Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 9:59 AM

Wednesday's First-Four Tips

Editor’s Note: Brian Edwards started the 2019 NCAA Tournament right by cashing tickets at a 3-0 ATS clip with winners on FDU, FDU-Prairie View A&M ‘over’ and Belmont. Don’t miss out on Brian’s selections for Thursday, either, or go ahead and sign up for his entire Tournament Package at a discount rate and cash tickets galore!

North Carolina Central vs. North Dakota State

-- As of early this morning, most books had North Dakota State (18-15 straight up, 14-15 against the spread) listed as a five-point favorite with a total of 132.5. The Eagles were +185 on the money line (risk $100 to win $185). For first-half wagers, the Bison were favored by 2.5 points with an ‘over/under’ of 61.

-- Tonight’s winner advances to take on the Tournament’s top overall seed, Duke, on Friday at 7:10 p.m. Eastern at Colonial Life Arena in Columbia, S.C.

-- North Dakota State will bring a four-game winning streak to Dayton, the annual home of the First Four where Fairleigh Dickinson and Belmont prevailed last night to stay alive in this year’s NCAA Tournament. The Bison won the Summit League Tournament with victories over Oral Roberts, Western Illinois and Nebraska-Omaha. NDS won an 73-63 decision over the Mavericks in the finals in Sioux Falls, S.D., on March 12. The Bison took the cash as a 3.5-point underdog. They roared out to a 41-27 halftime advantage, only to see Nebraska Omaha rally with a 24-10 run to knot the score at 51-51 with 8:24 remaining. But it would be all NDS the rest of the way as it ripped off a 9-0 run to go ahead 60-51 and coast into the win column from there.

-- Vinnie Shahid led the way against the Mavericks with 22 points and three assists without a turnover. Shahid, a transfer from Western Nebraska Community College, buried 7-of-12 field-goal attempts and 6-of-7 from the free-throw line to garner Summit League Tournament MVP honors. Tyson Ward added 15 points and seven rebounds on 6-of-9 FGAs. Cameron Hunter logged only 13 minutes of playing time but made them count, draining all three of his launces from 3-point range and all three attempts from the charity stripe in a 12-point effort. Hunter also dished out a pair of assists without committing a turnover.

-- NDS is ranked 11th in the nation in free-throw percentage, making 77.4 percent of its attempts from the charity stripe. The Bison are No. 69 in the nation in the country in 3-point accuracy (36.6%). On the flip side, NDS struggles defensively, ranking No. 196 in scoring ‘D’ (76.7 PPG), No. 300 in FG-percentage defense (46.1%) and No. 269 at defending the 3-point line (35.8%).

-- Shahid paces NDS in scoring with his 12.8 points-per-game average and dishes out a team-best 2.7 assists per game. He’s hitting 36.4 percent of his treys, 83.9 percent of his free-throw attempts and has an 88/44 assist-to-turnover ratio. Ward averages 12.3 points and 6.3 rebounds per game, while Deng Geu averages 9.9 points and 5.0 RPG.

-- This is NDS’s third NCAA Tournament appearance in the past six years. The Bison have a 1-3 all-time record in four NCAA Tournament games, upsetting fifth-seeded Oklahoma in an 80-75 overtime win in 2015.

-- NDS faced six foes that are in’s Top 100. The Bison went 0-6 in those games, losing by 17 points or more five times. They gave South Dakota State (No. 94) fits, however, in a 78-77 loss as five-point home underdogs on Feb. 16. NDS has faced a No. 1 seed, getting blasted 102-60 at Gonzaga as a 26.5-point underdog back in non-conference play.

-- NDS is 9-3 SU and 8-3-1 ATS in its past 12 games. Four of those victories have come by double-digit margins.

-- NC Central (18-15 SU, 17-11 ATS) is on fire for our purposes, compiling a 7-1-2 spread record in its past 10 games. The Eagles are 8-2 SU over that span with one its defeats coming in overtime at Norfolk State, the MEAC’s regular-season champ that plays at Alabama in the NIT.

-- NC Central avenged the OT setback to Norfolk State by beating it by a 50-47 count in the MEAC Tournament finals, winning outright as a 4.5-point underdog. The Eagles overcame a 10-point intermission deficit by using a 25-6 run to start the second half. They used a balanced scoring attack with five players scoring at least seven points led by Zacarry Douglas’s 10 points and 12 rebounds. Raasean Davis added eight points, 14 boards, two assists, two blocked shots and one steal. The Eagles controlled the glass with a 37-24 rebounding edge.

-- NC Central is led by Davis, who averages team-bests in scoring (14.6 PPG), rebounding (8.9 RPG), FG percentage (64.5 %), steals (0.9 SPG) and blocked shots (1.2 BPG). The senior center was named the Most Outstanding Player of the MEAC Tournament.

-- NC Central is ranked 50th in the nation in scoring ‘D’, limiting opponents to an average of 66.3 PPG. The Eagles are 37th in the country at defending the 3-point line (31.3%). However, they can’t shoot it well from long distance, ranking No. 313 nationally with an abysmal 31.5 percentage.

-- NC Central is in the NCAA Tournament for the third straight season, but it is still looking for its first victory.

-- The ‘under’ is on a 6-0 run for the Eagles to improve to 17-13 overall.

-- The ‘over’ is on a 13-6 run to improve to 19-11 overall for the Bison.

-- Tip-off from Dayton Arena is scheduled for 6:40 p.m. Eastern on TruTV.

Arizona State vs. St. John’s

-- As of early this morning, most betting shops had Arizona State (22-10 SU, 17-14 ATS) installed as a two-point favorite with a total of 152.5. The winner advances to face sixth-seeded Buffalo on Friday in Tulsa.

-- The head-coaching matchup here might pit the two best college basketball players (among head coaches in this Tournament) from their playing days at Duke for Bobby Hurley (1990-93) and Chris Mullin (1981-85). Both were NBA lottery picks.

-- Bobby Hurley’s team has won six of its past eight games while posting a 5-3 spread record. ASU advanced past UCLA with an 83-72 win as a five-point favorite in its opening game of the Pac-12 Tournament. All five starters scored in double figures led by Romello White’s 19 points and seven rebounds.

-- In the semifinals at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, ASU was eliminated from the Pac-12 Tournament by Oregon in a 79-75 overtime loss as a 2.5-point underdog. Luguentz Dort scored a team-high 16 points in the losing effort, while Rob Edwards finished with 15 points, five rebounds a pair of steals. Remy Martin and Zylan Cheatham had 14 points apiece.

-- Cheatham was the only Pac-12 player to average a double-double this season (11.8 PPG, 10.4 RPG), recording 13 of them. Dort was named the Pac-12 Freshman of the Year thanks to his team-high 16.1 PPG average. Martin, a sophomore guard, averaged 13.4 PPG and handed out a team-best 5.1 APG.

-- ASU has compiled an 8-4 spread record in 12 games as a single-digit ‘chalk.’

-- St. John’s (21-12 SU, 14-18 ATS) is in its first NCAA Tournament since 2015 and its first under Mullin, who led the Johnnies to the 1985 Final Four and is in his fourth season back at his alma mater. The Red Storm hasn’t been to a Sweet 16 since going all the way to the Elite Eight back in 1999.

-- Mullin’s team is led by junior guard and Brooklyn native Shamorie Ponds, who averages team-high in scoring (19.5 PPG), assists (5.2 APG) and steals (2.6 SPG). Ponds has a 165/64 assist-to-turnover ratio. Mustapha Heron, a transfer from Auburn, averages 14.9 points, 4.7 rebounds and 1.0 steals per game. Heron is knocking down 42.1 percent of his 3-pointers. L.J. Figueroa averages 14.3 points, 6.9 rebounds and 1.8 SPG, while Marvin Clark (10.8 PPG, 5.4 RPG) and Justin Simon (10.4 PPG, 5.0 RPG) also average in double figures.

-- St. John’s is 5-5 ATS with three outright wins in 10 games as an underdog this season.

-- These schools met on Dec. 8 of 2017 at the Basketball Hall of Fame Classic in Los Angeles, where ASU beat St. John’s 82-70 behind White’s 22 points. Ponds added 19 points for the Johnnies in the losing effort.

-- The ‘under’ cashed in each of ASU’s final five regular-season game before the ‘over’ hit on both of its Pac-12 Tournament contests. Nevertheless, the ‘under’ is 19-13 overall for the Sun Devils.

B.E.’s Bonus Nuggets

-- Belmont advanced to face sixth-seeded Maryland in Jacksonville on Thursday by capturing an 81-70 First Four win over Temple as a 2.5-point favorite. The Bruins won their first NCAA Tournament game in program history and cashed tickets as 2.5-point ‘chalk.’ The 151 combined points dipped ‘under’ the 155-point total. Kevin McClain was the catalyst for Belmont, dropping a game-high 29 points on the Owls by draining 8-of-14 FGAs, 4-of-7 greys and 9-of-11 FTAs. Dylan Windler struggled with his shot, making only 2-of-7 FGAs and scoring merely five points. However, he pulled down 14 rebounds. The defensive attention Temple paid to Windler freed up Nick Muszynski to hit 8-of-12 FGAs in a 16-point effort. The OVC Freshman of the Year also added four rebounds, three assists and a pair of blocked shots.

-- Fairleigh Dickinson rallied from a seven-point halftime deficit to advance past Prairie View A&M with an 82-76 win as a two-point favorite. The 158 combined points jumped ‘over’ the 148.5-point tally. Darnell Edge and Jahlil Jenkins were the catalyst for the Knights, who enjoyed a 39-24 advantage in the rebounding department. Edge played all 40 minutes and produced 33 points on 9-of-13 FGAs, 7-of-9 net splashes from long distance and 8-of-8 on FTAs. Jenkins finished with 22 points, four rebounds and six assists compared to only two turnovers.

-- VCU guard Marcus Evans has been upgraded to ‘probable’ (knee) for Friday’s first-round game vs. UCF. Evans averages 14.3 points, 3.3 assists, 3.1 rebounds and 2.0 steals per game.

-- Toledo (25-7 SU, 17-13 ATS) will be down two of its best players in tonight’s NIT game at Xavier. Marreon Jackson (shoulder) and Willie Jackson (concussion) are both ‘out.’ Marreon Jackson (11.7 PPG) averages team-highs in assists (4.2 APG) and steals (1.4 SPG), while Willie Jackson averages 8.5 points and 8.8 RPG.

Follow Brian Edwards' sports gambling opinions on Twitter at @vegasbedwards.

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