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Friday March 22 NCAA Tournament First Round Picks

Written by:
Phil Simon
Published on:
Mar/22/2019

Picking a straight up winner is hard enough. Now try picking against the spread. While the favorites had a good day on Thursday, they struggled against the NCAA Tournament betting line, posting just a 7-9 ATS record.

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The following article courtesy of Bookmaker

And we didn’t get a major upset with No. 12 Murray State the lowest-seeded team to claim a victory. That can mean only one thing for the 16 first-round games on Friday, and we’ll break down a few of them to give you the best chance of pocketing a few bucks off the Madness.

No. 14 Georgia State Panthers vs. No. 3 Houston Cougars

Date and Time: Friday, March 22, 2019, 7:20 p.m. ET

Location: Bank of Oklahoma Center, Tulsa, OK

Opening CBB Odds: Houston -12.5, O/U 141.5

Georgia State vs. Houston TV Coverage: TBS

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We haven’t seen Houston enjoy this much success since Hakeem Olajuwon, Clyde Drexler Phi Slamma Jamma days. I’m not saying the Cougars are going to the national championship game, but this is a team that can do some damage. And they are expected to have leading scorer Corey Davis Jr. at closer to full health than he was in the American Athletic title game. Hampered by a hip injury, Davis Jr. struggled from the field and scored just 12 points, well below his season average.

The Cougars lost that game to Cincinnati, another Tournament team they beat twice during the regular season to help secure the AAC regular season title. And it was a tough league this year with four teams making the Big Dance.

Houston also caught a break playing on the second day of the first round. Coach Kelvin Sampson said the team was exhausted after a grueling season and conference tournament run, and the additional day will give players like Davis, Fabian White Jr. and DeJon Jarreau a little more time to overcome nagging injury issues.

Georgia State got even less respect than Houston during the year. The Panthers reached the Dance for the third time in five seasons by knocking off UT-Arlington in the Sun Belt title game for their fifth straight win and eighth in the last nine games. The Panthers also won the regular season crown.

There’s a bit of history for the Panthers in the Tournament. Four years ago as a No. 14-seed, they stunned Baylor in the first round. And they have a balanced scoring attack that will give Houston’s defensive pressure problems. D’Marcus Simonds leads five Panthers in double figures with 18.4 points per game. Houston will probably win the game, but the Panthers can cover the 12.5-point spread.

NCAA Tournament Score Prediction: Houston 75, Georgia State 69

No.  11 Ohio State Buckeyes vs. No. 6 Iowa State Cyclones

Date and Time: Friday, March 22, 2019, 9:50 p.m. ET

Location: Bank of Oklahoma Center, Tulsa, OK

Opening CBB Odds: Iowa State -5.5, O/U 139.5

Ohio State vs. Iowa State TV Coverage: TBS

If you want a team that’s hot entering the Tournament, Iowa State’s it. The Cyclones ended the regular season losing three straight and five of six to reach the Big 12 tourney as the fifth-seed. A team that was once considered a lock for a high seed and to play a first round game in nearby Des Moines, the Cyclones were suddenly reeling.

Led by tournament MVP Marial Shayok, ISU found its swagger knocking off Baylor, Kansas State and Kansas in the final for its fourth Big 12 tournament title in six years. The Cyclones also became the lowest-seed to win the crown. Iowa State likes to push the pace and they have four players averaging in double figures. Shayock leads the quartet with 18.6, followed by Lindell Wigginton at 13.4.

The speed and tempo the Cyclones flash will give Ohio State problems. The Buckeyes will use Kaleb Wesson to counter. Wesson’s big frame will own the paint in this one and the longer he stays on the floor the better off OSU will be. Wesson had 17 points and 13 boards in a Big Ten tourney victory over Indiana that helped OSU’s selection. However, he disappeared against Michigan State with only seven points and three boards.

Couple Wesson’s inconsistent play and stamina issues with iffy production from guards C.J. Jackson and Keyshawn Woods, and it’s easy to see why the Buckeyes faltered in the second half of the season. They opened with 12 wins in their first 13 games, but went 7-13 in their last 20, finishing with an 8-12 mark in the Big Ten.

Iowa State will have to play a style of game it’s not used to in order to combat the physical Wesson. But the Cyclones will pull away in the later stages of this one with a more balanced offensive attack

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NCAA Tournament Score Prediction: Iowa State 80, Ohio State 72

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