NCAA Tournament: Preview & Picks for Thursday’s Early-Evening Game
David Connelly - SportsGrid
The opening-round madness is set to get underway on Thursday, and what is a better way to prepare you for it than by previewing every matchup on the docket? We look at all 16 games on Thursday’s slate and discuss which team we see advancing.
6:50 p.m ET | #9 Auburn vs. #8 Iowa | TNT
Iowa can’t stop a nosebleed on defense, but it’s difficult to see Auburn’s offense keeping up with the Hawkeyes here. Wendell Green is one of the least efficient guards in power conference basketball and is one of the last players you should trust with your money in an NCAA Tournament setting. Iowa will have the best player on the court in Kris Murray, and that should be enough to get over the line in this one.
ATS Pick: Iowa +1.5
7:10 p.m ET | #12 Oral Roberts vs. #5 Duke | CBS
Has a winning streak been more blown out of proportion than Duke’s 9-0 run to close out the season? The Blue Devils have looked their strongest as of late, but zero of those wins have come against a top-30 team on KenPom. Outside of a road defeat to New Mexico back in early January, Oral Roberts has demolished every team in its path since Thanksgiving with some of the best offense you will find in the nation. The Golden Eagles have the coaching, experience, and talent to pull this one off, and they will.
ATS Pick: Oral Roberts +6.5 | Moneyline: Oral Roberts +215
7:25 p.m ET | #15 Colgate Vs. #2 Texas | TBS
This one may be closer than people think. Texas has been nothing short of a wagon lately, but Colgate is one of the top mid-majors in the nation as they continue to run through the Patriot League year after year. The Raiders are the top three-point shooting team in the nation, and their unconventional playstyle could trip up Texas for some of this game. The Longhorns will ultimately prevail but look to back Colgate against the spread in this one.
ATS Pick: Colgate +13.5
7:35 p.m ET | #10 Boise State vs. #7 Northwestern | truTV
This game is about as gross as it gets. Neither offense ranks within the top 75 on KenPom, while both defenses sit in the top 15. They both rely on slower-paced offenses, which means we could be in for a game in the 50s. That being said, it should be a tightly-contested game throughout. It’s difficult to conclude that either team will blow out the other. Albeit at a low 127.5, look toward the under in this one.
Total Pick: UNDER 127.5