1 Gonzaga (-25) vs. #16 Georgia State:
Gonzaga has been a top seed several times before and has always fallen short. This Gonzaga team has been on a mission since the opening tip. Drew Timme leads a balanced attack that will win big against Georgia State.
Verdict: Gonzaga -25
9 Memphis (-2) vs. #8 Boise State:
Vegas is spot on in this game. Memphis is an under-seeded team. Memphis has gotten healthier as the season has gone along. The Tigers are playing ‘red hot’ as we enter the tournament. Memphis should be the favorite and knock-off Boise State in this 8/9 match-up.
Verdict: Memphis -2
12 New Mexico State (+7) vs. #5 Connecticut:
New Mexico State is a tough match-up for the Huskies. Connecticut does not shoot the ball well, and New Mexico’s length will be problematic. Ultimately, I believe Connecticut is too tough inside and will be victorious, but the Aggies haven’t lost a game by more than four points since January. I’ll take the points.
Verdict: New Mexico State +7
13 Vermont (+5.5) vs. #4 Arkansas:
Vermont has been on fire down the stretch, winning 22 of their last 23 games. Arkansas is the better team, but if you’re sleeping on the 28-win Catamounts, you are making a mistake.
Verdict: Vermont +5.5
11 Michigan (-2.5) vs. #6 Colorado State:
Some were surprised that the Wolverines made the tournament with a 17-14 record. The Big Ten was the top conference in college basketball this season–Michigan is battle-tested. I believe Vegas is correct on this one as they have made the #11 seed Wolverines the favorite.
Verdict: Michigan -2.5
3 Tennessee (-17) vs. #14 Longwood:
Tennessee was the talk of the tournament on Sunday night. Many pundits were surprised the Volunteers didn’t receive a #2 seed. Tennessee draws a Longwood team playing very well, winning 19 of their last 20 games. Tennessee outclasses the Lancers in this one, but 17 points feel oddly dangerous.
Verdict: Stay Away
8 San Diego State (-2) vs. #9 Creighton:
I like the Aztecs a lot in this one. Creighton is a younger team, and traditionally, these are the type of teams that struggle in the Big Dance. San Diego State is one of the top defensive teams in the tournament. The Aztecs’ defensive presence lead them to a victory in a close match-up.
Verdict: San Diego State -2
5 Iowa (-9.5) vs. #12 Richmond:
Iowa is on a roll right now. Iowa has depth throughout their roster, and their offense can be electric. I don’t see a way that Richmond can slow the Hawkeyes down.
Verdict: Iowa -9.5
13 South Dakota State (+2) vs. #4 Providence:
Pay attention. I believe Vegas is once again trying to tell us something. How is a #4 seed only a 2-point favorite? Providence is on the shaky ground facing a South Dakota State team poised for an upset. The Jackrabbits are a tough out–they went undefeated in their conference this year.
Verdict: South Dakota State +2
1 Baylor (-20.5) vs. #16 Norfolk State:
The defending champion Baylor Bears keep coming at you in waves. Baylor will wear on Norfolk State all game long, and the Spartans won’t keep pace.
Verdict: Baylor -20.5
8 North Carolina (-2.5) vs. #9 Marquette:
North Carolina is a dangerous #8 seed. No one is questioning the talent of the Tar Heels, and it appears that they have put it together down the stretch.
Verdict: North Carolina -2.5
4 UCLA (-15) vs. #13 Akron:
UCLA feels like a sleeping giant. I don’t see many pundits out there picking the Bruins to advance deep into the tournament. The Bruins have the talent and the experience to advance farther than you think. Akron is overmatched in every way.
Verdict: UCLA -15
7 Murray State (+1.5) vs. #10 San Francisco:
San Francisco has been an amazing story, and Vegas is jumping on them as favorites in this one. I don’t see it that way–Murray State has not lost in over 20 games. The Racers are a 30-win team and should not be taken lightly.
Verdict: Murray State +1.5
2 Kentucky (-17) vs. #15 Saint Peter’s:
Kentucky has the look of a final four team. Rock-solid on both sides of the court, Kentucky/Saint Peters is shaping up as one of the most lopsided blowouts in the opening week.
Verdict: Kentucky -17