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East & West First Four Round and Early 1st Round Game Picks | 2023 NCAA Tournament Predictions

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TJ Rives:

Well, hello there and welcome back into the BetUS College Basketball Show. Good to be back with you for a Wednesday. We are underway with the First Four and the 2023 NCAA tournament. So much to discuss and go over. I am the somewhat capable host, TJ Rives. These are the guys that you’re here to watch. The two Matts are here, Mid Major Matt and Matty Cox, back aboard for another edition of the show. All right, two games in the books, both very competitive including the nightcap game won by Pitt, which had the first NCAA tournament game in five years with 20 or more lead changes, eventually won by Pitt over Mississippi State. So, some thrilling stuff there.

Two more First Four games tonight and then we’re going to talk a bunch about Thursday and Friday, in particular Thursday on this show and get to some of the early games for Thursday today. You don’t have to wait for tomorrow. You can get some of that today on BetUS TV. Thank you for finding us. We appreciate it. We will have some live chat Q&A coming up as we’re live at 11:00 AM weekdays here on the program. Jefferson, we see you. Good morning to you. Good morning to everybody that’s watching us live. Mid Major Matt, how you feeling off of a Tuesday? We had some NIT, but more importantly the NCAA tournament getting underway. Good morning. How are things?

Mid Major Matt:

Doing well. Sad to see my Rockets go for this season. They gave it one last try. Just couldn’t stop Michigan State when it mattered. I couldn’t believe, TJ, in that game last night between Pitt and Mississippi State, Mississippi State had two of the best looks you could ever find in a three second span and miss both of them rather badly, I’d say.

TJ Rives:

Yeah, the three was open on the inbounds play, and then the tip-in would’ve counted as well right at the rim. It was before the red light was on and that’s the margin of victory or defeat in March sometimes, as Pitt will now move on to play Iowa State. Matty Cox, how you feeling for a Wednesday off the plays? Last night you ended up with the push, I believe, in the southeast Missouri State game. I thought you were going to get home on that one plus the four. Any thoughts on Tuesday before we get to Wednesday and a little beyond?

Matt Cox:

Well, yeah, I learned my lesson on betting overs involving Mississippi State. I talked about how there was some regression momentum in their favor, but turns out if you can’t shoot, you can’t shoot. And I think the last possession was a microcosm of their entire season. Tough, tenacious, gutsy, all that stuff, but at some point putting the ball in the ocean is part of the game. So, yeah, tough loss for over backers.

TJ Rives:

You got to be able to get it done. I kept saying to a couple people off the air, I was going back and forth with the, “This is going to be first team to 60.” It was not going to get to that overmarket you were trying to get it to and it ended up being right there at it. All right, so much to discuss here on the program. Again, get the live Q&A questions ready. We are going to also take a look at some of the early start time games on Thursday in the NCAA tournament in advance here on the program today. Let’s take a look at the records and then we’ll get into everything that’s about to transpire here. The records off of yesterday, Corbie Craig ends up getting another win. Matty Cox, as he mentioned, was 01 in 1 almost got home with southeast Missouri State, Texas A&M.

Corpus Christi, the Islanders get an NCAA tournament win. Oh, good luck. Now go play Alabama and you see the show up above 500 as well. All right guys, you’re ready to get into it here. Let’s do this for a Wednesday including the First Four. Resuming again tonight in Dayton, Ohio. 16 seats Fairleigh Dickinson and Texas Southern will be underway on the floor. First Texas Southern on the neutral floor is laying two and a half. The total is 147 and a half. Mid Major Matt, why don’t you begin our discussion here with these two 16 seeds getting ready to do battle, the winner will eventually get Purdue. They will plug in on Friday in the NCAA tournament to play Purdue. Thoughts Matt Josephs is we begin the show here.

Mid Major Matt:

So, I see a lot of people looking at the over in this game and I could see why, both teams are pretty nicely paced here in the top 115 or so and you kind of look at some of the statistics, but the offensive numbers, we’ve talked about this in the past, TJ, I’ve even tried to play some overs with two bad offensive teams. I just struggle to find out where the points are going to be in this one. Texas Southern can’t shoot at all and struggles with turnovers, which is one of the few things that Fairleigh Dickinson does pretty well. They put that press on and they force turnovers and then you look at Fairleigh Dickinson, they have no size. Literally they are the shortest team in the country. Their tallest guy is the Almanor kid who’s at 6’6. Texas Southern’s going to be longer than them in every position. So, I see people on the over and I see people on Texas Southern, but to me it’s a really hard game to bet because Texas Southern has no offense, they turn the ball over too much. They can’t shoot free throws. Yet Fairleigh Dickinson’s shorter than them everywhere, so it was a really tough game to kind of look at.

TJ Rives:

All right, Matty Cox, any thoughts on this one? These two teams obviously got the auto-bid by winning their conference tournament. They now play head-to-head. We did talk a little bit about Fairleigh Dickinson, I believe in their youth, a little bit on the show yesterday. Any thoughts on this one tonight that opens things up in Dayton?

Matt Cox:

Yeah, I have no interest in the total just because it feels like a kind of a sporadic type of game with lots of turnovers and you miss shots, you won’t get a true result I guess. I feel like you’re going to be highly contingent on the whistle and how the ball bounces. The fact that Texas Southern’s been in this field the First Four, the last few years, one looked really good and gives them an edge just like what happened last time at Texas AM Corpus Christi, the team that was there the year before the Islanders looked much more in rhythm for most of that game. CMA really looked sluggish and kind of out of sorts to start, could have been a one-off random bad variant outcome. I certainly think that’s possible, but I think the experience that Johnny Jones has showed in the early rounds, the tournament, especially in this planned format, coupled with how well he’s done in the SWAC tournament and it gives him a slight edge and while I think they turned it over, they played a team last year that turned it over. That four slot tournament was last season and they fared out just fine because they can get back those possessions they give away by just getting to the glass and getting second, third chances.

So, I kind of leaned toward Texas Southern, just a bigger older team, more talented team than the young, but up and coming knight of Fairleigh Dickinson.

TJ Rives:

All right, so that is game number one that is coming up tonight. And Kevin, you can put that east bracket up on the screen. Kevin at bet US. Our guys do a great job with all the graphics and with all the stuff and we can take a look at the east bracket here when he gets it up in a second and you will see that Fairleigh Dickinson will plug in against Texas Southern or against. Yeah, Fairleigh Dickinson and Texas Southern will plug in against Purdue. Look in the upper left corner there of the east regional bracket, that’s where this 16 seed will end up there on the screen and that is obviously the bracket that has Marquette as well as three seed Kansas State, four seed Tennessee, five seed Duke that’s in that bracket. That’s where the winner of this game is headed tonight as we come back on screen here.

Fairleigh Dickinson and Texas Southern, First Four game that is coming up tonight. No official play from the handicappers on this one. Let’s see if it’s entertaining again, the two 16 seats put on an entertaining game on Tuesday night for whatever that’s worth. Let’s move on to the second game that will be taking place on that same floor in the date, no arena in the First Four and that’s a pair of 11 seeds. Two of the final teams in the field, Nevada and Arizona State. A lot of controversy about whether Nevada should have been in doesn’t matter now they are in, they are playing Arizona State. The Sun Devils out of the PAC 12 got that win over USC in the PAC 12 tournament that put them into the First Four. Here they are the two point favorites ASU. Total is 134. Matt Cox, Matty Cox. Begin the discussion here on some thoughts on Nevada and Arizona State neutral floor First Four game tonight.

Matt Cox:

Yeah, fascinating dynamics here off the court narratives. If you’re a B report covering this game, it’s a dream. You have the matchup of two former [inaudible 00:07:59] player champions and Bobby Hurley and Steve Alford matching out. It’s the second time that’s happened the last 30 years, so kind of a cool little wrinkle there. But also you have the Cambridge brothers who play for Arizona State looking for revenge against their old team and many view them as sort of, not a cancer, but two bad apples in the Nevada kind of mini disaster last year. They had pretty high expectations. They sort of flopped, they find greener pastures and it played much better at Arizona State under Bobby Hurley. Meanwhile, Nevada has really taken off without them. And both teams have benefited from the change of scenery before those Cambridge brothers here. I lean toward Arizona State though just from looking at on the court, the X and O matchup I think favors them, their size negates what I think Nevada has done here most of the year as their edge. Just a little bit deeper of a team. So, I do lean to Bobby Hurley, again a coach with experience in this format. Not exactly a stellar track record in the First Four, but the fact that he’s played here two times prior gives them I think a slight, slight edge. Going back to that example last night.

TJ Rives:

Major Matt, the chat is all over the totals. First half totals. I see you answering a couple of people. Any thoughts on Nevada that again lost their way into this tournament, losing at Wyoming, bad loss, losing at home on senior night to UNLV, another questionable loss and then losing on the neutral floor when last we saw them to San Jose State in the first game of the Mountain West conference tournament that they played. So, three straight losses for them coming in. Any thoughts real quick? Mid Major Matt?

Mid Major Matt:

Well, I mean obviously, TJ, you know how I feel about Arizona State. I can’t stand Bobby Hurley. Every time I try and play them, they lose and every time I try and fade them they win. So, I really don’t like playing Arizona State and I just don’t like the way Bobby Hurley coaches. I mean it just feels like there’s not much of a plan when it comes to that team and Nevada’s one of those squads that I thought shouldn’t have been in. I thought Vanderbilt should have been. I thought there were other teams that should have been in over Nevada, but sometimes when you have those squads who are the last one in this kind of reinvigorates them, this gives them a new energy because they didn’t belong in. So, I almost want to lean to Nevada here also with the fact that they’re playing two of their former teammates so they know a little bit about them. Of course the teammates know a little bit about Nevada as well. I kind of lean to the wolf pack here a little bit. There’s a couple of things that are concerning. They don’t rebound it wet very well, especially offensive rebound. They don’t really care to offensive rebound at all, but Arizona State fouls a ton and Nevada gets to the free throw line and I think Gerard Lucas has a pretty good game here. I lean to Nevada here in this situation.

TJ Rives:

All right, again, the winner will plug in this instance in the 6 11 game. Help me guys. TCU in the west bracket. The winner will plug in here coming up for Friday. For Friday afternoon. All right, good stuff on the First Four games again. Get questions ready. You see we’re about to talk about early Thursday games, Mid Major Matt and Matty Cox are going to handicap and make some official plays on some Thursday games. Time for a little Q&A before we’re done here on the show. Let’s begin on Thursday with an eight nine game that is coming in Birmingham, Alabama between Maryland and West Virginia. That is Thursday afternoon with West Virginia, the two point favorite on the neutral floor. The total is 137 and a half in this one. Matty Cox, begin our discussion because you’re going to have an official play on this Thursday NCAA tournament opening round game, sir.

Matt Cox:

Sure am. I’m taking the most underseeded eight nine team in the bracket from a pure analytic perspective, that’s West Virginia, and I’m going to take them first half against a pesky Maryland team that could pose some matchup problems to a lot of teams in the field, but I don’t think the ears are won. Bob Huggins, a proven battle tested tournament coach at the helm. I think that’s a great starting point, especially when you pin him against Kevin Willard who’s been notoriously an underachiever in the dance historically, I like West Virginia’s size up front. I also like how their guards have played down the stretch. They have been a little bit erratic at times this season and they’ve been known to blow the leads and that’s kind of what I’m targeting first half here. I think they actually have some value in the first half market because of how they’ve given back leads and then finally they’ve just been much, much better, much more trustworthy away from their home gym than Maryland has this season.

The Turks, one of the starkest home road splits in all of college basketball throughout conference play. West Virginia, yeah, their big 12 record doesn’t look great on the cert of 7-Eleven, but they at least won at Iowa State. They competed at Kansas, should have won at Kansas, almost won at TCU, lost by a bucket in the heartbreaker at Oklahoma. They have proven they can play well away from their home gym. I think that’s a great dynamic here. I think the style they played travels well, so I’m going to take the years here first half.

TJ Rives:

All right, interesting matchup. You see the chat going about West Virginia and about Huggins and the experience had West Virginia in the Final Four back about 10 years ago. Also had Cincinnati in the Final Four. Now going back some 30 years ago, Huggy Bear’s been at it that long. Mid Major Matt a thought on this one, West Virginia and Maryland, the winner to get Alabama.

Mid Major Matt:

I’ve never really been a big Maryland person and especially outside their building. I mean you look at their true road wins, they aren’t very good. They won at Louisville and they won at Minnesota. That’s it. I mean they probably should have won a Penn State. Of course, they give that last second basket up to Jail and Pickett and this game last time I checked, not in College Park and so that’s a bit of a concern here. West Virginia crashes the boards really well. West Virginia gets to the free throw line really well, and as Matt said, I usually trust Bob Huggins in this situation, so I agree with what he’s saying here. I would also lean to West Virginia in this situation.

TJ Rives:

All right, very interesting that the winner gets Alabama, 99.9% chance it’s Alabama that’s going to be in the next round and a lot of people are wondering if West Virginia might be able to derail Alabama right away this weekend. The official play belongs to Matt Cox. MattY Cox, Thursday afternoon says, “West by God, Virginia,” and the play is a first half play laying the point in the first half with the Marilyn Terrapins. Again, thank you for finding us. It is a Wednesday. We’re here live at 11:00 AM all the way through. We’re going to be here at 11:00 AM as well on Saturday before the round of 32, the second round games. Hit that like button, subscribe and again, come find us at 11:00 AM for the live chat questions that are upcoming as well. Again, we’re going over Thursday early games right now, giving you an advanced look at what the handicappers think about Thursday for the early games, long about noon, one eastern time, something like that on Thursday.

Let’s continue in the south bracket in Orlando. Guys, I will get the chance to be over in Orlando. I’ll try to be there. This is the early game, we got the live show. Orlando’s about 70 miles away. I will try to be there for Furman Virginia’s conclusion, this is a 13 against a four seed on the neutral floor in Orlando, Virginia, A five and a half point favorite. The total is 132 in this matchup. Again, Furman, the Socon champions have not been in the NCAA tournament since 1980. Hello. Virginia, the 2019 national champions but they’ve taken some losses towards the end of the year. Again, the total 132. Matty Cox, you’ve got the official place. I’m back to you first. What are you liking in this opening round matchup in the South Regional?

Matt Cox:

I like the men Fur. A lot of people are all over the 12 13s this season and for good reason. I think the historical data shows, especially the recent historical data, I think they’re over 65% or something last five years against the spread. Not just outright, but the betting markets have started to make adjustments for that. But even with those adjustments, it’s not quite picking up. I think this recent trend where you’re seeing the 12 13s are just much stronger consistently than they have been in prior years. And on the other end of the spectrum, I think the 4 5 6s aren’t as bulletproof as maybe they once were. This season, look at the average spread though in all these games they’re really short, but again, they’re short for a reason and in many cases they’re not short enough. And that’s one example with Furman.

I love how the Dens can invert their offense and give Virginia’s PAC line rigid structure some issues, think it’s just kind of a tough matchup to prepare for. I also think that the way Virginia plays very slow, methodically, it works in Furman’s favor. Furman’s struggle to step up in competition this year when they play teams that want to go up and down, like NC State comes to mind, North Carolina, I think they played last year, but against Virginia in a slow possession game, the margin… It’s going to be hard for a Virginian to ever pull this past two possessions in my opinion. So, if Furman simply is making shots and you get kind of a sluggish Virginia start like we saw against Ohio a couple years back and everyone remembers the infamous loss to UMBC, it’s a tough style of play as a favorite. So, it’s why I’m looking to fade in a tournament format with a good coach in Bob Richie. So, I’ll take the Dens plus five and a half.

TJ Rives:

All right, the Furman Paladins led by Mike Bothwell, Jalen Slawson. They were guys that were denied the tournament a year ago when Chattanooga beat them on a last second three pointer to keep them out of the NCAA tournament. They lost the Southern conference title game on that three. They come back, get revenge on the Chattanooga moccasins and make the tournament this year. A lot of the same guys on the team, Mid Major Matt a thought here on Furman, Virginia Thursday afternoon in Orlando.

Mid Major Matt:

Well, I mean I’ve seen online it’s the most bet spread of all of them, but I think the most tickets or the most money I’ve seen is coming in on Furman. I don’t see the upset. Now that’s different from saying that there’s going to be a cover by Furman, but I just don’t see the upset. Everybody points to Furman’s offense and of course they’re number one in two point percentage. They’re a decent three point shooting team. And look, if they hit their threes, they’re probably going to win and cover this contest. But I also go to the other side, Virginia’s offense has not looked good, but Furman’s defense hasn’t seen a team like Virginia all season pretty much outside of maybe NC State. So, I think Virginia, of course, yeah, they scored 49 points against Duke. Duke’s one of the best defenses in the country. I just think Virginia is going to be more efficient against a team like Furman here.

And if Furman’s not hitting their threes, then I could see Virginia easily winning this game. I think the fact that you’ve got one of the best coaches in America on the side of Virginia as well, and Tony Bennett, I’m not saying they can’t cover, but I think all the people who are thinking Furman’s going to win this game outright, I think they’re wrong. I think Virginia’s a very good basketball team and they’ll show everybody in this game tomorrow.

TJ Rives:

All right, some good balance on that. Again, this is the first game up on the floor in Orlando and very interesting. Matty Cox, though, is on the side. He’s on the side of the Furmin Paladin and the Southern Conference has pulled some upsets in the past in this tournament, including Chattanooga, speaking of them being in the Sweet 16 and they have had others that have done damage in this tournament. What will happen with Furman in Virginia? Matty Cox says, “Give me those points. Give me five and a half points with the Furman Paladins.” Again, you’ve got a day left by the way peeps, savages, to get in to the betustv.com mayhem bracket challenge. Get in that bracket challenge right now. Going to betustv.com or go to the link in the description down below us. Any $100 deposit will get you an entry in. Any separate $100 deposit.

Make as many separate deposits as you want between now and when the games tip Thursday and you could win up to a million dollars in a prize. A bunch of other secondary prizes. Get in the bracket challenge, betustv.com/mayhem, one day virtually left to do it by noon tomorrow to get into our bracket challenge. Couple of games left to discuss in a handicap. Mid Major Matt’s about to have an official play on this one. Then we’ll get to your live questions. Utah State and Missouri, this will be an early start time in Sacramento. How about 10:40 AM Pacific time? 1:40 Eastern time for Utah State and Missouri first round game in Sacramento on the neutral floor. It is Utah State favored by a point and a half, total 155 and a half. When last we saw Utah State, they were making the Mountain West final only to be beaten by San Diego State. Missouri’s had a good end of the season out of the SEC. Got wiped out though in the SEC tournament before ever making the title game. All right, Mid Major Matt, you’re going to have the official play for Thursday. Thursday game, opening round game in Sacramento. Curious as to what this play is, sir.

Mid Major Matt:

Yeah, it’s the Utah State money line. I love this Aggie’s team. I am putting them in the Sweet 16 in a lot of brackets. And I think every year we see one team who shoots their way through. And you look at this Utah state team, I mean 38.5% from three point land, perfect first opponent here. You’ve got a team who can’t defend the three at all. Missouri’s not a great rebounding team. Now look, Utah state’s defense isn’t great, although they are actually 28th in defending the two, which I was very surprised by when I first was doing my research here, so they can defend inside. Missouri can get hot and hit some threes. That would be a concern here. But I’m just going to bank on the fact that I think Utah State’s hot shooting continues and I think that they’re the type of team who can give Arizona problems if Arizona’s not focused and before they get to Arizona, they’ll beat Missouri here. I just really like this offensive form. They get to the free throw line a lot. I think Utah State can win this game. Plus they get the early start time. I think that’s a little bit of a benefit to them as well. So, give me the Aggies on the money line only because this line’s tight enough that I’ll take advantage of the money line instead of the spread.

TJ Rives:

Matty Cox, Stephen Ashworth is one of the best kept secrets right now out West. Leads them in scoring, leads them in assist Utah State. They had a couple of thousand students in particular. They have a rowdy student following that a couple of thousand in Las Vegas, now that’s Las Vegas. This is the next week. This is an early morning start in Sacramento. How many Utah State students will be there making noise in Sacramento? It’s easier for them to get there than it is for Missouri out of Columbia Missouri’s fans to get there. All right. Matty Cox, a thought or two on this one?

Matt Cox:

Yeah, maybe a half point at most for that more favorable geographic travel. I don’t put a ton of stock in that unless it’s really stark and pronounced like the teams going west coast to east coast. There’s a few of those in the field I’m sure we’ll talk about later. But this one, I think the matchup angles, the one that Matt hit on are a hundred percent the more important prevailing dynamics here. I really like Utah State. I’ve been watching this Mizzou team all season. I think they are better than people think and I think they’re actually undervalued in the analytic markets because they’ve actually let teams come back in games when they too have had opponents blown out like Utah State has. There was a Utah state has just blown out people and kept them at bay all game. It’s why they climbed to what, top 20 I think in Ken Palm? And I think they’re underrated up front.

Utah state’s frontline is not vaulted by any stretch, but it’s good enough. I think they have some emerging pieces there. I give them some balance to their perimeter shooting. Dan Hawkins, a great rim runner, a pick and roll guy. Trevian Doris has emerged as a legit threat. Kobe Brown’s probably going to have 35 from Mizzou. I don’t think anyone can guard on the Utah state, but I don’t think Mizzou can guard the litany of shooters and the complex action that Ryan Odom runs on the other end. It’s a high scoring shootout, but I’m with Matt. I think Utah State gets it done.

TJ Rives:

Okay, and Kevin, if you could, go ahead and put the south bracket up there. It’s interesting. Even though this game is in Sacramento, the pod is in Sacramento to regionally kind of protect a couple of Western teams. This is a south bracket game as you see up on the screen here for this matchup with Missouri and Utah State. Look bottom left at the seven, 10 matchup, the winner to potentially get Arizona, more than likely get Arizona down at the bottom of the bracket. Alabama’s up at the top of the bracket. As we mentioned before. You’ve got Virginia, you’ve got Duke, very interesting in this bracket or I’m sorry, not Virginia and Duke, but Virginia and San Diego State, also Baylor in the bottom half of the draw as well. But again, look down there at the bottom. That’s where Missouri and Utah State are slotted for the opening game of four in Sacramento.

They will eventually make their way to the south region in Louisville. The winners that come out of this weekend, we’ll get to Louisville, Kentucky to play for a spot in the final four. All right, back on screen with us. The official play belongs to Mid Major Matt, Matt Josephs, and it is a money line play on Utah State Thursday afternoon in the matchup with Missouri. Matt, good luck on that play. Let’s see what happens in that Thursday game. One more official game to discuss for Thursday than your questions and answers are coming on the live Wednesday show. That final game up for discussion is another afternoon game on Thursday that is top seed Kansas taking on Howard. Guys as we do the show on Wednesday we believe that Bill Self will be coaching this game coming on Thursday in the West regional game in Des Moines, Iowa.

We don’t know that for sure, again, Self had a heart procedure done mid last week. Stents put in his heart, had been feeling lightheaded, chest tightness, not a heart attack. It is believed that he is going to coach this game. We don’t know that for sure. You see Kansas a whopping 22 point favorite. The total is 146 in this matchup. It is a West regional game where Kansas is the one seat eventually to end up if they can in Las Vegas, but they’re playing in Des Moines, Iowa. Mid Major Matt, I am back to you. What’s the official play for an early Thursday game KU and Howard?

Mid Major Matt:

Well obviously you know, TJ. I was playing the Howard team total overs a lot throughout the season, especially against South Carolina State. It’s a team that I’ve watched a lot in terms of this but we’re not going with the Howard team total over because I don’t know how much they’re going to score in this game. We’re going to go with the Kansas team total over on this one and if you look, anytime Howard took a step up at competition, they gave 95 to Kentucky, 95 to JMU, 96 to Belmont, 85 to GW, 86 to Yale and there’s some coaches who just don’t take their foot off the pedal. Bill Self’s one of these guys, you go back in the history in the first round of tournaments, last year, they only scored 83 against Texas Southern but then go back another year, 93 against Eastern Washington.

87 against Northeastern, 76 against Penn. 2017 they scored 100 versus UC Davis. Bill Sells is just one of those guys who is ruthless when it comes to this sort of thing. Kansas has gone over this total nine times this season against lesser opponents. I’ll take the Kansas team total over. It is a worry that maybe he got it, maybe this surgery changed his mind and he’s becoming a softer coach. I don’t think that’s the case. I’m going to take the Kansas team total over. I think if they really want to they could put up a hundred in this game because the pace will be there. Howard will run but I’ll just need them to go over 84 points. Give me the Kansas team total over 84.

TJ Rives:

Great comeback win by Howard in the conference tournament final just to get into this game. Oh goodie, go play Kansas in Des Moines. Matty Cox, thoughts on this one? It is a large number. The chat is going back and forth about how big that number is. Any thoughts here on the Jayhawks in the opening round game Thursday?

Matt Cox:

Yeah, big number but Howard just hasn’t really stepped up in class that well this season. I know first game of the year is tough to put a lot of stock into, but losing by 32 to Kentucky, non-competitive against James Madison. Bellmont had him by 20 plus. Yale by 40 something. VCU lost by 10, I guess is somewhat commendable. The key dynamic here is Howard has Steve Saddleback, he’s by far their best friend protector. Even with him in there, I think Kansas still scores pretty easily and that’s what KU does. They get good efficient shots against bad teams where some of the higher majors, the big boys let Mid Majors hang around by taking dumb shots. Kansas won’t do that. So, even with Settle back in, I lean toward Matt’s way. Without Settle though I would love the Kansas team total over and I would love to lay it with Kansas. I think Settle’s that important to their defense. It’s a small kind of guard oriented team. He at least gives him a hope and a prayer up front. So, something to look out for. I think he has a pretty big impact tonight.

TJ Rives:

Again, it’s the first game on the floor in Des Moines. Thursday at one local time, two Eastern Time, Kansas and Howard and again for Mid Major Matt, he’s interested in points, points, points for the Jayhawks. Just doesn’t see a way that Howard’s going to slow him down so let’s lock him in the Kansas team total over 84, look at that. You just got four handicapping plays for tomorrow. Well in advance on the show. Again, thank you for finding us. A lot of you just joining us, we’re here at 11:00 AM. We’ll be here at 11:00 AM tomorrow, 11:00 AM Friday and even 11:00 AM on Saturday talking up the NCAA tournament, the mayhem of March. It’s all about to begin with 32 games over the next couple of days. Be with us at 11:00 AM hit that like button for us right now. Make sure that you subscribe as well. You see on the screen, get into the mayhem bracket challenge between now and tomorrow.

Betustv.com/mayhem and the link is also in the description but right now hit that like button. I’m seeing in the live audience, again, the ratio is about 10 to one still on who’s watching us versus the like button. Pound the like button, do it. Also subscribe here. We would love to get to 5,000 subs by this weekend here of March Madness. We’re close, hit subscribe, share it out. It helps the show if you enjoy what you’re seeing and here’s part of what we give you on every show. That’s live Q&A interaction with you folks. Boys, you ready? You ready to go over some of this with Wednesday? And this can be anything for Wednesday, for Thursday. There might even be some NIT that comes up in this discussion also. All right, let’s get it underway with the live Q&A, Ninja 13 in the lead off spot says Riding Youngstown State plus five and a half in the NIT. Any thoughts guys, on that NIT game tonight?

Matt Cox:

I think there is a… Where’s this game being played again? There’s some confusion as to where it’s being hosted.

TJ Rives:

Youngstown.

Matt Cox:

Youngstown, right? Okay, so there may be some people who think it’s actually hosted at Oklahoma State, so keep that in mind. I think it’s why people have bet on Youngstown. It’s come down from six and a half to minus five. But all that aside now I don’t have a strong read on this game. The NIT and CBI, I’m still sort of tiptoeing into this season. So, not a ton of sharp analysis from either.

TJ Rives:

I mean we sat here yesterday and Matt Josephs, Mid Major Matt, we talked about who’s interested, we’ve talked about this the last couple of days. And for example, UAB, we had Corby Craig on here, UAB very interested. They scored 88 points and blew Southern miss out. You just don’t know. That’s part of the handicap, right Matt? On who really cares? How much does Oklahoma State care to be in this game?

Mid Major Matt:

Yeah, and that’s the thing. And the other thing that you kind of have to figure out here is who’s on spring break? I know Corby brought that up yesterday because you get the better atmospheres when the students are there and Youngstown State unfortunately is on spring break, but still, I mean you don’t get a big 12 team in your building very often. Youngstown State, any sort of disappointment about not winning their conference tournament kind of disappears when you get a big 12 team there. The problem is Youngstown doesn’t play much defense. You might be able to get an over here potentially because if Youngstown State could push the pace, Oklahoma state’s not very interested in this game. I might lean more towards the over, but if you’re making me pick a side, I do like the home team plus the points

TJ Rives:

Interesting on that one. Let’s see, Logan watching us says, “Utah Valley and the spread,” and again, we’re going deep in the weeds on the NIT, anything on Utah Valley gentlemen for the NIT?

Mid Major Matt:

I kind of like Utah Valley. I mean the total kind of tells you that this game’s going to be all over the place and it might almost be one of those where you bet it live because you’re going to have runs from both sides. Utah Valley obviously did not win their conference tournament. That was the game where they blew a humongous lead against Southern Utah, but now they get an opportunity to go to the pit and take on a New Mexico team that down the stretch wasn’t very good. Utah Valley plays defense and the other key for these Mid Majors when they play games like this, they got a seven footer who’s pretty good. They’ve got some size to match up against New Mexico. Slight lean to the underdog in this one. I think the road team can make things interesting.

TJ Rives:

Matty Cox, any thought on Utah Valley, New Mexico or you want to move on?

Matt Cox:

Yeah, let’s move along. Again, nothing profound in these non insulate tournaments for me.

TJ Rives:

Understood. UCF in Florida’s. The next question from all Elias, “This is not far from me in Gainesville to the north about 90 miles. Florida hosting UCF, Mid Major Madsen sure on the roll here.” He’s interested in the total on that. Anything for all Elias on that total?

Mid Major Matt:

I mean obviously Florida hasn’t been the same since Castleton’s been out and you look at Central Florida, I mean I think the Hendrix kid’s going to have a big game for central Florida. Problem is with consistency for Central Florida. I mean they should have been a lot better than their 18 and 14 record. People are betting on the side. They don’t think Florida’s going to be very interested. So, it kind of scares me a little bit. Not really anything I’m interested in this game but I certainly don’t want to play UCF at this reduced number when you could have had them at a better number.

TJ Rives:

Matty Cox, I assume. Same answer here, not much interest in Florida UCF and the NIT and focusing more on the NCAA tournament?

Matt Cox:

Yeah, if you haven’t bet this yet, I wouldn’t do it now. You’re right. The lines moved. Two and a half points on the side and three points toward the over, some people actually betting on the over despite Florida being kind of an under team. I think Castleton being out is part of that as well. So, yeah, I wouldn’t go against the early steam unless you have a really, really strong angle and odds are you probably don’t at this point.

TJ Rives:

Live audience continues to grow. We’ll stay here for a few more moments with some more questions. Atrain33 says “TJ, we need an official Memphis prediction today. How many do they win?” I imagine he concluded that how many they win by. I don’t care if they win by one. Find a way to get it done against Florida Atlantic who’s had a tremendous season. Neutral floor in Columbus, Ohio. Nobody’s really got much of a fan advantage in that situation. I just think what with Kendrick Davis and the guard play. I think this is Memphis. Moving on, you guys might disagree with me here. Either one of you going to be on Florida Atlantic head to head?

Matt Cox:

Yeah,

TJ Rives:

With Memphis. What about it, Matty Cox?

Matt Cox:

Yeah, I’m going to get you TJ. I’m all in on the Owls, so yeah, I got a pretty good-

TJ Rives:

You’re trying to put me in a bad mood before the tournament begins on Thursday? You’re going with the Owls.

Matt Cox:

Trying to set expectations, so you know, want to keep you on.

TJ Rives:

It’s understood that Mid Major Matt is like anti Memphis. Do you have Florida Atlantic and any thought on that?

Matt Cox:

Well I saw him play, oh, go ahead Matt.

Mid Major Matt:

Sorry. Oh no, I actually don’t yet. I think it’s a really good game. I think they both have their strengths. I think they match up really well, TJ, I didn’t realize that literally everyone except for one player on your roster’s a senior. So, Memphis is going to lose everybody it looks like.

TJ Rives:

Yes, I mean it is a very veteran team that Penny Hardaway has, including Kendrick Davis, the top guy who’s a fifth year guy and the transfer winner gets Purdue in that bracket, the east bracket. So, we’ll see what happens. We can actually put that up on the screen. Kevin, go ahead and put the east bracket up again. These games are in Columbus, Ohio. That’s where Purdue is playing the First Four team, either Texas Southern or Fairleigh Dickinson.

You see that up at the top, Memphis FAU right below that, the winner to likely play Purdue. You see down at the bottom, Marquette and Vermont and also K State and Montana State. A lot of people are also interested in Kentucky and Providence in that east bracket as well. So, there you go. On the east bracket where the Tigers. Go Tigers, go. They won a year ago with Matt Josephs doubting them all the way against Boise State.

They won in this eight nine game and then gave Gonzaga a good game before being beaten. Let’s see, they’re back in the eight nine game again. Memphis and Florida Atlantic coming on for what? Thursday. Coming tomorrow. All right. Or is that one on Friday? I’m doubly confused here on when that is, but it’s in Columbus coming up from Memphis and FAU. All right, back on screen here. Time for another question or two before we are good. Dave is watching us as we come back on here. Dave, with a question in the Q&A says, “Thoughts on Santa Clara and Sam Houston. Anything on that one, Mid Major Matt in the NIT action for Santa Clara out of the West Coast conference and Sam Houston State?”

Mid Major Matt:

So, this is one of those games where the seated team is actually on the road. Sam Houston state’s building. No one actually knows why Sam Houston state’s building is not available. Some people say it’s because they have a wrestling event going on. Some people say it’s because all their events are staffed by students and it’s spring break, but they swear that if they win this game they will be home for their next one. Problem is they’re going to head to Santa Clara and this is your classic tempo versus slow-paced game. And now that Santa Clara’s the home team, maybe they have a little bit better chance of installing their tempo here. So, Sam Houston State just doesn’t want to run. The one thing to look at, Sam Houston State, a very good three point shooting team. Santa Clara struggles to defend the three. Sam Houston state also forces a lot of turnovers and Santa Clara is pretty good with the basketball, so that’s something to kind of look at in this matchup.

TJ Rives:

All right, Matty Cox doesn’t have much on the NIT. We already established that. Another moment or two by the way, Bigbass255, I see you saying Memphis can win it all. I’m just worried about them getting out of the first round game with FAU. That’s a tremendous matchup. Dusty May is the coach of the year, maybe going to get a bigger job out of Florida Atlantic. They’ve never had this kind of season at FAU. What will that matchup look like? And these teams will be in the same conference next year in the American conference, Florida Atlantic will move into the American to play against Memphis. Quickly, a couple of more Kaifikes, if I have it right, on YouTube is watching, says “Thoughts on the UCLA UNC Asheville over.” I can give you a little bit, Kai, on Asheville. I saw them in the title game of the big South doing the game on national radio. Drew Pember, the seven footer is athletic, can score off the dribble. They’ve got a couple of shooters, but guys, you got to go all the way out west and play UCLA in Sacramento in this matchup. Matty Cox, any thought on the total there? And on the side too, because Asheville’s getting a ton of points.

Matt Cox:

I kind of like the over, just because Jalen Clark is out for UCLA and Adam Bona is dicey, they’re stud bouncy freshman big and without him I think Pember could have a much more favorable matchup. Obviously he’s not going to have as much ease scoring against anyone UCLA throws Adam Right to UCLA, they have talent, they have length, even without Bono. But it’s a much more brittle frontline if he’s not there or a little bit gimpy. So, I kind of like the over angle from an efficiency lens because those two styled defenders from UCLA are not going to be a full strength.

TJ Rives:

Mid Major Matt, any thought on the total and Asheville, I know you’ve paid attention to them with Drew Pember, the Tennessee transfer, any thought on them all the way out in Sacramento?

Mid Major Matt:

I lean to Asheville plus the points here. I think that as I just talked about with another Mid Major, like when you’re a Mid Major and you’re playing this game, you’ve got to have a guy who’s got some size and Drew Pember is that guy. I really like Fletcher Aby, he’s a solid shooter. Taiwan Jones is a really good guard. They get to the free throw line and they rebound. Those are other things that are important here. And then I hate this cliche of, “Well, why should a team want to win by 20, 25 points?” But if you’re UCLA, why bother winning by that much? You could sit your guys, you can get them ready for the next game, especially since you’re banged up in key positions. So, I kind of like Asheville plus the points in this one.

TJ Rives:

And again, Hawkis, Tiger Campbell the Guard, they are links back to that Final Four team for Mit Cronin. Let’s see what happens in that matchup coming tomorrow in Sacramento. All right guys, lots of good stuff on the Q&A. Thank you to the Peeps and Savages. We’re back for more tomorrow with Q&A prior to the 16 games of Thursday and then we’ll be here Friday for you as well. Live with Q&A. Let’s look at the Handicappers best bets. They don’t have anything on the First Four for tonight with those two games. Texas Southern, Fairleigh Dickinson, Nevada, and Arizona State. The plays today are all for Thursday, as you see in the early games. Mid Major Matt is on a side in one of those in the Utah state game and also on a team total with Kansas. Meanwhile, Matty Cox has a first half side for the West Virginia game with Maryland and also likes Furman to at least keep it close on the neutral floor with Virginia. Guys. With that, that’s a Wednesday show. Final thoughts, Matty Cox, final thought before we’re done for a Wednesday.

Matt Cox:

No, good luck on Waitress Night First Four and for those of you degenerates out there waiting into the NIT waters.

TJ Rives:

Degenerate is a good way to put that. Matt Josephs, I know we got both Matts on the show. Matt Josephs, final thought for a Wednesday.

Mid Major Matt:

Thought it was interesting. The Virginia line just jumped to six, so if you like Matt’s play, you get some extra value here. So, I don’t know what’s going on with that, but some steam has come in on Virginia despite the whole world being on Furman, rather interesting.

TJ Rives:

Interesting. That’ll be the first game up in Orlando tomorrow, boys. Excellent job. Good luck with the official plays that are coming on Thursday that you have. First Four tonight. We’re back tomorrow. Tomorrow we’ve got 16 games that are going on, 16 more on Friday. We’re ready to discuss all of it. Remember to check out our sportsbook website. Looking forward to it, Kevin and everybody behind the scenes at Bet Us. Great job. Thank you for watching. Matt and Matt, great job and we will be back tomorrow on the Bet US College Basketball Show.

 

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