The first Thursday of the NCAA Tournament is one of the best days of the year, and to kick off this great spectacle this week, we are going to be taking a look at our March Madness picks for the first four games on the docket for March Madness!
NCAA Tournament Matchup: #14 BYU Cougars vs. #3 Marquette Golden Eagles
Date: Thursday, March 15th, 2:45 ET
Location: KFC Yum! Arena, Louisville, KY
March Madness Odds: Marquette -6
NCAA Tournament TV Schedule: CBS
BYU put together a tremendous show on Tuesday when it erased the biggest deficit in NCAA Tournament history to knock off Iona in the First Four. Now all of a sudden, many think that the Cougars are this year’s version of VCU. We just don’t see it, though. We don’t think that BYU was all that great of a team this year, and we think that all of this travel is going to be too much for the team to survive, especially against a Marquette team that plays big time ball out of the Big East. Noah Hartsock is the real deal, and he could single handedly win this game, but in the end, we just don’t think that he has another miracle under his belt. This is a short point spread between a team that is a No. 3 seed and a No. 14.
NCAA Tournament Free Pick: Marquette -6
NCAA Tournament Matchup: #16 UNC Asheville Bulldogs vs. #1 Syracuse Orange
Date: Thursday, March 15th, 3:10 ET
Location: Consol Energy Arena, Pittsburgh, PA
March Madness Odds: Kansas State -5
NCAA Tournament TV Schedule: truTV
There has been a lot made about the fact that Fab Melo is going to be out of the lineup for the ‘Cuse for the whole NCAA Tournament. It wouldn’t be all that shocking to see the Orange win this game by a dozen in a game that never really all that close, but in the end, we just don’t know that that is going to be what happens. UNC Asheville is just one of these teams that isn’t all that good that isn’t going to be in this field for long. The Bulldogs don’t have the goods to be able to score against the Orange even though they average over 80 points per game. They don’t know what they are going to be in for in this one, and we think that Head Coach Jim Boeheim and the gang want to come out with sound and fury without Melo.
NCAA Tournament Free Pick: Syracuse -15.5
NCAA Tournament Matchup: #12 Long Beach State 49ers vs. #5 New Mexico Lobos
Date: Thursday, March 15th, 4:10 ET
Location: Rose Garden, Portland, OR
March Madness Odds: New Mexico -4
NCAA Tournament TV Schedule: TBS
Yuck. These are two teams that are certainly capable of a deep run into the dance, and we hate the fact that they are going to be playing against one another. The Lobos are one of the best ATS teams in the nation at 22-8 ATS, while Long Beach State is rock solid as well at 18-13 ATS. The 49ers haven’t beaten any of the top teams on their schedule this year, which makes it really dangerous in this case. New Mexico is the real deal on both sides of the ball, and this is a team that we think is going to be one of the biggest pains in the neck to get rid of in this tourney. We wouldn’t be all that surprised if Casper Ware and the gang get the job done for LBSU, but in the end, this is a game that goes to the Lobos more often than not.
NCAA Tournament Free Pick: New Mexico -4
NCAA Tournament Matchup: #12 Harvard Crimson vs. #5 Vanderbilt Commodores
Date: Thursday, March 15th, 4:40 ET
Location: The Pit Arena, Albuquerque, NM
March Madness Odds: Vanderbilt -5.5
NCAA Tournament TV Schedule: TNT
This is the first time that the Crimson have been in the dance in over six decades, but they are going to have a heck of a battle in this one. The Commodores are a very talented team, and that was proven by the fact that they won the SEC. We know that this Vandy team is dangerous, but we think that it is going to be a squad that gets beaten by a team that it might be better than. Harvard isn’t in a position to win this one without a heck of a lot of luck and some big time offense. The Crimson just don’t have that, and though Head Coach Tommy Amakar has done a great job over the course of his tenure here at Harvard, this is going to be a big time learning experience for a team that just doesn’t seem all that ready for this spotlight.
NCAA Tournament Free Pick: Vanderbilt -5.5