NCAA Tournament First Round Best Bets: Midwest Region

Who will advance to the Round of 32?

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NCAA Tournament Best Bets | Sharp Picks | Live Odds 

#6 LSU (-4) vs. #11 Iowa State, O/U 127.5

First of all, one of these teams won't even have a head coach when they battle it out in the Round of 64. Will Wade was fired at LSU after a number of allegations have come down from the NCAA, which is a bad look for the Tigers in any setting. The good news is they get a floundering Iowa State team to take advantage of. The Cyclones have now lost three straight games and had an embarrassing blowout in the Big 12 Tournament against Texas Tech. Head coach T.J. Otzelberger, who will actually be on the sidelines for this game, is going to have his hands full with LSU. Their athletic defense of Tari Eason and Xavier Pinson are top-50 in defending mid-range jump shots, which is what Iowa State does best with their own trio of guards.

LSU has one of the highest rates in the nation in finishing at the rim, making the Tigers a tough matchup for any opponent that struggles to protect the paint. Hello Iowa State. They are 243rd in average height and rank outside the top 300 in defensive free throw rate. That's where LSU is going to have a serious advantage. The Tigers also rank top five in KenPom defensive efficiency.

Iowa State does have some important things going for them. They ranked 10th in adjusted defensive efficiency, sixth in turnover percentage, and 15th in 3-point percentage allowed during the regular season. This is a tough defensive squad as well, and they are led by Izaiah Brockington, who can get hot at any moment.

LSU is just the superior team here, and nothing I've seen from ISU lately tells me they are going to make a run. They have some qualities to do so, but they just can't tap into them right now.

My Pick: LSU -4

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#3 Wisconsin (-7.5) vs. #14 Colgate, O/U 139

The Badgers are a team that I really liked for a while to make a run in the tournament off the back of superstar Johnny Davis, but I've started to sour on them a bit. Wisconsin may be the luckiest team in the nation, as the Badgers have played 21 games decided by eight points or fewer, winning 17 of those outings. They got almost every bounce to go their way late in close games, but it does tell you that they don't get blown out very often, thanks to their great defense and lack of turnovers. The problem for them might lie in then fact that they stink at shooting the three ball, and play a brand of offense that has long passed. For the season, Wisconsin is shooting just 31.2% from three, which was the worst percentage in the Big Ten.

Colgate is a team that has some firepower. They have the second-best 3-point shooting percentage in the entire nation, hitting better than 40% of its shots from beyond the arc. Only 20 teams scored more of their points via the deep ball than Colgate. After opening the Patriot League slate with a loss to Lehigh on Jan. 4, Colgate sat at 4-10 on the season. How did they get here you might ask? Oh, because they've lost just once since, and are currently riding a 15-game winning streak and won the Patriot League Tournament. They're one of the hottest teams in the nation. I honestly think with the way Colgate plays vs. how Wisconsin plays, this is a bad matchup for the Badgers.

My Picks: Colgate +7.5, ML

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