Thirty-six teams have been eliminated from the 2023 NCAA Tournament, leaving 32 teams remaining to fight for 16 spots in the Sweet 16.
Those battles start today with a pair of back-to-back standalone games in Orlando at Amway Center. San Diego St. will take on 13th-seeded Furman (28-7 straight up, 19-13 against the spread) at 12:10 p.m. Eastern on CBS. The Aztecs are installed as 5.5-point favorites with a total of 137.5.
The Paladins have won seven games in a row after beating fourth-seeded Virginia 68-67 as five-point underdogs. JP Pegues’ 3-pointer with 2.4 seconds remaining lifted his team to victory.
Furman’s first NCAA Tournament win since 1974 came one year after losing at the buzzer to Chattanooga on a deep trey that was well-contested in the finals of the 2022 Southern Conference Tournament. The Paladins are 2-2 both SU and ATS in four games as underdogs, losing by five to Penn St. on a neutral court and by 19 at NC St.
San Diego St. (28-6 SU, 16-15-2 ATS) has won five games in a row and 11 of its last 12. The Aztecs are 4-1 ATS during their five-game winning streak.
In the second game of the afternoon session in Orlando, fourth-seeded Tennessee will face fifth-seeded Duke. The Blue Devils are on fire with 10 wins in a row and they’ve covered the number in five straight.
Duke jumped on Oral Roberts with a 17-2 run to start Thursday night’s first-round 5/12 matchup. The Golden Eagles never got back in the game the rest of the way in a 74-51 loss as six-point underdogs.
Duke is a 3.5-point favorite at most spots with a total of 126.5. Tennessee (24-10 SU, 17-17 ATS) failed to cover the spread in Thursday’s 58-55 win over Louisiana as an 11.5-point ‘chalk.’ The Volunteers are mired in a 4-9 ATS slump and have lost seven of those 13 games outright.
I’m on Duke (I got it at -3 late Thursday night) and also have a smaller play on the Blue Devils -1.5 in the first half.
Here are some other notes and nuggets below. Enjoy the games and best of luck with your wagers!
-The ‘under’ had cashed in seven straight KU games until its 96-68 win over Howard saw the 164 combined points sail ‘over’ the 146.5-point total.
-Bill Self will NOT be on the sidelines again for today’s 5:15 p.m. Eastern tip vs. Arkansas. The Jayhawks are currently four-point favorites at most books.
-Penn St., a 5.5-point underdog today vs. Texas in Des Moines, IA., is 9-0 ATS with seven outright wins in its last nine games as an underdog.
-Alabama’s Brandon Miller says he’s playing tonight vs. Maryland in Birmingham. However, he was a limited participant in yesterday’s practice due to a groin issue he’s been nursing since last Sunday’s win over Texas A&M in the finals of the SEC Tournament. Miller only played 19 minutes in Thursday’s first-round win and was held scoreless. The Crimson Tide is favored by 8.5 vs. Maryland.
-Xavier (26-9 SU, 18-16-1 ATS) had to battle back from a 13-point deficit with 9:15 remaining to capture a 72-67 win over Kennesaw St. Jack Nunge, who finished with 10 points, 11 rebounds, two steals, two blocked shots and three assists without a turnover, had a crucial block in the final minute and Adam Kunkel drained a monster 3-ball at crunch time for the Musketeers, who are five-point favorites Sunday vs. Pittsburgh in tomorrow’s curtain jerker at 12:10 p.m. Eastern on CBS in Greensboro, NC.
-Xavier HC Sean Miller will be facing his alma mater in this spot. In the Round of 32 at the 2010 NCAA Tournament, the sixth-seeded Musketeers beat third-seeded Pitt 71-68 as 1.5-point underdogs. In the Sweet 16 of the 2009 NCAA Tournament in what was Miller’s last game as Xavier’s HC before leaving to take the Arizona job, Pitt rallied past the Musketeers for a 60-55 win thanks to two monster plays by Levance Fields, who hit a 3-pointer to put the Panthers up 55-54 with 56 seconds left. On the ensuing possession, Fields ripped a steal from B.J. Raymond and made a run-out layup to put Pitt up three with 27 seconds remaining.
-I like UConn tomorrow vs. Saint Mary’s. The line is currently -3.5, but I got down on the Huskies at -3 last night. The Gaels caught a break Friday when A-10 Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year, Ace Baldwin, had to leave a one-possession game injured. The Rams never recovered and Randy Bennett’s team advanced. Am I concerned Bennett will outcoach Dan Hurley? You damn right I am! However, I still think UConn will have too much and cover this reasonable number.
-Fairleigh Dickinson (21-15 SU, 15-19 ATS) became only the second No. 16 seed to ever knock off a No. 1 seed in NCAA Tournament history on Friday night. The Knights beat Purdue 63-58 as 23.5-point underdogs, hooking up money-line backers (like Dave Portnoy of Barstool Sports) a +1400 (or 14/1 odds) payout. DraftKings actually had FDU with 20/1 odds to win outright. Sean Moore was the catalyst with 19 points, five rebounds, two blocked shots and one steal. Purdue committed 16 turnovers and went 5-of-26 (19%) from 3-point range.
-FAU is installed as a 13.5-point favorite vs. FDU for Sunday’s tip around 7:45 p.m. Eastern at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, OH. The Owls rallied past Memphis to win a 66-65 decision thanks to Nick Boyd’s game-winning bucket with 2.5 seconds left. FAU (32-3 SU, 22-10-1 ATS) had the opportunity to win thanks to a steal off a terrible turnover in the backcourt by Memphis star guard Kendric Davis. Davis’s ill-advised pass led to a tie-up with 5.5 seconds left that gave FAU the ball via the possession arrow.