First Four Best Bets – NCAA Tournament

SE Missouri State V. Texas A&M CC

The Southeast Missouri State Redhawks will be making just their second appearance in the NCAA Tournament. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

It’s a meeting of juggernauts as the Redhawks and the Islanders face off to decide who will be bounced by Alabama on Thursday. It’s an odd but hallowed tradition to have two tiny schools play to determine who will receive the horror of being a 16-seed. This year it’s the winners of the Southland Conference and the Ohio Valley Conference Tournaments.

Texas A&M CC were champions of the Southland Conference both in the regular season and the tournament; as for SE Missouri, they finished the regular season in the middle of the pack but had an incredible showing in the conference tournament to book their ticket to the dance.

There is nothing remarkable about either of these teams, as the average fan wouldn’t recognize their names or the majority of the teams on their schedule. So while the Islanders have been consistent all season long, the Redhawks have decided to heat up at the right time, and there is nothing more dangerous in March than a hot underdog.

SE Missouri State +3.5 (-110)

Pitt V. Mississippi State

This will be Mississippi State’s second NCAA Tournament appearance since 2009. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

A slightly more intriguing matchup is the Panthers playing the Bulldogs for an eleven seed in this year’s tournament.

When looking at the standings it would appear that neither of these teams did exceptionally well this year, but in reality they did a fantastic job when considering the high levels of talent they had to take on. Pitt boasted wins against UNC, UVA, and Miami; the Bulldogs took down Texas A&M, Missouri, and TCU.

Whoever comes out of this precursor, should be considered to upset Iowa State in the round of 64.

It will undoubtedly be an exciting game, and it will come down to who can control the pace of play. Mississippi State is a defense-heavy team and typically plays in low-scoring affairs. Coming out of the ACC, Pitt plays faster and is involved in more shootouts.

Bettors would be smart to give the edge to the defensive team, and expect the Bulldogs to prove they should be respected in March.

Mississippi State -2.5 (-110)
Under 133.5 (-110)


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