First Four March Madness Predictions

Thursday March 18th

4:10 pm Texas Southern Tigers (16-8) vs St Mary’s Mountaineers (12-10)

TSU is 9-1 straight up in their last 10 games. MSM is 7-3 straight up in their last 10 games.

As favorites TSU is 13-1 straight up. As underdogs MSM is 3-6 straight up.

vs AP top-25 teams TSU is 0-1, vs top-50 (0-2)

vs AP top-25 teams MSM is 0-0, vs top-50 (0-1)

TSU Coach: Johnny Jones (0-3) in 4 years of NCAA tournament experience.

MSM coach: Dan Engelstad (0-0) 1st NCAA tournament appearance

TSU 7.2 steals/game, MSM 4.4 steals/game

TSU 70% FT, MSM 67% FT

TSU 16.0 turnovers/game, MSM 13.1 turnovers/game

TSU 36.9 rbs/game, MSM 34.1 rbs/game

My pick: Texas Southern ML -110 (2 units) This pick is based on coaching experience. TSU’s head coach has made the tournament 4 times and is overdue for a win. MSM will have 9 days off since their last game and will be rusty. 93% of the public money is on MSM money line and fading the public is never a bad choice, but most of the statistics presented favor TSU.

5:27 pm Drake Bulldogs (25-4) vs Wichita State Shocker (16-5)

Drake is 7-3 straight up in their last 10 games. Wichita State is 8-2 straight up in their last 10 games.

As favorites WICH is 10-1 straight up. As underdogs DRKE is 2-2 straight up.

vs AP top-25 teams DRKE is 0-1, vs top-50 (1-2)

vs AP top-25 teams WICH is 1-1, vs top-50 (1-3)

WICH coach: Isaac Brown (0-0) 1st tournament appearance

DRKE coach: Darian Devries (0-0) 1st tournament appearance

DRKE 7.1 steals/game, WICH 6.1 steals/game

DRKE 71% FT, WICH 68% FT

DRKE 10.3 turnovers/game, WICH 11.3 turnovers/game

DRKE 33.2 rbs/game, WICH 33.8 rbs/game

My pick: Wichita State ML -125 (1 unit)This pick is not based on coaching experience because both coaches are making their first tournament appearance. Wichita State had a much harder strength of schedule compared to Drake. Wichita State had a shortened season due to COVID. Look for Alterique Gilbert (Senior Guard) to have a huge impact for the Shockers as the senior leadership will be needed during the tournament.

Source: NCAA.com

7:40 pm Appalachian State Mountaineers (17-11) vs Norfolk State Spartans (16-7)

NORF is 8-2 straight up in last 10 games, APP is 5-5 straight up in last 10 games.

As favorites APP is 5-5 straight up. As underdogs NORF is 4-3 straight up.

vs AP top-25 teams APP is 0-1, vs top-50 (0-1)

vs AP top-25 teams NORF is 0-0, vs top-50 (0-0)

APP coach: Dustin Kerns (0-0) 1st tournament appearance

NORF coach: Robert Jones (0-0) 1st tournament appearance

APP 8.0 steals/game, NORF 6.4 steals/game

APP 73% FT, NORF 70% FT

APP 11.8 turnovers/game, NORF 13.1 turnovers/game

APP 33.1 rbs/game, NORF: 32.9 rbs/game

My pick: Appalachian State ML -145 (1 unit)This pick is not based on coaching experience either. The strength of schedule for Appalachian State was slightly harder giving them the edge. NORF also has not played any team ranked in the top-50 this year. APP has better team stats and turnovers, steals, and free throws will become very important and may be the deciding factor in a close matchup.

8:57 pm UCLA Bruins (17-9) vs Michigan State Spartans (15-12)

MSU is 5-5 in their last 10 games straight up. UCLA is 4-6 in their last 10 games.

As favorites MSU is 10-4. As underdogs UCLA is 1-4.

vs AP top-25 teams MSU is 3-7, vs top-50 (8-10)

vs AP top-25 teams UCLA is 1-3, vs top-50 (3-6)

MSU coach: Tom Izzo (52-21) 23rd tournament appearance

UCLA coach: Mick Cronin (6-11) 12th tournament appearance

MSU 4.6 steals/game, UCLA 5.1 steals/game

MSU 72% FT, UCLA 72% FT

MSU 13.0 turnovers/game, UCLA 11.2 turnovers/game

MSU 35.2 rbs/game, UCLA 33.0 rbs/game

My pick: Michigan State ML -135 (2 units) This pick is based mainly on Tom Izzo’s success during March. Michigan State has been criticized for having a losing record in conference play and they are prepared to show everyone they belong and have the ability to make a run at the championship. In February and March MSU had 3 monumental wins (vs Michigan, vs Illinois, and vs Ohio State). Michigan State will roll through UCLA regardless of their conference record.

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