The Big Dance tips off Tuesday night with a pair of “first four” games in Dayton. Which way are we going with our free NCAA tournament betting picks? Free NCAA Tournament Picks: Tuesday Night First Fours.
Radford’s Highlanders went 12-6 in the Big South Conference this season, finishing with four straight wins, then won three games in four days to take the conference tournament title. So they carry a seven-game winning streak into this NCAA tournament.
Long Island’s Blackbirds, meanwhile, went 10-8 in the Northeastern Conference, finishing with two straight victories. They then won three games in a week to win the NEC tournament. So Long Island owns a five-game winning streak heading into this NCAA tournament.
The line on this game opened with Radford favored by four points, the total set at 137. In early action the Highlanders got bumped to -4.5, and the total to 138.5.
According to Sagarin’s PREDICTOR ratings at USAToday Radford should be favored by 4.5 points.
Sagarin also ranks the Big South at No. 28 among 31 Division 1 conferences, the NEC at No. 30.
The Highlanders are 0-3 this season against teams that made the NCAA tournament. They gave Ohio State a decent game back in November, losing 82-72, then later got blown out by Virginia Tech and Nevada. The Blackbirds, on the other hand, haven’t yet played a team that made the Dance this season.
Radford’s the better team here, most importantly on the defensive end of the court. We’re giving the points.
Free NCAA Tournament Pick: Radford
The Bruins went 11-7 in the Pac-12 this season, losing two of their last three games. They then won one game in the Pac-12 tournament before falling to eventual champion Arizona in the semifinals in overtime 78-67. Going back a month UCLA is only 4-4 over its last eight games.
The Bonnies, meanwhile, finished 14-4 in the Atlantic 10 this season, winning their last 12 games in a row. They then won one game in the conference tournament before falling to eventual champion Davidson in the semifinals 82-70.
That game was closer than that final score might indicate; St. Bonaventure only trailed by four with under four minutes to go.
The line on this game opened with the Bruins favored by 3.5 points, the total offered at 154. In early action the total edged up to 155.
According to Sagarin’s PREDICTOR ratings UCLA should only be favored by 2.5 points.
Sagarin also ranks the Pac-12 at No. 6 among the 31 D-1 conferences, the A-10 at No. 9.
The Bonnies are 4-4 both SU and ATS this season against teams that made the NCAA tournament. The Bruins, on the other hand, are only 2-5 both SU and ATS against tournament teams. However, two of those losses, to Michigan and Arizona, came in OT.
St. Bonaventure gets to play the underdog here, and in spots like this that can mean a lot. But they may be without injured F Courtney Stockard, who’s produced three double-doubles over the last eight games. With Stockard, the Bonnies are a live dog. Without him, not so much. Bettors might be wise to check with later injury reports before getting down on this game.