Brian is going with the underdogs for his Thursday and Friday NCAA Tournament picks. All Vegas lines are based on line at Caesars Palace on 3/25 as noted on Vegas.com.
1. Connecticut -7.5 vs Purdue. I’ll take the points and go with Purdue here. I do think UConn wins this but it will be a little tighter than the spread. Purdue put up some solid first round wins while UConn coasted against lesser competition. And I’ve got to wonder if the recently announced potential NCAA violations might weigh on the minds of UConn and Coach Jim Calhoun.
2. Duke -2.5 vs Villanova. I like the underdog again and have this game as a virtual “pick’em”. Both teams got a big home court advantage in the early rounds and were able to get through one tough game (Villanova vs American; Duke vs Texas). Villanova matches up pretty well with Duke and has been to the Sweet 16 several times. I think this will give them enough of an edge for me to take Villanova and the points here.
3. North Carolina -8.5 vs Gonzaga. UNC has looked good in the tournament while Gonzaga has had two tough games. The big question is still the state of Ty Lawson’s big toe. UNC should win this game but I think it will be a little closer than the spread. Take Gonzaga and the points.
4. Michigan State -2 vs Kansas. This is a rematch of a game played earlier this year in East Lansing, won easily by Michigan State. I believe the Jayhawks get revenge here. Bill Self has an incredible record in “revenge” games where he’s had a chance to pay back a team for a loss earlier in the same season. The team has grown since then and the numbers show Kansas may even win this outright by a point or two. Go with Kansas here.