Bet Saturday 1st Round NCAA Basketball: Pickswise picks from Jon Rothstein, BetsByBob and Rashad Phillips
USC vs Drake, UCONN vs Maryland, Abilene Christian vs Texas, Florida St. vs UNC Greensboro, Oregon vs VCU, Eastern Washington vs Kansas, Grand Canyon vs Iowa.
Best Bets: USC -6
Deep down in my heart, I have a strange feeling that USC will be the scariest team that Gonzaga plays down the line. I have an eerie feeling that the Trojans have a spoiler on their minds. Drake could make this a competitive game but USC will be fully focused with a date with Gonzaga lying ahead. Drake will be a good sparring partner, but USC will roll behind Evan Mobley.
Best Bets: UCONN -3
I’m extremely confident anytime I see the UConn Huskies in a postseason tournament. History serves this program well when featuring guards playing in March. I believe the trio backcourt of RJ Cole, Tyrese Martin, and future NBA combo guard James Bouknight will beat Maryland convincingly. UConn can make a nice run if these three guys are locked in. Bet on UConn.
Best Bets: Abilene Christian +8.5
I’ve been called crazy a few times and you just might call me crazy for this one. I have a weird feeling that Abilene Christian will beat the Texas Longhorns. March Madness is about matchups and this particular matchup doesn’t favor Texas at all. Abilene forces turnovers at a high rate, they play extremely aggressively, and they put a lot of pressure on the opposing teams’ guards. Texas is not a good three-point shooting team collectively and their guard play has been average at best this season. This game has upset written all over it.
Lock: Florida State -10.5
Something has been off with the Seminoles over the last few weeks. They’ll need to right the ship against a dangerous team with a dangerous star in Isaiah Miller. The six-foot Miller is appointment TV and enters this tilt averaging an impressive 19.3 points, 6.9 rebounds, and four assists.
Best Bets: Texas -8.5
Joe Golding has done one of the best coaching jobs in the country this season, but beating a team like Texas feels like an insurmountable task -- especially if Jericho Sims plays like he did last week at the Big 12 Tournament. The 6'10" big man averaged 15.5 points, 12.5 rebounds, and three blocks in two games last week in Kansas City.
Best Bets: Oregon -5.5
Oregon is the most underseeded team in the 2021 NCAA Tournament and has several players -- Will Richardson, Chris Duarte, LJ Figueroa and Eugene Omoruyi -- that can play at the next level. VCU has one in Bones Hyland. You do the math.
Eastern Washington Eagles +10.5 to beat Kansas Jayhawks
The Eagles are dancing in March after winning the Big Sky Conference tournament. Eastern Washington is a high-tempo, efficient offense, and should be able to give Kansas trouble. The Jayhawks are coming into this game battling some COVID-19 issues, and are going to be without the services of Jalen Wilson and Tristan Enaruna. Kansas big man, David McCormack, will be able to play, but was only be able to get one practice under his belt when he was eligible to rejoin the team on Friday. The Jayhawks are talented enough to overcome some of these issues, but the Eagles can take advantage of the depleted Jayhawk squad.
Eastern Washington comes into this one winning 13 of their last 14 games, and are playing like a team oozing with confidence. The Groves brothers are both highly talented, and are surrounded by good shooting guards. I like the Eagles to keep this game as a single-digit affair, and also like their opportunity to pull off the outright upset.
Grand Canyon Antelopes +14.5 over Iowa Hawkeyes
The Antelopes step up to face the Hawkeyes after cruising through the Western Athletic Conference tournament en route to winning the championship. They have a tough task ahead of them, but they have the bigs to be able to slow down the All-American, Luke Garza. Grand Canyon big men, Asbjorn Midtgaard and Alessandro Lever, are going to need to key in on Garza and make Iowa beat them other ways.
The Antelopes play solid defense and should be able to score on a Hawkeye team that lacks discipline on the defensive end at times. I am not sure that they can pull the outright upset here, but I do think they keep it close.
UConn Huskies -3 to beat Maryland Terrapins
Anyone who has followed me this season already knows my love affair for this Huskies team. I backed them more than any other team this year, and am going back to the well here. Everyone by now knows about what a special talent James Bouknight is, but the difference maker here is going to be inside with Adama Sanogo. The Huskies play their best when they can work inside out, and if they can get Sanogo going early, they should be able to open up the rest of their offense against a good Maryland defense. This should be a great game, but I give the edge to the Huskies.