Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 13:59 PM
Thursday - Session 4
West Region (Des Moines, IA)
No. 15 Montana vs. No. 2 Michigan (TNT, 9:20 PM EST)
Opening Odds: Nevada -15, 130
-- Michigan (28-6 straight up, 19-15 against the spread) remains heavily favored as of Thursday morning, and they're not expected to fall in the late game in Iowa.
-- The Wolverines lost in the Big Ten Tournament final against their rivals from East Lansing by a 65-60 count, but they still managed to land on the two line which is good news. They picked up wins in the tourney against fellow tournament teams Minnesota, 76-49, and Iowa, 74-53, adding to their already impressive resume. The 'under' was 3-0 in their conference tournament run.
-- The Wolverines had trouble getting the basket into the hoop, ranking just 242nd in the nation with 70.4 points per game (PPG), and they were middling at 45.0 percent in the 3-point category. They're not a very good free-throw team, either, posting just 69.8 percent to rank 202nd in the country.
-- For Michigan, it's all about their defense, and a lot of it. They ranked second in the nation in scoring defense, yielding just 58.6 points per game. It is going to be hard for Montana to score, especially with an undersized unit. The Wolverines allowed just 28.9 percent of opposing 3-pointers to fall, too, ranking fifth in the land, while they were 19th in opponent field-goal percentage (39.9 percent).
-- Michigan carried an unblemished record into Wisconsin on Jan. 19, winning its first 17 games. However, the Badgers had other ideas that day, winning 64-54 with the Wolverines scoring a season-low in offense.
-- The Wolverines registered impressive, resume-building wins early in the season against North Carolina and Purdue, as well as a 27-point shellacking of defending champ Villanova back on Nov. 14. Their worst loss came at the hands of Iowa on the road, falling by 15 on Feb. 1 in Iowa City.
-- Ignas Brazdeikis led the way with 15.1 points per game (PPG), and he pulled down 5.2 rebounds per game (RPG), too while shooting 42.0 percent from behind the 3-point line. Jordan Poole (12.8 PPG) and Charles Matthews (12.0) were the only other two players to average double-digit points on offense, with center Jon Teske just on the outside looking in with 9.6 PPG. Teske pulled down 6.9 RPG, too, while swatting a team-high 73 shots.
-- Michigan didn't win or cover in their last outing, and that's a good thing for side bettors. The Wolverines are 5-0 ATS in the past five after a non-cover, and 14-3 ATS in the past 17 following a straight-up loss.
-- Montana (26-8 SU, 14-18 ATS) won the Big Sky Conference, beating Eastern Washington by six points to narrowly cover a 5 1/2-point number. The Griz recovered from a late-season swoon which saw them lose two games down the stretch against Northern Colorado and at Portland State, which made them look mortal.
-- The Grizzlies recovered in the conference tournament, however, topping Sacramento State in the opening round, 79-73, before knocking off Weber State by 29 points in their most impressive outing in some time. They covererd back-to-back games with their six-point win over EWU, their first time since Feb. 14-16 covering in consecutive games.
-- Montana is appearing in the Big Dance for the 12th time in school history, and they've posted a 2-12 record all-time. They scored a win over Utah State back in 1975, as well as a win as a 12-seed over 5-seed Nevada back in 2006.
-- The Griz won 15 of the final 17 games, and they're back as conference champs for a second consecutive season. They won the regular-season and tournament titles in back-to-back seasons, becoming the fifth program in Big Sky Conference history to ever accomplish that feat.
-- Montana averaged 76.8 PPG this season, and they ranked eighth in the country hitting at a 49.7-percent clip from the floor. They also rained in 38.2 percent from behind the arc, 25th in the nation, but they'll still have a rough matchups against a tremendous Michigan defense.
-- Montana did score wins over fellow NCAA Tournament teams with an 81-74 victory over Georgia State in the opener, as well as a 60-53 decision against North Dakota State of the Summit League. They fell 60-51 on the road against UC Irvine, another tournament team, back on Dec. 8.
-- Like UF, Nevada is also in the Tournament for a third straight season. Musselman led the Wolf Pack to the Sweet 16 last year before losing by one to Loyola-Chicago in a thriller. They have a 6-8 record in 14 Tournament games.
-- The Griz are 1-6 ATS in the past seven non-conference games, and they're 1-4 ATS in the past five NCAA Tournament games. They also have a poor 5-12 ATS mark in the past 17 neutral-site battles.
-- The 'under' has cashed in four of Montana's past five NCAA Tournament outings.
Midwest Region (Jacksonville, FL)
No. 10 Seton Hall vs. No. 7 Wofford (CBS, 9:40 PM EST)
Opening Odds: Wofford -2½, 145
-- The NCAA Tournament awarded Southern Conference champion Wofford (29-4 SU, 19-11 ATS) with a seven-seed, and they are hoping that they're amazing run doesn't end in the first round against the Big East runners-up. Vegas expects the game to be very close, as all shops are looking for this to be a one-possession game.
-- The final game of the night in Jacksonville should be a good one, and the small South Carolina school didn't have far to travel from the upstate to Northeast Florida.
-- Like they did during SoCon play during the regular season, Wofford was unbeaten in the conference tournament. They ended the NCAA dreams of UNC-Greensboro by 70-58 in the final game, covering an eight-point number. They squashed East Tennesse State by nine in the semis, and hammered an overwhelmed VMI by 27 points in the quarters. In fact, the last time the Terriers walked off the court as losers was back on Dec. 19 at Mississippi State, 98-87. In other words, it hasn't happened often.
-- Wofford used a combination of tremendous offense and decent defense to make their way to Jacksonville. They scored 83.0 PPG to rank 12th in the country, and this is the nation's second-best 3-pointer team, hitting to the tune of 41.6 percent. If they have an Achilles' heel, and that could factor in a close game, they were just 69.8 percent from the charity stripe, ranking a mediocre 198th.
-- Wofford allowed just 65.6 PPG, good for 40th in the land, and they allowed just 26.8 opposing rebounds, best in the country.
-- For the Terriers, all eyes will be on Fletcher Magee, who dropped 20.5 PPG this season while hitting triples at a 42.8-percent clip in his 33 games. Cameron Jackson offers some nice secondary scoring up front, posting 14.6 PPG, and he was second on the team in assists with 90. Nathan Hoover didn't vacuum up many rebounds, but he offers nice tertiary scoring at 13.2 PPG.
-- Wofford is 5-0 ATS in the past five neutral-site games and 11-1 ATS across their past 12 overall. They also enter on a 6-0 ATS run against teams with an overall winning record.
-- Seton Hall (20-13 SU, 17-16 ATS) overachieved again in the Big East Tournament, and almost ended up as champs. They fell 74-72 in the final against the defending national champion Villanova Wildcats, covering a 4 1/2-point number. In fact, the Pirates enter Thursday night's game with five covers in a row.
-- The Pirates didnd't start out so hot, but they ended up recording some impressive victories while jelling as a team. The galvanizing moment of the season might have been on Dec. 8 when they nipped Kentucky in overtime, 84-83, back on Dec. 8 in a neutral-site game. They also posted wins over tournament teams St. John's on Dec. 29 and Marquette at home on March 6. They avenged a 28-point loss to Villanova in the first regular-season meeting, winning 79-75 in the regular-season finale at home in New Jersey.
-- Seton Hall was very middle of the road this season in all aspects. They ranked 137th in points scored (73.9 PPG), while posting a 44.1 percent mark from the floor, good for 196th. They were also a dismal 32.4 percent from long distance, ranking 282nd in the country.
-- On defense, they're rather middle of the road, too. They allowed 71.5 PPG, good for 181st in the land, while their field-goal percentage on defense was a little better at 109th in the nation, yielding a mark of 42.7 percent. Their so-so size also afforded other teams a lot of second-chance points, although that won't be an issue against Wofford most likely.
-- Myles Powell was a one-man wrecking crew for the Pirates, posting 22.9 PPG. The next-closest scorer on offense was Myles Cale at 10.3 PPG. The next non-Myles scorer was named Quincy McKnight, and he was good for 9.5 PPG while dishing out a team-best 131 assists.
-- Seton Hall enters the tournament 5-0 ATS over the past five, and they're 19-7-1 ATS in the past 27 neutral-site games. They have also covered five in a row against teams with a winning overall record.
-- This is the first-ever meeting between these two schools on the hardwood.
South Region (Hartford, CT)
No. 14 Old Dominion vs. No. 3 Purdue (TBS, 9:50 PM EST)
Opening Odds: Purdue -12½, 127
-- Purdue (23-9 SU, 17-14 ATS) from the Big Ten Tournament is expected to roll over the Monarchs in this 3-14 matchup, with the line well into double digits. Not many are expecting the Boilermakers to have any trouble with the Conference USA representatives.
-- Purdue got off to a bit of a sluggish start early in the season, losing games to Virginia Tech, Florida State and Michigan. However, those teams are not only NCAA Tournament teams, but they're high seeds, too. No shame in that. They did lose back-to-back games to Texas and Notre Dame on Dec. 9-15, a pair of non-tournament teams, but it was clear sailing after that wake-up call. They had a 10-point win over Michigan State on Jan. 27, they blasted Ohio State by 35 points on March 2, and they also topped Belmont by 11 back on Dec. 29, another tournament team.
-- The Boilermakers racked up 76.2 PPG on offense, good for 86th in the country, and they were 44.6 percent from the field, landing them in the 164th spot in the country. They hit triples to the tune of 36.4 percent, good for 80th overall, and they're an OK free-throw team at 73.2 percent.
-- On defense, Purdue isn't quite Michigan caliber, but they're still pretty good. They ranked 57th in the land, giving up just 66.8 PPG. They have nice size and do not give up many second chances, checking in 28th in the nation with just 28.3 rebounds per game allowed.
-- It's all about Carsen Edwards for the Boilermakers, as he averaged a stellar 23.0 PPG while hitting 84.3 percent from the free-throw line. They'll want the ball in his hands late. Ryan Cline is also a decent scorer, posting 11.9 PPG, and he led the team with 107 assists while hitting 41.8 percent of his triples. Matt Haarms is sufficient down low, swatting a team-best 79 shots while hitting for 9.0 PPG at a 62.7 percent clip.
-- Purdue enters the day just 1-5 ATS in the past six against winning overall teams, and they're 3-8 ATS in the past 11 neutral-site battles. However, they're also 23-11 ATS in the past 34 games outside of the Big Ten Conference.
-- Old Dominion (26-8 SU, 15-19 ATS) had a very nice overall season, although fellow C-USA foes felt they could be had after dropping the final two regular-season games against Southern Miss and UAB. They ran through their tournament with narrow, character-building wins. They topped Louisiana Tech 57-56 in the C-USA quarters, they avenged a loss to UAB, 61-59, in the semis, and nipped Western Kentucky 62-56 to win the title as a 2 1/2-point underdog.
-- ODU was a dreadful 315th in the country on offense, posting just 66.2 PPG, and their field-goal percentage was obviously poor, too, at an unsightly 41.1 percent, 320th in the country. They did manage to at least give themselves plenty of second and third opportunities to get it right, posting 38.9 boards per outing, good for 25th in the land.
-- On the defensive side of the ball, that's where ODU's bread is buttered. They rank seventh in the country with just 60.8 PPG allowed, and they were ninth in defensive field-goal percentage. If teams have success against them, it's launching the three-ball, hitting at 32.5 percent, as the Monarchs were just 77th overall in that department.
-- B.J. Stith and Ahmad Caver are the two players to watch for the Monarchs. Stith average a team-best 16.9 PPG, with Caver right on his heels at 16.5 PPG. Caver has tremendous court vision, and he was among the nation's best with 191 assists in just 34 games, while recording 48 steals. ODU will want Stith handling the ball late, as he was a stellar 84.5 percent from the charity stripe.
-- The Monarchs enter the tournament just 1-6 ATS over the past seven. However, total bettors will notice the 'under' is a perfect 7-0 during that stretch.
-- These teams last met on Nov. 21, 2015, with Purdue adminstering a 61-39 beating on a neutral-site floor.
West Region (Salt Lake City, UT)
No. 9 Baylor vs. No. 8 Syracuse (truTV, 9:57 PM EST)
Opening Odds: Syracuse -1 ½, 130
-- Syracuse (20-13 SU, 18-14 ATS) will look to kick off another run in the NCAA Tournament, but they'll have to do so in an 8-9 matchup which is expected to be a coin-flip. They have shown an ability to make some noise and beat the nation's elite at times, while checking out against inferior opponents at other times.
-- The Orange had a huge 95-91 overtime victory at Cameron Indoor Stadium against Duke on Jan. 14, and that set them on a thre-game run before falling at Virginia Tech on Jan. 26. However, they lost some bad games, too, including a 15-point loss to NIT-bound N.C. State on Feb. 13, and a 12-point humbling from a mediocre Clemson side in the regular-season finale. They also lost to fellow tournament teams Old Dominion by six on Dec. 15, and against Buffalo on Dec. 18 by 12 points.
-- The offense for Syracuse was rather so-so. They managed 69.7 PPG this season, good for 258th in the land, and they didn't hit 3-pointers very well either, good for 253rd overall, making roughly one in every three attemp. They're not a great free-throw team, either, and most bettors picking them are simply buying stock in head coach Jim Boeheim and his ability to get his squad ready.
-- On defense, 'Cuse can be stingy. They allowed just 65.7 PPG, good for 41st overall, and their field-goal percentage was better than most at 39.8 percent, or 17th in the country. They did allow 32.4 rebounds per game, an area they'll need vast improvement in a hurry if they want to stick around a while in the Big Dance.
-- Tyus Battle scored 17.2 PPG to lead the way, with Elijah Hughes (13.4 PPG) and Oshae Brissett (12.4 PPG) the other two top options when scoring the basketball. Battle also hit 43.2 percent while turning it over just 53 times in 31 games, so he takes good care of the rock.
-- The Orange enter this game 4-0 ATS over the past four NCAA Tournament games, and 5-2-1 ATS in the past eight neutral-site battles. They're also 5-2 ATS in the past seven against Big 12 foes.
-- The 'under' is 10-4 in their past 14 NCAA Tournament games, although the 'over' is 5-0 in their past five neutral-site affairs.
-- Baylor (19-13 SU, 15-15-2 ATS) looks to pick up a 20th win in the best fashion, in an NCAA Tournament game. Even in an 8-9 coin-flip game, it seems a lot of people are leaning to the more experienced Orange.
-- The Bears are battled tested, too, having won plenty in the rough and tumble Big 12. They did finish on a four-game losing streak, however, bowing out in the conference tournament by a 83-66 score to eventual champ Iowa State.
-- Baylor scored impressive wins, including a season sweep of Oklahoma. They pounded the Sooner by 30 in Norman back on Jan. 28. They also humbled TCU by 26 points on Feb. 2, and notched a 73-70 win over Iowa State in Waco. But consistency was an issue, and they had their doors blown off by 35 at Texas Tech on Feb. 16, and suffered losses to non-tournament teams Texas and Oklahoma State, too.
-- Baylor isn't terribly gifted on offense, ranking 203rd in the country with 71.7 PPG. They also hit just 44.0 percent from the field, 199th in the country. They don't shoot the trey well, either, registering just 211th with 34.0 percent from downtown.
-- On defense the Bears hold their own, allowing 67.2 PPG, good for 63rd in the nation. And they didn't allow many second-chance points, either, shutting down the opposition with just 28.6 boards per outing, 34th among all teams.
-- Baylor boasts rather balanced scoring, as three players averaged double digits this season. Their leading scorer, however, F Tristan Clark, was lost during the season after just 14 games, and that sent them off the rails a bit. He was also the leading rebounder at the time, so Mark Vital had to step up, as did Mario Kegler. Still, they miss Clark in the frontcourt - badly.
-- The Bears are ice-cold in most ATS trends, going 1-8-2 ATS over the past 11 games, and they're 0-3-1 ATS in their past four tries aginst teams with a winning overall mark. They're also 1-5 ATS in the past six NCAA Tournament games.
-- The 'under' has cashed in eight straight non-confernce games for Baylor, but the 'over' is 15-5 in their past 20 overall.
-- These teams last met on a neutral-site floor back on Nov. 27, 2013, with Syracuse besting Baylor 74-67.
Follow Joe Williams on Twitter at @JoeWilliamsVI.