Editor's note: Brian Edwards posted a 4-1 record in Thursday's NCAA Tournament games and is on a 40-25 run since Feb. 21. Don't miss out on his Friday picks and he's already posted several plays for Saturday as well.
**Florida Gulf Coast vs. Georgetown**
--This is a 2/15 matchup in Philadelphia with the winner advancing to face the winner of San Diego St. vs. Oklahoma. Most books are listing Georgetown (25-6 straight up, 16-11 against the spread) as a 13.5-point favorite with a total of 123 ½. Gamblers can take the Eagles to win outright for a +800 payout (risk $100 to win $800). Remember, two No. 15 seeds (Norfolk St. over Missouri and Lehigh over Duke) advanced in last year’s tournament.
--Georgetown made the Big East Tournament semifinals by pounding Cincinnati 62-43 as a four-point ‘chalk’ in the quarterfinals. Fittingly, the Hoyas faced Syracuse one last time at MSG in NYC and fittingly, 40 minutes settled nothing. In overtime, the ‘Cuse captured a 58-55 win as a one-point underdog. Makael Hopkins scored 15 points and grabbed eight rebounds in the losing effort.
--Florida Gulf Coast (24-10 SU, 4-0 ATS) won the Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament with an 88-75 win over Mercer as a 5.5-point underdog. (Mercer won at Tennessee in its NIT opener Wednesday night and also won outright at Alabama and at FSU during the regular season). Brett Comer was the catalyst with 21 points, five assists and three steals. Sherwood Brown added 16 points and 11 rebounds.
--Florida Gulf Coast faced four RPI Top 50 teams during the regular season. The Eagles beat Miami 63-51 in Fort Myers, but they lost 80-57 at VCU, 88-67 at Duke and 83-72 at Iowa St. Andy Enfield’s team lost 79-68 at St. John’s.
--John Thompson III’s squad has been a double-digit favorite five times, compiling an abysmal 1-4 spread record. However, we should point out that the Hoyas are 11-4 ATS in their last 15 games.
--Georgetown sophomore forward Otto Porter enjoyed a breakout campaign. Porter averaged team-highs in scoring (16.3 points per game), rebounding (7.4 RPG), field-goal percentage (48.9%) and steals (1.9 SPG) while producing a 76/45 assists-to-turnovers ratio.
--The ‘under’ is 7-3 in the Hoyas’ last 10 games, 14-10 overall.
--TBS will have the telecast from Wells Fargo Center at 6:50 p.m. Eastern.
**Iona vs. Ohio State**
--Most shops have installed No. 2 seed Ohio St. (226-7 SU, 19-11-1 ATS) as a 14-point favorite with a total of 145. The Gaels are +900 on the money line (risk $100 to win $900).
--Iona (20-13 SU, 15-15-1 ATS) has won five in a row and has posted a 5-1-1 spread record in its last seven outings. The Gaels won the MAAC Tournament with a 60-57 win over Manhattan as a four-point favorite. The game will be remembered forever in the minds of gamblers after Iona fans rushed the court before the game ended, prompting officials to issue a technical foul on the Gaels. After a 3-pointer by the Jaspers cut the deficit to 60-55 with one tick remaining, the fans stormed on the floor. When the court was cleared, Manhattan hit a pair of free throws for the incomprehensible backdoor cover. Tre Bowman scored a team-high 20 points for Iona.
--In a First Four matchup against BYU in last season’s NCAA Tournament, Iona allowed a 25-point lead to get away in a 78-72 loss as a two-point underdog. Lamont ‘Mo-Mo’ Jones played one of the worst games of his career, finishing with only six points on 3-of-14 shooting from the field. Jones missed all six of his attempts from 3-point range and had zero assists compared to three turnovers. Sean Armand scored 10 points.
--Jones and Armand give Iona one of the nation’s most underrated backcourts. Jones averages 23.0 points, 3.5 assists and 1.2 steals per game, while Armand scored at a 16.6 PPG clip. Jones has made 88.7 percent of his free throws.
--Jones will face one of the nation’s premier perimeter defenders in Ohio St. junior guard Aaron Craft, who has a team-high 66 steals. Craft’s defensive prowess isn’t done justice by his steal numbers. He almost always maintains great position, takes charges galore and contests every shot attempt.
--Ohio St. went to the Final Four last year before getting beaten by Kansas in the national semifinals at the Superdome. Thad Matta brings a 20-10 career record (67%) into this year’s event.
--Ohio St. garnered a No. 2 seed by winning last weekend’s Big Ten Tournament at the United Center in Chicago. The Buckeyes won a 50-43 decision over Wisconsin in the finals, hooking up their backers as 1.5-point favorites. Deshaun Thomas scored a game-high 17 points and pulled down seven rebounds.
--Thomas averages a team-high 19.5 PPG. He has a smooth lefty stroke with excellent range. Thomas can create off the dribble and knock down shots coming off screens.
--Ohio St. owns an 8-7 spread record as a double-digit favorite. Meanwhile, Iona has a 6-3 spread record as an underdog, but this is the Gaels’ first game as double-digit ‘dogs.
--The ‘under’ is 18-12 overall for the Buckeyes, 7-1 in their last eight games.
--The ‘under’ is on a 5-2 run for Iona, but the ‘over’ is 13-9 overall.
--These schools met in December of 2008 with the Buckeyes winning by a 71-53 count as a 16-point home favorite.
--Tip-off is in Dayton is scheduled for 7:15 p.m. Eastern on CBS.
**Villanova vs. North Carolina**
--Most books are listing North Carolina (24-10 SU, 20-12 ATS) as a four-point favorite for this 8/9 matchup in Kansas City. The total is 142 or 142 ½ and the Wildcats are +160 on the money line (risk $100 to win $160).
--Roy Williams led his team into the ACC Tournament finals last weekend before losing 87-77 to Miami in Greensboro. The Tar Heels played three games in three days, beating FSU (83-62) and Maryland (79-76) prior to Sunday’s setback to the Hurricanes.
--Villanova (20-13 SU, 19-10-1 ATS) has thrived as an underdog with a 10-6-1 spread record in 17 such spots. The Wildcats beat St. John’s 66-53 as 4.5-point favorites at the Big East Tournament before losing to Louisville (74-55) in the quarterfinals.
--North Carolina and Villanova have quite a history in the NCAA Tournament. On its way to the 1985 NCAA title, eighth-seeded Villanova beat No. 2 seed UNC by a 56-44 count at the South Region finals in Birmingham. In 2005 at the Carrier Dome in the East region semifinals, UNC won a 67-66 decision after getting the benefit of a couple of calls by the officials in the final minute. The Wildcats easily covered the number as 11-point underdogs. The Tar Heels beat ‘Nova again at the Final Four in 2009 when Ty Lawson led his team to an 83-69 win with 22 points, eight assists, seven rebounds and a pair of steals.
--UNC has an 8-5 spread record in 13 games as a single-digit ‘chalk.’
--Williams is one of the best coaches in NCAA Tournament history, compiling a 61-20 record (75.3%). He took the Tar Heels to the Elite Eight last season before losing to his former team, Kansas. If KU and UNC win Friday, they will square off again on Sunday.
--Even though the ‘over’ has hit in its last three games, the ‘under’ is 17-15 overall for UNC.
--The ‘over’ is on a 4-1 run in Villanova’s last five games, but the ‘under’ is 16-12 overall.
--Tip-off is slated for 7:20 p.m. Eastern on TNT at Sprint Center.
**Florida vs. Northwestern State**
--This is a 3/14 South Region showdown in Austin. Most books are listing Florida (26-7 SU, 16-14 ATS) as a 20.5-point favorite with a total of 141.5. The total has been on the rise since opening at 140. Gamblers can take the Demons to win outright for a 40/1 payout at 5Dimes.
--Billy Donovan’s team beat LSU (80-58) and Alabama (61-51) to advance to the SEC Tournament finals in Nashville last weekend. The Gators raced out to a 38-26 intermission lead over Ole Miss on Sunday, but the Rebels rallied to capture a 66-63 win as an 11.5-point underdog. Mike Rosario had 18 and nine rebounds for UF in the losing effort.
--Donovan has now taken Florida to the NCAA Tournament 13 times in his 17-year tenure. He owns a 28-10 career record (74%) in the NCAA Tournament, taking the Gators to the Elite Eight the past two seasons. Donovan has led UF to the finals three times, winning it all twice in 2006 and ’07.
--Northwestern St. (23-8 SU, 1-2 ATS) is back in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2006 when it upset Iowa on a 3-pointer from the corner in the final seconds. The Demons made the field thanks to a 68-66 win over Stephen F. Austin as five-point underdogs in the Southland Conference Tournament finals. Shamir Davis scored a team-high 19 points for the winners.
--Northwestern St. faced three SEC teams during the regular season, losing 102-95 at LSU, 78-65 at Texas A&M and 79-61 at Arkansas.
--Northwestern St. leads the nation in scoring, averaging 81.0 points per game. The Demons allow 71.2 PPG. They have depth galore with 10 players averaging more than 15 minutes per game. Four players are scoring in double figures led by DeQuan Hicks, who 14.1 points and 5.8 rebounds while making 58.6 percent of his shots from the field.
--Florida has posted a 14-10 spread record in 24 games as a double-digit ‘chalk.’
--Totals have been an overall wash (1-1-1) in Northwestern St.’s three games that were lined.
--The ‘under’ has cashed in eight of UF’s last 10 games and is 16-11 overall.
--TruTV will have television coverage at 7:25 p.m. Eastern.
**B.E.’s Bonus Nuggets**
--Harvard collected its first NCAA Tournament win in school history Thursday night by eliminating third-seeded New Mexico, 68-62. The Crimson won outright as an 11-point underdog, hooking up money-line backers with a +500 return (paid $500 on $100 wagers).
--If Northwestern wasn’t already targeting Harvard head coach Tommy Amaker to replace Bill Carmody, it is now. Other potential candidates for the Wildcats include Duke assistant Chris Collins and Valpo’s Bryce Drew.
--Harvard is now 8-2 ATS in 10 games as an underdog this season.
--Steve Alford has now lost to Northwestern St. and Harvard in NCAA Tournament shockers.
--Speaking of Valpo, it trailed by 20-plus points for much of Thursday’s loss to third-seeded Michigan St. But the Crusaders mounted a furious last-minute rally to give their backers a miracle push in the 65-54 setback as 11-point underdogs (late action prompted many books to close the line at 10.5 or 10 but the number was 11 nearly all week).
--As of early Friday morning, most books had Michigan St. installed as a 5.5-point favorite versus Memphis. The Tigers nearly handed Saint Mary’s a victory with foolish turnovers in the final minute, but they survived when Matthew Dellavedova missed a 3-pointer from out of the corner at the horn. Josh Pastner’s first NCAA Tournament win came by a 54-52 score with Memphis covering the spread as a 1.5-point favorite.
--Best Game on Saturday: VCU vs. Michigan. Can’t wait! The Wolverines are 3.5-point favorites.
Brian Edwards can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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