Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 14:05 PM
Thursday - Session 1
The opening round of this year’s NCAA Tournament gets underway with the first four games on Thursday’s slate.
Rhode Island will get things started against Oklahoma followed by Wright State taking on Tennessee. The next two games pit UNC Greensboro against Gonzaga before Penn faces Kansas in the final matchup in Session 1.
Midwest Region (Pittsburgh, PA)
No. 10 Oklahoma vs. No. 7 Rhode Island (CBS, 12:15 p.m. ET)
Opening Odds: Rhode Island -2, 158
Oklahoma was one of the more controversial picks for the Big Dance considering its 2-8 SU slide in its last 10 games including and early exit from the Big 12 Tournament with a 71-60 loss to Oklahoma State as a slight 1 ½-point favorite. Betting on the Sooners has been a major drain on the bankroll since mid-January with a 3-13 record ATS. The total has stayed UNDER in four of their last six games.
The Rams were the top team in the Atlantic 10 this season at 15-3 straight-up in conference play, but they came up just short in the tournament title game with a 58-57 loss to Davidson as 2 ½-point favorites. Rhode Island struggled down the stretch at 2-3 straight-up in its last five games while going just 2-6 against the spread in its last eight contests. The total stayed UNDER in five of the Rams’ last six games.
-- The Sooners are 1-6 ATS in their last seven games played at a neutral site and the total has gone OVER in five of their last seven games against the Atlantic 10
-- The Rams have covered in seven of their last 10 neutral-site games and the total has stayed UNDER in five of their last seven nonconference matchups
-- This will be the first meeting between the two in this Big 12/Atlantic 10 matchup
South Region (Dallas, TX)
No. 14 Wright State vs. No. 3 Tennessee (TruTV, 12:40 p.m. ET)
Opening Odds: Tennessee -13, 131
Wright State earned its spot in the field by winning the Horizon League Tournament as the No. 2 seed at 14-4 SU in conference play. The Raiders bring a four-game winning streak both SU and ATS into this matchup and the total has gone OVER in three of those games. Senior guard Grant Benzinger is the team’s leading scorer (14.5 points) and he scored 19 points with nine rebounds against Cleveland State in the tournament title game.
The Volunteers came up short against Kentucky in the SEC Tournament Championship as two-point favorites in a 77-72 loss. The was the third time they failed to cover as favorites in their last four games. This is part of a 4-6 record ATS in their last 10 contests. Sophomore forward Grant Williams basically matched his team-high 15.3-point scoring average in that loss to the Wildcats.
-- The Raiders have covered in their last five games against a team with a SU winning record and the total has gone OVER in four of their last five neutral-site games.
-- The Volunteers are 3-0-1 ATS in their last four NCAA Tournament games and the total has gone OVER in six of their last eight games in this tournament.
-- This will be the first meeting between these two teams.
West Region (Boise, ID)
No. 13 UNC Greensboro vs. No. 4 Gonzaga (TNT, 1:30 p.m. ET)
Opening Odds: Gonzaga -12 ½, 136
Needing to win the Southern Conference Tournament to earn a bid, the Spartans added to a SU 8-1 run to end the regular season with three more victories including a 62-47 upset against Middle Tennessee as slight 1 ½-point underdogs to claim the title. Betting on them has been a bit trickier at 3-4 ATS in their last seven games. The total has stayed UNDER in four of their last five contests.
You cannot do more than the Bulldogs did in the West Coast Conference this season. They won the regular season title at 17-1 SU before posting three more wins in the WCC Tournament. They are 30-4 SU overall coming into this Thursday’s opener. Gonzaga has not been a good betting team for most of the season at 14-18-1 ATS, but it has covered in three of its last four games.
-- The Spartans have gone 5-0-1 ATS in their last six nonconference games and the total has stayed UNDER in their last five games on Thursday.
-- The Bulldogs are 1-5-1 ATS in their last seven games in the NCAA Tournament and the total has gone OVER in five of their last six neutral-site games.
-- This will be the first meeting in the East Coast/West Coast clash.
Midwest Region (Wichita, KS)
No. 16 Penn vs. No.1 Kansas (TBS, 2:00 p.m. ET)
Opening Odds: Kansas -14, 147
Penn tied Harvard for the best SU record in the Ivy League at 12-2 and it went on to beat the Crimson 68-65 in the tournament title game as a 2 ½-point favorite. The Quakers have just one SU loss in their last eight games with a 6-2 record ATS. The total has gone OVER in five of their last seven games. Penn is averaging 76.7 points per game behind Ryan Betley (14.5 points) and AJ Brodeur (13.1 points).
The Jayhawks followed up their 13-5 SU run to the Big 12 regular season title with a three-game run both SU and ATS to the tournament title as well. They closed as slight 1 ½-point underdogs in an 81-70 victory against West Virginia in the conference championship to improve to 6-2 ATS over their last eight games. Sophomore guard Malik Newman scored a team-high 20 points in that Big 12 title game.
-- The Quakers have failed to cover in four of their last five games against the Big 12 and the total has gone OVER in 10 of their last 13 games outside the Ivy League.
-- The Jayhawks are 5-2 ATS in their last seven games against the Ivy League and the total has stayed UNDER in 28 of their last 38 NCAA Tournament games.
-- The last time these two met was in 2000 with Kansas winning by the lopsided score of 105-59 as a 16-point home favorite.