March Madness odds, predictions: Spartans the pick

More On:

march madness 2021

March Madness 2021: How to watch the First Four

Why hasn’t the NCAA Tournament started yet?

Who to pick in First Four of March Madness 2021

March Madness teams without top players due to COVID-19

More from:

Howie Kussoy

March Madness 2021 odds, predictions: Bet on the Illini

March Madness 2021 odds, predictions: Iona will win MAAC tourney and cover

March Madness 2021 odds, predictions: Oklahoma State is the pick

March Madness 2021 predictions: Take St. John's over Seton Hall

March Madness predictions: Patrick Ewing's Hoyas will fall

The NCAA Tournament is here.

(All these years later, I’m still making my peace with the legitimacy of the First Four, but I’m also grateful the tournament hasn’t expanded to 96 teams — yet.)

What happened during the conference tournaments is no longer relevant. Momentum isn’t a predictor of the future. It doesn’t matter if Tennessee blew an 18-point second-half cushion or if Ohio State hit a meaningless 3-pointer at the buzzer or if Texas Tech couldn’t score a point in its most recent four minutes of action.

It’s time to move on. Everyone — everyone — deserves a fresh start. Agreed?

Michigan State (-2) over UCLA: Neither team can be trusted. It’s why they both ended up here. But the Spartans’ ceiling remains much higher. While UCLA has lost its past four games — all against NCAA Tournament teams, though none seeded higher than No. 5 — Michigan State has knocked off No. 1 Illinois, No. 1 Michigan and No. 2 Ohio State in the past month. You’ll also feel more comfortable riding shotgun with an eight-time Final Four participant (Tom Izzo) instead of a coach (Mick Cronin) with one Sweet 16 trip.

Wichita State (+1.5) over Drake: Just over six weeks ago, the Bulldogs were 18-0 and ready to bust brackets. But Drake has lost four games since then — including two of its past three — and will be without injured all-conference guard Roman Penn. Leading scorer and rebounder ShanQuan Hemphill is expected to return, but he shouldn’t be at his best against a strong defensive team in his first action in weeks.

Texas Southern (-1) over Mount St. Mary’s: Normally a disparity in game tempo benefits the team that crawls, but Mount St. Mary’s ranks 218th in the nation in turnover percentage (17.4) and struggles shooting (42.6 field goal percentage), which should give fast-paced Texas Southern plenty of opportunities to run and finish.

Appalachian State (-3) over Norfolk State: Though I believe momentum entering the NCAA Tournament is largely overrated, recent results matter more for teams reliant on perimeter shooting. Appalachian State had lost six of seven games before advancing to the dance with four wins in four days. In the Sun Belt Tournament, Appalachian State — which averages more than 25 3-point attempts per game — hit 38.6 percent from beyond the arc.

This season: 9-13

2011-20 record: 261-223-9

Share this article:

Source: Read Full Article