Friday’s NCAA Tournament first round betting preview: East Region

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Updated: March 16, 2017
(14) New Mexico State Aggies vs (3) Baylor Bears (-12.5, 134)

Game to be played at BOK Center, Tulsa, Oklahoma

After finishing tied for second place in the powerful Big 12 Conference, Baylor held out hope for a program-best No. 2 seed despite suffering a 70-64 quarterfinal loss to Kansas State in the conference tournament. Instead, the Bears matched a school record with a No. 3 seeding in the East Region of the NCAA Tournament but also got their best-case scenario by being placed in the Tulsa quadrant, where they will face 14th-seeded WAC champion New Mexico State in the first round Friday.

It’s roughly a five-hour drive from Waco to Tulsa for Baylor fans, who will be hoping the Bears can avoid a third straight first-round loss. Baylor has garnered a No. 3 seed for the fourth time (2010, 2012, 2015) and will be looking to avoid a history-making setback against the Aggies. The Bears fell to Yale 79-75 as a fifth seed last year and were edged 57-56 by Georgia State as a No. 3 in 2015, but a top-5 seed has not lost in the first round in three consecutive years. New Mexico State, which overcame a 13-minute field-goal drought to win the WAC tournament with a 70-60 comeback victory over defending champion Cal State Bakersfield on Saturday, is no stranger to March Madness as it makes its fifth appearance in the Tournament in six years.

TV: 12:40 p.m. ET, truTV

LINE HISTORY: Baylor opened as 12-point favorites and that number has been bet up half-point to 12.5. The total opened at 135.5 and within an hour was bet down to 134.5 before returning to the opening number.  Late in the week the 135.5 began to fad and by Thursday afternoon had settled at 134.5. Check out the complete line history here.

BETTING STATS:

 

ABOUT NEW MEXICO STATE (28-5 SU, 3-2 ATS, 2-3 OU)
: The Aggies finished tied for second place in the WAC regular-season standings with Grand Canyon at 11-3, one game behind Cal State Bakersfield (12-2) in their first campaign under coach Paul Weir, a long-time assistant under Marvin Menzies before he departed in April to take the job at UNLV. The cupboard hardly was bare, however, as six of the team’s seven top scorers returned – including senior guard Ian Baker, who earned WAC Player of the Year honors after averaging 16.6 points, 4.3 rebounds and 4.1 assists. Baker followed that by being named MVP of the WAC tournament, scoring all 15 of his points in the title game in the second half, while 6-7 sophomore forward Eli Chula, an All-Conference Second Team pick who is averaging 12.4 points and a team best nine rebounds, and junior guard Braxton Huggins (13.6 points, 86 3-pointers) also were named to the All-Tournament Team. 

ABOUT BAYLOR (25-7 SU, 14-13 ATS, 10-16-1 OU)
: The early exit from the Big 12 tournament was viewed by some to be a blessing in disguise for the Bears, who lost six of their final 11 games as they seemed to wear down in the final month. “We’ll take the positive, go home, get rest, get healthy, practice a little bit and hopefully execute like Kansas State did come next week,” coach Scott Drew told reporters. Junior forward Johnathan Motley, who dislocated a finger in the loss to Kansas State but returned to the game, is a semifinalist for the Naismith Award and leads the team in scoring (17.3 points) and the Big 12 in rebounding (9.9) while junior point guard Manu Lecomte, slowed by a sprained ankle over the final three weeks of the season, also is scoring in double digits (12.4 points) while averaging a team-best 3.9 assists and shooting 42.2 percent from 3-point range.

MATCHUP CHART:

TRENDS:

* Aggies are 1-7 ATS in their last 8 neutral site games as an underdog.
* Bears are 6-1 ATS in their last 7 non-conference games.
* Under is 13-3 in Aggies last 16 games as an underdog.
* Under is 5-1 in Aggies last 6 NCAA Tournament games.
* Under is 5-0 in Bears last 5 games following a straight up loss.

Click here for a complete list of hot and cold trends.

 

(11) Southern California Trojans vs (6) Southern Methodist Mustangs (-6, 139.5)

Game to be played at BOK Center, Tulsa, Oklahoma

Sixth-seeded SMU is riding a 16-game winning streak as it tries to snap a stretch of almost three decades without an NCAA Tournament victory Friday when it takes on 11th seed USC in the first round of the Eastern Regional in Tulsa, Ok. The Mustangs are winners of a school-record 30 games this season, but have not won a contest in the Big Dance since defeating Notre Dame in the first round in 1988.

SMU lost just once if its last 27 games on the way to the American Athletic Conference title and coach Tim Jankovich told reporters it takes a team with great character, maturity and chemistry to accomplish that type of run. The Mustangs’ small rotation – six active players averaging more than eight minutes – will get a challenge from USC, which rallied from a 15-point halftime deficit to knock off Providence 75-71 in the First Four on Wednesday in Dayton, Ohio. The Trojans are also 5-1 all-time against SMU, including a 78-73 triumph in Los Angeles on Nov. 25, but USC coach Andy Enfield has plenty of respect for the Mustangs. “They’re a terrific basketball team,” Enfield said after the win Wednesday. “. … They’re big, they’re long, they’re very skilled.”

TV: 3:10 p.m. ET, truTV

LINE HISTORY:  SMU opened as 6.5-point favorites over USC and that line briefly dropped to 6 before returning to the opening number.  The total opened at 139.5 and has been bet down to 138. Check out the complete line history here.

BETTING STATS:

 

ABOUT SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA (28-5 SU, 3-2 ATS, 2-3 OU)
: The Trojans have shown plenty of character this season as well, rallying from at least 10 points down to win 12 games after scoring 46 in the second half on Wednesday. Sophomore forward Bennie Boatwright led the way with a career-high 24 points against Providence and tops a balanced offense at 15.1 overall – just ahead of 6-11 sophomore Chimezie Metu (14.5, 7.9 rebounds, 54.2 percent shooting). Junior point guard Jordan McLaughlin (13.2 points, 5.4 assists) runs the show and scored 18 while hauling in a career-best 10 rebounds Wednesday.

ABOUT SOUTHERN METHODIST (25-7 SU, 14-13 ATS, 10-16-1 OU): Junior forward Semi Ojeleye, who was named AAC Player of the Year, leads the way for the Mustangs at 18.9 points per game while draining 42.8 percent from 3-point range. SMU shoots 40.3 percent from behind the arc overall and senior guard Sterling Brown (13.3 points) along with sophomore guard Shake Milton (13.1, team-high 4.5 assists) both make at least 42 percent from long range. Senior forward Ben Moore also contributes 11.6 points and a team-most 7.9 rebounds for the Mustangs, who are third in the nation in scoring defense (59.8).

MATCHUP CHART:

TRENDS:

* Mustangs are 12-3-1 ATS in their last 16 games following a ATS win.
* Mustangs are 20-5-1 ATS in their last 26 games overall.
* Trojans are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games overall.
* Over is 6-1 in Trojans last 7 non-conference games.
* Over is 7-0-1 in Mustangs last 8 overall.

Click here for a complete list of hot and cold trends.

(15)Troy Trojans vs (2) Duke Blue Devils (-20, 153.5)

Game to be played at Bon Secours Wellness Arena, Greenville, South Carolina

After running through the loaded ACC tournament bracket, Duke now turns its attention to the NCAA Tournament East Region, which the second-seeded Blue Devils will begin with a matchup against No. 15 seed Troy on Friday in Greenville, S.C. The Blue Devils are in the NCAA Tournament for the 33rd time under coach Mike Krzyzewski and the 22nd season in a row. 

The Trojans earned their first NCAA Tournament bid since 2003 with a 59-53 win over Texas State on Sunday, completing an unlikely run through the Sun Belt tournament as the No. 6 seed. They face an even bigger uphill climb against the Blue Devils, who started the season as the top-ranked team in the nation and have recently started to play like it again. Duke has endured numerous injuries, along with the one-game suspension and continued scrutiny surrounding star guard Grayson Allen’s apparent propensity for tripping opponents, and had dropped three of four heading into the ACC tournament. But the streaky Blue Devils are riding a hot streak into the NCAA Tournament after beating Clemson, Louisville, North Carolina and Notre Dame – the latter three all received top-five seeds Sunday.

TV: 7:20 p.m. ET, TBS

LINE HISTORY: Duke opened as 19-point favorites and that number has went up a full point to an even 20.  The total opened at 152 and has been bet up 1.5-points to 153.5. Check out the complete line history here.

BETTING STATS:

 

ABOUT TROY (22-14 SU, 20-12 ATS, 19-13 OU): The Trojans have won six straight entering the NCAA Tournament despite going 1-for-17 from 3-point range against Texas State – usually a kiss of death for a team that led the Sun Belt with 305 made 3s. NBA legacy Wesley Person Jr. (14.8 points) is the biggest 3-point bomber, making 92-of-230 this season, but Kevin Baker (8.2 points, 3.1 assists), Jeremy Hollimon (12.1 points) and Juan Davis Jr. (7.3 points) are threats. The ability to hit the outside shot, coupled with a talented if undersized post duo in Jordon Varnado (16.5 points, 7.1 rebounds) and former Florida forward DeVon Walker (7.9 points, 6.3 rebounds), make the Trojans a dangerous matchup.

ABOUT DUKE (27-8 SU, 15-18-1 ATS, 16-17-1 OU)
: When healthy, the Blue Devils are one of the deepest, most talented teams in the nation, and they came out of the ACC tournament grind relatively unscathed. Guard Luke Kennard (20.1 points, 5.3 rebounds) and forward Amile Jefferson (10.9 points, 8.2 rebounds) have been the most consistent contributors, but freshman forward Jayson Tatum (16.9 points, 7.3 rebounds) came on strong after an early-season knee injury and Duke is not the same team when Allen (14.1 points, 3.5 assists) isn’t healthy. Freshman guard Frank Jackson (10.7 points) and defensive whiz Matt Jones (6.8 points, 1.7 steals) give the Blue Devils a deep backcourt, which always comes in handy in March.

MATCHUP CHART:
 


TRENDS:

* Trojans are 9-2 ATS in their last 11 games vs. a team with a winning % above .600.
* Blue Devils are 6-1 ATS in their last 7 NCAA Tournament games as a favorite.
* Blue Devils are 1-5 ATS in their last 6 games as a favorite of 13.0 or greater.
* Under is 6-1 in Trojans last 7 games following a straight up win.
* Under is 12-2 in Blue Devils last 14 non-conference games.

Click here for a complete list of hot and cold trends.

 

(10) Marquette Golden Eagles vs (7) South Carolina Gamecocks (-1.5, 145)

Game to be played at Bon Secours Wellness Arena, Greenville, South Carolina

South Carolina gets some home cooking for its first NCAA Tournament appearance in 13 years when it faces Marquette on Friday in Greenville, S.C. The seventh-seeded Gamecocks, who are led by SEC Player of the Year and leading scorer Sindarius Thornwell, haven’t won a tournament game since 1973 while the 10th-seeded Golden Eagles are in for the first time under coach Steve Wojciechowski.

Frank Martin’s team got off to a strong start, winning 19 of its first 23 games but stumbled a bit down the stretch, dropping six of nine contests. Thornwell, who also leads the team in rebounding, P.J. Dozier and Duane Notice are the top performers for a South Carolina team that had eight players who average at least 14 minutes. The Golden Eagles, who are back in the tournament after qualifying in eight straight seasons from 2006 to 2013, also have a balanced squad led by freshman Markus Howard, the nation’s top 3-point shooter. Jajuan Johnson, Luke Fischer and Katin Reinhardt provided the senior leadership for Marquette, which went 1-2 against Seton Hall, a team South Carolina lost to by three points in December.

TV: 9:50 p.m. ET, TBS

LINE HISTORY: South Carolina opened as 1.5-point favorites and that number hasn’t moved all week. The total opened at 148 and has been dropping all week, settling at 145. Check out the complete line history here.

BETTING STATS:

 

ABOUT MARQUETTE (19-12 SU, 16-15 ATS, 16-15 OU): Led by Howard, who hits at 54.9 percent from beyond the arc, and Andrew Rowsey, the Golden Eagles are the top 3-point shooting team in the country at 43 percent. Wojciechowski’s team can also convert from the foul line (77.9 percent) and closed with four wins in its last six games to get off the tournament bubble. Rowsey, a 5-10 guard and UNC Asheville transfer, has come on since taking over the point guard duties,scoring 18 points or more in seven of the last 11 games for Marquette. 

ABOUT SOUTH CAROLINA (22-10 SU, 11-16-2 ATS, 11-17-1 OU)
: The offense numbers for the Gamecocks won’t thrill anyone as they shoot 41.4 percent from the field and average 72 points. Thornwell improved his scoring by more than seven points per game from his junior season thanks to improved shooting, but the 6-5 guard is still not great in that regard at 43.9 percent. Dozier, a sophomore, more than doubled his scoring output from last season, and combines with Chris Silva and Maik Kotsar to give the Gamecocks three solid rebounders.

MATCHUP CHART:

TRENDS:

* Golden Eagles are 4-0 ATS in their last 4 vs. Southeastern.
* Gamecocks are 1-9 ATS in their last 10 games overall.
* Over is 7-1 in Golden Eagles last 8 neutral site games.
* Over is 5-0 in Gamecocks last 5 games vs. a team with a winning % above .600.

Click here for a complete list of hot and cold trends.

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