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CBB Lines And Locks For March 22nd

Welcome everyone to the first round of the NCAA Tournament! I will be breaking down my Top Plays and Favorite Bets for Day 2. Friday’s slate is loaded, so see which games I like the most and why. Let’s Get to the action and WIN!

Northwestern vs Florida Atlantic (-3.5): Florida Atlantic went on a dream run to the Final Four last season and almost every single player from last season returned for one last ride. The Owls were inconsistent this season, but there has been a feeling all year that they could turn it on in the Tournament. They are ranked 39th in both the NET and KenPom. Their offense has been able to carry them this season and they are ranked 17th in adjusted offensive rating at 118.9 in KenPom and they are 16th in scoring offense at 82.5 points per game. Three different players average over double digits with Johnell Davis leading the way at 18.2 points per game. Their defense has been inconsistent and is why they haven’t lived up to their potential, but they have shown they have the talent overall. The Northwestern Wildcats have also had a consistency problem this season. They are ranked 53rd in the NET and they are 43rd in KenPom. They have had some success on both sides of the ball. Four different Wildcats average over double digits with Boo Buie leading the way in scoring at 19.2 points per game. The Wildcats come into the game a little banged up, while the Owls are healthy, which could be the difference. The Owls have been waiting for March all season and now they get to show what they got. Expect the Owls to win and cover in a game that should be close thanks to Boo Buie, but the Owls are too much and should pull away and cover.

Pick: Florida Atlantic -3.5

New Mexico (-2.5) vs Clemson: New Mexico is one of the hottest teams in the country right now after winning their conference tournament just to even get into the Tournament. The Lobos are 22nd in the NET and 21st overall in KenPom. The Lobos also have balance as a team ranking 22nd in adjusted defensive rating on KenPom at 96.5 and they are 21st in the country in scoring at 81.7 points per game. They also have four different players that average over double digits with Jaelen House leading the way at 16.1 points per game. Clemson is 35th in both the NET and overall in KenPom. The Tigers have had more success on offense than defense this season, averaging 77.4 points per game. Three different Tigers average over double digits with PJ Hall leading the way down low at 18.8 points per game. The Lobos have the better athletes in this game and they have a better backcourt than Clemson. PJ Hall can present issues for them down low, but New Mexico is the better team overall and can go at Clemson in waves. Expect the Lobos to go at the Tigers early and often and win this game and cover to advance to the next round.

Pick: New Mexico -2.5

James Madison vs Wisconsin (-5.5): Everyone is picking this upset, but that doesn’t mean it’s wrong. The Dukes have been great all year, while Wisconsin has been up and down. The Dukes are 52nd in the NET and 60th in KenPom. They have been solid on defense, but have really excelled on offense as a team, averaging 84.4 points per game which is good for 10th in all of college basketball. Three different players average over double digits with Terrence Edwards Jr. leading the way at 17.4 points per game. It’s also worth noting that the Dukes went 31-3 on the year, only tied with UConn for most in the country. Wisconsin has been the epitome of inconsistent this year. They started out the season playing very well, then dipped for a large stretch of the year and then finally bounced back a bit and won a few games in the Big Ten tournament, highlighted by a win against Purdue. The Badgers are ranked 21st in the NET and 17th overall in KenPom. Their offense is the key, ranking 11th in adjusted offense on KenPom with a 120.1 rating. Three players average over double digits with AJ Storr being the big key at 16.9 points per game and capable of being a difference maker. The Dukes are not going to be phased going up against a Big Ten team either after they beat Michigan State to start the year. The Dukes are a very good team and should pull off the upset over Wisconsin in the Round of 64.

Pick: James Madison +5 or ML (+180)

Grand Canyon vs Saint Mary’s (-5.5): The style of play for Saint Mary’s is hard to play against for any team, but Grand Canyon will have the better athletes in this game. The Antelopes were dominant this year with 29 wins and they ran through the WAC regular season and conference tournament. They are also not afraid of the moment, already beating San Diego State once this season. The Antelopes are 50th in the NET and 53rd in KenPom. They are a balanced team averaging 79.8 points per game and then they are allowing 66.9 points per game, both are top-50 in all of college basketball. Three different players average double digits with Tyon Grant-Foster leading the way at 19.8 points per game. Not only does Grand Canyon have the better overall roster than Saint Mary’s, but Grant-Foster will also be the best player in this game across both teams. The Gaels have had a very good season and have been led by one of the best defenses in the country. They are 16th in the NET and 18th overall in KenPom. On defense, they are allowing 58.7 points per game which is second in the entire country and then they rank 14th in adjusted defensive rating on KenPom at 94.9. On offense, they are efficient and slow teams down. They are ranked 358th in adjusted tempo rating at 62. They also share and rebound the ball well too. Five different players average over double digits with Aidan Mahaney leading the way at 13.9 points per game. This is a styles makes fights type of game because the key for Grand Canyon is going to be to speed the Gaels up, while Saint Mary’s will need to slow down the game to win. Grant-Foster is an NBA-caliber player and has potential to take over this game. Expect the Antelopes to win this game thanks to him and they should overcome a good Saint Mary’s team to move on in the tournament.

Pick: Grand Canyon +5.5 or ML (+185)

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