NCAA Tournament First Round Best Bets: West Region

Who will advance to the Round of 32?

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NCAA Tournament Best Bets | Sharp Picks | Live Odds 

#8 Boise State vs. #9 Memphis (-2.5), O/U 133.5

#8 Boise St. and #9 Memphis will meet in the Round of 64, with the winner most likely facing Gonzaga in round two barring some crazy timeline in which the Zags lose to a 16th seed. Pretty much everyone was fading Memphis not too long ago when head coach Penny Hardaway had a complete meltdown in a press conference. While it was hilarious to watch, it didn't look good for his team or program. Since then, they have had a strong end to the season and earned themselves a matchup with Mountain West champion Boise State Broncos. 

These offenses are completely different in how they like to operate, and it will be interesting to see who can dictate the pace. That alone may decide who will take this game. Boise State likes to slow it down and operate out of the halfcourt, while Memphis likes to push transition and get to the rim as fast as possible. It's defense where both of these teams tend to shine the brightest, however. Boise State is 17th in adjusted defensive efficiency and ranks 41st in defending transition offense, per ShotQualityBets. The Tigers rank 23rd in 2-point defense and sit inside the top 50 in turnover rate.

Memphis’ Emoni Bates, who has not played since January 27 with a lower back injury, hasn't been talked about much. If he is able to go, it would be a game-changer. The five-star freshman is a superstar on the court, and his presence would make the Tigers that much better.

This is an awesome matchup, as most of the 8 vs. 9 games are, and I love betting on these. Boise State is a big and physical team that operates out of the post. That's where Memphis has been at its best defensively, ranking eighth. If the Tigers can dictate the pace and play the game at a high speed, I don't think the Broncos can keep up.

My Pick: Memphis -2.5

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#7 Michigan State (-1) vs. #10 Davidson, O/U 140.5

Yeah, I love these matchups because they are the most interesting. The 8 vs. 9 and 7 vs. 10 games offer the most exciting matchups, and they are also the games I like to bet the most because a lot of times, the wrong team is favored. That, I believe, is the case here. I'm sorry, but this is not one of Tom Izzo’s stronger teams with Michigan State. They have serious turnover problems and they lack top-end talent. They rank 259th in turnover percentage on offense and 329th on defense. ShotQuality has MSU as one of the five luckiest teams in the country with a projected record of 15-17 based on the quality of their shots. Their defense will have to be at the top of their game for Davidson's attack.

Davidson star guard Foster Loyer was a low-usage role player for the last few years at Michigan State before transferring to Davidson, where he has made the most of opportunity. Now, he gets the chance at some revenge against Sparty. Atlantic 10 Player of the Year Luka Brajkovic in the paint will be a huge presence for Davidson, and all the guards around him have been on fire. Michigan State’s backcourt shouldn’t strike fear into Davidson, and they should be able to guard the driving ability of the Spartans.

I really don't think Michigan State should be favored here. Nothing about them impresses me, but a lot of what Davidson does makes me think they will make noise in the tournament. I'll take them to win outright as slight underdogs.

My Pick: Davidson -105 ML

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