Bet the NCAA Basketball Tournament: Thursday Pickswise picks from Jon Rothstein and @BetsByBob
Appalachian State, Michigan State, Wichita State and Texas Southern look tasty.
For more expert insight, discover the latest in the world of March Madness with Pickswise.
LOCK: Appalachian State -3
The classic First Four matchup between 16 seeds features two guys in Dustin Kerns and Robert Jones that have done tremendous jobs at their respective posts. Kerns worked for Virginia’s Mike Young at Wofford before becoming the head coach at Presbyterian and then Appalachian State. I expect them to have the edge in this one.
BEST BET: Wichita State -1.5
Darian DeVries has done yeoman’s work this season at Drake, but injuries have recently lowered this team’s ceiling. Wichita State has an unsung star in 6'2" sophomore Tyson Etienne (17 points), who could wind up being the difference in this game.
LOCK: Michigan State -2
Two teams that most wouldn't expect based on past years to ever be facing each other in a play-in game to get into the field of 68, but here we are. Michigan State is coming into this game riding some momentum and were able to piece together some good wins down the stretch. UCLA is trending in the wrong direction heading into this one, dropping their past 4 straight games.
I am going to be backing the team with the momentum here, but that is not the only reason. Michigan State should be able to give UCLA trouble defensively. The Bruins settle for a ton of jump shots, and the length of the Spartans should be able to give them contested looks. I am counting on the experience of Tom Izzo in March to be able to lead an experienced squad to move on and take on BYU on Saturday.
BEST BET: Appalachian State -3
Backing the Sun Belt Conference champion in this one, and I give the Mountaineers a solid edge in this one. Norfolk State looks decent at first glance, turning in a respectable 16-7 record, but then you dig a bit deeper. They played the majority of their games in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, which is one of the worst conferences in all of D1 basketball. This also led to their strength of schedule being near the bottom as well. Appalachian St isn't a light-you-up kind of offense, but one thing they do well is getting to the free-throw line. This will be a major problem against a Spartans team that fouls opposing teams as much as anyone else in basketball. This will give the Mountaineers the edge down the stretch to be able to seal this game away in the closing minutes.
BEST BET: Texas Southern PK
This one should be a good one. We have a bit of a clash of styles here, but I have the Tigers moving on to take on Michigan on Saturday. Texas Southern is one of the worst 3-point point shooting teams in college basketball, but they also seem to know that. The Tigers take the second-fewest three-point shots per game in the country. Instead, they use their length to shoot mid-range jumpers and get right to the rim. Mount St. Mary's is led by 5'8" junior guard Damian Chong Qui, and he hardly ever comes off the floor. I am counting on Michael Weathers to be able to keep him in check, as the Tigers roll on to see another day in March.