The top seeds in the Midwest tip things off early on Thursday, with Kansas in the first set of games, and Duke in the afternoon, after Oklahoma and Trae Young are the first game of the day against Rhode Island. Let’s get to the picks for this region.
#1 Kansas (-15) vs. #16 Penn
538 Win Prob: Kansas 95%
Ken Pom says: Kansas 80-66
Joes vs. Pros: RLM alert! The public is all over Kansas, but the sharps have hit Penn early and hard. The line has dropped to 14.5/14 in some books.
ATS Pick: Penn +15
#8 Seton Hall (-2) vs. #9 N.C. State
538 Win Prob: Seton Hall 63%
Ken Pom says: Seton Hall 81-80
Joes vs. Pros: No real big moves in this one. The public is pretty split on this game, but some of the bigger money seems to be on Seton Hall.
ATS Pick: Seton Hall -2
If NC State was playing anyone else, their pressing style might rattle a team, but Seton Hall will be ready. This is the third straight appearance in the tourney for them, and I love teams that have experienced guards.
#5 Clemson (-5) vs. #12 New Mexico State
538 Win Prob: Clemson 62%
Ken Pom says: Clemson 68-63
Joes vs. Pros: Trendy dog alert in New Mexico State in this one, as over 77% of the public bets are on them. Many have this circled as their 12 over 5 upset.
ATS Pick: Clemson -5
Everyone is on NMSU, and that is exactly why I will be taking Clemson. I think people forget just how good Clemson’s defense (AdjD 8) has been this year. Clemson has played a tough schedule all year long, and their size will make it extremely tough for NMSU to score. Taking Clemson won’t be for the faint of heart. I see this game being a grinder, with Clemson pulling away at the end to cover the number.
#4 Auburn (-10) vs. #13 College of Charleston
538 Win Prob: Auburn 80%
Ken Pom says: Auburn 81-70
Joes vs. Pros: C of C is another trendy dog, as the public is on them big at a 70% clip in this one.
ATS Pick: Auburn -10
I like to fade the trendy dog. Bruce Pearl will have his team fired up after their disappointing conference tourney. Auburn is one of the best teams in the country, look for them to make their mark early and often in this one.
#3 Michigan State (-14) vs. #14 Bucknell
538 Win Prob: Michigan State 92%
Ken Pom says: Michigan State 82-69
Joes vs. Pros: The line opened at 13.5 and is now up to 14 in most books. That steam was caused by both public and sharp action.
ATS Pick: Michigan State -14
The Spartans are upset at being dropped down to a 3 seed. Expect them to let that be known in this game. Normally I would take the dog in a situation like this, but Tom Izzo will have his troops ready after what happened to them two years ago, losing to Middle Tennessee.
#6 TCU (-3.5) vs. #11 Syracuse
538 Win Prob: TCU 56%
Ken Pom says: TCU 66-63
Joes vs. Pros: With the line just posted, not much sharp action either way yet.
ATS Pick: TCU -3.5
Have not had a chance to really break down these two teams yet, but will go with TCU. Very good offense that should be able to score on the ‘Cuse zone.
#7 Rhode Island (-2) vs. #10 Oklahoma
538 Win Prob: Rhode Island 58%
Ken Pom Says: Oklahoma 83-82
Joes vs. Pros: The line opened at URI -1 and is now up to -2 in most books.
ATS Pick: Oklahoma +2
Both teams come into this game struggling, so I am going to go with the team that has the best player on the floor. You could see how nervous Trae Youngwas on Selection Sunday. With Oklahoma given a second chance, look for Young to put on a show. He will score from everywhere, live at the FT line, and will the Sooners to victory.
#2 Duke(-20) vs. #15 Iona
538 Win Prob: Duke 96%
Ken Pom says: Duke 90-71
Joes vs. Pros: Duke is a public team, thus lines are always inflating by a point or two in their games. 60% of the public bets are on Duke.
ATS Pick: Iona +20
I like teams that have been there before and have good guards, Iona fits the tab on both of those. Iona is also a good shooting team and can cause some turnovers. Not saying that Iona will win, but I see them hanging around for most of this game untilMarvin Bagleytakes over.