March Madness doesn’t reach its full frenzy until Thursday when the first round tips off. But before then, there are two more First Four games to get the field down to 64 teams.
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Here are the picks for the second set of First Four games on Wednesday, with the spreads from BetMGM:
Texas Southern (-2.5) over Fairleigh Dickinson
You have to scroll a long way to find Fairleigh Dickinson on any list that ranks every Division I team. The Knights are No. 301 in the NET rankings. They’re 312th in KenPom. FDU is the lowest ranked team in the field.
That’s the beauty of the NCAA tournament. Every team has a shot to play in it if you get hot at the right time, and FDU got hot and won the NEC auto bid. Texas Southern is a similar story, a 14-20 team that won the SWAC tournament.
Texas Southern won First Four games in 2018, 2021 and last season it beat Texas A&M Corpus Christi 76-67 in the First Four last season. Texas Southern has done well in Dayton before, the Tigers are the better team and it is the right side in this game.
Arizona State (-2.5) over Nevada
The one team most mock brackets missed on was Nevada. Maybe that’s because they didn’t belong in the tournament.
Nevada making it over Rutgers or Oklahoma State wasn’t egregious, but the Wolf Pack was the last at-large team in the field and for a reason. Nevada lost their final three games, stumbling to the finish. Nevada isn’t an impressive team.
Neither is Arizona State. There’s a reason the Sun Devils are in Dayton. But they did get a win at Arizona late in the season (yes, they needed a half-court shot to win, but they played very well at a strong No. 2 seed that just won the Pac-12 tournament). They also beat USC in the Pac-12 tournament. It’s a matchup between two flawed teams, but ASU has a slight edge.
Here is the rest of the sports betting slate for Wednesday:
76ers-Cavs headlines NBA
It’s a good night in the NBA, if you prefer the pro game. There are seven games, leading off with a good Philadelphia 76ers at Cleveland Cavaliers matchup. The 76ers are the No. 3 team in the East, and the Cavs are No. 4. Cleveland is a good home team, though the 76ers have been solid on the road. Philadelphia is favored by 2.5 with the Cavs having played on Tuesday.
The other game in ESPN’s doubleheader is the Golden State Warriors at the Los Angeles Clippers. Both teams have dealt with injuries, but the Warriors are getting healthy and are starting to peak. The Clippers are 2.5-point favorites.
NHL has 4 games
It’s a light night in the NHL, but the Colorado Avalanche at the Toronto Maple Leafs is a strong matchup for the first game of the TNT doubleheader. Toronto is a -150 favorite. The second game on TNT is the Minnesota Wild at the St. Louis Blues, who are shorthanded and fading since the trade deadline. The Wild is a -145 favorite.
What’s the best bet?
Golden State has been impossibly bad on the road this season. The Warriors are 7-26 away from home. I’ll ride that trend and take the Clippers.