23-9, 13-5.Bid: ACC at-large.

Last appearance: 2013, lost to Kansas in third round.

Coach: Roy Williams, 62-21 in 23 appearances.

Overview: After a 0-3 start in the ACC, the Tar Heels won 13 of their next 14 games which coincided with Leslie McDonald's return to the starting lineup after a knee injury. A strong rebounding team, shooting could be a major issue preventing a deep run. UNC ranks near the bottom of the country in three-point and free-throw shooting.

Twitter: @UNC_Basketball.

Did you know? North Carolina has had 45 players drafted in the first round of the NBA draft and 106 overall.

Starters:G Marcus Paige, 6-1, So. (17.1 ppg, 4.5 apg, 87.6 FT%); F J.P. Tokoto, 6-5, So. (9.3 ppg, 5.8 rpg); F James Michael McAdoo, 6-9, Jr. (14.2 ppg, 6.6 rpg); G Leslie McDonald, 6-5, Sr. (10.7 ppg); F Kennedy Meeks, 6-9, Fr. (7.4 ppg, 6.0 rpg).

LOUISVILLE: Seed is the 'absolute shock' of the tournament bracket

No. 7 Connecticut

Nickname: Huskies.Location: Storrs.

Record: 26-8, 12-6.Bid: American at-large.

Last appearance: 2012, lost to Iowa State in second round.

Coach: Kevin Ollie, first appearance.

Overview: The Huskies will go as far as Shabazz Napier, their do-everything league player of the year, can take them. UConn is tougher to beat when Ryan Boatright is hitting from the arc, but he can be inconsistent.

Twitter: @UConnMBB.

Did you know? In 1979, a Fairfield native enrolled in the journalism program at UConn, but she eventually moved on to pursue an acting career — probably the right decision for Meg Ryan.

Starters: G Shabazz Napier, 6-1, Sr. (17.8 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 5.2 apg, 87.7 ft%); F DeAndre Daniels, 6-9, Jr. (12.3 ppg, 5.6 rpg); G Ryan Boatright, 6-0, Jr. (12.0 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 3.5 apg); F Lasan Kromah, 6-6, Sr. (7.0 ppg, 3.1 rpg); C Amida Brimah, 7-0, Fr. (4.0 ppg, 2.5 bpg).

No. 8 Memphis

Nickname: Tigers.Location: Memphis.

Record: 23-9, 12-6.Bid: American Athletic at-large.

Last appearance: 2013, lost to Michigan State in third round.

Coach: Josh Pastner, 1-3 in 3 appearances.

Overview: The Tigers have a lot of backcourt depth, including AAC sixth-man award winner Michael Dixon (12.2 ppg). There are fewer options on the front line, so foul trouble for the starters could be problematic.

Twitter: @UofMTigersHoops.

Did you know? Given its home city's namesake, it is fitting that one of the university's components is the Institute of Egyptian Art and Archaeology.

Starters: G Joe Jackson, 6-1, Sr. (14.4 ppg, 4.6 apg, 77.1 FT%); F Shaq Goodwin, 6-9, So. (11.9 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 58.8 FG%); F Austin Nichols, 6-8, Fr. (9.3 ppg, 4.3 rpg); G Jeron Johnson, 6-3, Sr. (9.0 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 3.7 apg); G Chris Crawford, 6-4, Sr. (8.9 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 3.0 apg).

MORE: A ranked team did not make the NCAA tournament

No. 9 George Washington

Nickname: Colonials. Location: Washington, D.C.

Record: 24-8, 11-5.Bid: Atlantic 10 at-large.

Last appearance: 2007, lost to Vanderbilt in first round.

Coach: Mike Lonergan, 0-1 in one appearance.

Overview: The Colonials were picked to finish 10th in the league but earned the No. 3 seed after a strong season. Guard Kethan Savage, the Colonials' No. 2 scorer, returned briefly in the Atlantic 10 tournament after missing eight weeks because of a broken foot.

Twitter: @GW_MBB.

Did you know? Basketball Hall of Famer Red Auerbach is a George Washington alum.

Starters: G Maurice Creek, 6-5, Sr. (14.6 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 40.8 3FG%); G/F Patricio Garino, 6-6, So. (12.3 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 57.5 FG%); F Isaiah Armwood, 6-9, Sr. (12.3 ppg, 8.7 rpg); F Kevin Larsen, 6-10, So. (11.3 ppg, 7.1 rpg, 54.1 FG%); G Joe McDonald, 6-1, So. (8.4 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 4.0 apg).

No. 10 Saint Joseph's

Nickname: Hawks. Location: Philadelphia.

Record: 24-9, 11-5.Bid: Atlantic 10 champ.

Last appearance: 2008, lost to Oklahoma in first round.

Coach: Phil Martelli, 6-5 in five appearances.

Overview: Saint Joseph's claimed its first conference tournament title since 1997 by topping VCU in the title game. The Hawks posted their highest win total and conference win total since 2005.

Twitter: @SJUHawks_MBB.

Did you know? Walk-on Brendan Casper's father played for Phil Martelli while Martelli was the coach of Bishop Kenrick High School.

Starters: G Langston Galloway, 6-2, Sr. (17.0 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 42.5 3FG%, 81.7 FT%); F Ronald Roberts Jr., 6-8, Sr. (14.6 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 58.6 FG%); F DeAndre Bembry, 6-6, Fr. (12.2 ppg, 4.5 rpg); F Halil Kanacevic, 6-8, Sr. (10.3 ppg, 8.3 rpg, 4.4 apg, 55.1 FG%); G Chris Wilson, 6-3, Jr. (9.4 ppg, 3.5 rpg).

No. 11 Providence

Nickname: Friars.Location: Providence, R.I.

Record: 23-11, 10-8.Bid: Big East champ.

Last appearance: 2004, lost to Pacific in first round.

Coach: Ed Cooley, first appearance.

Overview: Providence enters the tournament with momentum, six wins in seven games, including its first Big East tournament title since 1994. A below-average shooting team, the Friars benefit by getting to foul line and being one of the top shooting teams from the charity stripe. Depth is a significant concern, however. F Carson Desrosiers is the only sub that sees significant action.

Twitter: @PCAthletics.

Did you know?John Thompson and Billy Donovan both played for Providence and later won national titles as coaches of other schools.

Statistics: G Bryce Cotton, 6-1, Sr. (21.7 ppg, 5.9 apg, 37.8 3FG%, 85.0 FT%); G Josh Fortune, 6-5, So. (8.0 ppg, 2.2 apg); F LaDontae Henton 6-6, Jr. (13.6 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 76.7 FT%); F Kadeem Batts, 6-9, Sr. (12.6 ppg, 7.7 rpg); F Tyler Harris, 6-9, So. (11.6 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 86.5 FT%).

No. 12 Harvard

Nickname: Crimson.Location: Cambridge, Mass.

Record: 26-4, 13-1.Bid: Ivy League champ.

Last appearance: 2013, lost to Arizona in third round.

Coach: Tommy Amaker, 3-3 in three appearances.

Overview: Amaker has again guided the Crimson to the Big Dance, their third consecutive bid. Led by Ivy League POY Wesley Saunders, several players return from last year's 14th-seeded team that upset third-seeded New Mexico.

Twitter: @hoopsatharvard.

Did you know? Four members of the team played at the same high school, Northfield Mount Harmon in Gill, Mass. — freshman forward Zena Edosomwan, sophomore forward Evan Cummins, junior guard Matt Brown and senior guard Laurent Rivard.

Starters: F Steve Moundou-Missi, 6-7, Jr. (10.5 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 54.4 FG%); F Kyle Casey, 6-7, Sr. (10.0 ppg, 5.7 rpg); G Wesley Saunders, 6-5, Jr. (14.0 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 3.9 apg); G Siyani Chambers, 6-0 , So. (11.1 ppg, 4.6 apg); G Laurent Rivard, 6-5, Sr. (10.0 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 42.6 3FG%).

No. 13 Delaware

Nickname: Blue Hens.Location: Newark.

Record: 25-9, 14-2.Bid: Colonial Athletic champ.

Last appearance: 1999, lost to Tennessee in first round.

Coach: Monté Ross, first appearance.

Overview: The Blue Hens average 79.5 points a game, which puts them in Kansas' territory. Ross is loaded with veterans and gets great guard play, usually a tricky combination for unsuspecting Goliaths. Senior Carl Baptiste is their fiery inside presence.

Twitter: @UDBlueHens.

Did you know? Ross was an assistant under Saint Joseph's coach Phil Martelli during the 2003-04 season, when the Hawks reached the Elite Eight and finished with a 30-2 record. Also, he pronounces his name, "mon-tay."

Starters: F Carl Baptiste, 6-9, Sr. (10.9 ppg, 8.3 rpg, 56.2 FG%); G Devon Saddler, 6-2, Sr. (20.2 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 3.8 apg); G Davon Usher, 6-6, Sr. (19.4 ppg, 6.0 rpg); G Jarvis Threatt, 6-2, Jr. (17.9 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 5.7 apg, 2.5 spg); G Kyle Anderson, 6-3, Jr. (10.1 ppg, 3.6 rpg).

No. 14 North Carolina Central

Nickname: Eagles.Location: Durham.

Record: 28-5, 15-1. Bid: Mid-Eastern Athletic champ.

Last appearance: First appearance.

Coach: LeVelle Moton, first appearance.

Overview: One of the nation's most experienced teams (the top seven in the rotation are juniors or seniors) and one of the nation's hottest (20-game winning streak). The Eagles have won at North Carolina State and lost by 11 at No. 2 Wichita State, so they should be able to handle the brights lights of the NCAA tournament.

Twitter: @NCCUBasketball.

Did you know?This tournament appearance is the program's first since it was in the NCAA Division II field in 1997. The Eagles won the 1989 Division II title.

Starters: G Jeremy Ingram, 6-3, Sr. (20.2 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 76.3 FT%); G Emanuel Chapman, 6-1, Sr. (6.6 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 6.8 apg, 2.17 spg, 87.9 FT%); G Alfonzo Houston, 6-3, Sr. (9.7 ppg); F Jay Copeland, 6-7, Jr. (8.4 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 53.4 FG%); F Karamo Jawara, 6-8, Jr. (7.1 ppg, 4.9 rpg).

No. 15 Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Nickname: Panthers.Location: Milwaukee.

Record: 21-13, 7-9.Bid: Horizon League champ.

Last appearance: 2006, lost to Florida in second round.

Coach: Rob Jeter, 1-1 in 1 appearance.

Overview: The Panthers claimed the Horizon title a year after finishing 8-24 and after being picked last this preseason. The No. 5 seed won four games en route to the title, including in overtime at top seed Wisconsin-Green Bay. They got a boost with the return from suspension of leading scorer Jordan Aaron in time for the Horizon tournament.

Twitter: @MKEPanthers.

Did you know?Jeter's father, the late Bob Jeter, played for the NFL's Green Bay Packers — he is a member of the team's Hall of Fame — and Chicago Bears from 1963 to 1973.

Starters: G Jordan Aaron, 5-10, Sr. (14.2 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 80.6 FT%); F Kyle Kelm, 6-9, Sr. (12.0 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 52.5 FG%); F Matt Tiby, 6-8, So. (12.2 ppg, 6.7 rpg); F Austin Arians, 6-6, So. (11.1 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 78 FT%); G Steve McWhorter, 6-2, Jr. (8.1 ppg, 3.9 apg, 3.8 rpg).

No. 16 Coastal Carolina

Nickname: Chanticleers.Location: Conway, S.C.

Record: 21-12, 11-5.Bid: Big South champ.

Last appearance: 1993, lost to Michigan in the first round.

Coach: Cliff Ellis, 8-8 in eight appearances.

Overview: The Chanticleers bounced back from a 14-15 record in 2013 to finish first in the South Division of the Big South. This is the fourth team coach Cliff Ellis has led to the NCAA tournament.

Twitter: @GoCCUsports.

Did you know? Ellis has recorded several albums and also is an ostrich farmer.

Starters: G Elijah Wilson, 6-4, Fr. (16.1 ppg, 3.9 rpg). G Warren Gillis, 6-3, Jr. (14.8 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 3.0 apg, 85.4 FT%). G Josh Cameron, 6-1, Jr. (14.1 ppg, 76 FT%). F Badou Diagne, 6-7, So. (7.8 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 51 FG%). F El Hadji Ndiequene, 6-10, Sr. (4.4 ppg, 6.6 rpg).

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Re: NCAA Tournament Betting News and Notes

South Region Capsules and Analysis
Usatoday.com

Best Round of 64 matchup: Dayton got a bid and a No. 11 seed, despite finishing tied for fifth in the Atlantic 10, because of its rugged early schedule — the Flyers beat No. 11 Gonzaga and lost by one to No. 18 Baylor. Since then, they've been up and down but had won four in a row and 10 of 11 before losing to St. Joseph's in the A10 tourney. They come in with a balanced attack led by junior guard Jordan Sibert and senior forward Devin Oliver and a feeling that they can play with anyone. Ohio State, the No. 6 seed, comes in wondering how to turn on the momentum. The Buckeyes, after a sterling preseason, were 10-8 in the Big Ten and have lost three of their last six games. Like the Flyers, they feature balanced scoring, led by forward LaQuinton Ross (15.4 points a game). This has the look of a last-possession ballgame.

Potential upset: Could a team possibly come into the tournament any colder than Syracuse? The Orange were once upon a time 25-0, but that seems like a long time ago. They've lost five of their last seven games. How did 25-0 become 27-5 and a No. 1 seed become a No. 3 seed? Mostly, they've been betrayed by an offense that is 253rd in the country in points a game (68.2), 236th in assists (11.9) and 206th in shooting (43.7%). How could this team not be ripe for a first-round upset? No. 14 seed Western Michigan hopes to fit the bill. The Broncos, champions of the Mid-American Conference, are a pedestrian 23-9 but have won 12 of their last 13 games, three of those in overtime. And they have a potential upset hero in senior guard David Brown, who averages 19 points and scored 32 in the MAC title game against Toledo.

The sleeper: They're a 12th seed and their team has a name (Stephen F. Austin) for a name, but they're about as close to perfect as there is in this tournament. The Lumberjacks were not only the champions of the Southland Conference, they were 18-0. And they've won 28 games in a row, two more than No. 1 Florida. So is it such a reach to think they could beat No. 5 seed Virginia Commonwealth and maybe even give a scare to No. 4 UCLA in the third round? To the Lumberjacks, the go-to guy is the open guy (they're eighth in the nation in assists) and that kind of game translates well when stepping up a level in competition. If you like Cinderellas, don't be surprised if you find yourself rooting for forward Jacob Parker and guards Desmond Haymon and Thomas Walkup. They're out to make a name for Stephen F. Austin.

The winner: A year after the UCLA Bruins fired Ben Howland because of a program that wasn't winning enough and was seemingly veering off-track, the Bruins find themselves on track and definitely – so far, anyway – winning enough. In the first year of new coach Steve Alford, the Bruins stormed through the Pac-12 tournament and upset Arizona in the title game, playing loose on offense, tough on defense. They're an eight-deep rotation built around oversized point guard Kyle Anderson, who had 21 points and 15 rebounds against Arizona. The big shot down the stretch was buried by a shooter Alford calls "Money" – 6-5 guard Jordan Adams. They likely face a Sweet 16 matchup against No.1 seed Florida, which had a perfect SEC season and comes into the tournament with a 26-game winning streak. But UCLA owes Florida, having lost to the Gators in 2011 (second round), 2007 (national semifinal) and 2006 (national final).

1. Florida

Nickname: Gators. Location: Gainesville.

Record: 32-2, 18-0. Bid: SEC champ.

Last appearance: 2013, lost to Michigan in the regional finals.

Coach: Billy Donovan, 31-11 in 13 appearances.

Overview: How good is Florida? Until Tennessee built a double-digit lead in the SEC semifinals, the Gators hadn't trailed by double figures since before Thanksgiving. Why is Florida this good? The stability of four senior starters.

Twitter: @GatorZoneMBK

Did you know? Donovan is the winningest coach in University of Florida history. Donovan has 15 consecutive postseason appearances, four SEC championships, three Final Four appearances and two national titles.

Starters: G Michael Frazier II, 6-4, Soph. (13.0 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 46.6 FG%, 84.6 FT%, 44.9 3FG%); G Scottie Wilbekin, 6-2, Sr. (13.0 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 3.8 apg); F Will Yequete, 6-8, Sr. (5.1 ppg, 5.3 rpg); F Casey Prather, 6-6, Sr. (14.4 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 61.5 FG%, 68.2 FT%, 40.0 3FG%); F Patric Young, 6-9, Sr. (10.8 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 54.8 FG%).

2. Kansas

Nickname: Jayhawks. Location: Lawrence.

Record: 24-9, 14-4. Bid: Big 12 at-large.

Last appearance: 2013, lost to Michigan in regional semifinal.

Coach: Bill Self, 35-14 in 15 appearances.

Overview: With star freshmen Andrew Wiggins, Wayne Selden Jr. and Joel Embiid, the Jawhawks have largely lived up to lofty preseason expectations. However, Embiid's status is up in the air after a stress fracture in his lower back, leaving Kansas prone to an early upset. The seven-footer shoots 62.6%, pulls 8.1 rebounds and blocks 2.6 shots a game.

Twitter:@KUAthletics

Did you know? James Naismith, the inventor of basketball, is the only coach in Jayhawks history with a losing record.

Starters: G Andrew Wiggins, 6-8, Fr. (16.8 ppg, 5.9 rpg 76.5 FT%); G Wayne Selden Jr., 6-5, Fr. (10.1 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 2.6 apg); G Naadir Tharpe, 5-11, Jr. (5 apg, 83.6 FT%, 8.9 ppg); F Perry Ellis, 6-8, So. (50.0 3FG%, 54.2 FG%, 13.2 ppg, 6.4 rpg); F Tarik Black, 6-9, Sr. (67.9 FG%, 4.8 ppg, 3.3 rpg).

3. Syracuse

Nickname: Orange. Location: Syracuse, N.Y.

Record: 27-5, 14-4. Bid: ACC at-large.

Last appearance: 2013, lost to Michigan in Final Four.

Coach: Jim Boeheim, 52-29 in 30 appearances

Overview: The Orange won their first 25 games and were ranked No. 1 for three weeks before stumbling down the stretch with five losses in seven games. Their zone defense and size always cause problems for opponents, however they need to shoot better and get support from the bench to rebound from the end-of-season slump.

Twitter:@cuse

Did you know? Jim Boeheim was hired as head coach of Syracuse in 1976. Players from that team will turn 60 this year.

Starters: F C.J. Fair, 6-8, Sr. (16.9 ppg, 6.2 rpg); F Jerami Grant, 6-8, So. (12.0 ppg, 6.8 rpg); F Rakeem Christmas, 6-9, Jr. (6.0 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 63.2 FG%); G Trevor Cooney, 6-4, So. (12.5 ppg, 38.3 3FG%, 85.5 FT%) G Tyler Ennis, 6-2, Fr. (12.4 ppg, 5.6 apg, 2.1 spg).

4. UCLA

Nickname: Bruins. Location: Los Angeles.

Record: 26-8, 12-6. Bid: Pac-12.

Last appearance: 2013, lost to Minnesota in second round.

Coach: Steve Alford, 5-7 in 7 appearances.

Overview: First-year head coach Steve Alford led the Bruins on a tear through the Pac-12 tournament that culminated with a title game win against Arizona. Do-everything forward Kyle Anderson sparks the Pac-12's highest-scoring offense. Leading scorer Jordan Adams ranks No. 3 in the country in steals per game.

Twitter:@UCLAMBB

Did you know? UCLA was the first school to win 100 national championships across sports, and the basketball team has worn jerseys with a different color "C" to mark the accomplishment.

Starters: F Kyle Anderson, 6-9, So. (14.9 ppg, 8.7 rpg, 6.6 apg, 48.0 3FG%), G Jordan Adams, 6-5, So. (17.5 ppg, 5.3 rpg), F David Wear, 6-10, Sr. (6.5 ppg), F Travis Wear, 6-10, Sr. (6.6 ppg), G Norman Powell, 6-4, Jr. (10.9 ppg, 53.2 FG%)

5. Virginia Commonwealth

Nickname: Rams. Location: Richmond.

Record: 26-8, 12-4. Bid: Atlantic 10 at-large.

Last appearance: 2013, lost to Michigan in third round.

Coach: Shaka Smart, 7-3 in three appearances

Overview: The Rams fell to Saint Joseph's in the A-10 title game but still secured a NCAA tournament berth. Their "havoc" style of play saw them lead the nation in steals for the third year in a row.

Twitter:@VCUathletics

Trivia/Interesting fact: Smart was named to the 1999 USA TODAY All-USA Academic team.

Starters: GTreveon Graham, 6-6, Jr. (15.6 ppg, 7.1 rpg); F Juvonte Reddic, 6-9, Sr. (12.5 ppg, 8.5 rpg, 51.9 FG%); G Melvin Johnson, 6-3, So. (10.5 ppg, 76.3 FT%); G Rob Brandenberg, 6-2, Sr. (9.7 ppg, 81.1 FT%); G Briante Weber, 6-2, Jr. (9.1 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 3.7 apg, 3.6 spg, 78.5 FT%).

6. Ohio State

Nickname: Buckeyes. Location: Columbus.

Record: 25-9, 10-8. Bid: Big Ten at-large.

Last appearance: 2013, lost to Wichita State in Elite Eight.

Coach: Thad Matta, 23-11 in 11 appearances.

Overview: The Buckeyes started 15-0 and reached as high as No. 2 but had an inconsistent conference campaign that included two losses to bottom-feeder Penn State. Ohio State, a veteran team with a senior backcourt, won three in a row before falling to arch-rival Michigan in the Big Ten semifinals.

Twitter: @OhioStateHoops

Did you know? Former Duke basketball star and Syracuse quarterback Greg Paulus is an assistant on Matta's staff.

Starters: G Aaron Craft, 6-2, Sr. (9.5 ppg, 4.6 apg, 2.6 spg); G Lenzelle Smith Jr., 6-4, Sr. (11.7 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 76.6 FT%); F LaQuinton Ross, 6-8, Jr. (14.8 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 44.9 FG%); F Sam Thompson, 6-7, Jr. (7.5 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 43.4 FG%); C Amir Williams, 6-11, Jr. (8.2 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 60.8 FG%).

7. New Mexico

Nickname: Lobos. Location: Albuquerque.

Record: 27-6, 15-3. Bid: Mountain West champ.

Last appearance: 2013, lost to Harvard in the second round.

Coach: Craig Neal, first appearance.

Overview: Cameron Bairstow and Alex Kirk form a formidable frontline that helps the Lobos defend the basket and control the backboard. In the backcourt, Kendall Williams can and score and pass with equal success. However, Williams and reserve Cullen Neal are the lone consistent outside shooters.

Twitter: @UNMHoops

Did you know? New Mexico's home arena — The Pit — got its name because it was built in 1966 in a hole 37 feet below ground. It hosted the 1983 Final Four won by North Carolina State.

Statistics: F Cameron Bairstow, 6-9, Sr. (20.3 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 56.5 FG%); C Alex Kirk, 7-0, Jr. (13.7 ppg, 8.7 rpg, 2.9 bpg); G Kendall Williams, 6-4, Sr. (16.4 ppg, 5.0 apg, 40.7 3FG%, 79.5 FT%); G Hugh Greenwood, 6-3, Jr. (5.8 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 3.4 apg); G Deshawn Delaney 6-5, Jr. (4.6 ppg, 52.3 FG%).

8. Colorado

Nickname: Buffaloes. Location: Boulder.

Record: 23-11, 10-8. Bid: Pac-12 at-large.

Last appearance:2013, lost to Illinois in second round.

Coach: Tad Boyle, 1-2 in 2 appearances.

Overview: Joining the Pac-12 has been a boon for the Buffaloes, who are back in the tournament for the third consecutive year. Spencer Dinwiddie, Colorado's top scorer, was lost for the season due to an ACL injury near the beginning of conference play. Josh Scott has stepped up in his absence, but the Buffaloes have struggled with their 3-point shooting percentage, finishing second to last in the conference.

Twitter:@CUBuffsMBB

Did you know? Colorado is the only public university in the U.S. to build instruments that have flown on NASA missions to every planet.

Starters: F Josh Scott, 6-10, So. (14.5 ppg, 8.8 rpg, 53.5 FG%), G Askia Booker 6-2, Jr. (13.7 ppg, 3.5 apg), F Xavier Johnson, 6-7, So. (12.2 ppg, 6.0 rpg) F Wesley Gordon, 6-9, Fr. (6.1 ppg, 6.3 rpg), G Xavier Talton, 6-2, So. (4.6 ppg).

9. Pittsburgh

Nickname: Panthers. Location: Pittsburgh.

Record: 25-9, 11-7. Bid: ACC at-large.

Last appearance: 2013, lost to Wichita State in second round.

Coach: Jamie Dixon, 11-9 in nine appearances

Overview: The Panthers ran through a soft early schedule before narrow losses in the ACC to Virginia, Syracuse (twice) and North Carolina. Lamar Paterson does a little bit of everything to lead the team. Like most years, Pitt wins with its stingy defense and physical play. However, the offense is prone to stretches of drought that have hurt the team in past NCAA tournament disappointments.

Twitter:@HailToPittHoops

Did you know? Jonas Salk and a team of researchers developed the vaccine for polio while working at Pittsburgh during the 1950s.

Statistics: G/F Lamar Patterson, 6-5, Sr. (17.6 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 4.5 apg, 39.5 3FG%); F Talib Zanna, 6-9, Sr. (12.5 ppg, 8.3 rpg, 56.1 FG%); F Michael Young, 6-9, Fr. (6.0 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 81.5 FT%); G Cameron Wright, 6-4, Jr. (10.8 ppg, 3.4 rpg);G James Robinson (7.8 ppg,. 3.9 apg, 81.3 FT%).

10. Stanford

Nickname: Cardinal. Location: Palo Alto, Calif.

Record: 21-12, (10-8). Bid: At-large.

Last appearance: 2008, lost to Texas in regional semifinal.

Coach: Johnny Dawkins, first appearance.

Overview: Stanford is back in the tournament for the first time in Dawkins' six-year run at the school. Chasson Randle keys the Cardinal's offense and finished the year as the Pac-12's No. 2 scorer. Anthony Brown was named the conference's most improved player.

Twitter:@StanfordBBall

Did you know? Stanford has won a national championship in at least one sport for 37 years in a row.

Starters: G Chasson Randle, 6-2, Jr. (18.8 ppg, 48.7 FG%), F Dwight Powell, 6-10, Sr. (14.1 ppg, 7.2 rpg), G Anthony Brown, 6-6, Sr. (13.1 ppg, 49.4 FG%, 46.1 3FG%), C Stefan Nastic, 6-11, Sr. (7.1 ppg, 53.5 FG%), F Josh Huestis, 6-7, Sr. (11.5 ppg, 8.7 rpg).

11. Dayton

Nickname: Flyers Location: Dayton, Ohio

Record: 23-10, 10-6 Bid: At-large

Last appearance: 2009, lost to Kansas in second round

Coach: Archie Miller, first appearance

Overview: The Flyers found themselves on the bubble under third-year head coach Archie Miller after scoring a number of big wins as well as poor losses. The Flyers got hot down the stretch in A-10 play however, winning 10 of 12.

Twitter handle:@DaytonMBB

Trivia/Interesting fact: Assistant coach Kevin Kuwick served 10 years in the military and earned the Army's Bronze Star award while serving in Iraq.

Starters: Jordan Siebert,(12.6 ppg, 44.2 3FG%); Devin Oliver, (12.0 ppg, 7.4 rpg, 81.0 FT%) Dyshawn Pierre (11.0 ppg, 5.7 rpg); Khari Price, (6.7 ppg, 41.2 3FG%, 87.0 FT%); Matt Kavanaugh (5.3 ppg, 3.5 rpg).

12. Stephen F. Austin

Nickname: Lumberjacks. Location: Nacogdoches, Texas.

Record: 31-2, 18-0. Bid: Southland champ.

Last appearance: 2009, lost to Syracuse in first round.

Coach: Brad Underwood, first appearance.

Overview: The Lumberjacks blitzed the Southland, posting a perfect 18-0 conference record and come into the tournament riding a 28-game winning streak. While eighth in the nation in assists per game, the Lumberjacks only have one player who averages more than three per game.

Twitter:@SFA_MBB

Did you know? Underwood coached NBA player Solomon Jones at Daytona Beach Community College.

Starters: F Jacob Parker, 6-6, Jr. (14.5 ppg, 7.1 rpg, 53.7 FG%, 46.7 3FG%, 78.9 FT%); G Desmond Haymon, 6-3, Sr. (14.2 ppg, 3.7 rpg); G Thomas Walkup, 6-4, So. (12.9 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 56.1 FG%); F Nikola Gajic, 6-5, Sr. (9.7 ppg, 5.0 rpg); G Trey Pinkney, 5-9 So. (3.0 ppg, 3.4 apg).

13. Tulsa

Nickname: Golden Hurricane. Location: Tulsa, Okla.

Record: 21-12, 13-3. Bid: Conference USA champ.

Last appearance: 2003, lost to Wisconsin in second round.

Coach: Danny Manning, first appearance.

Overview: Tulsa has won 17 of its last 20 games. The three losses came by a combined 16 points. The Golden Hurricanes will enter the NCAA tournament riding an 11-game winning streak. Sophomore guard James Woodard, the C-USA tourney MVP, has scored double figures in 26 consecutive games.

Twitter: @TUMBasketball

Did you know? Manning led Kansas to the 1988 national title as a player and 20 years later was part of the next Jayhawks national title as an assistant coach.

Starters: F Rasher Smith, 6-7, So. (12.3 ppg, 5.0 rpg), F Dander Wright, 6-9, So. (7.2 ppg, 4.0 rpg), G Shaquille Harrison,6-3, So. (9.8 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 3.3 apg), G Tim Pete, 6-4, Sr. (5.3 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 1.7 apg), G James Woodard,6-3, So. (15.3 ppg, 5.9 rpg).

14. Western Michigan

Nickname: Broncos. Location: Kalamazoo.

Record: 23-9, 14-4. Bid: Mid-American champ.

Last appearance: 2004, lost to Vanderbilt in first round.

Coach: Steve Hawkins, 0-1 in 1 appearance

Overview: Western had its first back-to-back 20-win seasons since 2003-2004 and 2004-2005. The Broncos are led by David Brown, who became the sixth player to score more than 600 points in a season. Western goes into the NCAAs winning 14 of its last 16. They had the composure to come back from 18 down in the second half of the MAC semis vs. Akron.

Twitter: @BroncoBBall

Did you know? The Broncos have finished either first or second in the MAC West 10 of Hawkins' 11 years.

Starters: C Shayne Whittington, 6-11, Sr.(16.1 ppg, 9.0 rbg,1.6 bpg), F Connar Tava, 6-6, So. (12.0 ppg, 5.8 rbg, 2.8 apg, 1.3 spg), G David Brown, 6-4, Sr. (19.0 ppg, 3.6 rbg, 1.5 spg), G Austin Richie, 6-3, Jr. (8.2 ppg, 2.2 rbg, 2.4 apg), F Tucker Haymond 6-6, Fr. (6.5 ppg, 3.6rpg).

15. Eastern Kentucky

Nickname: Colonels. Location: Richmond, Ky.

Record: 24-9, 11-5. Bid: Ohio Valley champ.

Last appearance: 2007, lost to North Carolina in first round.

Coach: Jeff Neubauer, 0-1 in 1 appearance.

Overview: The Colonels can surround the perimeter with a cast of capable long-range shooters. Even top reserve Orlando Williams hits threes at a better than 42% clip. They also are one of the nation's best at taking care of the ball and taking it away, boasting a whopping +6.5 turnover margin. EKU shoots 75% from the line. Not deep, playing essentially a six-man rotation, and not big, with no one topping 6-8 on the roster.

Twitter:@EKUHoops

Did you know? Junior frontcourt reserve Deverin Muff writes a weekly column for The Eastern Progress, the school's student newspaper.

Starters: G Glenn Cosey, 6-0, Sr. (18.8 ppg, 4.3 apg, 85.1 FT%, 42.2 3FG%); G Corey Walden, 6-2, Jr. (13.2 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 2.0 spg, 82.1 FT%); G Marcus Lewis, 6-4, Sr. (10.1 ppg, 53.7 FG%); G Tarius Johnson, 6-5, Sr. (9.3 ppg, 41.6 3FG%); F Eric Stutz, 6-8, Jr. (8.5 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 65.5 FG%).

16. Albany (First Four)

Nickname: Great Danes. Location: Albany, N.Y.

Record: 18-14, 9-7. Bid: America East champ.

Last appearance: 2013, lost to Duke in second round.

Coach: Will Brown, 0-3 in 3 appearances.

Overview: For the second year in a row, the Great Danes advanced despite entering the league tournament as the No. 4 seed. They beat the top two seeds along the way. Albany enters having won six of seven, avenging the loss by beating Stony Brook to win the conference tournament. It leans heavily on the starters with the bench producing just around 11 points a game in the regular season.

Twitter:@UAlbanySports

Did you know? Starting center John Puk has four uncles who all played football at the FBS level, one at Iowa, two at Minnesota and one at Stanford.

Starters: G Peter Hooley, 6-4, So. (14.8 ppg, 88.0 FT%); F Sam Rowley, 6-6, Jr. (11.3 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 50.6 FG%); G DJ Evans, 5-9, Sr. (11.1 ppg); F Gary Johnson, 6-6, Sr. (11.1 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 52.8 FG%); C John Puk, 6-10, Sr. (6.0 ppg, 4.5 rpg).

16. Mount St. Mary's (first four)

Nickname: Mountaineers. Location: Emmitsburg, Md.

Record: 16-16, 9-7. Bid: Northeast Conference champion

Last appearance: 2008, lost in first round to North Carolina.

Coach: Jamion Christian, first appearance.

Overview: The Mountaineers are just the second No. 4 seed to win the Northeast Conference tournament, taking down the top two seeds on their home floors along the way. A lineup with three senior starters picked up the pace after a sub.-500 February, shooting 49.3% from the field while going 4-0 since the calendar turned to March.

Twitter:@MountHoops

Did you know? Guard Rashad Whack appeared in the 2005 Martin Lawrence movie Rebound.

Starters: G Julian Norfleet, 6-2, Sr. (17.6 ppg, 5.5 apg); G Rashad Whack, 6-3, Sr. (17.1 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 80.3 FT%); G Sam Prescott, 6-3, Sr. (10.8 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 77.8 FT%); G Byron Ashe, 6-0, Fr. (7.6 ppg); F Taylor Danaher, 7-0, So. (7.0 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 57.7 FG%, 84.5 FT%).

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Re: NCAA Tournament Betting News and Notes

Midwest Region Capsules and Analysis
Usatoday.com

Best round of 64 matchup: Despite fading a bit down the stretch, UMass earned a surprising No. 6 seed and could very well end up as an underdog to either Iowa or Tennessee, who will play in Dayton on Tuesday to get into the main bracket. The Minutemen are fun to watch, playing a fast-paced, frenetic style on both ends of the court that relies on scoring in transition and pressure defense. They also have one of the nation's most dynamic players in 5-9 point guard Chaz Williams, who averages 15.8 points and 7.0 assists. Both Iowa and Tennessee, however, are ranked higher in most statistics-based analytic models and could very well make the Minutemen's first trip to the tournament since 1998 a short one.

Potential upset: Duke should be wary of the Mercer Bears. Much like Florida Gulf Coast last season, Mercer comes out of the Atlantic Sun as a dangerous double-digit seed, with eight wins in its last 10 games. Laden with seniors, the Bears are efficient offensively, make 39% of their three-pointers and get balanced scoring from six different players led by guard Langston Hall (14.7 ppg). The Bears also have more size than a traditional mid-major, with an array of 6-4 guards and 6-10 center Daniel Coursey, who averages nearly 10 points and seven rebounds. Mercer beat Seton Hall and Ole Miss in the regular season and only lost to Texas by three points, proving they can hang with power conference talent.

The sleeper: Can a preseason No. 1 team qualify as a sleeper? Given the outsized expectations for Kentucky, it was a disappointing season on pretty much every level as the Wildcats scuffled to a 24-10 record. Furthermore, Kentucky beat just three NCAA tournament teams (Providence, Louisville and Tennessee) and didn't play with much cohesion or passion over the final dozen games of the regular season. That's why they ended up with a No. 8 seed, despite making the SEC tournament championship game. Still, Kentucky has the biggest collection of future NBA talent in the country and showed some signs of putting it together in Atlanta, falling 61-60 to Florida. Calipari's one-and-done factory against experienced and unbeaten Wichita State is a dream Round of 32 matchup.

The winner: Despite getting a No. 4 seed, at least one line lower than expected, the bracket shakes out pretty well for Louisville. The Cardinals have won 12 of their last 13 games, all but one by blowout margins, and appear to be peaking at the right time. They also get a favorable path to the Sweet 16, where they would potentially face Wichita State in a rematch of last year's national semifinal. Louisville isn't quite as good defensively as last season's NCAA champions, but Rick Pitino's team is shooting it well enough to get back to a Final Four. Senior guard Russ Smith has been almost unguardable since playing on the ball more late in the season and has made 13 of his last 20 from 3-point range.

No. 1 Wichita State

Nickname: Shockers. Location: Wichita.

Record: 34-0, 18-0. Bid: Missouri Valley champ.

Last appearance: 2013, lost to Louisville in Final Four.

Coach: Gregg Marshall, 5-9 in nine appearances.

Overview: The Shockers are the first team to enter the NCAA tournament unbeaten in 23 years. Wichita State's weak strength of schedule (97th nationally) and its mid-major tag have led to skepticism, the Shockers are efficient in a lot of areas. It starts on the defensive end — where the players' chip-on-their-shoulder toughness comes out best.

Twitter: @GoShockers.

Did you know? Shockers reflects the university's heritage: Early students earned money by shocking, or harvesting, wheat in nearby fields.

Starters: F Cleanthony Early, 6-8, Sr. (15.8 ppg, 5.9 rpg); G Ron Baker, 6-3, So. (13.1 ppg, 3.1 apg); G Fred VanFleet, 5-11, So. (12.1 ppg, 5.3 apg); G Tekele Cotton, 6-2, Jr. (10.8 ppg, 4.1 rpg); C Kadeem Coleby, 6-9 Sr. (2.6 ppg, 2.9 rpg).

No. 2 Michigan

Nickname: Wolverines. Location: Ann Arbor.

Record: 25-8, 15-3. Bid: Big Ten at-large.

Last appearance: 2013, lost to Louisville in national title game.

Coach: John Beilein, 13-8 in eight appearances.

Overview: The Wolverines won the Big Ten regular-season crown, overcoming the injury to star sophomore Mitch McGary, who played in eight games. A deep and experienced team, Michigan won seven in a row before falling in the Big Ten title game.

Twitter: @UMichBball.

Did you know? Guard Spike Albrecht earned the nickname "Spike" because he never took off his baseball cleats when he was young.

Starters: G Nik Stauskus, 6-6, So. (17.4 ppg, 3.4 apg, 45.8 3FG%); G Caris LeVert, 6-6, So. (13.4 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 41.0 3FG%); G Derrick Walton Jr., 6-1, Fr. (8.1 ppg, 2.9 apg, 2.9 rpg); F Glenn Robinson III, 6-6, So. (13.2 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 49.7 FG%); F Jordan Morgan, 6-8, Sr. (5.5 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 69.0 FG%).

No. 3 Duke

Nickname: Blue Devils. Location: Durham, N.C.

Record: 26-8, 13-5. Bid: ACC at-large.

Last appearance: 2013, lost to Louisville in Elite Eight.

Coach: Mike Krzyzewski, 82-25 in 29 appearances.

Overview: Jabari Parker lived up to his billing as one of the nation's top freshmen. He and Rodney Hood are part of an athletic frontcourt that lacks size and depth to match up with more physical opponents. Foul trouble caused them problems during the season. The Blue Devils explosive offense avoids turnovers and relies on three-point shot. They ranked among the nation's leaders in both categories.

Twitter: @ Duke_MBB.

Did you know? Duke is the only school not named after a city or state to win a national title since 1985.

Starters: F Jabari Parker, 6-8, Fr. (19.2 ppg, 9.0 rpg, 48.7 FG%); F Rodney Hood, 6-8, So. (16.5 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 42.5 3FG%, 81.9 FT%); F Amile Jefferson, 6-9, So. (6.5 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 65.1 FG%), G Rasheed Sulaimon, 6-4, So. (9.5 ppg, 2.6 apg, 42.4 3FG%) G Tyler Thornton, 6-2, Sr. (3.1 ppg, 83.3 FT%).

No. 4 Louisville

Nickname: Cardinals.Location: Louisville.

Record: 29-5, 15-3.Bid: American champ.

Last appearance: 2013, national champion.

Coach: Rick Pitino, 48-16 in 18 appearances.

Overview: Russ Smith has made his game less, well, Russ-diculous this year and cut down on his turnovers. The defending champs miss the steadying influence of Peyton Siva in the back court, but the rapid development of Chris Jones has helped.

Twitter: @GoCards.

Did you know? The tradition of the University of Louisville marching band performing My Old Kentucky Home at the Kentucky Derby began in 1936. Bold Venture, a longshot who had never won a stakes race ridden by apprentice jockey Babe Hanford, was that year's winner.

Starters: G Russ Smith, 6-0, Sr. (17.5 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 4.8 apg, 2.0 spg); F Montrezl Harrell, 6-8, So. (14.0 ppg, 8.3 rpg); F Luke Hancock, 6-6, Sr. (11.9 ppg, 82.3 ft%); G Chris Jones, 5-10, Jr. (10.3 ppg, 2.9 apg, 2.2 spg); F Stephan Van Treese, 6-9, Sr. (2.9 ppg, 5.3 rpg).

No. 5 Saint Louis

Nickname: Billikens.Location: St. Louis.

Record: 26-6, 13-3.Bid: Atlantic 10 at-large.

Last appearance: 2013, lost to Oregon in third round.

Coach:Jim Crews, 2-5 in five appearances.

Overview:The Billikens start five seniors, almost unheard of in this one-and-done era. They claimed their second consecutive regular-season title but were shocked by St. Bonaventure in the quarterfinals of the A-10 tournament. After starting 24-2, including 19 consecutive wins, SLU has dropped four of its last five.

Twitter: @SaintLouisMBB.

Did you know? Crews was a senior on Indiana's 1975-76 squad that went 32-0, the last undefeated national champion.

Starters:F Dwayne Evans, 6-6, Sr. (14.0 ppg, 6.4 rpg); G Jordair Jett, 6-1, Sr. (13.8 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 4.7 apg); F Rob Loe, 6-11, Sr. (10.0 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 76.5 FT%); G Mike McCall Jr., 6-0, Sr. (9.6 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 75.7 FT%); F Jake Barnett, 6-5, Sr. (4.9 ppg).

No. 6 Massachusetts

Nickname: Minutemen.Location:Amherst.

Record: 24-8, 10-6. Bid: Atlantic 10 at-large.

Last appearance: 1998, lost to Saint Louis in first round.

Coach: Derek Kellogg, first appearance.

Overview: UMass rocketed off to a 16-1 start in Kellogg's sixth season, helping propel the Minutemen back to the tournament after a 16-year absence. UMass relies on energy but doesn't have a deep bench.

Twitter: @CoachKellogg.

Did you know? In coach Derek Kellogg's four years as a UMass player (1992-1995) the Minutemen became just the second team to win four consecutive regular-season and tournament titles.

Starters: G Chaz Williams, 5-9, Sr. (15.8 ppg, 7.1 apg); F Cady Lalanne, 6-10, Jr. (11.9 ppg, 8.1 rpg, 57 FG%, 2.4 bpg); F Sampson Carter, 6-8, Sr. (10.7 ppg, 4.7 rpg); F Raphiael Putney, 6-9, Sr. (9.5 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 76 FT%); G Derrick Gordon, 6-3, So. (9.4 ppg, 3.5 rpg).

No. 7 Texas

Nickname:Longhorns. Location: Austin.

Record: 23-10, 11-7.Bid: Big 12 at-large.

Last appearance: 2012, lost to Cincinnati in second round.

Coach:Rick Barnes, 18-14 in 14 appearances

Overview:The Longhorns are back after a missing last year's tournament for the first time since 1998. If Texas makes a run, it will be on defense and rebounding. Opponents shoot only 39.8%, putting Texas at the top of the Big 12; UT also leads with 41.8 rebounds a game. That includes 14.8 offensive boards, fifth in the country.

Twitter: @texassports.

Did you know? The campus' iconic tower has a variety of different lighting combinations for different events, including one for national titles.

Starters:G Javan Felix, 5-11, So. (12 ppg, 2.8 apg); G Demarcus Holland, 6-2, So. (5 rpg, 7.3 ppg, 2.4 apg); G Isaiah Taylor, 6-1, Fr. (12.6 ppg, 3.9 apg, 3.4 rpg); F Jonathan Holmes, 6-8, Jr. (13 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 51.3 FG%); C Cameron Ridley, 6-9, So. (11,5 ppg, 2.2 bpg, 54.5 FG%, 8.1 rpg).

No. 8 Kentucky

Nickname: Wildcats.Location: Lexington.

Record: 24-10, 12-6.Bid: SEC at-large.

Last appearance: 2012, national champion.

Coach: John Calipari, 38-13 in 14 appearances.

Overview: With Calipari at the helm since the 2008-09 season, the Wildcats have gotten to at least the Elite Eight three times. His young team lost three of four heading into the SEC tournament.

Twitter: @KentuckyMBB.

Did you know? Calipari is one of only two coaches to lead three different schools to a No. 1 ranking. Calipari is also one of only two coaches to lead three different schools to a Final Four. Calipari has won six conference championships in the last seven years. He has also won seven regular-season conference championships in the last nine years.

Starters: G Aaron Harrison, 6-6, Fr. (13.5 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 2.1 apg); G Andrew Harrison, 6-6, Fr. (10.8 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 3.7 apg); G 6-6, James Young, Fr. (14.6 ppg, 4.2 rpg); F Julius Randle, 6-9, Fr. (15.4 ppg, 10.6 rpg, 51.3 FG%, 71.2 FT%); C Dakari Johnson, 7-0, Fr. (5.0 ppg, 3.8 rpg).

No. 9 Kansas State

Nickname: Wildcats.Location: Manhattan.

Record: 20-12, 10-8.Bid: Big 12 at-large.

Last appearance: 2013, lost to La Salle in second round.

Coach: Bruce Weber, 11-9 in nine appearances

Overview: The Wildcats have been looking worse for the wear late in the season, losing their last three games, but Marcus Foster's big-game potential could single-handedly sink a mightier team. They also can rely on their defense, tops in the Big 12 in points per game at 65.7 but they only score 69.7. They also shoot poorly, eighth in the league at 43.6%.

Twitter: @kstatesports.

Did you know? Kansas State grad Herbert Diamond is famous for inventing the snooze alarm.

Starters: G Marcus Foster, 6-2, Fr. (15.4 ppg, 3.3 rpg); G Will Spradling, 6-2, Sr. (8 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 2.9 apg); F Nino Williams, 6-5, Jr. (51.4 FG%, 6.5 ppg, 3.6 rpg); F Thomas Gipson, 6-7, Jr. (55.9 FG%, 11.8 ppg, 6.6 rpg); F Wesley Iwundu, 6-7, Fr. (41.2 3FG%, 6.8 ppg, 4.3 rpg).

No. 10 Arizona State

Nickname: Sun Devils. Location: Tempe.

Record: 21-11, (10-8).Bid: Pac-12 at-large.

Last appearance: 2009, lost to Syracuse in second round.

Coach: Herb Sendek, 7-7 in seven appearances.

Overview: The Sun Devils enter the tournament having lost their final three games and five of their last seven. Arizona State boasts one of the country's best diminutive players in 5-10 Jahii Carson, last season's Pac-12 co-Freshman of the Year. And Jordan Bachynski, who led the country in blocks per game, provides the Sun Devils a menacing defensive presence at the rim.

Twitter: @SunDevilHoops.

Did you know? Herb Sendek has more 20-win seasons (5) than the school does in the 26 years prior to his arrival (4).

Starters: G Jahii Carson, 5-10, So. (18.9 ppg, 4.5 apg), C Jordan Bachynski, 7-2, Sr. (11.2 ppg, 8.4 rpg, 4.2 bpg, 55.1 FG%), G Jermaine Marshall, 6-4, Sr. (15.4 ppg, 41.1 3FG%), G Shaquielle McKissic, 6-3, Sr. (8.9 ppg, 5.4 rpg), F Eric Jacobsen, 6-10, So. (2.6 ppg).

No. 11 Iowa

Nickname: Hawkeyes.Location: Iowa City.

Record: 20-12, 9-9.Bid: Big Ten at-large.

Last appearance: 2006, lost to Northwestern State in first round.

Coach: Fran McCaffery, 2-5 in five appearances.

Overview: Ranked as high as No. 10 in the USA TODAY Sports Coaches Poll at one point, the Hawkeyes were in the running for the Big Ten title but collapsed down the stretch. They lost six of their last seven, including to No. 11 seed Northwestern in the conference tournament. McCaffery is coaching his fourth different team in the NCAAs.

Twitter: @IowaHoops.

Did you know? Guard Roy Devyn Marble's father Roy Marble starred at Iowa from 1985-89 and is the program's all-time scoring leader with 2,116 points.

Starters: G Roy Devyn Marble, 6-6, Sr. (17.0 ppg, 3.5 apg); G Mike Gesell, 6-1, So. (8.3 ppg, 3.9 apg); F Melsahn Basabe, 6-7, Sr. (7.7 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 57.5 FG%); F Aaron White, 6-9, Jr. (13.3 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 58.8 FG%); C Adam Woodbury, 7-1, So. (5.6 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 50.0 FG%).

No. 11 Tennessee

Nickname: Volunteers.Location: Knoxville.

Record: 21-12, 11-7.Bid: SEC at-large.

Last appearance: 2011, lost to Michigan in the first round.

Coach: Cuonzo Martin, first appearance.

Overview: Since former coach Bruce Pearl was let go in 2011, the Vols failed to reach the NCAAs until now. They won five of their last six, the loss to No. 1 Florida in the SEC semifinals. They rely on strong defense, as exemplified by holding South Carolina scoreless for the first six minutes of their SEC quarterfinal.

Twitter: @Vol_Hoops.

Did you know? Martin is one of two coaches in the SEC who have defeated every team in the league at least once the past two seasons. This is the 35th anniversary of UT's last SEC title.

Starters: G Josh Richardson, 6-6, Jr. (9.4 ppg, 2.9 rpg); G Jordan McRae, 6-6, Sr. (18.7 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 2.6 apg); G Antonio Barton, 6-2, Sr. (7.7 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 2.1 apg); F Jeronne Maymon, 6-8, Sr. (10.1 ppg, 8.2 rpg, 52.8 FG%); F Jarnell Stokes, 6-8, Jr. (14.8 ppg, 10.4 rpg, 2.1 apg, 52.9 FG%).

No. 12 North Carolina State

Nickname: Wolfpack. Location: Raleigh.

Record: 21-13, 9-9.Bid: ACC at-large.

Last appearance: 2013, lost to Temple in the second round.

Coach: Mark Gottfried, 7-9 in nine appearances.

Overview: Late wins at Pittsburgh and against Syracuse in the ACC tournament helped the Wolfpack join the field after an up-and-down season. ACC player of the year T.J. Warren is an explosive scorer on a team that doesn't shoot the ball from outside or rebound well. Warren will need scoring help from G Ralston Turner and reserve Anthony Barber, who is one piece of a deep bench.

Twitter handle: @PackMensBball.

Did you know? Gottfried is only the third ACC coach to lead his team to the NCAA tournament in his first three seasons. The others are Roy Williams and Bill Guthridge.

Statistics: F T.J. Warren, 6-8, So. (24.9 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 1.7 spg, 52.7 FG%); F Kyle Washington 6-9, Fr. (4.8 ppg, 4.0 rpg); G Ralston Turner, 6-5, Jr. (10.3 ppg, 37.6 3FG%); G Tyler Lewis (4.3 ppg, 3.5 apg); C Jordan Vandenberg, 7-1, Sr. (4.5 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 67.4 FG%).

No. 12 Xavier

Nickname: Musketeers.Location: Cincinnati.

Record: 21-12, 10-8.Bid: Big East at-large.

Last appearance: 2012, lost to Baylor in the Sweet 16.

Coach: Chris Mack, 6-4 in four appearances.

Overview: Xavier returns to the tournament for the 11th time in 13 seasons despite losing eight of their last 14. The backcourt of Semaj Christon and Dee Davis leads the offense. Matt Stainbrook provides size in the frontcourt, but he came off the bench in the Big East tournament because of a knee injury.

Twitter: @XUAthletics.

Did you know? Proposed in 1925, the school's Musketeers mascot was intended to promote the importance of chivalry and accentuate the school's ties to its French origins and culture.

Statistics: G Semaj Christon, 6-3, So. (17.0 ppg, 40.5 3FG%, 4.1 apg); G Dee Davis 6-0, Jr. (7.7 ppg, 4.8 apg, 84.2 FT%); F Justin Martin, 6-6, Jr. (11.5 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 38.1 3FG%); F Isaiah Philmore, 6-8, Sr. (8.7 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 52.4 FG%); F Jalen Reynolds, 6-9, Fr. (3.6 ppg, 54.5 FG%).

No. 13 Manhattan

Nickname: Jaspers. Location: Riverdale, N.Y.

Record: 25-7, 15-5.Bid: Metro Atlantic champ.

Last appearance: 2004, lost to Wake Forest in second round.

Coach: Steve Masiello, first appearance.

Overview: Masiello is a Rick Pitino disciple, so expect a player rotation that goes nine or 10 deep and plenty of pressure defense. Backstopping everything for the Jaspers is Rhamel Brown, who at just 6-7 is one of the nation's top shot blockers.

Twitter: @GoJaspers.

Did you know? Masiello served as a New York Knicks ball boy in his youth.

Starters: F Ashton Pankey, 6-10, So. (7.1 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 57.3 FG%); F Rhamel Brown, 6-7, Sr. (9.4 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 3.8 blocks, 52.8 FG%); G Michael Alvarado, 6-2, Sr. (12.4 ppg, 4.2 apg); G RaShawn Stores, 5-11, Jr. (5.0 ppg, 75.0 FT%); G George Beamon, 6-4, Sr. (19.7 ppg, 6.7 rpg; 84.9 FT%).

No. 14 Mercer

Nickname: Bears. Location: Macon, Ga.

Record: 26-8, 14-4.Bid: Atlantic Sun champion.

Last appearance: 1985, lost to Georgia Tech in the first round.

Coach: Bob Hoffman, first appearance.

Overview:The Bears beat No. 1 seed FGCU, who returned four starters from last year's Sweet 16 team, in the title game. The experienced Bears have seven seniors and have won 77 games during the last three seasons.

Twitter: @MercerMBB.

Did you know? Junior guard Darious Moten's pregame ritual is washing his hands.

Starters: G Langston Hall, 6-4, Sr. (14.7 ppg, 3 rpg, 5.5 apg, 40.1 3FG%, 86.5 FT%). F Daniel Coursey, 6-10, Sr. (9.9 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 58.6 FG%, 2 bpg). F Bud Thomas, 6-6, Sr. (9.1 ppg, 4.1 rpg). F Jakob Gollon, 6-6, Sr. (7.8 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 75 FT%). G Anthony White Jr., 6-2, Sr. (8.3 ppg, 80 FT%).

No. 15 Wofford

Nickname: Terriers. Location:Spartanburg, S.C.

Record: 20-12, 11-5.Bid:Southern champ.

Last appearance: 2011, lost to Brigham Young in the second round.

< Coach: Mike Young, 0-2 in two appearances.

Overview: If the Terriers are to win their first-ever NCAA tournament game, they must control tempo and slow the game down to play to their strength. Wofford plays solid defense and is efficient with the three-point shot. With no regular taller than 6-7, it lacks size to handle bigger teams.

Twitter: @WoffordMBB.

Did you know? The entire 170-plus acre Wofford campus has been designated as an arboretum.

Statistics: G Karl Cochran, 6-1, Jr. (15.5 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 3.1 apg); G Spencer Collins, 6-4, So. (13.4 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 78.9 FT%); G Eric Garcia, 5-11, Fr. (7.0 ppg, 45.6 3FG%); F Lee Skinner, 6-6, Jr. (11.1 ppg, 8.5 rpg); F C.J. Neumann, 6-7, So. (4.4 ppg, 59.0 FG%).

No. 16 Cal Poly

Nickname: Mustangs.Location: San Luis Obispo.

Record: 13-19, 6-10.Bid:Big West champ.

Last appearance: None.

Coach: Joe Callero, first appearance.

Overview: The Mustangs had lost nine of their previous 11 games before a three-game run to the Big West title. Every previous Cal Poly team in five seasons under Callero had matched or improved its win total from the previous year, but none of those made the NCAA tournament. The Mustangs, a No. 7 seed in the Big West, are the lowest seed from a conference to make the field of 68.

Twitter:@CPMUSTANGS.

Did you know? Cal Poly alumni include the designer of the Voyager spacecraft, Bob Rutan, as well as John Madden, former UFC champ Chuck Liddell and late Las Vegas entertainer Danny Gans.

Starters: F David Nwaba, 6-4, So. (11.7 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 51.6 FG%); G Jamal Johnson, 6-0, Sr. (4.7 ppg); F Chris Eversley, 6-7, Sr., (13.4 ppg, 7.2 rpg); F Brian Bennett, 6-9, So. (6.1 ppg, 3.1 rpg); G Kyle Odister, 6-0, Sr. (9.5 ppg, 75.0 FT%).

No. 16 Texas Southern

Nickname: Tigers.Location: Houston.

Record: 19-14, 12-6.Bid: Southwestern Athletic champ.

Last appearance: 2003, lost to UNC-Asheville in opening round.

Coach: Mike Davis, 7-5 in 5 appearances.

Overview: The Tigers have won nine in a row. Davis, who took Indiana to the 2002 Final Four, can call on a wealth of experience. The top eight players in the rotation are juniors or seniors, led by Aaric Murray (the SWAC player of the year and defensive player of the year).

Twitter:@TXSOTigers.

Did you know? Former New York Giants star defensive lineman and current daytime TV host Michael Strahan is an alum. He'll be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in August.

Starters: C Aaric Murray, 6-10, Sr. (21.2 ppg, 7.8 rpg, 2.4 bpg); G Madarious Gibbs, 6-1, Jr. (8.8 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 5.1 apg, 51.1 FG%); F D'Angelo Scott, 6-7, Sr. (7.2 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 80.2 FT%); G D'Aris "D.D." Scarver, 6-2, Sr. (14.5 ppg, 3.4 rpg); G Lawrence Johnson-Danner, 6-4, Sr. (7.8 ppg, 87.3 FT%, 43.4 3FG%).

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Re: NCAA Tournament Betting News and Notes

West Region Capsules and Analysis
Usatoday.com

Best round of 64 matchup: It's hard to know what to make of Baylor. The very athletic Bears are capable of inexplicably bad stretches, like a late January slump that included five consecutive losses. But when they're playing well, as they did in winning 10 of their past 12 games, the combination of length and talent is a difficult matchup for almost anyone. Nebraska's return to the NCAA tournament is one of the season's better stories. But for a microcosm of the Huskers, look no further than the Big Ten tournament, which featured a come-from-ahead loss to Ohio State, when an 18-point lead evaporated in the last 13 minutes. Who wins? Who knows? Baylor and Nebraska are absolutely unpredictable, which could make for a really fun meeting.

Potential upset: Arizona didn't get rewarded with its potential opponent in the round of 32. Of Oklahoma State's 12 losses, 10 came by six points or less or in overtime. Led by a potential lottery pick in sophomore guard Marcus Smart, as well as underrated sidekick Markel Brown, No. 9 seed Oklahoma State rebounded in a big way from a midseason funk. After seven consecutive losses — and losing Smart to a three-game suspension after shoving a fan in a loss at Texas Tech — Oklahoma State has won five of its past seven, including a win vs. Kansas. The two losses were in overtime, at Iowa State and to Kansas in the Big 12 tournament. If the late-season run continues, the Cowboys are very capable of knocking the Wildcats out and making a deep run.

The sleeper: The West is full of teams that overcame alarming slumps and played well down the stretch. No. 7 Oregon rebounded with a late-season run that included a win vs. Arizona. Dana Altman cobbled together another band of hot-shooting transfers. The Ducks don't always play defense or rebound, but led by junior guard Joseph Young (18.6 points, 41.6% from three-point range), when they get hot, they're tough to handle, hitting almost 40% of their three-point attempts and 76.6% from the foul line. Oregon has already beaten round of 64 opponent Brigham Young once. The Ducks' offense vs. Wisconsin's defense could make for a very entertaining matchup. If they get hot, they could make a deep run.

The winner: Never mind the loss to UCLA in the Pac-12 championship game. With a battle-tested squad led by All-America junior guard Nick Johnson (16.2 points) and freshman forward Aaron Gordon (12.1 points, 7.8 rebounds), Sean Miller has his best Arizona team yet. After starting the season with a school-record 21-game winning streak, the Wildcats were handed their first loss, to California, on the same night they lost starting forward Brandon Ashley to a season-ending foot injury. But they retooled and, in a deep Pac-12, ran away with the league's regular-season race. Their four losses were by a combined 16 points. Their devoted fans should travel en masse to San Diego and Anaheim. It won't be easy, but the Wildcats are the pick to emerge from the West — and maybe to win the whole thing.

1. Arizona

Nickname: Wildcats. Location: Tucson.

Record: 30-4, (15-3). Bid: Pac-12 at-large.

Last appearance: 2013, lost to Ohio State in regional semifinal.

Coach: Sean Miller, 11-6 in six appearances.

Overview: The Wildcats ran away with the Pac-12 regular-season title, finishing three games ahead of second-place UCLA. Losing Brandon Ashley, the team's third-leading scorer, to a season-ending foot injury was a midseason blow to Arizona's depth. But Pac-12 Player of the Year Nick Johnson and Freshman of the Year Aaron Gordon kept the team rolling down the stretch.

Twitter: @APlayersProgram.

Did you know? With all three of their regular-season losses coming on the road, Arizona watched as opposing fans rushed the court each time.

Starters: G Nick Johnson, 6-3, Jr. (16.1 ppg, 4.0 rpg), F Aaron Gordon, 6-9, Fr. (12.3 ppg, 7.8 rpg), C Kaleb Tarczewski, 7-0, So. (10.2 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 58.3 FG%), G T.J. McConnell, 6-1, Jr., (8.3 ppg, 5.5 apg), G Gabe York, 6-3, So. (6.8 ppg, 40.2 3FG%).

2. Wisconsin

Nickname: Badgers. Location: Madison.

Record: 26-7, 12-6. Bid: Big Ten at-large.

Last appearance: 2013, lost to Mississippi in second round.

Coach: Bo Ryan, 16-12 in 12 appearances.

Overview: The Badgers had an extremely streaky season, starting 16-0, losing five of six and then winning eight in a row before losing the regular-season finale. An experienced team, Wisconsin made it to the Big Ten semifinals and enters the tournament with confidence from a strong finish.

Twitter: @BadgerMBB.

Did you know? Guard Traevon Jackon's father Jim Jackson was the fourth overall pick in the 1992 NBA draft. He played for 12 teams in 14 NBA seasons and was the last Laker to wear No. 24 before Kobe Bryant.

Starters: G Ben Brust, 6-1, Sr. (12.4, ppg, 4.7 rpg, 88.4 FT%); G Traevon Jackson, 6-2, Jr. (10.8 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 3.9 apg); G Josh Gasser, 6-3, Jr. (9.5 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 46.2 3FG%); F Sam Dekker, 6-7, So. (12.9 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 46.8 FG%); F Frank Kaminsky, 7-0, Jr. (13.4 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 40.3 3FG%).

3. Creighton

Nickname: Bluejays. Location: Omaha.

Record: 26-7, 14-4. Bid: Big East at-large.

Last appearance: 2013, lost to Duke in the third round.

Coach: Greg McDermott, 2-5 in five appearances.

Overview: The Bluejays made the transition to the Big East look seamless, finishing second in the league and making the conference tournament final. They have two key ingredients to make a NCAA run: experience and great shooting. All five starters make at least 40% of their three-pointers.

Twitter: @gocreighton.

Did you know? Creighton is the only school to rank in the top 10 in attendance for men's basketball, baseball and men's soccer.

Statistics: F Doug McDermott, 6-8, Sr. (26.5 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 52.9 FG%, 44.7 3FG%, 86.7 FT%); F Ethan Wragge, 6-7, Sr. (10.7 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 47.8 3FG%, 82.4 FT%); G Grant Gibbs, 6-5, Sr. (7.6 ppg, 48.6 3FG%); G Austin Chatman, 6-0, Jr. (7.6 ppg, 4.3 apg, 40.3 3FG%); G Jahenns Manigat 6-1, Sr. (7.1 ppg, 3.0 ag, 41.1 3FG%, 88.2 FT%).

4. San Diego State

Nickname: Aztecs. Location: San Diego.

Record: 29-4, 16-2. Bid: Mountain West at-large.

Last appearance: 2013, lost to Florida Gulf Coast in the third round.

Coach: Steve Fisher, 23-12 in 13 appearances.

Overview: Any team that faces the Aztecs must figure out a way to score on defense that ranks near the top in every major category. The domination in that area carried them to one of the best records in the country, despite an offense — led by Mountain West player of the year Xavier Thames — that doesn't shoot well from the field or free-throw line.

Twitter: @GoAztecs.

Did you know? Since the 2010-11 season, San Diego State has the nation's top record (33-10) in games decided by six points or fewer.

Statistics: G Xavier Thames, 6-3, Sr. (16.9 ppg, 3.0 apg, 38.6 3FG%, 82.9 FT%); F Skylar Spencer, 6-10, So. (5.1 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 57.0 FG%); F Winston Shepard, 6-8, So. (12.3 ppg, 5.2 rpg); F J.J. O'Brien, 6-7, Jr. (8.3 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 56.8 FG%); F Josh Davis, 6-8, Sr. (8.0 ppg, 9.9 rpg).

5. Oklahoma

Nickname: Sooners. Location: Norman.

Record: 23-9, 12-6. Bid: Big 12 at-large.

Last appearance: 2013, lost to San Diego State in second round.

Coach: Lon Kruger, 14-14 in 14 appearances.

Overview: The Sooners have consistency to their advantage: All five starters have started every game, and Tyler Neal is the Big 12 co-sixth-man-of-the-year, providing an offensive boost. That offense is second in the league (82.2) but the defense is last (75.9). The Sooners are dangerous from the foul line at a league-best 75%, tied for 17th nationally.

Twitter: @OU_athletics.

Did you know? Kruger is the only coach to lead five different teams to the NCAA tournament — Kansas State, Florida, Illinois, UNLV and the Sooners.

Starters: G Isaiah Cousins, 6-4, So. (11 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 81.3 FT%); G Buddy Hield, 6-4, So. (16.8 ppg, 4.4 rpg); G Jordan Woodard, 6-0, Fr. (10.3 ppg, 4.6 apg); F Cameron Clark, 6-7, Sr. (15.2 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 43.7 3FG%); F Ryan Spangler, 6-8, So. (9.9 ppg, 9.4 rpg, 60.0 FG%).

6. Baylor

Nickname: Bears. Location: Waco, Texas.

Record: 24-11, 9-9. Bid: Big 12 at-large.

Last appearance: 2012, lost to Kentucky in regional final.

Coach: Scott Drew, 6-3 in three appearances.

Overview: Despite losing to Iowa State in the conference tournament final, the Bears have been on an impressive late-season run, winning nine of their last 11. Senior guard Brady Heslip is the best 3-point shooter in the conference and 18th in the country with 3.09 a game and fifth in percentage at 46.4.

Twitter: @BaylorAthletics.

Did you know? Football was banned by Baylor in 1906. The ban lasted just one year due to the student backlash.

Starters: G Brady Heslip, 6-2, Sr. (11.5 ppg, 46.4 3FG%, 72.2 FT%); G Kenny Chery, 5-11, Jr. (86.7 FT%, 11.7 ppg, 5 apg); F Royce O'Neale, 6-6, Jr. (52.1 FG%, 44.0 3FG%, 4.7 rpg); F Cory Jefferson, 6-9, Sr. (50.9 FG%, 41.4 3FG%, 13.4 ppg, 8.1 rpg); C Isaiah Austin, 7-1, So. (10.6 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 3.1 bpg).

7. Oregon

Nickname: Ducks. Location: Eugene.

Record: 23-9, (10-8). Bid: Pac-12 at-large.

Last appearance: 2013, lost to Louisville in regional semifinal.

Coach: Dana Altman, 4-9 in 9 appearances.

Overview: The Ducks won't be flying under the radar this March after making a Sweet 16 run in 2013. Oregon won eight games in a row before falling to UCLA in the conference tournament quarterfinals. Sharpshooter Joseph Young paced an offense that ranked No. 12 in the country with 81.8 points per game.

Twitter: @OregonMBB.

Did you know? Oregon won the first NCAA men's basketball national tournament in 1939.

Starters: G Joseph Young, 6-2, Jr. (18.2 ppg, 40.6 3FG%), F Mike Moser, 6-8, Sr. (13.7 ppg, 8.2 rpg), G Damyean Dotson, 6-5, So. (10.1 ppg), G Johnathan Loyd, 5-8, Sr. (7.5 ppg, 4.8 apg), C Waverly Austin, 6-11, Sr. (1.9 ppg).

8. Gonzaga

Nickname: Bulldogs. Location: Spokane, Wash.

Record: 28-6, 15-3. Bid: West Coast champ.

Last appearance: 2013, lost to Wichita State in round of 32.

Coach: Mark Few, 15-14 in 14 appearances.

Overview: The Zags are in their 16th consecutive NCAA tournament, but a deep run would be a surprise for this group that lacks a complete post presence. When the treys aren't falling, Sam Dower has to do a lot.

Twitter: @ZagMBB.

Did you know? Gonzaga is the home of the Bing Crosby Library, featuring an extensive collection of recordings, photographs and awards. Crosby grew up in Spokane and attended Gonzaga in the 1920s before pursuing his career in Hollywood.

Starters: F Sam Dower, 6-9, Sr. (15.0 ppg, 7.1 rpg, 59.0 fg%, 82.8 ft%); G Kevin Pangos, 6-2, Jr. (14.1 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 3.7 apg, 87.5 ft%, 41.1 3fg%); G Gary Bell Jr, 6-2, Jr. (11.2 ppg, 80.3 ft%, 42.7 3fg%); G David Stockton, 5-11, Sr. (7.5 ppg, 4.2 apg); C Przemek Karnowski, 7-1, So. (10.2 ppg, 6.9 rpg, 59.0 fg%).

9. Oklahoma State

Nickname: Cowboys. Location: Stillwater.

Record: 21-12, 8-10. Bid: Big 12 at-large.

Last appearance: 2013, lost to Oregon in second round.

Coach: Travis Ford, 1-4 in four appearances.

Overview: The Cowboys are picking up steam again after an up-and-down season. The team started 16-3 before losing seven in a row, including a loss at Texas Tech where star guard Marcus Smart shoved a fan and was suspended for three games.

Twitter: @OSUAthletics.

Did you know? Opening in 1938, Oklahoma State's Gallagher-Iba Arena is the conference's oldest basketball venue. The original maple floor remains in use.

Starters: G Marcus Smart, 6-4, So. (17.9 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 4.7 apg, 2.7 spg); G Phil Forte, 5-11, So. (13.2 ppg, 86.7 FT%, 45.2 3FG%); G/F Markel Brown, 6-3, Sr. (17.2 ppg, 3 apg, 5.6 rpg); G/F Le'Bryan Nash, 6-7, Jr. (14.2 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 52.3 FG%); F/C Kamari Murphy, 6-8, So. (6.4 rpg, 55.1 FG%).

10. Brigham Young

Nickname: Cougars. Location: Provo, Utah.

Record: 23-11, 13-5. Bid: West Coast at-large.

Last appearance: 2012, lost to Marquette in round of 64.

Coach: Dave Rose, 4-6 in six appearances.

Overview: The Cougars' advancement hopes took a huge hit with the loss of G Kyle Collinsworth (14.0 ppg, 8.1 rpg, 4.6 apg) to a knee injury in the WCC tourney final. Creating open looks for Tyler Haws could be a challenge.

Twitter: @byubasketball.

Did you know? Among BYU's many prominent alumni is Philo T. Farnsworth, credited with the invention of electronic television.

Starters: G Tyler Haws, 6-5, Jr. (23.4 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 88.0 ft%, 41.1 3fg%); G Matt Carlino, 6-2, Jr. (13.7 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 4.3 apg); F Eric Mika, 6-10, Fr. (11.7 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 52.9 fg%); F Nate Austin, 6-11, Jr. (3.8 ppg, 8.0 rpg); G Anson Winder, 6-3, Jr. (6.5 ppg).

11. Nebraska

Nickname: Cornhuskers. Location: Lincoln.

Record: 19-12, 11-7. Bid: Big Ten at-large.

Last appearance: 1998, lost to Arkansas in first round.

Coach: Tim Miles, 0-1 in one appearance.

Overview: After starting 0-4 in Big Ten play, the surprising Cornhuskers turned things around in a major way, notching signature wins against Ohio State, Michigan State and Wisconsin.

Twitter: @HuskerHoops.

Did you know? Freshman guard Tai Webster plays for the New Zealand national team and averaged 13.5 points in the 2012 FIBA World Olympic Qualifying Tournament when he was 17 years old.

Starters: G Shavon Shields, 6-7, So. (12.7 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 44.2 FG%); G Ray Gallegos, 6-2, Sr. (7.0 ppg, 2.0 rpg, 75.0 FT%); G Tai Webster, 6-4, Fr. (4.2, 2.1 rpg, 2.0 apg); F Terran Petteway, 6-6, So. (18.0 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 81.7 FT%); F Walter Pitchford, 6-10, So. (9.4 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 48.1 FG%).

12. North Dakota State

Nickname: Bison. Location: Fargo.

Record: 25-6, 12-2. Bid: Summit League champ.

Last appearance: 2009, lost to Kansas in first round.

Coach: Saul Phillips, 0-1 in one appearance.

Overview: Summit League POY Taylor Braun stuffed the box scores for Coach Phillips' squad, leading the conference in scoring. The Bison will rely on Braun and senior forward Marshall Bjorklund to fuel an offense shot 50.9% from the field to lead the nation.

Twitter: @NDSUmbb.

Did you know? Braun was three days away from committing to a Division II school in Oregon until NDSU offered him a scholarship.

Starters: F Marshall Bjorklund, 6-8, Sr. (13.6 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 63.9 FG%); F TrayVonn Wright, 6-7, Sr. (11.2 ppg, 5.1 rpg); G Taylor Braun, 6-7, Sr. (18.0 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 4.0 apg, 41.2 3FG%); G Lawrence Alexander, 6-3, Jr. (11.3 ppg, 4.3 rpg); G Kory Brown, 6-4, So. (7.0 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 59.1 FG%)

13. New Mexico State

Nickname: Aggies. Location: Las Cruces.

Record: 26-9, 12-4. Bid: WAC champ.

Last appearance: 2013, lost to Saint Louis in second round.

Coach: Marvin Menzies, 0-3 in three appearances.

Overview: Most of these guys have NCAA experience, and Sim Bhullar can alter the way opponents attack the rim. Daniel Mullings played well at the point in the WAC tournament in place of suspended K.C. Ross-Miller, whose reinstatement has yet to be determined by the school.

Twitter: @NMStateAggies.

Did you know? An on-campus observatory is named for Clyde Tombaugh, discoverer of Pluto and several other objects in the solar system who was a member of the NMSU faculty from 1955 until his retirement in 1973.

Starters: G Daniel Mullings, 6-2, Jr. (16.8 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 3.5 apg); G D.K. Eldridge, 6-2, Jr. (11.5 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 2.0 apg, 40.4 3fg%); C Sim Bhullar, 7-5, So. (10.3 ppg, 7.9 rpg, 3.4 bpg, 64.7 fg%); F Tshilidzi Nephawe, 6-10, Jr. (11.1 ppg, 7.8 rpg, 55.5 fg%); G Kevin Aronis, 6-3, Sr. (7.5 ppg).

14. Louisiana-Lafayette

Nickname: Ragin' Cajuns. Location: Lafayette, La.

Record: 23-11, 11-7. Bid: Sun Belt champ.

Last appearance: 2005, lost to Louisville in first round.

Coach: Bob Marlin, 0-2 in two appearances.

Overview: With two improbable upsets in the Sun Belt tourney, the Ragin' Cajuns claimed their first NCAA automatic berth in Marlin's fourth season in Lafayette. Payton and Long are the big scorers, but the confidence shown by role players in the postseason could make them dangerous.

Twitter: @ULRaginCajuns.

Did you know? Among ULL's research initiatives are several projects in the biology department looking into the restoration of Louisiana's coastal wetlands.

Starters: G Elfrid Payton, 6-3, Jr. (19.1 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 6.0 apg, 2.3 spg); F Shawn Long, 6-9, So. (18.9 ppg, 10.4 rpg, 2.8 bpg); G Bryant Mbamalu, 6-2, Sr. (12.5 ppg, 4.1 rpg); G Xavian Rimmer, 6-2, Jr. (8.4 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 42.4 3fg%); F Elridge Moore, 6-5, Sr. (4.2 ppg, 3.8 rpg).

15. American

Nickname: Eagles. Location: Washington, D.C.

Record: 20-12, 13-5. Bid: Patriot League champ.

Last appearance: 2009, lost to Villanova in first round.

Coach: Mike Brennan, first appearance.

Overview: Brennan took over a team picked in the preseason to finish next-to-last in the Patriot and guided it to the title, tying the school mark for wins by a first-year coach. American enters the tournament shooting 49.5% from the field. AU leans heavily on its starters with four averaging at least 32 minutes.

Twitter: @AU_MBasketball.

Did you know? Starter Darius Gardner played on a Yates High team in Houston that finished No. 1 in the USA TODAY Super 25 rankings in 2010.

Starters: G Jesse Reed, 6-5, So. (14.2 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 53.1 FG%, 49.1 3FG%); F Tony Wroblicky, 6-10, Sr. (12.2 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 59.4 FG%); G John Schoof, 6-5, Jr. (11.8 ppg, 76.8 FT%); G Darius Gardner, 5-9, Jr. (11.3 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 4.3 apg, 2.1 spg, 51.5 FG%); F Kyle Kager, 6-8, Jr. (6.0 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 76.4 FT%).

16. Weber State

Nickname: Wildcats. Location: Ogden, Utah.

Record: 19-11, 14-6. Bid: Big Sky champ.

Last appearance: 2007, lost to UCLA in first round.

Coach: Randy Rahe, 0-1 in 1 appearance

Overview: Rahe has won four conference titles in his eight seasons as head coach of the Wildcats. He uses a seven-man rotation, each player receiving more than 15 minutes of playing time. Weber State has three double-digit scorers in its starting lineup. Davion Berry was named Big Sky MVP.

Twitter: @WeberStateMBB.

Did you know? The Wildcats have won 21 Big Sky regular-season championships. Weber State also became the first school to reach 500 Big Sky wins.

Starters: G/F Davion Berry, 6-4, Sr. (19.1 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 4.0 apg); F Joel Bolomboy, 6-9, So. (8.6 ppg, 10.8 rpg); C Kyle Tresnak, 6-10, Sr. (11.2 ppg, 4.8 apg); G Jordan Richardson, 6-1, Sr. (7.2 ppg, 2.5 apg); G Jeremy Senglin, 6-2, Fr. (11.1 ppg, 2.1 rpg, 2.2 apg).

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Re: NCAA Tournament Betting News and Notes

An Early Look at the Field of 68
By Teddy Covers
Sportsmemo.com

We’ve got brackets to break down! I’ll offer a quick take on the 28 matchups already set for Thursday and Friday. Games are listed in rotation order.

The A-10 got a handful of mediocre teams like Dayton into the NCAA Tournament mix, but the Flyers will certainly be looking forward to a matchup against an Ohio State team that has repeatedly avoided them in non-conference play. The Buckeyes enter the tourney on an 0-6 ATS run; just 4-11 ATS in their last 15 tries as chalk.

Syracuse, too, was a pointspread disaster area down the stretch, cashing only one winning bet in their last eight ballgames. But Western Michigan’s only win against an NCAA Tournament team came on the opening night of the season, back on November 8th, when they beat New Mexico State.

Phil Martelli’s Saint Joseph’s team hasn’t won an NCAA Tournament game since 2004, when Jameer Nelson and Delonte West were his starting guards. UConn is a Top 10 team for free throw shooting percentage; always key in this ‘short favorite’ pointspread range.

Villanova went 21-9 ATS this season, the third best pointspread team in the tournament field – only Wichita State and Tulsa had better spread records. Wisconsin-Milwaukee earned its Big Dance bid the hard way, winning SU on the road at Green Bay and then at Wright State in the Horizon League Tournament.

Most #8/#9 seed matchups are lined near pick ‘em, but Pitt is heavy chalk over the Buffaloes for a reason. The Panthers dominate the glass and are far better offensively this year than in recent seasons. Colorado has slowed their pace since Spencer Dinwiddie got hurt, entering the tourney on a run of six consecutive Unders.

Here in Vegas, Louisville is currently power rated as the #2 team in the country, a peer of both Florida and Arizona. Yet Rick Pitino’s squad finds themselves as a #4 seed in the toughest region. Manhattan has a star in George Beamon, but they haven’t seen anything comparable to the defense they’ll face here.

BYU was one of only two mid-majors to get an at large bid outside the A-10 conference. Without the injured Kyle Collinsworth, the Cougars need both Tyler Haws and Matt Carlino to get hot from the perimeter like they did in the overtime battle these two teams played before Christmas. Oregon came on like a freight train down the stretch, but the Ducks lack the low post muscle to make a deep tourney run.

American University played four lined games this year, covering the spread on all four occasions including a closer than expected loss at Ohio State. But the Eagles limited offensive acumen make this bettor very concerned about their ability to put the biscuit in the basket against a Wisconsin team that plays elite level defense against lesser foes.

Texas acted their age (very young) down the stretch, notching only two SU wins and one ATS cover in their last eight games away from home. And the Longhorns beefy interior size won’t go unchecked against Arizona State’s massive big man Jordan Bachynski, who averages more than four blocks per game.

The early money showed for Wofford as double digit underdogs in their opener. The Terriers lost three November games by 19 or more, but haven’t lost a single game by more than 15 since, including road tests at VCU and St Louis. Michigan went 5-0 ATS in the Big Dance on their way to the title game last year, before failing to cover in their championship game loss to Louisville.

Many of the TV talking heads picked Harvard to pull the upset in their opener. But Tommy Amaker’s squad was an underdog only twice all year, losing and failing to cover in step-up games against Colorado and UConn; the only tourney teams they faced. Cincinnati covered only four games away from home all year, but three of them were SU wins at Louisville and Memphis and at Madison Square Garden against Pitt.

The betting markets have installed #4 seed Michigan State as the second choice to win it all, behind only Florida; a clear indication of how dangerous this Spartans team can be now that they’re finally healthy. Delaware hung tough on the road at ‘Nova and Ohio State back in non-conference play, but the only tourney team they beat was Cal Poly SLO.

In my personal bracket, I’ll have the North Dakota State Bison surviving and advancing, the single best shooting team in the entire country this year. Lon Kruger got his Oklahoma squad to overachieve once again, but this short pointspread tells us all we need to know about how competitive this game is likely to be.

In a world where quality mid-majors outside the A-10 have been effectively frozen out of the tournament, San Diego State’s top ten ranking and SU win at Kansas still wasn’t enough to earn them an elite seed. New Mexico State failed to win or cover for the second straight year in the Big Dance last season, losing by 20 to defensive minded Saint Louis.

Duke looked really gassed throughout the ACC Tournament. In the final five minutes of their last five games, the Blue Devils have been outscored 76-47 while allowing opponents to hit 24 of 39 shot attempts. Mercer beat Tennessee in the NIT last year, while fellow Atlantic Sun heavyweight Florida Gulf Coast pulled off two upsets to reach the Sweet 16.

Virginia remains the ultimate anonymous #1 seed – most of the TV talking heads can’t name a player on this team, and none of them picked the Cavs to reach the Final Four! I’ve got Coastal Carolina ranked as the #67 team in the 68 team tournament (only Texas Southern is worse).

George Washington’s lack of quality depth doomed them in the second half of their A-10 semifinal against VCU, arguably the worst half they’ve played all season. Five years into his tenure, I’m still waiting for Josh Pastner to actually outcoach somebody for Memphis.

Stanford’s A-game was good enough to beat UCLA, UConn, Arizona State and Oregon, while nearly upsetting Michigan and Arizona. But the Cardinal played literally dozens of times where their A-game was nowhere to be found. The Mountain West has gotten slapped around in every recent NCAA tournament, and despite New Mexico’s success this year, it was not a banner season for the conference.

Tarik Black pulled down 22 rebounds in Kansas’ two Big 12 tourney games without Joel Embiid in the lineup, although he certainly doesn’t have Embiid’s shot blocking prowess. Eastern Kentucky lost by 19 at NC State and by 25 at Wisconsin in their two toughest non-conference tests.

The TV talking heads already have Kentucky surviving and advancing, despite the Wildcats enormous inconsistency all year. Kansas State slumped down the stretch, but they won’t be intimidated or outclassed despite facing John Calipari’s roster loaded with NBA caliber talent.

Nebraska has been one of my favorite teams over the last two months; riding a moneymaking 13-3 ATS streak that speaks volumes about how undervalued they’ve been!

Baylor has a great recent postseason track record. They won the NIT last year, reached the Elite Eight in 2012, and won three games in three days in the Big 12 tourney this year before coming up short in the championship game.

Creighton survived and thrived following their move from mid-major Missouri Valley to major conference competition, although this was not a banner year for the Big East. Louisiana -Lafayette doesn’t provide much of a first round test – mediocre Sun Belt entrants haven’t been making Big Dance noise in recent seasons.

North Carolina won 12 straight down the stretch, but they got zero hype from bracketologists after losing to Duke and Pitt in their last two ballgames. Providence has no depth, as clearly evidenced by their six man rotation in the Big East tourney, with four starters playing all 40 minutes in their win over Creighton.

NC Central won at NC State in overtime back in November and Jeremy Ingram’s 37 point effort kept things relatively close in an eleven point loss at Wichita State. Iowa State just won a grueling battle for the Big 12 tourney title and could easily look past a opponent that’s won 20 straight games.

Stephen F. Austin won 31 games to get here – only Wichita State and Florida had more regular season victories. But the Lumberjacks only played two lined games all year (1-1 ATS), both in the Southland Conference Tournament. VCU forced only 12 turnovers and hit only 53 percent from the free throw line while losing the A-10 title game

UCLA is a live longshot to make a run to the Final Four, as clearly evidenced by their domination in the PAC-12 tourney here in Vegas this past weekend, beating Arizona, Stanford and Oregon by a combined 48 points. Tulsa, however, was the single best pointspread team in the country this year, riding a remarkable 17-3 ATS run in their last 20 ballgames.

Big Sky entrants have not been competitive in any recent Big Dance, and Weber State doesn’t look to be the exception to that rule.  Arizona’s defense was positively suffocating in the first two rounds of the PAC-12 tourney, but their lack of depth is a concern because Sean Miller is unlikely to have his best players in the game when this pointspread outcome is decided.

The WCC wasn’t particularly good this year and Gonzaga’s signature non-conference wins came against the likes of Arkansas and New Mexico State. In a year of notably bad seeding, seeing an Oklahoma State team that would be favored over 75% of the field as a #9 seed is downright eye-opening.

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Re: NCAA Tournament Betting News and Notes

Booms and Busts
By ASAWins.com

POTENTIAL TOURNAMENT BOOMS

Massachusetts


The Minutemen are no stranger to big games. They are 6-1 against teams in the RPI top 50 and have non-conference wins over LSU, Nebraska, New Mexico, Clemson, BYU, and Providence. Currently UMass is 12th in RPI & 47th in KenPom and is projected as a No. 7 seed.

New Mexico

New Mexico features one of the top trio’s of scorers with Cameron Bairstow (20.3 PPG), Kendall Williams (16.9 PPG), and Alex Kirk (13.8 PPG). A trustworthy trio can work wonders in tournament time. The Lobos played a tough non-conference sched - W’s against Cincinnati & Marquette, L’s to Kansas and Massachusetts - and are getting hot at the right time (11-1 the last 12 games). The Lobos rank 20th in RPI and 32nd in KenPom and project as a No. 7 seed.

VCU

Coach Shaka Smart is no stranger to March Madness after leading the Rams made a big run to the Final Four in 2011. They’ve had their ups (won at Virginia) and downs (lost to Northern Iowa) early in the season but consistently one of the better teams in the Atlantic 10. VCU’s “havoc” defense is one of the toughest to prepare for. When the offense is clicking along with its stout defense, watch out. The Rams are 22nd in RPI & 16th in KenPom and currently project as a No. 7 seed.

Baylor

A lot of people wrote off the Bears after a 1-7 stretch; but they’re getting hot at the right time. They’ve gone 6-1 over the last seven games and worked their way back into the tournament discussion (currently a No. 11 seed) with quality wins over Kansas State (2x), Oklahoma State, and Iowa State. The Big 12 conference slate was tough in itself and Baylor added a difficult non-conference schedule on top of that. Overall they faced 14 teams in the RPI top 50 (6-8 in those games). 

POTENTIAL TOURNAMENT BUSTS

Pittsburgh


After a 17-2 start, it was hard to envision this team struggling to make the tournament, but with a 4-6 mark over the last 10 and just one win over a projected tournament team (Stanford), this team now finds itself on the bubble. The Panthers are 0-6 against RPI top-25 teams and just 2-8 ATS over the last 10.

Ohio State

The Bucks started 15-0 but have slipped up a few times in Big Ten play. They own an elite defense (2nd nationally in KenPom’s defensive efficiency rating), but struggle mightily on offense. Over the last 10 years, only one team has made the Final Four with an offensive efficiency ranking lower than 100 - Ohio State currently ranks 117th in OEff. They won the Big Ten tournament last year and made a run to the Elite 8 in the Big Dance, but we don’t see it happening again.

Kentucky

This is a talented squad but VERY young. Calipari has worked wonders with youthful squads before (won the tournament in 2011 with a similarly green squad), but that won’t happen this year. The Wildcats only have one win over a current tournament team and are 1-6 against RPI top-50 teams.

Gonzaga

The tournament darling of the past 15 years is one you might want to steer clear of come tournament time. The Zags didn’t play any RPI top-25 teams and went just 2-3 against teams ranked 26-50 in RPI. They won the weak West Coast Conference, but overall don’t have an impressive resume. Their best wins include a neutral court victory over Arkansas and a road win over West Virginia (Arkansas is currently one of the last four in the tournament).

Oregon

The Ducks made a nice run in March last year. They won the Pac-12 tournament and made it to the Sweet 16 as a No. 12 seed before losing to the eventual national champion, Louisville. They’ve currently won seven straight after a 3-8 start in conference play but only two of those six wins have come against potential tournament teams.

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Re: NCAA Tournament Betting News and Notes

68 Betting Stats For 68 NCAA Tournament Teams
By Brian Covert
Covers.com

It's tough to track all the teams vying for the national title when the NCAA tournaments gets underway this week. If you need a quick crash course in college hoops, here's one defining stat for all 68 teams doing the Big Dance this March.

MIDWEST REGIONAL

1. Wichita State – The Shockers had the NCAA’s best ATS record going 24-6-1 ATS.

2. Michigan – The Wolverines enter the tournament as the team who commits the least amount of fouls, averaging only 14.5 per game.

3. Duke - The Blue Devils were the country’s second-most efficient offensive team averaging 1.179 points per possession.

4. Louisville – The Cardinals’ average victory margin of plus-21.1 points led the country.

5. Saint Louis – The Billikens’ were the second-best team at defending the three, allowing only 12.4 points off the long ball.

6. UMass – The Minutemen were 13-1 SU in non-conference games having played the nation’s seventh toughest non-conference schedule based on the RPI index.

7. Texas – The Longhorns were the fourth-best offensive rebounding team in the country with 13.2 per contest.

8. Kentucky - The Wildcats were second in the country in rebounding margin at plus-10.5 per game.

9. Kansas State – Wildcats head coach Bruce Weber is only 9-11 all time in the NCAA tourney with five of those wins coming in final run with Illinois.

10. Arizona State – The Sun Devils’ 26.2 rebounds per game was the nation’s third-best mark.

11. Iowa – The Hawkeyes were second in the nation in first-half scoring, averaging 40.9 points in the opening 20 minutes.

Tennessee – The Volunteers are the 20th-best rebounding team and 15th-best defensive rebounding team in the NCAA.

12. North Carolina State – The Wolfpack were 21-13 SU and 18-12-1 ATS.

Xavier – The Musketeers are the 32nd-best shooting team in the country with a FG percentage of 47.1.

13. Manhattan – The Jaspers return to the tournament for the first time since 2004 when, as a No. 12 seed, they upset No. 5 Florida.

14. Mercer – The Bears have seven players who average over 10 minutes per game but only one player, Langston Hall, who averages in double figures.

15. Wofford – The Terriers have the 265th-best offense in the country averaging 67.7 points per game but the 23rd-best defense allowing only 62.4.

16. Cal Poly – The Mustangs were just 13-19 overall and their 62 points per game is amongst the worst of teams still playing.

Texas Southern – The Tigers go into the tourney having won nine in a row including three straight at neutral sites.

SOUTH REGIONAL

1. Florida – The Gators have 13 players – four seniors and nine underclassmen – who average at least 10 minutes per game.

2. Kansas – The Jayhawks were 5-2 SU in neutral-site games but just 3-4 ATS and were just 5-6 SU and 4-7 ATS in true road games - a total ATS mark of 7-11 away from Lawrence.

3. Syracuse – The Orange won only two games SU and covered one after losing their undefeated season in a loss to Boston College on Feb. 19.

4. UCLA – The Bruins had the NCAA’s ninth-best offense in D-1, averaging 81.8 points per game.

5. Virginia Commonwealth – The Rams led the nation in steals per game with 11.3 per contest.

6. Ohio State – In 14 years as a D-1 head coach, Thad Matta has been to the tournament 11 times only losing in the first round once.

7. New Mexico - The Lobos are 14-3 in its last 16 conference road/neutral games, with all three losses coming by a combined five points.

8. Colorado – The Buffaloes were just 7-7 SU after losing guard Spencer Dinwiddie in January.

9. Pittsburgh – As head coach of the Panthers, Jamie Dixon has only lost in the first round of the NCAA tournament once.

10. Stanford – This is the first NCAA tournament berth for the Cardinal under current head coach Johnny Dawkins.

11. Dayton – Flyers leading scorer Jordan Sibert, an Ohio native, is a transfer from OSU having played his freshman and sophomore seasons with the Buckeyes.

12. Stephen F. Austin – The Lumberjacks enter the tournament having won 26 in a row SU.

13. Tulsa - The Golden Hurricane had D-1’s second-best ATS record, going 22-8 ATS.

14. Western Michigan – The only major statistical team category in which the Broncos rank in the Top 100 is rebounding, where they are 84th with 25.1 boards per game.

15. Eastern Kentucky – The Colonels are in the Top 30 in the country in 2-point (No. 2) and 3-point field percentage (No. 28) as well as in free throws (No. 19).

16. Albany – For the second year in row, the Great Danes went 9-7 during the American East Conference but won the outright title in the conference tourney.

Mt. Saint Mary’s – As a team, Mt. St. Mary's shoots 44.1 percent from the field, 74.1 percent from the free throw line and averages 76.2 points.

WEST REGIONAL

1. Arizona – The Wildcats were the NCAA’s most defensively efficient squad, allowing just 0.865 points per possession.

2. Wisconsin - The Badgers are the best team in D-1 at protecting the basketball, averaging only 8.1 turnovers per game.

3. Creighton - The Bluejays led the NCAA in both 3-point shooting attempts and 3-point percentage, hitting 42 percent from behind the arc on over 24 attempts per game.

4. San Diego State – The Aztecs allowed teams to shoot just 42 percent from the floor and just 0.879 points per possession, both the third best marks in D-1 hoops.

5. Oklahoma – The Sooners’ 82.2 points per game was good for seventh in the country while their 75.9 points against was 308th.

6. Baylor – The Bears are the nation’s 24th-best rebounding team with 38.7 per game and seventh-best offensive rebounding team with 12.5 per game.

7. Oregon – The Ducks averaged 43.2 points per second half - the second-best mark in the country.

8. Gonzaga – The Zags had the NCAA’s second-best first-half scoring margin with 8.9 points per game.

9. Oklahoma State – The Cowboys finished the regular season 4-1 SU and ATS after losing seven in a row (1-6 ATS).

10. BYU – The Cougars were the nation’s third-best offensive team with 83.2 points per game but the Over only cashed in 13 of their 30 games.

11. Nebraska – The Cornhuskers had the nation’s 50th-best defense and played Under the total in 18 of 30 games during the regular season.

12. North Dakota State – North Dakota State’s Taylor Braun was the Summit League’s Player of the Year and scored 30 or more points on four different occasions this season.

13. New Mexico State – The Aggies won nine of 10 to end the regular season and have lost only twice since February.

14. UL Lafayette – The Ragin’ Cajuns have lost just once since February and their top two scorers, Elfrid Payton and Shawn Long, account for half the team’s 81.9 points per game.

15. American – The Eagles had the NCAA’s seventh-best defense, allowing only 53.6 points per game and won the Patriot League by holding BU to just 36 points in a 55-36 win.

16. Weber State – The Wildcats allowed opponents to score just 18.6 percent of their points off 3-pointers, the third lowest percentage in the country.

EAST REGIONAL

1. Virginia – The Cavaliers allowed 55.1 points per game, the lowest mark in the NCAA.

2. Villanova - The Wildcats’ 21-9 ATS mark was the sixth-best record in the nation.

3. Iowa State - The Cyclones are the most unselfish team in the nation averaging 18.5 assists per game.

4. Michigan State – If the Spartans don’t make the national semifinals, it will be the first senior class Tom Izzo has failed to take to a Final Four.

5. Cincinnati – The Bearcats’ record is the best in Mick Cronin’s tenure and he has not lost in the first round in their last three trips to the NCAA tournament.

6. North Carolina - The Tar Heels were third in the country, averaging 47.1 points per game off of 2-point buckets.

7. Connecticut – The Huskies finished 26-8 overall playing the nation’s 22nd-toughest schedule based on RPI rankings.

8. Memphis – The Tigers played the 19th most difficult non-conference schedule going 10-2 and 3-1 in neutral site games.

9. George Washington – The Colonials’ have only made it out of the first round only three times in their history and not once in the last 20 years.

10. Saint Joseph’s – The Hawks were 5-1 SU in neutral-site games this season.

11. Providence – The Friars’ hit free throws at a 78.1 percent clip, the second-best mark in the country.

12. Harvard – The Crimson led the Ivy League with a 26-4 record SU and had the league’s best ATS record at 16-8.

13. Delaware – The Blue Hens’ 36.6 points per game in the first half ranks 36th in the country while their 42.6 points in the second 20 minutes ranks seventh.

14. N.C. Central – The Eagles finished the season on a 20-game win streak.

15. UW Milwaukee – The Panthers’ 21.6 3-point attempts is 47th in the country but their 7.1 attempts made is only 85th.

16. Coastal Carolina – The Chanticleers finished the year 18-12 SU and played only the nation’s 196th-toughest schedule based on RPI rankings.

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Re: NCAA Tournament Betting News and Notes

Early Round Betting Trends
By Marc Lawrence
VegasInsider.com

The 2014 NCAA Tournament has arrived and with it a final chance to pad our bankrolls for the season.

To make that shining moment happen, let’s take a look at how teams in this event have fared most recently in the past.

Because it’s my belief that success in handicapping this tournament is tantamount to breaking the action down into rounds, let’s take a look at some of the more relevant and most recent trend results that have occurred in Round One games.

Note all results are since 1991 unless noted otherwise.  Note: all results are ATS (Against The Spread) unless noted otherwise.

BILLION DOLLAR BRACKET BUSTING

If your dream of designs is completing the perfect bracket (read: picking every winner in every game and cashing in on a one billion prize), enjoy the dream.

You have a better chance of winning 50 Powerball lotteries in your lifetime!
   
Since expanding to 64 teams in 1985, the odds of randomly picking a perfect bracket sheet are one in 9,223,372,036,854,775,808 – or better than one in nine quintillion.

Hint: you can reduce the odds to one in 13.5 billion simply by picking the No. 1 seeds over the No. 16 seeds and going from there.  Now how’s that for putting you in the game.

Now that you’re feeling better about your chances, concentrate, instead on picking the Final Four teams. That’s 16 to the fourth power, or one in 65,536.

Incidentally, there have been only eight teams seeded lower than No. 6 to reach the Final Four since 1985: 1985 Evansville (8), 1986 LSU (11), 2000 North Carolina (8), 2000 Wisconsin (8), 2006 George Mason (11), 2011 Butler (8), 2011 VCU (11) and 2013 Wichita State (9).

For what it’s worth, Sheldon Jacobson, a computer science professor at the University of Illinois, informs us the most likely Final Four seed combination is 1, 1, 2, 3. The odds against this occurring are about 16 to 1. It has happened three times in the past 28 years.  Chalk artists beware: the odds of all four No.1 seeds reaching the Final Four: 47.5 to 1.

And long shot lovers note: the odds of a No. 16 seed reaching the Final Four: 828 to 1.  The odds of all four No. 16 seeds reaching the Final Four: about one trillion to 1.

PLANTING THE SEED

No. 1 seeds are 92-0 SU and 51-40-1 ATS vs. No. 16 seeds, including 8-1 ATS if favored by less than 20 points.

No. 2 seeds are 85-7 SU and 39-49-4 ATS vs. No. 15 seeds, including 13-26-4 ATS vs. foes off a SU win.

No. 3 seeds are 81-11 SU and 49-41-2 ATS vs. No. 14 seeds, including 36-1 SU & 27-9-1 ATS off a SU favorite loss.

No. 4 seeds are 72-20 SU and 52-29-1 ATS vs. No. 13 seeds, including 35-17 ATS as favorites of less than 10 points.

No. 5 seeds are 58-34 SU and 44-48 ATS vs. No. 12 seeds, including 10-9 SU and 9-12 ATS the last five years. In addition, No. 12 seeds that participated in last year’s event are 21-16 SU against No. 5’s dating back to 1985.  Those No. 12 seeds who did not play in this tournament the previous season are 20-59 SU in this round. FYI: a No. 12 seed has failed to beat a No. 5 seed only twice since 1988.

No. 6 seeds are 63-29 SU and 50-40-2 ATS vs. No. 11 seeds, including 10-8 SU and 5-12-1 ATS vs. an opponent off an ATS win of more than 7 points.

No. 7 seeds are 52-40 SU and 49-42-1 ATS vs. No. 10 seeds, including 2-7 SU and ATS 1-7 ATS when the No. 10 seed is off back-to-back SU losses.

No. 8 seeds are 45-47 SU and 44-46-2 ATS vs. No. 9 seeds, including 9-16 SU and 8-17 ATS as favorites of 3 or more points.

FIRST ROUND NOTES

Conference tournament champs most recent trends in this round (numbers all ATS)

ACC: 4-1-1, Atlantic 10: 3-0, Big Ten: 3-0, Big 12: 0-4, Big East: 6-0, Big West: 1-7, Colonial: 8-4, C-USA: 2-5, Horizon: 4-2, MAC: 3-1, Missouri Valley: 3-1, Mountain West: 4-2-1, Pac-12: 51, Sun Belt: 4-1, SEC: 3-1, WAC: 2-6, West Coast: 1-3.

Best team records (SU) in this round:

N Carolina: 11-0, Kansas: 7-0, Gonzaga, Syracuse, Tulsa: 5-0; Arizona State, Ohio State: 4-0, Kentucky 18-1.

Worst team records (SU) in this round:

Nebraska: 0-5.

Best team ATS records in this round:

VCU: 6-0, Iowa State, Saint Louis, Xavier: 6-1, Florida: 5-1, Kansas State, Michigan, NC State: 4-1.   

Worst team ATS records in this round:

Nebraska: 0-5, Massachusetts, Texas, Villanova: 0-3, Oregon: 1-7, Creighton: 1-4.

Best conference ATS records in this round:

Colonial: 5-1, Big Ten: 14-3, MAC dogs: 9-2, PAC 12 dogs: 7-2.

Worst conference ATS records in this round:

Big West: 1-6, Big East dogs: 1-4, Ivy: 3-12, Big 12: 4-11.

MOST RECENT ‘ANY ROUND’ TRENDS

Favorites of more than 7 points who are 3-0 SUATS last three games are 19-36 vs. opponent off a SU win… and 16-5 ATS vs. opponent off a SU loss.

Favorites of 20 or more points are 1-7-1 vs. an opponent off a DD SU win.

Favorites of more than 7 points who scored 100 points or more in their last tourney game are 12-2.

Underdogs of 4 or more points playing off a SU tourney win as a dog of 6 or more points are 10-30-1 ATS the last fifteen years.

Dogs of 18 or more points off a DD ATS win are 7-1.

If this is not enough to get your blood flowing then it’s time to visit a cardiologist.

I’ll return next week with a look at Sweet 16 and Elite Eight round action.

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Re: NCAA Tournament Betting News and Notes

East Regional Preview
By Joe Nelson
VegasInsider.com

The debate for the fourth #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament consumed the nation during the conference tournaments and Virginia was the eventual victor of that spot, leading the East region. This is a region where the #3 and #4 seeds are viewed as just as dangerous as the top seeds as the #4 seed is actually the odds-on favorite to advance to Dallas. Here is a look at the storylines in the East.

Favorite – Michigan State


The fourth seeded Spartans are actually the favorites in the region with the roster finally complete after battling injuries all season. Michigan State was dominant in three Big Ten Tournament games with hot shooting to quickly erase the memory of losing seven of the final 12 games of the regular season. With Coach Izzo and a proven tournament track record Michigan State is certainly a threat but playing as well as the Spartans did in Indianapolis last week is certainly not a given and there are plenty of talented teams in this region.

Final Four Sleeper – Villanova

It seems silly to suggest that a #2 seed that has lost four games all season is a sleeper but Villanova is getting very little national respect. The Wildcats beat Kansas on a neutral court early in the season and while they struggled in two ugly losses against Creighton they were dominant in a quality new look Big East. The upset loss in the Big East Tournament could be a motivating factor for one of the better shooting teams in the tournament and a team that has top 16 efficiency rankings on both sides of the ball. With four overtime wins this season Villanova’s record may be a bit inflated but the Wildcats played a high caliber schedule and the path in this region is reasonable.
   
Sweet 16 Sleeper – North Carolina

The Tar Heels lost seven of the first 18 games this season but they posted wins over Louisville, Michigan State, and Kentucky. North Carolina won 12 games in a row late in the season in ACC play before losing the final two games, falling against Duke in a difficult spot and then getting blasted by a Pittsburgh team that felt it needed to win to make the NCAA Tournament field. North Carolina actually fought back commendably in that game against Pittsburgh and the Tar Heels will draw some hot teams this week. Providence made a great run to win the Big East tournament and could face a bit of a letdown while Iowa State is another team that may be at risk for an early upset in the Big Dance after a great run to win the Big XII Tournament. North Carolina is far better defensively than either of those teams and in a bottom half of the East bracket that looks wide open, the Tar Heels are a viable threat for a run.

Best Early Round Location Edge – George Washington

There are no obvious advantages in the East region early in the bracket as contenders Villanova and Iowa State have solid hauls to Buffalo and San Antonio respectively. Michigan State and Cincinnati were shipped off to Spokane for some of the tougher travel situations for stronger seeds. Virginia enjoys another short trip to North Carolina after winning the ACC Tournament last week in Greensboro but the location edge in Raleigh will be greater in the opening game for #9 seed George Washington, also facing a short trip south. Memphis will be at a disadvantage in that matchup and could help the Colonials to a minor upset. The bracket moves to New York for the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight games which will be a reasonable but not overly advantageous venture for most of the contenders.

Best Opening Game – Connecticut vs. St. Joseph’s

The Huskies lost eight games this season but five of those losses came to the same two teams, Louisville and SMU. The Huskies are one of two teams to beat Florida this season but they face a tough first round game against a St. Joseph’s squad that won three big games in a row to seal a NCAA Tournament spot, winning the A-10 Conference tournament in the process. St. Joseph’s went 5-0 against VCU and Dayton this season but the Hawks only had one other win against a NCAA Tournament team all season. This should be an interesting game in Buffalo but one big advantage for Connecticut is at the line where the Huskies have shot 12 percent better than the Hawks on the season.

Trendy Upset that won’t be – Michigan State over Virginia

A lot of things have to happen for this game to occur but most expect the Spartans to take on Virginia in the Sweet 16 in New York. Most expect Michigan State to win that potential matchup as well despite the seeding in the bracket. Virginia is one of the most complete teams in the nation however, certainly among the best defensive teams and a lot better on offense than the scoring averages suggest. The ACC has been underrated this season and Virginia won the league going away while also capturing the ACC Tournament crown. Michigan State finally put it all together in the Big Ten Tournament but that has not been the norm this season as the Spartans have been all over the map offensively. Michigan State also has to travel to Spokane before heading to New York and the Spartans are just as likely to be upset early as they are to make the Final Four.

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Re: NCAA Tournament Betting News and Notes

South Regional Preview
By Joe Nelson
VegasInsider.com

Top seeded Florida leads the South region with several high profile programs with great history posted in these matchups. Here is a look at some of the storylines in the South quarter of the bracket and some advantages that may be ahead in the region. The top four seeds have a combined 17 national championships between them.

Favorite – Florida

Florida is the clear favorite in this region and one of the favorites to win the whole tournament. The Gators only lost twice all season with both misses in close games on the road against quality teams. The early season loss at Wisconsin was also without SEC Player of the Year Scottie Wilbekin. Florida has won 26 games in a row but they did have two close calls in the SEC Tournament and the overall strength of the SEC can rightfully be called into question. The Gators beat (South #2 seed) Kansas in the regular season but that was the only win against an elite squad all season. Florida has been impressive on both sides of the ball but the offense can go through some scoring droughts and this is one of the worst free throw shooting teams in the nation despite the success.

Final Four Sleeper – Ohio State

After starting the season 15-0 Ohio State went through an ugly slide losing five of six games in January. The Buckeyes were upset a few times down the stretch as well but Ohio State has wins at Wisconsin and at Iowa, while also getting a win over Michigan State and nearly beating Michigan in the Big Ten Tournament. Going through the Big Ten grind will help the Buckeyes in the tournament and this is a veteran team with elite playmakers though the roster is not very deep. If the Buckeyes get by Dayton they would likely face Syracuse, a #3 seed that has really struggled in recent weeks and then they could have to contend with a young Kansas team that may not have its full complement of players. Thad Matta has 11 NCAA Tournament wins the last four years and the Buckeyes could hang with Florida in fierce defensive battle.
   
Sweet 16 Sleeper – New Mexico

After being upset against Harvard last season in the NCAA Tournament New Mexico should be on a mission this season. The Lobos just won the Mountain West Tournament and they have lost just six games all season. Statistically the Lobos have strong numbers on both sides of the ball and they will be a threat for a deep run. A first round matchup with Stanford will be a challenge and facing Kansas in St. Louis will be difficult task. Joel Embiid is not likely to play and the Jayhawks are a young team that has had some inconsistency down the stretch despite immense talent however. New Mexico is a team to look out for as a threat to pick up a few wins.

Best Early Round Location Edge – UCLA

The Bruins get to play two hours away in San Diego and while several other teams in this region have similar nearby venues the Bruins have the advantage of its opponents making very long trips out west. UCLA meets Tulsa in an intriguing first round game and the late start time should only help the favorite on Pacific Time. If they meet Virginia Commonwealth in the next round the location edge will be even more prominent. The region moves to Memphis for the Sweet 16 and the Elite 8 and while that is not favorable venue for the Bruins, none of the top contenders will enjoy a big edge in that location either.

Best Opening Game – Virginia Commonwealth vs. Stephen F. Austin

Stephen F. Austin may not have played the most difficult schedule but the Lumberjacks have not lost since November. They do not have any quality wins on the season but rarely do the small conference tournament entrants ride into the field with such a run of dominance. While VCU leads the nation in creating turnovers, SFA is third in the nation in the category while taking better care of the ball on offense. As the spread on this game suggests, this won’t be a major upset if it happens.

Trendy Upset that won’t be – Tulsa over UCLA

Led by Danny Manning the Golden Hurricane have shaken off a 1-6 start to the season to now have won 11 straight games, upsetting Louisiana Tech to win the Conference USA Tournament. It has been a great run but most of the wins came against the bottom of the conference and this looks like a team happy to be in the field. The offensive numbers for the season are pretty poor and this is not a strong shooting team. UCLA has elite talent and the Bruins will get to play close to home in a late night start Friday night. A late season loss to Washington State seems to have been a wake-up call for this squad as they played brilliantly in the Pac-12 Tournament and the Bruins are a threat to make a run in this region.

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Re: NCAA Tournament Betting News and Notes

Midwest Regional Preview
By Joe Nelson
VegasInsider.com

With the brackets set, here is a quick look at the Midwest region and some of the games and teams to pay attention to. The Midwest is loaded with three of last season’s Final Four teams and some of the most prominent programs on the college basketball landscape. A case can be made for several teams for deep runs in a very intriguing region.

Favorite - Louisville

Despite the outcry Louisville was rightly seeded as a #4 seed. Last year’s championship run should not mean a thing in the seeding and the Cardinals didn’t beat an elite opponent all season. Louisville went just 3-3 in the regular season against the fellow top four teams in a mediocre AAC with the best win all season for the Cardinals being a one-point win at Cincinnati. Louisville went 0-2 in its toughest non-conference games as well and beating Rutgers by 61 should not be worth extra credit. That said, the oddsmakers are right to install Louisville as the favorite in this region and some of the early season struggles were related to the changing personnel with Chane Behanan leaving the team and Kevin Ware unable to come back from injury. Louisville has been to the Final Four the last two seasons but also remember they were an upset victim as a #4 seed in 2011 against Morehead State.

Final Four Sleeper – Duke

It seems silly to call Duke a sleeper given the historical track record for the Blue Devils and the #3 seeding for the team. In this stacked region the Blue Devils might be overlooked as three teams from last season’s Final Four are in this region. Duke has high-end wins over Michigan, UCLA, Virginia, and Syracuse this season and the Blue Devils faced one of the nation’s toughest schedules and still went 26-8. Duke will get to play the first two games basically at home with the games in Raleigh and the Duke beat #2 Michigan by 10 earlier this season. With Jabari Parker the Blue Devils have a star that can carry the team to a great run.
   
Sweet 16 Sleeper – St. Louis

The Billikens have had some time to get things right heading into the NCAA Tournament after losing four of the final five games of the season, including two home losses. That was after starting the season 25-2 with the two losses coming against highly regarded Wisconsin and undefeated Wichita State, with both defeats in very close games. St. Louis mostly dominated a very solid Atlantic 10 this season and while the first round matchup with either NC State or Xavier will be a challenge, St. Louis could pose problems to Louisville. The Billikens play exceptional defense and an often impatient Cardinals team that is not a strong outside shooting team could get locked into some bad shots. Louisville thrives on creating turnovers but St. Louis has excellent veteran guards and the Billikens have experience playing against a similar style VCU squad twice this season. If Louisville gets caught looking ahead to a Final Four rematch with Wichita State they could get tested in a tight defensive grind.

Best Early Round Location Edge – Duke

Playing just a few miles down the road is a huge advantage for Duke in the first two potential games of the tournament. Duke is team that fans of other teams love to rally against in other venues but that won’t be the case here as Duke takes on a dangerous Mercer team that comes from the same conference as last year’s Cinderella Florida-Gulf Coast. If Duke wins they will have an even greater location edge against Massachusetts, Iowa, or Tennessee, with a spot in the Sweet 16 on the line. Wichita State, Kansas State, and Kentucky should all have solid support in St. Louis, while Michigan should be well supported in Milwaukee. The Sweet 16 and Elite games will be in Indianapolis which will be a favorable location for all the top contenders except for Duke. 

Best Opening Game – Texas vs. Arizona State

In a flood of Wisconsin and Michigan fans in Milwaukee a gem of a game could emerge in the 7/10 matchup. Arizona State lost five of the final games of the season but the Suns Devils beat Arizona this season and competed well in a very strong Pac-12. Texas also faded down the stretch but the Longhorns have nine wins over NCAA Tournament teams. Both teams have offensive reputations but have actually been statistically stronger defensive teams and this looks like a coin flip game that could go down to the wire.

Trendy Upset that won’t be – Kentucky over Wichita State

This is getting a bit ahead of the bracket as Kentucky could absolutely lose to a very solid Kansas State squad in the 8/9 matchup. Many saw the Wildcats play well in the SEC Tournament and assume this year’s young Wildcats team could get on a great run. The Wildcats have talent but there has been no resemblance to the 2012 championship team that was led by freshmen. Kentucky lost three of the final four regular season games and outside of beating Louisville there are few quality wins on the resume. Wichita State is a veteran tournament tested team that plays great defense and the Shockers will be fueled by the doubters.

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West Regional Preview
By Joe Nelson
VegasInsider.com

The West is often overlooked nationally in the college basketball landscape and in this year’s tournament the West region will likely be the most overlooked region as well with most of the tournament favorites and most nationally popular teams playing elsewhere. The top contenders won’t mind the lack of attention in this region, here is a look at some of the most intriguing developments out West.

Favorite – Arizona

Despite little fanfare Arizona has by far the biggest odds gap between the second team in line in the regional futures odds in comparing the favorites in the four regions. Many doubt the Wildcats due to the late season loss of Brandon Ashley but this is still an extremely dangerous team that can win it all. The Wildcats have a veteran point guard, great size, and a do-it-all freshman that will be a NBA lottery pick. Venues in San Diego and then Anaheim also line up favorably for a deep run for the Wildcats. The Wildcats beat (West #4 seed) San Diego State in regular season and also posted wins over Duke and Michigan while winning the Pac-12. Arizona is also the top ranked team nationally in defensive efficiency as well.

Final Four Sleeper – Baylor

The Bears lost seven of eight games at one point in Big XII play but the Bears have some momentum now, winning seven of eight to close the regular season and winning three games in the Big XII Tournament before falling short against Iowa State in the final minutes of the championship game. The Bears have great depth and few teams have been better in offensive efficiency or rebounding. Baylor has 11 wins over NCAA Tournament teams this season and the Bears have been a different team with point guard Kenny Chery back to full health. The Bears won the NIT last season so this is team with better tournament experience than you might expect and playing in San Antonio for the first two potential games will help as well.

Sweet 16 Sleeper – New Mexico State

Spokane seems to be a venue where many are expecting some upsets with Harvard and North Dakota State as popular picks in the brackets. Fewer are looking at the Aggies as a serious threat but New Mexico State has some solid wins this season despite playing in the new look WAC. New Mexico State beat UTEP twice and also beat Drake. They also beat New Mexico on the road, the team that just beat San Diego State in the Mountain West Tournament final. The Aggies have one of the tallest teams in the tournament and Mountain West teams have a track record of performing poorly in the NCAA Tournament in recent years. San Diego State was upset by Florida Gulf Coast last season and in a Spokane grouping with no real location edge for anyone, the underdogs expect to make some noise. Should the Aggies move on they would draw either a vulnerable Oklahoma squad that struggles defensively or a North Dakota State team that would be coming off its own big upset win.

Best Early Round Location Edge – Wisconsin

The Badgers will get to play in nearby Milwaukee with great support going against far away teams. If the Badgers get by American they will face either BYU or Oregon and those western schools will not likely feature great support. The last time Wisconsin was dealt games in Milwaukee in the NCAA Tournament things did not work out with a loss to #3 seed Pittsburgh in the second game as an under seeded #6 team but the Badgers will have a great opportunity to move on and wipe away last season’s early exit. Heading to Anaheim won’t provide an edge for Wisconsin where they could meet Arizona or San Diego State should they get to the regional final.

Best Opening Game – Gonzaga vs. Oklahoma State

These are two dangerous teams that could be a threat against top seeded Arizona. Gonzaga nearly lost in a 1/16 matchup last season and has not had a great postseason track record in recent years. That may make the Bulldogs a bit overlooked this season despite dominance in WCC as usual and a few quality wins outside of conference. Gonzaga has great experience and size and the talent to move on. Oklahoma State will be under the microscope after the tumultuous season for Marcus Smart as the Cowboys failed to live up to the lofty preseason billing. The Cowboys have some late season momentum now with some big wins down the stretch and many see the Cowboys as a final four dark horse. It is a shame that one of these teams has to lose but it should make for one of the best round of 64 games.

Trendy Upset that won’t be – North Dakota State over Oklahoma

The Bison put together a great season with a 25-6 record they did not beat a single top 100 team this season. They played St. Mary’s, Southern Miss, and Ohio State but lost all three games. The win over Notre Dame did come with Jerian Grant on the floor for the Irish but the upset came in an awful spot for Notre Dame, just days before a huge game with Indiana. Notre Dame wound up with a losing record this season as that big win continued to diminish in value as the season went on. Oklahoma has a similar profile to North Dakota State with a great offense and a somewhat vulnerable defense. The numbers for Oklahoma are stronger on both sides of the ball however and the Sooners went through one of the tougher schedules in the nation playing in a deep Big XII. After losing in the first round of the tournament last season this will be a focused Oklahoma squad that will manage to hold off a stiff fight.

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NCAA Tournament Betting Notes - Key Trends and Stats
By: David Purdum 
Sportingnews.com

Two coaches stand above the rest when it comes to having their teams exceed expectations in the NCAA Tournament – Arizona’s Sean Miller and Michigan’s John Beilein.

Miller, with career stops at Xavier and Arizona, is 14-2-1 against the spread in the NCAA Tournament. The Wildcats are 6-1 in the tournament under Miller and enter their opening game against Weber State having covered the spread in six straight tournament games.

Beilein has been just as deadly during March Madness. He is 17-5 against the spread in the NCAA Tournament, 15-3 ATS since 2005 and 8-3 ATS at Michigan. He went 7-0 ATS in the tournament at West Virginia.

Pittsburgh’s Jamie Dixon is on the other side of the equation. His teams have continually disappointed in the NCAA Tournament. In his 10 seasons, the Panthers are 6-15 against the spread in the tourney.

More Tournament coverage: First round analysis | Championship odds | Don't trust high-seeded mid-majors

Other coaching notables:

-- Virginia Commonwealth’s Shaka Smart is 8-2 ATS in NCAA Tournament play.

-- Florida’s Billy Donovan 25-16-2 ATS in the NCAA Tournament.

-- UCLA’s Steve Alford is 1-7 ATS in his last eight NCAA Tournament games.

13 NCAA Tournament Nuggets

-- Providence is the best free-throw shooting team at 78.1 percent. Round-of-64 opponent North Carolina is the worst at 62.5 percent.

-- No team gets to the foul line more than BYU. The Cougars have attempted 1,025 free throws, the most in the nation. Opening-round opponent Oregon commits 21.3 fouls per game, ranking the Ducks 301st out of 345 Division I teams.

-- Michigan commits the fewest personal fouls per game (14.5). Opening-round opponent Wofford only gets 18.6 percent of its points from the foul line.

-- Manhattan commits the most personal fouls per game (24.1), not only in the field, but also out of all 345 Division I teams. Opening-round opponent Louisville shoots just 65.9 percent from the foul line and gets only 19.8 percent of its points at the foul line.

-- Louisville leads the field in scoring margin. The Cardinals beat teams by an average of 21.2 points per game. That is 5.3 points more than second-place Wichita State. Rick Pitino’s defending champions were the only team to be favored in every game this season. The Cards went 19-13 against the spread, despite being favored by an average 14.69 points.

-- Last season, St. Louis entered the NCAA Tournament with the best record against the spread of any team in the field at 20-9 ATS. This season, the Billikens enter the tournament with the worst record against the spread of any team in the field (10-19 ATS).

-- Since 1998, only three teams have won the national championship with a losing record against the spread: Kentucky (16-22 ATS) in 2012, North Carolina (17-19 ATS) in 2009 and UConn in 2004 (16-18-1 ATS). Eleven teams reached the tournament this season with losing records against the spread.

-- Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger is 6-15 straight-up against San Diego State coach Steve Fisher. The Aztecs eliminated the Sooners in an opening-round game of last year’s NCAA Tournament. The two teams could meet against in the Round of 32 this season.

-- St. Louis allowed teams to shoot just 28.4 percent from the 3-point line, the best 3-point defense in the field.

--Teams shot 36.6 percent from the 3-point line against North Dakota State, the worst 3-point defensive percentage in the field. Opening opponent Oklahoma averages more than eight 3-pointers per game, the fifth most out of any time in the field.

-- Mount St. Mary’s was outscored by 1.7 points per game, the worst scoring margin in the field. Milwaukee (-0.5) is the only other team in the field with a negative scoring margin.

-- Kentucky out-rebounded teams by 9.8 rebounds per game, the best rebounding margin in the field.

-- Eastern Kentucky was out-rebounded by 6.1 per game, the worst margin in the field. First-round opponent Kansas led the Big 12 in rebounding margin and is 10th in the nation.

6 Biggest Strength-of-Schedule Mismatches

(Strength-of-schedule according to Kenpom.com)

Eastern Kentucky (280) vs. Kansas (1)

American (221) vs. Wisconsin (3)

North Dakota State (139) vs. Oklahoma (15)

Mercer (293) vs. Duke (7)

Stephen F. Austin (341) vs. VCU (68)

Coastal Carolina (344) vs. Virginia (22)

Injuries

-- BYU will be without starting point guard Kyle Collinsworth, who tore his ACL in the championship game of the West Coast Conference Tournament. The Cougars are 5-point underdogs against Oregon Thursday in a rematch of their late December tilt in Eugene. The Ducks beat the Cougars 100-96 in overtime. Collinsworth had 15 points and eight assists in the game.

-- VCU G Melvin Johnson, the Atlantic-10’s sixth man of the year, injured his knee in the conference tournament and will miss the NCAA Tournament.

-- Kansas C Joel Embiid is recovering from a bad back, but is not expected to be ready for the opening round of the NCAA Tournament.

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Re: NCAA Tournament Betting News and Notes

Tournament Sleepers
By Mike Rose
VegasInsider.com

Brackets are being filled out all across the globe right now, and today, we're taking our shot at the teams which we are going to be keeping our eye on from a college basketball betting perspective in the dance.

Connecticut Huskies (26-8, 17-15 ATS) – Talk about a slap in the face! The Huskies were 26-5 this year without playing games against Louisville, and it was a tested team with a lot of solid wins (and some validating losses to boot). Shabazz Napier is the best player in the country you probably aren't even thinking about going into the dance. The way this bracket sets up gives a lot of really nice spots for the Huskies. They'll draw an overrated St. Joe's team that probably wasn't good enough to get into the field without the A-10 Tournament title, then they'll likely get Villanova, a team which they are familiar with from the days the two shared the Big East together. Don't be shocked if the Huskies catch some fire, just as they did four years ago when they went from a bubble team to the Big East champs to the National Champions.

UW-Milwaukee Panthers (21-13, 20-12 ATS) – The Panthers could be this year's version of FGCU. They really take good care of the basketball, they shoot with a purpose, and they play hard-nosed defense. Most important? They're chock full of seniors who are hungry to prove that their last place projection in the Horizon League this year was a bunch of malarkey. We like the draw every bit as much for the Panthers as well. Notice that we're picking on Villanova? That loss to Seton Hall in the quarterfinals of the Big East Tournament has us scared quite a bit for Jay Wright and the gang. The last time Nova was a #2 seed, it was nearly beaten by American. UW-Milwaukee could do just as much, if not more damage this time around.

New Mexico State Aggies (26-9, 8-5 ATS) – You probably didn't watch a lot of WAC basketball this year, and even if you did, you can't possibly be impressed with New Mexico State. Losing to teams like Chicago State and Utah Valley don't give us all that much confidence, but what does give us some hope is the fact that Daniel Mullings, Tshilidzi Nephawe, and Sim Bhullar have been here and done that in the dance before. San Diego State and the rest of the teams in the MWC seem to be prone to upsets like these, and New Mexico, San Diego State's de facto stunt double, did only split with the Aggies this year. We love the experience NMSU brings to the table, and that experience could spell at least a cover, if not an upset in the opening round of the tourney.

NC State Wolfpack (22-13, 19-12-1 ATS) – We love that the Wolfpack are a hot ATS team right now. Their win in the First Four against Xavier was their sixth cover in a row and their eighth in their last nine games. Remember that this was a team projected to be one of the best 10 teams in America last season, and though that didn't pan out, TJ Warren and some of his role player mates from that team are back. Warren averages 24.8 points per game, and he can go off on anyone in the land. Better yet for the Pack? They draw a Saint Louis team in the second round of the dance which totally fell apart down the stretch of the season. Warren and the gang could totally blow up that Midwest Bracket big time if they really get on a roll.

Providence Friars ( 23-11, 18-15 ATS) – Though the Friars found themselves firmly sitting on the bubble heading into the Big East tournament, I still liked what I was seeing from Coach Cooley’s squad. They closed the regular season out with three wins in four tries, but most important about the three wins, they were all close with two decided by five and six points and the other coming in the form of a 1-point OT win against Marquette. The lone defeat was then avenged in the Big East tourney title game against Creighton whom they dominated throughout the game’s entirety. This is a squad that enters the Big Dance very confident, talented, and experienced. They’ve covered the closing Vegas pointspread seven of the L/9 times they hit the hardwood and are matched up by a North Carolina team they can handle provided they continue playing the type of ball that punched their ticket to the Field of 64.

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Re: NCAA Tournament Betting News and Notes

Day One Recap
By Bruce Marshall
VegasInsider.com
    
While on one hand, the talking heads around the country seem to be collectively willing Michigan State and Louisville and any other “public” team to make deep runs in the Big Dance, nothing captivates the masses quite like a Cinderella story in the postseason, or upsets of any kind. Which is why the most-compelling storylines of Thursday’s NCAA sub-regional action involved a near upset of Rick Pitino’s Cardinals and a couple of “non-upset” upsets that had the network commentators and analysts acting as if they had just watched a basketball equivalent of Buster Douglas shocking Mike Tyson by knockout, 24 years ago (can it be that long since that night in Tokyo?).

Indeed, there was nothing too earth-shattering about well-respected 12th seed North Dakota State, which closed a 3 to 3½-point underdog, knocking off 5th seed Oklahoma by an 80-75 count in overtime at Spokane (though the game did feature some last-second dramatics that allowed the Bison to force overtime). Nor was 12th-seeded Harvard’s win, by a 61-57 count over another five seed, Cincinnati, considered much of an upset, given that the Crimson closed as a mere 2½ -point dog. After all, Harvard did the same thing last season, beating New Mexico, only in a more-genuine upset, by almost the same score (61-58), at Salt Lake City.

There were, however, some exciting moments on Thursday, when four of the sixteen now-called “second-round” games required overtime. As has often been the case in recent Big Dances, the five seed was a treacherous one, with aforementioned Oklahoma and Cincinnati going down vs. 12 seeds, while another five, Saint Louis, was all but beaten in its matchup vs. 12-seed NC State at Orlando before rallying from 16 down deep in the second half (more on that game in a moment). Other historical notes on Thursday included aforementioned Harvard becoming the first Ivy entry since Pete Carril’s Princeton of 1983-84 to win games in back-to-back NCAA Tourneys, while those Bison of ND State became the first team from North Dakota to ever win a game in the Dance.

Still, a lot of the noteworthy games on Thursday were caused by some very careless and sloppy play by teams, with some of them noted in our highlights of the day.

1. NC State’s collapse vs. Saint Louis...When the Wolfpack stretch the lead to 16 points (55-39) with eight minutes to play, and still led by 14 with five minutes to go, the Billikens should have been finished. Instead, Mark Gottfried’s team began an excruciating meltdown caused mostly by faulty free throw shooting, missing a staggering 11 charity tosses in the final 3:09 to enable Saint Louis to force an overtime and then prevail, 83-80. The otherwise-marvelous NC State soph, T. J. Warren, scored 28 points, but missed 8 of his 14 free throw tries, and that doesn’t count the one he missed and then stepped over the free-throw stripe too early too negate his a rebound of his own miss. It does include his miss of a possible game-tying FT with 30 seconds to play that would have completed a 3-point play. Instead, he unwisely was the NC State player who committed the foul on the subsequent SLU possession, disqualifying him from proceedings, meaning he was off the court when the Wolfpack had two more possessions and a chance to tie the game.

2. Louisville’s escape...Facing a mirror-image Manhattan side coached by Rick Pitino disciple Steve Masiello, the defending champion Cardinals were in deep trouble and trailed by 3 with inside of four minutes to play before some late triples by Russ Smith and Luke Hancock bailed out the ‘Ville in a 71-64 final that was much closer than the scoreline suggests. Manhattan showed absolutely no fear of the Cardinals and reminded the many ‘Ville cheerleaders in the media that Pitino’s team is far from invincible. As for Masiello, he has instantly become one of the new flavors of the month in the coaching circle, although his Pitino-like approach suggests he has the stuff to be one of the next big-name coaches. Whether current openings such as Boston College, Virginia Tech or Wake Forest are enough to lure him remain to be seen; something tells us Masiello might be waiting for a call from a bigger name in the not-too-distant future.

3. Dayton drama...Thursday promised to be a chaotic day from the outset when the very first tip-off of the day between Dayton and Ohio State ended with a frenzied finish. In a back-and-forth game, the Flyers’ Vee Sanford drove past Ohio State’s Aaron Craft and banked in a go-ahead runner with 3.8 seconds to go, providing the winning points in Dayton’s 60-59 win that wasn’t secured until Craft’s off-balance attempt at the buzzer, after a breathless near full-court dash in the final seconds, bounced off of the rim and backboard. Thad Matta’s Buckeyes thus ended their string of four straight Sweet 16 appearances.

4. Texas drama...Thrill-ride finish number two of the day happened in Milwaukee where the longhorns scored a buzzer-beating 87-85 win over Arizona State. It was not artistic, as the last two key Texas baskets, including a three-point play by Jonathan Holmes with 32 seconds to play, and Cameron Ridley’s short bank shot at the buzzer, were made possible only by horrifically-missed Texas field goal attempts that didn’t even hit the rim, first by Javan Felix and next by Holmes in the final seconds, to move the Longhorns a chance at rebounds they probably don’t get on a regular missed shot. Homes’ three -point misfire in the final seconds was so “short” that it took an unnatural bounce off of the lower portion of the backboard to Ridley, who otherwise was too deep to snare a normal rebound bounce. Holmes had earlier fielded a Felix air ball to score his big bucket. Sometimes, being a bit lucky is better than being a bit good.

5. The twelve seeds strike again...Again, we’re not sure that previously-mentioned wins by Harvard and North Dakota State were really upsets at all. Harvard’s credentials as a legit March entry were established a year ago with a similar lineup. The Bison needed a bit more drama to get past Oklahoma, with Lawrence Alexander’s triple with 12 seconds to play bringing NDSU level with Oklahoma to 66-66 and presaging the overtime period that the Bison dominated. What might impress more about the NDSU win was that top scorer Taylor Braun did not contribute much, missing 8 of 11 field goal tries en route to a subpar 11-point effort...yet the Bison still won and will face San Diego State on Saturday. The remaining fifth seed on Friday, Virginia Commonwealth, is thus forewarned about its matchup with Southland champ Stephen F Austin.

5. Aztecs near meltdown...Speaking of San Diego State, the last 118 times it had led with five minutes to play entering Thursday night’s game at Spokane against New Mexico State, the Aztecs had won. The streak is now at 119 after the 73-69 OT victory over New Mexico State, but the latest win probably merits an asterisk, because it didn’t have to be so close. Steve Fisher’s team led by eight with 1:24 to play before missed free throws, blown box-outs and one disastrous turnover enabled the Aggies to tie the game with a deep 3-pointer with six seconds left in regulation. Xavier Thames scored five points in overtime to help the Aztecs survive.

6. Will a 16 seed ever beat a 1 seed? We’ll have three more longshot chances on Friday, but there might be hope for the 16s after Albany put up a very decent fight vs. South top seed Florida at Orlando, with the Gators forced to work hard before finally settling for a 77-65 win over the 22-point underdog Great Danes, who might have confused Florida with their two-toned shorts that were somewhat reminiscent of Chuck Wepner’s blue-and-red trunks from his 1975 fight vs. Muhammad Ali at the old Richfield Coliseum outside of Cleveland. In Albany’s case, the colors are purple and gold, and its Great Dane mascot was one of Thursday’s best. On Friday, Coastal Carolina (vs. Virginia), Cal Poly SLO (vs. Wichita State), and Weber State (vs. Arizona) give it another shot for the 16s, who have been on an 0-fer ever since they debuted at the 1985 version of the Big Dance.

7. Conference update....We were about to start talking about the revival of the ACC until NC State surrendered that late lead against Saint Louis, as Pitt and Syracuse (loop newcomers both, but now ACC members all the same) had impressed in their wins earlier in the day. Virginia, North Carolina, and Duke get their shots on Friday. If there is a conference to take note of thus far in the college postseason (all tourneys considered), it might be the Summit, whose aforementioned North Dakota State won over Oklahoma, but also netted success in the CIT, where IPFW beat Akron and Nebraska-Omaha whipped North Dakota, with all Summit reps also covering numbers in the process. The only Summit casualty in early action came in the CBI, where South Dakota State lost close at Old Dominion.

We just had to make those CIT and CBI mentions!

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