There are way too many NCAA Tournament props at the various sportsbooks to address them all here. One I like at BetOnline is whether a team seeded No.1 through 4 wins the Big Dance, with "yes" at -900 and "no" at +550. Only three times since the tourney first expanded in 1985 has a seed lower than No. 4 won it all: No. 8 Villanova in '85, No. 6 Kansas in 1988 and No. 7 UConn three years ago. At -900, that's probably not worth your time even though it's probably a near-lock. Perhaps a better one is whether a No. 1 or No. 2 wins it all with yes at -280 and no at +220.
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UNC Greensboro at Syracuse ( -11.5 )
NIT first-round game at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN. The Orange are one of the top seeds in the NIT after they missed out on an at-large bid for the NCAA Tournament. In fact, Syracuse was the only team that ESPN's Joe Lunardi got wrong; he nailed the other 67 teams in the field. Lunardi had USC out and Syracuse in. I don't believe SU deserved a bid with an 18-14 overall record. Yes, it had quality wins over No. 6 Florida State, No. 9 Virginia and No. 10 Duke, but those were all at home. SU had just two wins away from the Carrier Dome. They also had terrible home losses to Georgetown and St. John's and an even worse defeat at Boston College. Syracuse had an RPI of 84, and that would be been the lowest number of any at-large team ever. Just because the school snuck in last year and then made the Final Four shouldn't influence the committee's decision to let the Orange in this time. Plus I enjoy seeing Mr. Bitter Beer Face Jim Boeheim whine on ESPN.
UNC Greensboro tied for the Southern Conference regular-season title and was the top seed in the conference tournament but lost to East Tennessee State in the championship game as the Buccaneers earned their first NCAA Tournament berth since 2010. UNC Greensboro was looking to end a 16-year Big Dance drought. What makes this matchup interesting is that just last week after losing to Miami in the ACC Tournament, Boeheim whined about how that event should never again return to Greensboro, where it had been held for years. It was in Brooklyn this time. Reggie Minton, chair of the selection committee, insisted the NIT did not pair up the teams on purpose when the bracket was set. The city of Greensboro chimed in on its Twitter account: "Kudos NIT on having a sense of humor. Well played!" I wish it was being played there.
Key trends: The Spartans are 5-2-1 against the spread in their past eight games. The Orange are 2-5 ATS in their past seven out of conference.
I'm leaning: UNC Greensboro. Not sure how much the SU players will care.
No. 16 Mount St. Mary's vs. No. 16 New Orleans (-1.5)
First Four game at 6:40 p.m. ET from Dayton and on truTV. The winner plays NCAA Tournament No. 1 overall seed and defending National Champion Villanova on Thursday in the East Region. Mount St. Mary's was the Northeast Conference regular-season and tournament champion. It's the fifth Big Dance appearance for the Mountaineers and first since 2014. They started the season 1-11. But, to be fair, the Mount's first nine games were all on the road. They played at the likes of West Virginia, Iowa State, Minnesota, Michigan and Arkansas, losing them all handily to eventual NCAA Tournament teams. Mount St. Mary's is one of the worst rebounding teams in the country, finishing last in rebounding margin in the NEC as well as finished 327th in offensive rebounding percentage and 336th in defensive rebounding percentage.
New Orleans was the Southland Conference regular-season and tournament champion. It's the fifth NCAA Tournament appearance for the Privateers and first since 1996. They were picked to finish ninth in the preseason Southland poll after going 10-20 last season. New Orleans played a handful of NCAA Tournament teams out of conference, losing at Oklahoma State, USC and Northwestern in blowout fashion. The Privateers are led by senior forward Erik Thomas, who averages of 19.5 points and 7.8 rebounds and was named Southland Conference Player of the Year.
Key trends: The Privateers are 4-1 ATS in their past five as a favorite. The Mountaineers are 2-7 ATS in their past nine non-conference games.
I'm leaning: Mount St. Mary's.
No. 11 Kansas State vs. No. 11 Wake Forest (-1)
First Four game at 9:10 p.m. ET from Dayton and on truTV. The winner faces No. 6 Cincinnati in the South Region on Thursday. Obviously the Wildcats and Demon Deacons were two of the last four in the Big Dance. I'm a bit surprised KSU got in considering it was 8-10 in Big 12 play. I believe what clinched it for the Wildcats was an upset of No. 9 Baylor 70-64 in their Big 12 Tournament opener. K-State is a good defensive team, ranking 31st in the nation in defensive efficiency and Top 20 in opponents' turnover percentage. It played one ACC team this season, winning 72-54 over Boston College in a Thanksgiving tournament in New York.
Wake Forest is one of nine ACC teams in the tournament. The Deacons, coached by former Kansas star Danny Manning, are in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2010. They are an excellent offensive team, ranking seventh in the nation in offensive efficiency. John Collins (18.9 ppg, 9.8 rpg) was the runner-up for ACC Player of the Year. Wake Forest is the third ACC team to play in the First Four, joining Clemson in 2011 and NC State in 2014 - both the Tigers and Wolfpack won their First Four game. It's the first-ever meeting between Wake and K-State and the first time the Deacons have played a Big 12 opponent in the Manning era (third season).
Key trends: The Deacons are 4-1 ATS in their past five non-conference games. The Wildcats are 4-0 ATS in their past four overall.
I'm leaning: Wake Forest.
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