NCAA March Madness: Best bets for Tuesday's First Four games
The 2023 NCAA tournament is finally here, beginning on Tuesday night with the First Four matchups between 16 seeds Texas A&M-Corpus Christi and Southeast Missouri State, and 11 seeds Pitt and Mississippi State.
Here are our best bets for the NCAA's tournament's first two games.
6:40 p.m. ET
Greg Peterson: Southeast Missouri State lost its top rebounder Kobe Clark early in conference play and does not have a single player averaging more than five rebounds per game. Texas A&M Corpus Christi is in the First Four of the NCAA Tournament for a second straight season and is the more disciplined team, as SE Missouri state is 344th in fouls per defensive play. Texas A&M CC is also 28th in the country in steals forced per defensive play – that should serve them well going against an SE Missouri State team averaging 13.1 turnovers per game.
Pick: Texas A&M CC -4
Ben Wilson: Pace and offensive efficiency are what stands out in this matchup between Texas A&M Corpus Christi and Southeast Missouri State. The combination of the Islanders' elite 3-point and free-throw shooting, combined with Southeast Missouri State’s lightning-fast tempo means this matchup is sure to be a track meet.
Pick: Over 153.5
9:10 p.m. ET
Adam Burke: Mississippi State and Pitt will duke it out for the right to face Iowa State on Friday. These are two very different teams, as the Bulldogs are the far better defense and the Panthers are the far better offense. Mississippi State is actually ninth in adjusted defensive efficiency per Bart Torvik, holding opponents to 46.2% on 2s and 30.8% on 3s. The Bulldogs are also a top-25 team in terms of forcing turnovers.
Mississippi State’s shot share on Close Twos is 39.9%, more than 7% higher than Pitt’s at 32.7%. The Panthers prefer to shoot 3s, which makes them something of a high-variance team. They’re taking a 3 on over 44% of their shot attempts. They certainly have the chance to score by 3s while Mississippi State scores by 2s, but look at what happened to Pitt late in the year.
Their offense was quite good, but it was their defense that totally fell off. In the team’s last seven games, every opponent scored at least 1.112 points per possession. Duke racked up 1.466 in the ACC Tournament and disposed of the Panthers. Pitt allowed at least 1.231 points per possession in four of those seven games. Does that provide a glimmer of hope for the Bulldogs offense?
I agree with the line move we’ve seen here and there is definitely an anti-ACC sentiment from early bettors in this tournament. We also haven’t seen a lot of support for Mississippi State with that bad offense, but they’re getting some here and there’s something to be said about that.
Pick: Mississippi State -2.5
MORE: College basketball best bets from VSiN hosts and analysts
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