And then there were 64.
With the First Four matchups in the books, the Men’s NCAA Tournament is set for its opening round on Thursday and Friday. Here are BetPrep’s key trends for matchups with tighter spreads.
No. 11 Michigan (-1) vs. No. 6 Colorado State
Thursday, 12:15 p.m. ET, CBS (O/U: 136.5)
According to ESPN Stats & Informational Group, Michigan is the first 11 seed to be favored in the first round of the Men’s NCAA Tournament since 2017. The Wolverines are also the first team to receive an at-large bid while only being three games over .500 since Georgia in 2001. The only other teams to do that since the field expanded in 1985 are 1991 Villanova, 1990 Kansas State and 1988 LSU.
As for Colorado State, the Rams are back in the NCAA field for the first time since 2013. Based on their trends entering the tournament, the Rams don’t figure to stick around long for bettors.
Michigan Key Trends
- The Wolverines are a perfect 4-0 ATS in their last four games coming off a loss.
- Michigan is 35-16-2 ATS in its last 53 neutral site games.
- The Under is 10-4-1 in the Wolverines’ last 15 NCAA Tournament games.
Colorado State Key Trends
- The Rams are just 1-5 ATS in their last six games overall.
- Colorado State is 0-5-1 ATS in its last six games coming off a loss.
- The Under is 6-1 in the Rams’ last seven games.
No. 13 South Dakota State (+2) vs. No. 4 Providence
Thursday, 12:40 p.m. ET, truTV (O/U: 148)
Providence earned its highest seed in the NCAA Tournament seeding began in 1979. The highest the Friars were seeded before this year was No. 5, when Tim Welsh was their head coach in 2004. They lost in the Round of 64 to Pacific that season. The Friars have non-conference wins this season against Wisconsin and Texas Tech and are 12-2 in games decided by five points or fewer (or went to OT).
On the other side, the Jackrabbits haven’t lost a game since December 15. That was also the last time that South Dakota State was an underdog. Their impressive season included 30 wins and a 17-14-1 mark against the number.
South Dakota State Key Trends
- The Jackrabbits are 10-1 ATS in their last 11 neutral site games as an underdog.
- South Dakota State is 5-0-1 ATS in its last six games versus an opponent with a winning record.
- The Over is 7-3 in the Jackrabbits’ last 10 neutral site games.
Providence Key Trends
- Providence is 0-5 ATS in its last five NCAA Tournament games.
- The Friars are 3-7 ATS in their last 10 games as a favorite.
- The Over is 6-2 in Providence’s last eight games overall.
No. 9 Memphis (-3) vs. No. 8 Boise State
Thursday,1:45 p.m. ET, TNT (O/U: 133.5)
This will be Boise State’s first appearance in the tournament field since 2015. The Broncos have never won a tournament game at the Division level and are 0-7 in the tournament all-time. This the first time they’ve been higher than an 11 seed.
The Tigers, meanwhile, are back in the tournament for the first time since 2014. They won six straight before losing to Houston in the AAC final on Sunday. After some early struggles, Memphis went on to finish with a 21-10 record in the regular season, which included a 13-5 mark in the AAC.
Memphis Key Trends
- The Tigers are 10-3 ATS in their last 13 games overall.
- Memphis is 8-2 ATS in its last 10 games as a favorite.
- The Under is 4-1 in the Tigers’ last five NCAA Tournament games.
Boise State Key Trends
- The Broncos are 7-1 ATS in their last eight games as an underdog.
- Boise State is 4-0 ATS in its last four games when facing a team with a winning record.
- The Under is 7-3 in the Broncos’ last 10 games as an underdog.
No. 9 Marquette (+3.5) vs. No. 8 North Carolina
Thursday, 4:30 p.m. ET, TBS (O/U: 152)
North Carolina was once firmly on the bubble but a late-season run that included a win at Cameron Indoor Stadium against Coach Mike Krzyzewski’s Blue Devils solidified the Tar Heels’ placing in the tournament. Winners of eight of their last 10 games, this will mark UNC’s first NCAA Tournament game with Hubert Davis as head coach.
Marquette made the tournament eight straight years from 2006-2013, but has only made it twice since. In those two appearances, the Golden Eagles lost in the first round both times. Coach Shaka Smart’s team is 26th in the country in pace of play according to KenPom.
Marquette Key Trends
- The Golden Eagles are 7-1 ATS in their last eight games as an underdog.
- Marquette is just 1-7 ATS in its last eight games overall.
- The Under is 5-2 in the Golden Eagles’ last seven games as an underdog.
North Carolina Key Trends
- The Tar Heels are 4-1 ATS in their last five games overall.
- UNC is just 1-5 ATS in its last six NCAA Tournament games.
- The Over is 14-6-1 in the Tar Heels’ last 21 games overall.
No. 12 New Mexico State (+6.5) vs. No. 5 UConn
Thursday, 6:50 p.m. ET, TNT (O/U: 132)
This is the highest that UConn has been seeded in the tournament since 2011 when the Huskies won the national championship as a 3 seed. UConn fans will rejoice in the fact that three of the Huskies’ four national titles were won when the team was placed in the West Region (1999, 2004 & 2011).
The good news for New Mexico State? From 2007 to 2019, the Aggies made nine trips to the NCAA Tournament. The bad news? They lost in the first round of each one of those appearances. The Aggies have made the tournament 25 times before and have nothing outside of a 12-game losing streak to show for their work. The last time NMSU won a tournament game was in 1993. Yikes.
New Mexico State Key Trends
- The Aggies are 4-0 ATS in their last four games as an underdog.
- New Mexico State is just 2-5 ATS in its last seven NCAA Tournament games.
- The Over is 4-1 in the Aggies’ last five NCAA Tournament games.
UConn Key Trends
- The Huskies are 9-4 ATS in their last 13 NCAA Tournament games as a favorite.
- UConn is 16-5 ATS in its last 21 NCAA Tournament games.
- The Under is 5-1 in the Huskies’ last six NCAA Tournament games.
No. 12 Indiana (+2.5) vs. No. 5 Saint Mary’s
Thursday, 7:20 p.m. ET, TBS (O/U: 126.5)
This is the highest Saint Mary’s has been seeded in the history of the program. The Gales are the first WCC team to earn a top-5 seed other than Gonzaga in San Francisco was a 4 seed back in 1979. The Gaels have wins over Gonzaga, San Francisco (twice), Colorado State, Oregon and Notre Dame this season.
While they barely made the field, Indiana has already made the most of its opportunities by winning its First Four matchup against Wyoming on Tuesday night. The Hoosiers earned a trip to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2016 and entered the field playing perhaps their best basketball of the season. All six of the Hoosiers’ last six games have been decided by five points or fewer.
Indiana Key Trends
- The Hoosiers are 4-1 ATS in their last five NCAA Tournament games.
- Indiana is 6-1 ATS in its last seven neutral site games as an underdog.
- The Under is 22-10-2 in IU’s last 34 games as an underdog.
Saint Mary’s Key Trends
- The Gaels are 10-4-2 ATS in their last 16 games overall.
- Saint Mary’s is just 2-5 ATS in its last seven NCAA Tournament games.
- The Under is 7-1 in the Gaels’ last eight NCAA Tournament games.
No. 13 Vermont (+5) vs. No. 4 Arkansas
Thursday, 9:20 p.m. ET, TNT (O/U: 139)
Arkansas had not been a top-4 seed prior to last season when it was a 3 seed. The Razorbacks reached the Elite 8 last season and entered this year’s NCAA Tournament with a 15-3 record over their last 18 games. Considering they started conference play with an 0-3 record, that’s quite the turnaround for the Hogs.
Speaking of hot teams, the Catamounts enter play today on an eight-game winning streak. They’ve been favored in every game since early December and were listed as double-digit chalk in 18 of their last 21 games in the regular season.
Vermont Key Trends
- The Catamounts have covered in six of their last eight games overall.
- Vermont is winless ATS in its last four neutral site games.
- The Under is 5-1 in the Catamounts’ last six games.
Arkansas Key Trends
- The Hogs are 14-3-1 ATS in their last 18 games overall.
- Arkansas is 17-7 ATS in its last 24 games following a failed cover.
- The Over is 6-0 in the Razorbacks’ last six games overall.
No. 10 San Francisco (+2) vs. No. 7 Murray State
Thursday, 9:40 p.m. ET, CBS (O/U: 137)
Murray State enters the NCAA Tournament ranked as a top-25 team and was an underdog only three times during the regular season. The Racers won two of those three games outright, beating Memphis and Belmont in impressive fashion. The lone game the Racers didn’t cover or win outright as a dog? A 13-point loss to Auburn, which enters the field this season as a 2 seed.
This will be the Dons’ first NCAA Tournament appearance since 1998. One of the things San Francisco’s boasts is experience, as its top three scorers are all fifth-year players: Jamaree Bouyee, Khalil Shabazz and Yauhen Massalski.
San Francisco Key Trends
- The Dons are 3-14 ATS in their last 17 games following a successful cover.
- San Francisco is 3-7-1 ATS in its last 11 games as an underdog.
- The Over is 16-5 in the Dons’ last 21 neutral site games as an underdog.
Murray State Key Trends
- The Racers are 1-4 ATS in their last five games.
- Murray State is 3-7 ATS in its last 10 neutral site games as a favorite.
- The Under is 7-2 in the Racers’ last nine NCAA Tournament games.
No. 10 Loyola-Chicago vs. No. 7 Ohio State
Friday, 12:15 p.m. ET, TNT (O/U: 132.5)
Having lost four of its last five games, Ohio State enters the NCAA Tournament on a bit of a slide. Three of those losses were teams that didn’t qualify for the tournament, so it’s not as if the Buckeyes were beaten by the best-of-the-best in their conference. Worse yet, OSU was favored in all five of those games and covered just once.
This year marks Loyola-Chicago’s second straight NCAA Tournament appearance and its first consecutive trip since 1963 and 1964. Despite entering the Missouri Valley Conference as a 4 seed, the Ramblers went on to win in the Final against Drake.
Loyola-Chicago Key Trends
- The Ramblers are 6-2 ATS in their last eight NCAA Tournament games.
- Loyola-Chicago is 5-0 ATS in its last five neutral site games.
- The Under is 6-2 in the Ramblers’ last eight NCAA Tournament games.
Ohio State Key Trends
- The Buckeyes are 1-4 ATS in their last five games overall.
- Ohio State is just 1-10 ATS in its last 11 NCAA Tournament games.
- The Over is 12-5 in the Buckeyes’ last 17 NCAA Tournament games.
No. 11 Notre Dame (+4) vs. No. 6 Alabama
Friday, 4:15 p.m. ET, TNT (O/U: 152)
Alabama is one of the teams firmly on upset watch in the opening round. That’s because the Crimson Tide lost three straight games entering the tournament, allowing 80 points or more in each game. That said, ‘Bama also averages roughly 80 points per game with its up-tempo style, so any opponent will likely need to score in bunches in order to knock out the Tide.
As for Notre Dame, the Fighting Irish out-lasted Rutgers in double overtime in the teams’ First Four matchup on Wednesday night. Freshman guard Blake Wesley is the team’s leading scorer and a projected first-round pick. He leads an Irish team with aspirations of doing what UCLA accomplished last year: Make a deep run despite being forced to play in Dayton to start the tournament.
Notre Dame Key Trends
- The Fighting Irish are just 5-12 ATS in their last 17 NCAA Tournament games.
- Notre Dame is winless against the number in its last five neutral site games as an underdog.
- The Over is a near-perfect 8-0-1 in the Irish’s last nine games overall.
Alabama Key Trends
- The Crimson Tide are 7-18-1 ATS in their last 26 games overall.
- Alabama is 7-19 ATS in its last 26 games as a favorite.
- The Over is 20-7 in the Tide’s last 27 games overall.
No. 11 Virginia Tech (+1.5) vs. No. 6 Texas
Friday, 4:30 p.m. ET, TBS (O/U: 123.5)
Texas has not been kind to bettors this season, posting a 12-20 record against the number during the regular season. The Longhorns also enter the tournament having failed to cover in six consecutive games, which includes two losses in games they were favored.
For a team that slumped in January, Virginia Tech enters the field as one of the hottest teams in the nation. The Hokies won nine of their last 11 regular-season games before entering the ACC Tournament and winning four games in four days, which includes upsetting Duke in the Final.
Virginia Tech Key Trends
- The Hokies are just 2-6 ATS in their last eight NCAA Tournament games.
- Virginia Tech is 4-1-1 ATS in its last six games following a win.
- The Over is 11-3 in the Hokies’ last 14 games versus an opponent with a winning percentage above .600.
Texas Key Trends
- The Longhorns are winless against the number in their last six games overall.
- Texas is 6-18 ATS in its last 24 NCAA Tournament games.
- The Over is 11-4 in the Longhorns’ last 15 NCAA Tournament games.
No. 11 Iowa State (+4) vs. No. 6 LSU
Friday, 7:20 p.m. ET, TBS (O/U: 128.5)
LSU enters the tournament under a shroud of controversy. Last week, the program received a Notice of Allegations from the NCAA and shortly after, coach Will Wade was fired. Kevin Nickelberry will take over as interim coach for a team that went just 3-8 on the road this season, but also started 15-1 at home before limping down the stretch.
Everything was fine for the Cyclones when they were beating up on non-conference foes but once Big 12 play started, Iowa State lost 12 of 19 games. One of those losses came in ugly fashion to Texas Tech in the Big 12 Tournament and ISU has now lost its last three games. In the loss to Tech, the Cyclones scored just 41 points and in a defeat against Oklahoma State, ISU mustered only 36 points.
Iowa State Key Trends
- The Cyclone are 2-5 ATS in their last seven NCAA Tournament games as an underdog.
- ISU is 2-5 ATS in its last seven games versus an opponent with a winning percentage above .600.
- The Over is 7-0 in the Cyclones’ last seven NCAA Tournament games as an underdog.
LSU Key Trends
- LSU Is 3-9 ATS in its last 12 games as a favorite.
- The Tigers are 1-4 ATS in their last five NCAA Tournament games.
- The Under is 13-3 in the Tigers’ last 16 NCAA Tournament games.
No. 10 Davidson (+1) vs. No. 7 Michigan State
Friday, 9:40 p.m. ET, CBS (O/U: 140.5)
Michigan State closed out the regular season by dropping seven of its last 10 games in Big Ten play, but the Spartans did knock off Maryland and Wisconsin in the conference tournament. Sparty also covered as a 6.5-point underdog in their 75-70 loss to Purdue in the semifinals.
While Davidson is back in the tournament, the Wildcats haven’t won a game since Steph Curry led the program to an appearance in the 2008 Elite 8. Will this year be different for Davidson? The Wildcats do rank in the top-10 in offensive efficiency at KenPom, so perhaps they’re ready to put an end to their tournament skid.
Davidson Key Trends
- The Wildcats are 6-2 ATS in their last eight games overall.
- Davidson has covered in five of its last six neutral site games.
- The Under is 4-1 in the Wildcats’ last five NCAA Tournament games.
Michigan State Key Trends
- The Spartans are 4-0 ATS in their last four games overall.
- MSU is 4-0 ATS in its last four neutral site games.
- The Under is 4-1 in the Spartans’ last five NCAA Tournament games.