2016-NCAAB-March Madness-Friday games previews
East Regional – Barclays Center, Brooklyn, NY (CBS, 9:40 p.m. ET)
**Notre Dame vs. Michigan**
— The Westgate SuperBook in Las Vegas opened Notre Dame (21-11 straight up, 14-15 against the spread) as a three-point favorite early Thursday morning. The line moved to 2.5 within an hour. The total opened at 143. As of Thursday afternoon, the Wolverines were +125 on the money line (risk $100 to win $125).
— This is a 6/11 matchup in the East Region that’ll be contested at Barclays Arena in Brooklyn, N.Y. This game will be on CBS at around 9:40 p.m. Eastern.
— Michigan (23-12 SU, 17-16 ATS) advanced to the Round of 64 by virtue of Wednesday’s 67-62 win over Tulsa as a two-point ‘chalk’ in Dayton. The 129 combined points stayed ‘under’ the 142.5-point total. Zak Irvin and Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman scored 16 points apiece to lead the way. Duncan Robinson finished with 13 points, 11 rebounds, four assists and two blocked shots.
— Michigan has been an underdog 12 times, limping to a 4-8 spread record with three outright victories.
— Michigan has played eight games on a neutral court this year, posting a 6-2 SU record and a 4-4 ATS mark.
— Michigan has an excellent backcourt featuring Zak Irvin and Derrick Walton Jr. Irvin is averaging 11.9 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game. Walton (11.7 PPG) is averaging team-highs in rebounds (5.5 RPG), assists (4.5 APG) and steals (1.7 SPG). Robinson (11.2 PPG) is a pure shooter, draining 44.7 percent of his launches from 3-point range and 88.6 percent of his free-throw attempts.
— John Beilein owns the seventh-best career winning percentage among head coaches in the NCAA Tournament. He has a 17-9 record (65.4%).
— Mike Brey’s squad beat Duke 84-79 in overtime as a two-point underdog at the ACC Tournament quarterfinals last Thursday. Zach Auguste was the catalyst with 19 points and 22 rebounds. On Friday, however, the Fighting Irish were run out of the Verizon Center in Washington D.C., where North Carolina cruised to a 78-47 win as a seven-point favorite in the semifinals. Bonzie Colson scored a team-best 15 points in the losing effort.
— Notre Dame has been a single-digit favorite 14 times this season, going 7-6-1 ATS.
— Notre Dame has played 11 games against teams in the NCAA field, struggling to a 4-7 record both SU and ATS.
— Auguste is one of the nation’s best post players, averaging 14.4 points and 10.8 rebounds per game. He’s hitting 54.9 percent of his shots from the field and has 32 blocked shots. Junior point guard Demetrius Jackson is averaging team-highs in scoring (15.5 PPG), assists (4.8 APG) and steals (1.2 SPG).
— Brey owns a 9-12 (42.9%) career record in the NCAA Tournament.
— Totals have been an overall wash (15-15) for the Irish, but it has seen the ‘under’ hit in seven of its last 10 outings.
— The ‘over’ is 19-13-1 overall for the Wolverines, but they have seen the ‘under’ cash in three straight games and five of their last six.
West Regional – Chesapeake Arena, Oklahoma City, OK (TBS, 9:50 p.m. ET)
**Northern Iowa vs. Texas**
— This is another 6/11 showdown in the West Region with the winner advancing to face the Wisconsin-Green Bay-Texas A&M winner in Oklahoma City on Sunday. TBS will have the telecast at around 9:50 p.m. Eastern.
— The Westgate opened Texas (20-12 SU, 16-15 ATS) as a 4.5-point ‘chalk’ with a total of 124. The tally has been adjusted to 125, but the Longhorns remain 4.5-point favorites. The Panthers are +175 on the money line (risk $100 to win $175).
— Texas first-year head coach Shaka Smart owns a 7-5 career record (58.3%) in the NCAA Tournament with one Final Four appearance while he was at VCU.
— Texas has lost five of its last nine games, including a 75-61 setback against Baylor as a 2.5-point underdog at the Big 12 Tournament. Connor Lammert had a team-best 15 points in the losing effort. Kerwin Roach Jr. had 13 points and six rebounds, while Shaquille Cleare was also in double figures with 12 points.
— Texas has been a single-digit favorite 12 times, posting a 5-7 spread record.
— Texas has played 18 games against teams in the NCAA field, going 8-10 SU and 10-8 ATS. The Longhorns own six victories over RPI Top-25 foes, including North Carolina, Iowa State, Oklahoma, Baylor and West Va. (twice).
— Texas is led by Isaiah Taylor, who averages 14.8 points and 4.9 assists per game. The Longhorns are hoping to get 15-20 minutes out of center Cameron Ridley, who had missed 20 straight games with a foot injury before returning to the court at the Big 12 Tournament. Ridley only played two minutes against Baylor, hitting a pair of free throws and missing his only shot from the field. Ridley averages 11.8 points, 9.2 rebounds and 3.1 blocked shots per game.
— No. Iowa (22-12 SU, 19-13-1 ATS) has been absolutely on fire since Jan. 27, compiling a 12-1 SU record and an 11-1-1 ATS mark. The Panthers have won six in a row while going 5-0-1 ATS. They won the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament with wins over So. Illinois (66-60), Wichita State (57-52 in OT) and Evansville (56-54).
— Wes Washpun was the catalyst in the MVC finals win over Evansville, producing 18 points, five rebounds, three assists and two steals. Klint Carlson knocked down 8-of-12 shots in a 17-point effort, while Jeremy Morgan was also in double figures with 14 points.
— No. Iowa has been an underdog 11 times, producing a 5-6 record both SU and ATS. The Panthers have a 2-0 record against RPI Top-25 foes, a 4-1 mark versus the Top 50 and an 8-3 ledger against the Top 100. They won outright in five of seven games against teams in the NCAA field, including scalps of North Carolina, Iowa State, Stephen F. Austin and Wichita State (twice).
— Washpun averages team-highs in scoring (14.3 PPG) and assists (5.2 APG), while Morgan (10.4 PPG) paces NIU in rebounding (5.1 RPG), field-goal percentage (47.7%), steals (1.9 SPG) and blocked shots (0.9 BPG).
— The ‘under’ is 20-13 overall for No. Iowa, cashing in five straight games and seven of their last eight.
— The ‘under’ is 17-13-1 overall for the Longhorns, going 3-0-1 in their last four outings.
East Regional – Scotttrade Center, St. Louis, MO (TNT, 9:20 p.m. ET)
**Weber State vs. Xavier**
— This is a 2/15 East Region matchup that’ll be played in St. Louis, MO. TNT will have the telecast at about 9:20 p.m. Eastern. The winner will face the survivor of Pitt vs. Wisconsin on Sunday.
— The Westgate opened Xavier (27-5 SU, 19-13 ATS) as a 13-point favorite with a total of 147.5. The total hasn’t moved, while the number for the side briefly went to 13.5 before coming back to 13. Gamblers can take the Wildcats to win outright for a +750 return (risk $100 to win $750).
— Chris Mack’s program is making its 10th NCAA Tournament appearance in the last 11 seasons. Xavier has been to the Sweet 16 in three of the last six years. The Musketeers’ No. 2 seed is their highest in school history.
— Xavier lost an 87-83 decision to Seton Hall as a five-point favorite in the semifinals of the Big East Tournament last Friday. Edmond Sumner had 21 points, nine rebounds, two steals and four assists compared to only one turnover in the losing effort. James Farr finished with 18 points, 10 boards and three steals.
— Xavier has a balance offensive attack with six players averaging 9.4 PPG or better. Trevon Bluiett averages a 15.5 points and 6.2 rebounds per game. Sumner averages 11.3 points, 3.5 assists, 3.4 rebounds and 1.2 steals per contest. Myles Davis (11.1 PPG) dishes out a team-high 4.2 APG and hits 85.1 percent of his free throws.
— Xavier has been a double-digit favorite 15 times, compiling a 7-8 spread record.
— Xavier has played 13 games against teams in the field, producing a 10-3 SU record and a 9-4 ATS mark. The Musketeers swept Butler and Providence, in addition to winning non-conference games over Michigan, Alabama, Southern Cal, Cincinnati and Dayton.
— Mack owns a 6-5 career record (54.5%) in the Tournament.
— Weber State (26-8 SU, 14-16 ATS) is making its sixth NCAA Tournament appearance since 1995. The Wildcats beat Michigan State in the first round of the 1995 Tournament. In 1999, Harold ‘The Show’ Arceneaux, a New Orleans product, dropped 36 points on North Carolina in a stunning first-round upset.
— Weber State won the Big Sky Tournament with victories over Portland State (78-74), North Dakota (83-78 in OT) and Montana (62-59). The Wildcats knocked off the Grizzlies as 1.5-point favorites in the finals. Jeremy Senglin led the way with 20 points, six assists, three rebounds and a pair of steals. Ryan Richardson added 15 points thanks to 3-of-5 shooting from downtown.
— Weber State is mired in a 3-9 ATS slump in its last nine games. The Wildcats have been underdogs four times, posting a 2-2 record both SU and ATS. They faced only one opponent in the NCAA field, splitting a pair of games both SU and ATS against South Dakota State.
— Weber State is led by forward Joel Bolomboy, who averages 17.2 points and 12.7 rebounds per contest.
— The ‘under’ is 17-13-1 overall for the Wildcats.
— The ‘over’ is 21-11 overall for the Musketeers, hitting in their last seven outings.
West Regional – Spokane Arena, Spokane, WA (truTV, 9:55 p.m. ET)
**Cincinnati vs. St. Joseph’s**
— This is a West Region 8/9 showdown in Spokane, WA., with the winner facing Oregon (assuming Holy Cross doesn’t become the first No. 16 seed to ever advance) on Sunday. Tip-off is scheduled for 9:55 p.m. Eastern on TruTV.
— The Westgate opened Cincinnati as a two-point favorite. The number went down to 1.5, then up to as high as three early Thursday. By late Thursday afternoon, the Bearcats were favored by 2.5 and the total was 136. St. Joseph’s was +120 on the money line.
— Cincinnati (22-10 SU, 12-16 ATS) is just 3-3 SU in its last six games and 2-5 ATS in its last seven. The Bearcats are off last Friday’s 104-97 loss to UConn in four overtimes. They seemed poised to advance at the AAC Tournament when Kevin Johnson buried a trey with 0.8 seconds left in the third extra session. However, UConn’s Jalen Adams answered with a buzzer-beating 65-footer off the glass and the Huskies sealed the deal in the fourth OT. Troy Caupain had 37 points, 10 rebounds, three steals and five assists without a turnover in the gut-wrenching defeat. Octavius Ellis finished with 13 points, 10 rebounds and three blocked shots.
— As always, Mick Cronin’s team gets physical and aggressive with opponents at the defensive end. The Bearcats rank 10th in the nation in scoring defense (62.9 PPG) and 11th in field-goal percentage defense (39.0%).
— Cincy owns a 5-8 spread record in 13 single-digit ‘chalk’ situations.
— Cincy went 4-7 both SU and ATS in 11 games against teams in the field. The Bearcats’ best wins came at VCU, vs. SMU and two regular-season scalps of UConn. We should note that they lost three games in overtime and four losses came by eight combined points, including a 59-57 loss at SMU and an 81-79 loss at Iowa State.
— After losing back-to-back games to close the regular season, St. Joseph’s (27-7 SU, 22-10 ATS) went to Brooklyn and won the Atlantic-10 Tournament with wins over George Washington (86-80), Dayton (82-79) and VCU (87-74). Phil Martelli’s team took it to the Rams in the A-10 finals as a four-point underdog. DeAndre Bembry erupted for 30 points on 13-of-16 shooting from the field. Bembry also had five rebounds and four assists without committing a turnover. Isaiah Miles finished with 26 points and 12 boards, making 11-of-16 attempts from the floor. Aaron Brown was also in double figures with 13 points.
— St. Joe’s has been an underdog 10 times, compiling an 8-1-1 spread record with eight outright victories. The Hawks played seven games against teams in the field, posting a 5-2 SU record and a 5-1-1 ATS ledger.
— Miles averages a team-high 18.4 points and 8.1 rebounds per game. He makes 52.8 percent of his shots from the field and 88.3 percent of his attempts from the charity stripe. Bembry averages 17.3 points and 7.7 rebounds per game. He has a 153/69 assists-to-turnovers ratio and has a team-best 46 steals.
— The ‘over’ is 19-13-1 overall for the Hawks, going 11-2 in their last 13 games.
— The ‘under’ is 17-10-1 overall for the Bearcats, 6-2-1 in their last nine games.