Why every NCAA event crew will cover the unfold in their Thursday first-round recreation

by Brett Harper

The 2019 NCAA basketball event has officially tipped off. The First Four wrapped up Wednesday afternoon, and the sixty four-group brackets are officially set. Louisville and Minnesota kick off the initial round Thursday at 12:15 p.M. ET, and the tournament wraps up three weeks from now on Monday, April 8, with the countrywide championship game.

There will be masses of Cinderella stories to preserve us entertained, but even when Cinderella comes up just brief, she will nonetheless win you money in opposition to the unfolding. So, it’s time to start figuring out wherein we’ll see upsets.


We’ve indexed out the unfold for all 16 first-spherical matchups for Thursday’s games, after which spoken with our network of group brand managers to figure out why each team would possibly cowl the spread. Everybody has their philosophy, but getting insight from people who are especially dialed in can assist get you an important side to turn this March into a profitable one.

East vicinity
2) Michigan State vs. 15) Bradley, 2:45 p.M., CBS
Spread: Michigan State -19.5

Why Michigan State will cowl: Whether the road is at 18, 19, or 20 factors, Michigan State will certainly cowl of their NCAA event opener in opposition to the Bradley Braves. There are actual basketball motives, most important of which is Bradley just isn’t that properly at basketball. The Braves are averaging more or less sixty-five points consistent with the game, about similar to what MSU allows on average. Precise protection may be vital to winning a championship for a contender, but a Cinderella desires to score. Michigan State, alternatively, can place up factors on nearly any defense and forces other groups to play at their pace. A fifth-location MVC team, irrespective of their conference event success, isn’t going to preserve up. There are issues with Bradley off the court as well. Unlike maximum upset-minded teams, Bradley doesn’t have the aid of the small-school-loving media. After an embarrassing weekend of banning, then unbanning a homeland journalist for “now not assisting the brand,” Bradley’s gamers have needed to cope with a whole different sort of media blitz this week. Forget 20 factors, get higher odds and take MSU at 25. — Kyle There, The Only Colors

Why Bradley will cowl: Bradley is 301st in adjusted tempo, consistent with KenPom, and 346th (out of 353 groups) in adjusted defensive ownership period. In other phrases, the Braves are probable to gradual the sport down, meaning Michigan State ought to be particularly efficient on offense to blow it open. — Chris Dobbertean, Blogging the Bracket

3) LSU vs. 14) Yale, 12:40 p.M., truTV
Spread: LSU -8

Why LSU will cowl: The most apparent purpose to assume LSU covers the -7.5 unfold against Yale is seeding. LSU’s a three seed for a purpose, and Yale, in spite of being Ivy League champions, continues to be an important midmost college, and the purpose is that LSU has the higher expertise. But that’s too simplistic and albeit the incorrect manner at looking at Yale; Yale is as best a team as it gets and the roster is complete of experienced players. Yale loves to push the pace, but that’s a weapon LSU can flip against the Bulldogs. A quicker tempo also lends more probabilities to create turnovers, and LSU is 8th inside the complete us of an in steals thank you in huge part to guards Tremont Waters and Skylar Mays. Yale ranks 210th nationally in turnovers, so LSU is begging the Bulldogs to play uptempo. The Tigers even have an enormous size advantage within the frontcourt with Naz Reid, Kavell Bigby-Williams and Emmitt Williams. LSU is the second one-satisfactory offensive rebounding group in the united states for a purpose, and it’s in large part owed to that trio’s length. Between the adequate possibilities for factors off of turnovers and getting excessive percent appears within the painted place, LSU ought to be able to get to the second spherical and cowl the unfold in the procedure. — Zachary Junda, And the Valley Shook

Why Yale will make cowl: Internal turmoil has made LSU tough to peg, and that’s a part of the motive why Yale is a cutting-edge upset choose. It additionally enables that the Bulldogs have a legitimate NBA prospect in Miye Oni. Yale doesn’t do someone factor spectacularly, but it does everything well. If Oni receives going from three, they will be difficult to stop. — Russell Steinberg, Mid Major Madness

6) Maryland vs. 11) Belmont, 3:10 p.M., truTV
Spread Maryland -three.Five

Why Maryland will cowl: Maryland limped to the finish in the Big Ten. However, the Terps have large guys well worth making a bet on. Sophomore middle Bruno Fernando earned first-team All-Big Ten honors after averaging a double-double for the season, and only some groups on Maryland’s schedule all year had been able to incorporate him. He’s coming off a season-low 3 points within the conference tournament but has a brilliant 21 double-doubles in 32 video games. Fernando and Jalen Smith are as bold a front line as any inside the united states, and the Terps have enough playmakers in the backcourt to make lifestyles hard for each person. — Thomas Kendziora, Testudo Times

Why Belmont will cowl: Belmont could be coming into Thursday’s sport sparkling off a Tuesday win over Temple which didn’t see them play at their best. This is especially true for the Bruins’ best player, NBA Draft prospect Dylan Windler, who scored simply five points on a terrible taking pictures night time. (A forty-two percent 3-factor shooter, he turned into simply 1-of-5 from beyond the arc in Dayton.) At-big First Four winners historically do well in their first-spherical games in the important draw, and the Bruins offense and short tempo, which can trouble a Maryland team used to play in a slower Big Ten, ought to allow them to at the least hold this matchup to a one-ownership sport late. — Chris Dobbertean, Blogging the Bracket

7) Louisville vs. 10) Minnesota, 12:15 p.M., CBS
Spread: Louisville -4.5

Why Louisville will cover: Minnesota is one of the worst shooting groups within the event, and, as a result, a number of the time after they lose, they lose awful. Seven of the Gophers 13 losses this season have come through double-digits, and two of the video games that were unmarried-digit defeats came by way of 9 points. Louisville has been an erratic offensive crew at instances this season. However, they’ve been solid in March to this point. The Cardinals’ adjusted offensive performance score of 117.8 for the month to date is the 23rd-great inside u. S .. — Mike Rutherford, Card Chronicle

Why Minnesota will cowl: Minnesota’s capacity to draw fouls maintains them in most video games. The Golden Gophers got to the foul line on forty-two percentage of their area aim tries this season, a top-15 mark within the united states of America. Jordan Murphy is a dependable inside scorer who controls the glass, and Amir Coffey is a large wing who can lower to the rim. As long as Minnesota doesn’t dig itself right into a large hole, they can cowl 4.5 factors. — Ricky O’Donnell

South area
three) Purdue vs. 14) Old Dominion, nine:50 p.M., TBS
Spread: Purdue -12

Why Purdue will cowl: Purdue has one of the most efficient offenses within the state even when Carsen Edwards has now not been. Matt Harms has been playing outstanding basketball down the stretch at the same time as Ryan Cline has been warm from three all season. When the entirety is clicking Purdue is a hazardous crew with Harms able to play interior and out even as going for walks the high ball display. Edwards has additionally been better in fair website games as opposed to actual road games, as evidenced via the underneath from our author Juan Crespo.

Why Old Dominion will cover: Old Dominion is every other slow crew (325th in adjusted pace) that is sturdy defensively (forty fifths in adjusted defensive performance). But the Monarchs have also gotten themselves in the dependency of playing very near video games. Of their 33 games to this point, only 13 were decided with the aid of 10 or extra points, with merely five of these contests coming because of January. — Chris Dobbertean, Blogging the Bracket

6) Villanova vs. 11) St. Mary’s, 7:20 p.M., TBS
Spread: Villanova -5

Why Villanova will cowl: Villanova has had a distinctly down 12 months this 12 months. However, they’re coming into the match fresh off of a Big East event championship, their 0.33 immediately. In St. Mary’s, Villanova faces a group very much like their personal, one who performs at a molasses pace (Villanova and St. Mary’s are 339th and 350th in offensive tempo, respectively), has a distinctly thin rotation (296th and 308th in bench mins), and whose offenses are constructed around the 3 (Villanova is 1/3 in 3P/FGA, St. Mary’s is 33rd in 3P%). The important variations? Villanova is playing three,000 miles closer to domestic than St. Mary’s, ‘Nova has better teaching, and the Wildcats are the higher crew by using maximum advanced metrics. Villanova may additionally have a tough matchup against the Gaels. However Scottie Reynolds can be avenged, and Jay Wright’s quad could be capable of the win via greater than five come Thursday night time. — Mike Jacobs, VU Hoops

Why St. Mary’s will cowl: By the KenPom and NET ratings, the Saint Mary’s-Villanova recreation is the various closest in the complete first round, nearer than many 7-vs.-10 and eight-vs.-9 games. And in lots of approaches, these teams are mirror images of one another. However, the Gaels shoot a bit higher from outside, and if their threes drop, this one will be tight to the quit. — Chris Dobbertean, Blogging the Bracket

Midwest vicinity
2) Kentucky vs. 15) Abilene Christian, 7:10 p.M., CBS
Spread: Kentucky -22

Why Kentucky will cover: Kentucky is coming off an intestine-wrenching loss to Tennessee within the SEC tournament, which not handiest cost the Wildcats a No. 1 seed, but also saved them from playing in Louisville for the South Region. They’ll be equipped to take out their anger on whoever is up next, which occurs to be Abilene Christian, who hasn’t overwhelmed every one of the result.

According to KenPom, ACU’s fine win is over 186th-ranked Campbell, who’s also ranked 223rd within the NCAA’s NET ratings (ACU is 154th). The best valid foe ACU confronted become Texas Tech, who received eighty two-48 in Lubbock. Jacksonville is a chunk of travel for Kentucky fanatics, but they’ve usually painted Florida blue every time the Cats play in the Sunshine State, so it must be a semi-domestic sport for them.

This is a game Kentucky need to genuinely win by way of 25 factors or greater, so I feel accurate about the Lexington Cats protecting the spread vs. The Abilene Cats. — Jason Marcum, A Sea of Blue

Why Abilene Christian will cowl: Abilene Christian forces turnovers, especially steals and shoots three-recommendations at an excellent clip. If the Southland champs deploy those two guns effectively, they should preserve this one within 22 points. — Chris Dobbertean, Blogging the Bracket

four) Kansas vs. 13) Northeastern, four:00 p.M., TNT
Spread: Kansas -8.5

Why Kansas will cowl: At first glance, Northeastern looks like a team that would slay effective Kansas. They take over forty-six percentage in their photographs from at the back of the arc, and they may be a pinnacle-15 team in phrases of 3-point percentage. However, Northeastern is a sub-250 group in urgent several shielding measures, and that they don’t have everybody who can match up with KU’s bigs, especially Dedric Lawson. Additionally, the Huskies haven’t seen anyone with Devon Dotson’s quickness on the fringe; it is going to be a strict order for them to stay in the front of KU’s point defend defensively. Kansas should be capable of rating at will, and Bill Self has lots of time to determine out how to get his defense to stay in the front of Northeastern’s shooters. Also remember the fact that Northeastern struggled to attain in opposition to their P5 opponents this yr (Alabama, Virginia Tech, Syracuse). Even although they went 1-2 in the one’s video games, their maximum point output turned into merely 68, and that turned into the win over Alabama, an NIT team. It can be a greatly disillusioned select in some circles but search for the Jayhawks to cowl instead without difficulty. — Mike Plank, Rock Chalk Talk

Why Northeastern will cover: Northeastern has five players who make their three-point attempts at better than a 39-percentage clip. If as a minimum 3 of them get warm, the Huskies will at the least maintain it close. — Chris Dobbertean, Blogging the Bracket

five) Auburn vs. 12) New Mexico State, 1:30 p.M., TNT
Spread: Auburn -7.5

Why Auburn will cover: Auburn is one of the first-rate teams inside the USA at changing turnovers into factors. New Mexico State runs a gradual-paced offense, however, will contend with Auburn’s press, on the way to try to force the Aggies to get out in their half of-courtroom sets. It labored against Tennessee inside the SEC championship, and Auburn will cover due to the fact they may have manner more possessions than the Aggies need them to have.

Oh, and Jared effing Harper. — Jack Condon, College, and Magnolia

Why New Mexico State will cowl: New Mexico State is one of the deeper teams inside us of a, as head train Chris Jans has a rotation that capabilities ten gamers who play at least 10 minutes in keeping with the game. That way the Aggies will be able to rotate their gamers inside and out enough to take care of the Tigers’ tempo and tempo. — Chris Dobbertean, Blogging the Bracket

7) Wofford vs. 10) Seton Hall, nine:40 p.M., CBS
Spread: Wofford -three

Why Wofford will cover: In a game that need to be a satisfaction for enthusiasts who want to see players hit massive pictures, Wofford has masses of fellows who can shoot the 3. Not most effective do the Terriers have Fletcher Magee (41.3 percent from beyond the arc), they’ve Storm Murphy (50.6 percentage), Nathan Hoover (46.1 percent), Tray Hollowell (44.Eight percent), and Cameron Johnson (38.9 percentage) roaming the fringe. That’s quite a few scoring power for Seton Hall to deal with. — Chris Dobbertean, Blogging the Bracket

Why Seton Hall will cover: Myles Powell is one of the most electric powered scorers in the complete event, having recorded 22 20+ factor video games this season. Between Powell’s items on offense and the current emergence of shield Myles Cale as a secondary scorer and 3-factor threat, the Pirates need to be in precise shape towards a Wofford defense that struggled against excessive-predominant opponents in convention play. — Robert O’Neill, Big East Coast Bias

West location
1) Gonzaga vs. Sixteen) Fairleigh Dickinson, 7:20 p.M., TBS
Spread: Gonzaga -26.5

Why Gonzaga will cowl: The Gonzaga Bulldogs will without difficulty beat the unfold in opposition to the Fairleigh Dickinson Knights for one simple purpose: Gonzaga beat its convention combatants this year by way of a mean of 27 points in keeping with the sport. The Knights are ranked No. 207 through KenPom, which might put them as the third-worst crew in the WCC. Gonzaga’s offense is too properly to stop, and Mark Few can be searching out an assertion from his squad after that profound loss to Saint Mary’s inside the WCC match championship sport. — Peter Woodburn, The Slipper Still Fits

Why Fairleigh Dickinson will cover: While Gonzaga has been a No. 1 seed twice, their first-round wins both got here via less than the spread for Thursday’s contest. In 2013, the Bulldogs handiest defeated Southern via six, while in 2017, they took down South Dakota State by using 20. With Fairleigh Dickinson being an amazing perimeter shooting group, the Knights can truly use the three balls to make certain records repeats itself. — Chris Dobbertean, Blogging the Bracket

2) Michigan vs. 15) Montana, 9:20 p.M., TNT
Spread: Michigan -sixteen

Why Michigan will need cowl: Michigan and Montana confronted off closing yr inside the NCAA event first spherical below comparable circumstances, and the Wolverines simplest beat them with the aid of 14. That crew turned into a piece higher than this edition of the Wolverines, however with the spread set at 15.5 for Thursday’s recreation, I sense like they ought to be able to cowl that coming off of any other disappointing loss to Michigan State and understanding what’s on the line now. We noticed a far greater influenced and prepared for March basketball crew closing weekend in Chicago, and I think they recognize what they should do. They’ll cover it. — Anthony Broome, Maize N Brew

Why Montana will need cowl: Montana brings one of the maximum skilled rosters to the NCAA Tournament, and lost to Michigan in the remaining tournament year as a 14 seed. The Griz get right seems on offense nearly every time down, and rank 7th within the USA in powerful discipline purpose percent. The sport will likely be performed at a slower pace, and the Griz can get cowl if they execute their offense. — Russell Steinberg, Mid Major Madness

4) Florida State vs. 13) Vermont, 2:00 p.M., TBS
Spread: Florida State -eleven

Why Florida State will cover: Florida State’s defense is rated 9th nationally, but considering that Feb. 1 they been playing at an elite degree (1/3 nationally). Their period will provide Vermont fits and permit FSU to attain sufficient in transition to hold their opponents at bay. — Michael Rogner, Tomahawk Nation

Why Vermont will cover: The satisfactory participant on the ground received’t be in garnet and gold. Anthony Lamb can bully maximum everybody on FSU’s team who can be guarding him. And while he can’t? He’ll knock down threes or go to his midrange sport. The Seminoles can’t match up. — Michael Rogner, Tomahawk Nation

five) Marquette vs. 12) Murray State, 4:30 p.M., TBS
Spread: Marquette -four

Why Marquette will cover: First, Marquette is the first-rate defensive team that Murray State has visible all season. Marquette is No. 35 in KenPom’s adjusted protective performance metric, and Murray State hasn’t even performed towards pinnacle-eighty protection because the calendar changed to 2019. Second, if Marquette has a lead late and desires to hold onto the margin from the loose-throw line, they can rely on being a top-25 free-throw taking pictures team with three starters taking pictures over 80 percent from the charity stripe. Finally, and it’s the perfect and maximum obvious answer: Marquette has Markus Howard, and Murray State does now not. Oh, don’t get me incorrect, Ja Morant is amazing, and does stuff Howard can not. But Howard is a much greater explosive scorer, capable of single-handedly turning a game from an ownership or two into a 10-point margin in mere minutes, and also you’d handiest need one hand to count the number of photographs that it took him to do it. — Andrew Fleck, Anonymous Eagle

Why Murray State will cowl: You recognize precisely why Murray State can cowl. They have Ja Morant, whose matchup with Markus Howard is going to be appointment viewing. The 12-five is always a popular dissatisfied pick, and Murray State goes to follow that fashion. It shouldn’t be remotely surprising if they cover or even win outright. Ja and the Racers are that right. — Russell Steinberg, Mid Major Madness

7) Nevada vs. 10) Florida, 6:50 p.M., TNT
Spread: Nevada -2.5

Why Nevada will cover: Nevada has heaps of experience, both within the age of gamers (the oldest group inside the event) and postseason experience (after a run to the Sweet 16 remaining year). The Martin twins — Caleb and Cody — are the maximum widely recognized at the crew, but Jordan Caroline can be one of the maximum underrated gamers in us of a. He sat out the MWC identify sport with an Achilles trouble. However he has to be returned for this one against the Gators. The Wolfpack don’t flip it over and run an efficient offense. They can get buckets, and don’t ever count number them out (see: comeback vs. Cincy remaining 12 months). — Caroline Darney

Why Florida will need cowl: The Gators rank 14th in adjusted protection and rank close to the lowest of the country in adjusted tempo. Nevada has an appreciably deeper offense, and Florida and will appear to slow this recreation down using a massive margin. Nevada brings aspect inexperience, but if Florida turns this into an unsightly slog, they could spring the disenchanted. — David Fucillo

eight) Syracuse vs. Nine) Baylor, 9:57 p.M., truTV
Spread: Syracuse -2

Why Syracuse will need cowl: Baylor is one of the high-quality offensive rebounding groups within the USA. However, Syracuse ought to be able to weather that storm and cowl as the tallest group in the country. The Orange obtained a few inspired shield play within the ACC match without Tyus Battle and are now playing at its highest level all season. With Battle lower back within the fold, look for Syracuse to lock in defensively in the 2-three area because it frequently does in March and cowl the point spread. — James Szuba, Troy Nunes is an Absolute Magician

Why Baylor will cover: Baylor will cowl because Baylor has a big offensive rebounding gain — the Bears are 2d in offensive rebounding rate, and Syracuse is 335th in shielding rebounding charge (explored greater right here). The Orange let North Carolina, a worse offensive rebounding group, snatch 52 percent of their misses. Baylor runs that returned and actions on. — Kendall Kaut, Our Daily Bears

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