2022 version! After a bloodbath of a regular season, let’s give this a go. Everyone has shown weakness throughout the year, some madness will ensue. I’ll break down what I find interesting and give ya some betting tips. I’m not an analyst or a writer, just a guy who watches way too much college hoops, so TAIL OR FADE AT YOUR OWN RISK. We’re just having fun here. *Disclaimer* some of these lines likely will have changed by the time this article comes out, use your best judgement.
Just like last year, I like the Zags to advance to the final four and win it all. I will save you from the narratives you have heard all year.
Boise State vs Memphis
This is a game that really peaks my interest. I have watched way too much Mountain West basketball this year, and it has been super entertaining, although very slow at times….
Boise State likes to slow things down, preventing teams from second chance buckets and free throws. However on the offensive end, they shoot the ball from 3 well and run a very Gonzaga-esque offensive style relying on consistent motion, which can be attributed to Leon Rice who was a former assistant to Mark Few.
Memphis has had a rollercoaster of a season. After a horrendous start of the season, they have seemed to hit their stride. People expected Emoni Bates to be the leader of this team, but Penny Hardaway’s decision to put him at PG to start the year resulted in locker room turmoil and since Penny has cut Emoni’s minutes and put him in a different role, they have looked like a much better team.
Both teams have 10+ players averaging more than 10 minutes a game. Usually, that would indicate that they have a chance to advance quite far in the tournament but they will hit the Zags wall in the second round.
Overall, I think Boise State takes this game by being more mature and deliberate with the ball. They will limit second chances for Memphis and get back in transition well. Worth noting that Memphis is horrible on the road and Boise is very good (and they are playing in Portland which is not a horrible trip for Boise)
Boise State is 0-7 as a program in the tourney and Leon Rice is 0-2 (if you want to count losing to Dayton by 1pt on their home court in the first four in 2015)
They are desperate for a win in the big dance and I think this is the team to do it.
Play Boise State +2.5, or Money Line if you’d like.
Texas Tech vs Montana State
This angle is fairly simple. Texas Tech’s #1 defense in the nation will prove to be too stifling for Montana State. I am not playing the spread here, but rather the under. I don’t have a team total line available for me, but I will look for that closer to tip as well on the Montana State end.
Montana State generates no second chance buckets and when you play a team like Texas Tech that rebounds incredibly well and forces you to take contested shots on every possession late in the shot clock, I don’t see Montana State scoring at a high clip here. I think Texas Tech will not have to waver from their usual grind gameplay and will keep this a slower contest where Texas Tech shoots close to 45% and holds their opponent sub 40%.
Play the under 132.5
Looking at Sweet 16 props, I really like UConn’s path here. They don’t turn the ball over, pressure guards well on the defensive end and convert fast breaks well if they need to. This is a super well rounded team. I like their matchups against New Mexico State and Arkansas (if they advance). Shop around and find the best price on UConn Sweet 16 props.
I like Kentucky to advance out of this reason, however I think this side could face the most mayhem. I think Kentucky has the highest ceiling of the lower side of the bracket, and can simply run people out of the gym if they get hot.
North Carolina vs Marquette
Let’s up the pace here. This should be a shootout as both teams like to push the ball and UNC likes to bully opponents with their size before defenses get set. Shaka Smart’s first season with Marquette has been up and down, with them trending towards the latter unfortunately. I think UNC deserves to be favored here, but I like Marquette to get hot and pull off the upset here.
I’m looking for Darryl Morsell to hit over 1.5 three pointers in this game. I think the senior steps up and makes some shots as the second or third option. Shop around for the best price.
Murray State vs San Francisco
Battle of the guards! Both teams display incredible guard play with Bouyea and Shabazz for USF and Brown and Hill for Murray State. I simply think this game will be really fun to watch. I think Murray State has the edge in KJ Williams down low, but this game is overall very evenly matched. I wish they didn’t put these two teams against each other in the first round.
Look to take the over on KJ Williams point props.
For Sweet 16 Props, I like Purdue -180. I’m willing to pay the juice on this. I think their offense will overpower Yale and then whoever wins out of Texas/Virginia Tech.
I like Arizona to advance out of the South. Tommy Lloyd has this squad coached up just like the Zags and they play incredibly well together. I am a bit worried about Kriss’s injury, and hope he will be available past the first weekend. I see them matching up well with potential opponents Illinois and Villanova.
UAB vs Houston
UAB sports one of the highest powered offenses in the country and they are getting hot at the right time. As always, Houston will rebound the hell out of you and reduce any look at second chance buckets. Good for UAB, this is never part of their gameplan. They simply want to outshoot you and run up and down the court.
Houston has held the ship together even without their two leading scorers going down with injuries earlier in the year. I think they are still a top 25 team, but ripe for an upset with the wrong matchup. I don’t think they possess the scoring firepower to keep up with Jordan Walker and the Blazers.
Look to play UAB +8.5
Colorado State vs Michigan
I believe CSU is very undervalued in this spot. I am putting my Mountain West bias on the line for the second time. Comfortable wins over Saint Mary’s and Creighton earlier in the year show they are here to play and I don’t think many have watched much of them this year. Roddy and Stevens make up a classic 1-2 guard punch combo that can cause major headaches. Michigan does not have a matchup answer to the 6-5 250lb frame of Roddy. This is the same reason they got tossed around by North Carolina earlier in the year.
Look to play Colorado State Money Line +110
I also like CSU to make it to the sweet 16, shop around for that
I like Auburn to advance out of this region similar to the reasons of Kentucky. They can flat out run and score, so scary in transition.
I am playing this partially because I am trying to play the field bracket wise and add a contrary pick to offset some chalk.
I see Kansas touted as having the easiest path to the final four. I am looking to pick them to get upset by San Diego State, banking on their #1 defense in the country to slow things down and grind out a win.
Auburn cleans up the mess and advances.
Iowa vs Richmond
Arguably the hottest team in the country versus the veteran squad that *slightly* stole a bid in the A-10.
Chris Mooney flat out knows how to coach, and this squad starts all Juniors and Seniors that know how to play with each other. They rely on the front court to get a good percentage of their points, but Gilyard is efficient in getting them the ball in the right spots. This is not a brute force approach, but a calculated one with lots of ball movement.
Keegan Murray is a stud for Iowa. They can light it up and beat you down the court in a flash.
I see Richmond keeping it competitive but not sure if they have the ability to win this. However, I think Mooney will be efficient enough in slowing down Iowa.
Therefore, I am looking to play the Under at 150.5.
Best of luck everyone!