March Madness 2018: Bracket Predictions, Odds Tips for Final First 4 Schedule

March Madness 2018: Bracket Predictions, Odds Tips for Final First 4 Schedule

The First Four of the 2018 NCAA Division I men’s basketball tournament tipped off on Tuesday, as Radford and St. Bonaventure advanced to the first round with wins over LIU-Brooklyn and UCLA, respectively.

Four more schools will play on Wednesday in hopes of continuing their seasons. Here’s a look at the odds for those games, courtesy of OddsShark, as well as a few picks. You can also find the NCAA tournament bracket and First Four schedule below.





First Four Schedule                   

Wednesday, March 14 (Dayton, Ohio)

6:40 p.m. ET on truTV: No. 16 Texas Southern (-5.5) vs. No. 16 NC Central

9:10 p.m. ET (approx.) on truTV: No. 11 Arizona State (-1.5) vs. No. 11 Syracuse


No. 16 Texas Southern (-5.5) vs. No. 16 NC Central

The Texas Southern Tigers have a below .500 record (15-19), but that’s in part because they challenged themselves significantly out of conference, playing Gonzaga, Ohio State, Syracuse, Kansas, Clemson and TCU before league play. All of those teams are in the NCAA tournament this year, and every one but Syracuse is a No. 6 seed or higher. 

On the other hand, NC Central is not as battle-tested, as the Eagles did not face another NCAA tournament team this season. Ultimately, the Tigers’ experience against top competition could help them in the First Four.

Furthermore, Texas Southern has a few tough scorers for NC Central to contend with on Wednesday. Demontrae Jefferson, a 5’7" guard, is a dominant offensive player who posts 23.4 points per game. He also hits 39.4 percent of his shots from deep. Senior guard Donte Clark scores 18.6 points per contest, while junior guard Derrick Bruce is the team’s third double-digit scorer with 13.9 points.

On defense, 7’2" center Trayvon Reed could be a problem for NC Central down low, as he leads the Tigers in rebounds (8.8) and blocks (3.0). However, the Eagles will counter with 6’9" junior center Raasean Davis (15.0 points, 8.0 rebounds) and 6’6" junior forward Pablo Rivas (11.8 points, 6.9 rebounds).

If Davis and Rivas can control the glass, then NC Central has a good shot at winning. However, Jefferson and Clark may simply be too tough to stop on Wednesday. Look for Texas Southern to win and cover.

Pick: Texas Southern (-5.5)


No. 11 Arizona State (-1.5) vs. No. 11 Syracuse

Both Arizona State and Syracuse looked like they may be on the wrong side of the NCAA tournament bubble heading into Selection Sunday, but the two schools made March Madness and will face off Wednesday for the right to play No. 6 TCU on Friday night.

ASU started the year on fire, winning 12 straight games and taking down Kansas on the road. However, the Sun Devils struggled to end the season, losing five of their last six.

A balanced scoring attack paces the Arizona State offense, as five players score at least 9.9 points per game. Senior guard Tra Holder leads the way with 18.4 points on average.

While scoring hasn’t been an issue for the Sun Devils this year, their defense has been hit or miss. According to the Pomeroy College Basketball Ratings, Arizona State ranked 125th in defensive efficiency out of 351 Division I teams. Their defense struggled down the stretch, as the Sun Devils gave up no fewer than 75 points in their last nine contests.

Like ASU, Syracuse doesn’t come into the tournament on a high note, as it lost seven of its last 12. The Orange did beat Clemson and Miami during that closing stretch, but they also suffered three double-digit losses, including an 85-70 defeat to NIT team Boston College.

The Orange offense revolves around three players: Sophomore guard Tyus Battle scores 19.8 points per night, while junior guard Frank Howard (15.0 points) and freshman forward Oshae Brissett (14.7 points) are second and third on the team in scoring, respectively.

While they can each put the ball in the basket regularly, the trio has struggled at times as well (none of the three players averages more than 40.4 percent from the field or 34.5 percent from three-point range).

However, the key might be the Orange defense, which Pomeroy ranked 11th in the country. The vaunted 2-3 zone has caused many problems for schools during the Jim Boeheim era, and that could be the case here.

It’s a battle of offense vs. defense, and the guess is that defense wins out. Take the points with Syracuse.

Pick: No. 11 Syracuse (+1.5)

Breaking Sports News

via Bleacher Report – Front Page

March 14, 2018 at 05:51AM


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