Wednesday's First Four
March 19, 2013
By Kevin Rogers
The First Four concludes on Wednesday night in Dayton, Ohio as a pair of 16's and a pair of 13's look to advance to Friday's action. We'll also take a quick glance at some of the intriguing games in the NIT, but things tip off between two 16 seeds trying to get a date with Indiana in the second round.
LIU-Brooklyn vs. James Madison - 6:40 PM EST (TruTV)
These two teams aren't household names by any stretch, but both squads finished the season with 20 wins apiece. LIU-Brooklyn won the Northeast Conference championship by ousting Mount St. Mary's, 91-70 as 3 ½-point favorites, the fifth consecutive victory for the Blackbirds. There isn't much to go off of from a pointspread angle on LIU, who played just four lined games this season, but the Blackbirds covered all four times.
James Madison put together one of the top ATS records in the country this season with a 21-10 mark, while covering in eight of its final nine games. The Dukes captured all three games of the Colonial tournament, including a 70-57 triumph over regular-season conference champion Northeastern as two-point underdogs. JMU leading scorer and rebounder Rayshawn Goins (12.9 ppg) is expected to sit out the first half on Wednesday night after getting arrested for disorderly conduct over the weekend.
The Dukes become the first Colonial team to participate in the Play-In game of the tournament, while the Blackbirds are the third-ever squad from the Northeast Conference to play in Dayton. Monmouth (2006) and Mount St. Mary's (2009) each advanced past the Play-In contest with victories, as LIU is participating in the NCAA Tournament for the third straight season (losses to North Carolina in '11 and Michigan State in '12).
Boise State vs. LaSalle - 9:10 PM EST (TruTV)
The Broncos were a part of the best conference RPI-wise this season as one of five teams to qualify for the NCAA Tournament. Granted, Boise State still has to win on Wednesday night to be part of the 64-team field, but the Broncos compiled a 21-10 SU and 16-11 ATS record this season. LaSalle put together a solid start in Atlantic-10 play, while the Explorers split their final six games of the season for a 21-9 SU and 12-12-1 ATS ledger.
The Explorers closed the season with consecutive losses to St. Louis and Butler (both tournament teams), but LaSalle won seven of eight games prior to those defeats. In those seven victories, LaSalle failed to beat a team that qualified for the NCAA Tournament, while the Explorers compiled a dreadful 1-6 ATS record in the underdog role. In non-conference play earlier this season, LaSalle beat tournament teams Iona and Villanova, but were routed at Miami as 6 ½-point 'dogs.
Boise State did most of its damage at home this season (14-1), while its signature win came at Creighton in November as 13-point 'dogs, 83-70. After starting Mountain West play at 0-4 ATS in the favorite role, the Broncos cashed their last four games when laying points, but none of those victories came against current tournament teams. Boise State is playing in its first Big Dance since 2008 when the Broncos lost to Louisville as 14-point 'dogs, 79-61.
What to watch for in NIT Action:
-- Iowa battles Indiana State for the first time ever as the two teams hook up in Iowa City. The Hawkeyes (-12 ½) covered their final six games of the season, while winning seven straight contests at Carver-Hawkeye Arena (6-1 ATS). The Sycamores went the opposite direction down the stretch by cashing just one of its last nine games in a 51-50 victory over Evansville in the Missouri Valley tournament.
-- Providence hosts Charlotte in a Big East/Atlantic 10 matchup, as the Friars won their last four games at the Dunkin Donuts Center. PC (-9 ½) won seven of eight contests down the stretch, but losses to Connecticut and Cincinnati burst its bubble for a potential NCAA Tournament bid. The 49ers captured the craziest victory in any of the conference tournaments by scoring eight points in the final five seconds of a 68-63 upset of Richmond. Charlotte did knock off Butler and Davidson as heavy road underdogs, proving this team isn't afraid of the highway.
-- Arizona State spent most of the conference season on the tournament bubble, but fell short after blowing a late lead in a defeat to UCLA in the Pac-12 tournament quarterfinals. The Sun Devils (-4) return home to host a tough Detroit squad, who closed the season with wins in eight of their final 12 games. The Titans covered four of their last five times in the underdog role, including an upset of eventual Horizon champ Valparaiso, 84-74. ASU dropped five of six down the stretch, but put together a 6-3 SU and 5-4 ATS record at home inside conference play.
You can reach Kevin Rogers via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
Kevin Rogers can be followed on Twitter at virogers.
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