Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 10:05 AM
Friday - Session 2
West Region – Charlotte – Spectrum Arena
#15 Lipscomb vs. #2 North Carolina (-19 ½, 162) – 2:45 PM EST – CBS
The Tar Heels (25-10 SU, 19-14-1 ATS) begin their title defense not too far from Chapel Hill as they make the short trip to Charlotte. UNC fell short to Virginia in the ACC championship, 71-63, but that isn’t the worst thing in the world. Under Roy Williams, the Tar Heels have won three national titles, as they never captured the conference tournament championship in that season (2005, 2009, and 2017).
During last year’s run to the championship, North Carolina crushed Texas Southern in the opening round, while its final three victories came by a combined nine points. The Tar Heels posted a 7-6 ATS record this season as a double-digit favorite, while routing Lipscomb in its only matchup back in 2010 by an 80-66 score.
Lipscomb (23-9 SU, 4-2 ATS) caught fire towards the end of season by winning nine of its final 10 regular season games, while capping off the Atlantic Sun tournament title by beating regular season champ Florida Gulf Coast, 108-96. Since the A-Sun doesn’t have lines on their regular season games, the Bisons posted a 1-2 ATS record in non-conference play, although it lost by double-digits to Alabama, Tennessee, and Purdue.
The last defending champion to cover in its first tournament game in the following season was Duke back in 2011, as champs in this situation own an 0-4 ATS record in this span (both UConn and Kentucky went to the NIT the next season). Meanwhile, this is the first tournament appearance ever for Lipscomb, as the last A-Sun team to grab a tourney victory was Florida Gulf Coast in the 2016 play-in game.
East Region – Detroit – Little Caesars Arena
#10 Butler (-1 ½, 151 ½) vs. #7 Arkansas – 2:45 PM EST – truTV
Butler (20-13 SU, 15-17 ATS) struggled down the stretch by losing six of its final nine games, including a 19-point setback to Villanova in the Big East semifinals. The Bulldogs are back in the NCAA tournament for the fourth straight season, while winning their opening round game in six consecutive tourney trips since 2010. Butler is currently riding an 0-4 ATS run, while going 2-7 ATS the last nine games since a 5-1 ATS stretch to close out January.
Arkansas (23-11 SU, 17-16-1 ATS) picked up a pair of victories in the SEC tournament over South Carolina and Florida prior to an 18-point setback to Tennessee in the semifinals. The Razorbacks started conference play at 1-9 ATS, but rebounded with covers in six of their final eight SEC contests. The Hogs struggled in the role of an underdog by posting a 5-7 ATS record, including losses to North Carolina, Auburn, Florida, Texas A&M, and Missouri.
Last season, the Razorbacks knocked out another Big East team by beating Seton Hall in a pick-em role, 77-71 before getting ousted by eventual national champion North Carolina in the round of 32. In each of the past three seasons, Butler has covered the number in the opening round of the tournament, while its last ATS loss in the first round came back in 2009 to LSU.
East Region – San Diego – Viejas Arena
#12 Murray State vs. #5 West Virginia (-10 ½, 145 ½) – 4:00 PM EST – TNT
Following a 15-1 start to the season, West Virginia (24-10 SU, 15-15 ATS) lost five of its next six games. The Mountaineers rebounded with six wins in the next nine contests and reached the Big 12 championship before ultimately losing to Kansas for the third time this season. WVU has qualified for the Sweet 16 in two of the past three seasons, including in 2017 as the Mountaineers were bounced by Gonzaga.
Murray State (26-5 SU, 17-11 ATS) is no stranger to pulling an upset in the Big Dance as the Racers have won a pair of tournament games since 2010. Granted, the Racers are back in the tournament for the first time since 2012 as they grabbed the Ohio Valley tournament title after beating Jacksonville State and Belmont. Murray State is riding a 13-game winning streak since losing at Belmont on January 18, while its biggest underdog spot of the season was as a 4 ½-point ‘dog in an 81-77 setback at Auburn in December.
The Mountaineers had issues covering as a hefty favorite by compiling a dreadful 2-8 ATS mark when laying at least nine points. What’s even more shocking is the three outright losses to Oklahoma State, Iowa State, and Kentucky as heavy chalk, while failing to cash in their last two opportunities as a tournament favorite of 6 ½ points or more. Ohio Valley squads own a 3-2 ATS record in the past five NCAA tournament appearances, but are 0-5 SU since Murray State knocked off Colorado State in 2012.
South Region – Nashville – Bridgestone Arena
#10 Texas (-1, 143 ½) vs. #7 Nevada – 4:30 PM EST – TBS
It’s a battle of Big 12 and Mountain West in Nashville as these two teams are hooking up for the first time since Nevada beat Texas in the opening round of the 2005 NCAA tournament. The Longhorns (19-14 SU, 15-14 ATS) were one of several bubble teams that squeezed through on Selection Sunday despite a 4-6 record in their final 10 games. The two wins that sealed Texas’ tourney invite came against West Virginia and Oklahoma in the last two weeks of the season, but are currently on an 0-4 ATS run in the favorite role.
The Wolf Pack (27-7 SU, 16-14-3 ATS) built up strong enough credentials to warrant an at-large bid in spite of getting crushed by San Diego State in the MWC semifinals, 90-73. Nevada didn’t have much luck against Big 12 schools this season by losing to Texas Tech and TCU, as those two defeats came after an 8-0 SU/ATS start. In the last 25 games of the season, the Wolf Pack put together an 8-14-3 ATS mark, but nine of those ATS losses came as a favorite of nine points or more.
Nevada graduated from CBI champions in 2016 to an NCAA tournament berth in 2017, but the Wolf Pack fell to another Big 12 club in a first round defeat to Iowa State. The Longhorns haven’t won a tournament game since 2014, while losing on a half-court buzzer-beater to Northern Iowa in 2016.
You can reach Kevin Rogers via e-mail at [email protected]
Kevin Rogers can be followed on Twitter at virogers.