First Play of NCAA Tournament is on a First Four Game

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If you want to call this the official kickoff of the NCAA Tournament, be my guest. I’m happy to oblige because in my world: More Basketball, More Better. This has added a cool little wrinkle – having a couple of more meaningful games to start the tournament instead of just games between two 16 seeds like they used to. I have one play on the First Four, and then one play on a game in the NIT.

Pittsburgh vs. Mississippi State, 9:10 ET

This is a matchup with the First Four and it is the one I mentioned between the #11 seeds. This is a bit of a tough draw for the Pittsburgh Panthers. I think they probably would’ve had a better chance if they didn’t have to play in this initial game. I don’t think they could win the tournament, but the matchups might be better. Pitt has had a bit of a rough go of it lately as they’ve dropped three of their past four games. They were blown out by Duke in the ACC Tournament. Mississippi State didn’t have a great SEC tournament, they too were blown out by the tournament’s eventual champion (Alabama in this case). The Bulldogs have been very good when not playing SEC teams this year and do stack up well with Pitt. They have only allowed over 75 points twice this season and they’ve done a great job keeping opponents at bay with a stifling defense. I think this is a great opportunity to showcase their tenacious defense against a Pitt team that has a tendency to fold against pressure. The only way to play this game is to take Mississippi State at -2.5.

Bradley vs. Wisconsin, 9:30 ET

I’m actually a bit surprised the line is this close in this game. Wisconsin should easily handle Bradley. Don’t get me wrong, Bradley is a decent enough team – they won 25 games this season, but the competition level they faced is not nearly up to par with what the Badgers have faced this season. Wisconsin did not have a good Big 10 tournament and were upset by Ohio State, a game I was a bit surprised about. But, they have played other teams very tough this season, losing by two to Purdue and in overtime to Michigan. As mentioned, Bradley had a nice year this year, but if you look at their schedule, who did they play that had any talent? Auburn? They lost by 21. Arkansas? Bradley lost by 19. Even in their most recent game against Drake, they lost by 26 points. If Bradley loses, it won’t be a close game. I don’t see them winning this game and am happy to take the Badgers 2.5 or 3 in this one. Frankly I’m not sure the points matter, I don’t think Wisconsin loses and expect them to win by 10 or more.

The other First Four game should be high scoring, but I’d be a bit surprised to see over 156 points in this. I’ll take the under for this. I also think that Villanova will make it very tough on Liberty to score in this game. I’ll take the under in that game as well.

For more sports betting information and plays, follow David on Twitter: @futureprez2024

Written by David Troy

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