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March Madness Betting: A New York State of Mind in East Region

Nowell, Tomlin, Walker, Boyd Returning to New York

At first glance, having teams from Florida, Kansas, Michigan and Tennessee as the last four teams standing in the East Regional might draw a collective yawn from New York college basketball fans.

However, plenty of New York products will hit the court when Michigan State faces Kansas State at 6:30 p.m. ET at Madison Square Garden in the East Regional semifinals, followed by the Florida Atlantic-Tennessee matchup.

Jalen Gaffney #12 of the Florida Atlantic Owls
Jalen Gaffney #12 of the Florida Atlantic Owls | Dylan buell/getty images/afp

According to the college basketball odds, Tennessee (+1100) has the best odds when it comes to the national championship, followed by Michigan State (+2500), Kansas State (+3000) and Florida Atlantic (+5000).

The Volunteers are priced at +125 to win the East Region. Michigan State (+325), Kansas State (+350) and Florida Atlantic (+400) will look to defy the NCAA basketball odds.

There is still plenty of basketball left to play. However, Kansas State’s Markquis Nowell (+3300) is tied for 16th in the odds to be the Most Outstanding Player in the NCAA tournament with Tyson Walker of Michigan State coming in at +6000.

Kansas State is 23-11 against the college basketball spreads, one of the best marks among the teams still alive in the NCAA tournament. Florida Atlantic isn’t far behind at 22-11-1. Michigan State is just 17-16 with Tennessee 18-17. Keep in mind that just 13 of Tennessee’s first 35 games finished over the total.

Here is a look at the New York connections of the four teams.

Florida Atlantic Owls

Nicholas Boyd, a redshirt freshman from Garnerville, N.Y., and Jack Johnson, who has not played this year, hails from White Plains.

Jalen Gaffney is a New Jersey native who played in four games at Madison Square Garden when he was a member of the UConn team. Boyd has 13 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists in the first two games of the NCAA tournament.

When looking at possible College basketball picks, Boyd is priced at -125 to go over 7½ points, is at +140 to top three assists and -165 to go over 3½ rebounds.

Michigan State Spartans

Michigan State‘s leading scorer Tyson Walker is from Westbury, N.Y., about a 40-minute drive from Madison Square Garden.

The senior guard is coming off a 23-point effort in a win over Marquette in the second round and has scored in double figures in 11 straight games.

The price is set at -120 for Walker to go over 14½ points, -105 to surpass 3½ assists and -125 to finish with more than 2½ rebounds according to the NCAA basketball odds.

Tennessee Volunteers

It will be a bittersweet return to New York for Long Island native Zakai Zeigler.

The team leader in assists and steals per game and third-leading scorer is out for the season with a knee injury.

Freshman Tobe Awaka is from Hyde Park, N.Y., about a two-hour drive from the World’s Most Famous Arena.

Other than a game with four points and five rebounds against Ole Miss in the second round of the SEC tournament, it has been a quiet postseason for the 6-foot-8 Awaka.

He has played 19 minutes in the two NCAA tournament games. Awaka missed his only field goal attempt but did three rebounds in each of the wins against Louisiana and Duke.

Seed Kansas State Wildcats

The Kansas State coaches certainly love the basketball talent coming out of New York.

Second-leading scorer Markquis Nowell and No. 3 scorer Nae’Qwan Tomlin are from Harlem as is Ismael Massoud while senior guard Tykei Greene grew up in Queens.

Nowell, who played at Little Rock for three seasons, is averaging 22 points, four rebounds, 11.5 assists and three steals in wins against Montana State and Kentucky in the NCAA tournament.

Tomlin, a junior college transfer, is 12-of-17 from the field in the NCAA tournament, putting up 12.5 points per game in the two wins.

Massoud, who began his career at Wake Forest, has just five points and two assists so far in March Madness, while Greene has not scored in either game. He is no stranger to New York college basketball fans as he played for two years at Manhattan and two more at Stony Brook.

The Las Vegas odds are at -105 for Nowell to top 18.5 points and -125 for him to go under that total. The best bet for those who bet online might be +105 for him to have more than 6.5 assists.

The price is at -115 for Tomlin to go either over or under 9.5 points and 5.5 rebounds.

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