Tickets have been punched and bubbles have been burst as the NCAA’s basketball selection committee has officially set the 68-team field for this year’s men’s tournament. Now it is time to sift through each of the four regional brackets to find a few teams to ride in this week’s first few rounds.
The team’s we are looking for may not end-up in New Orleans playing in the Final Four, but they are the ones that have already proven they know how to win where it matters the most; against the spread.
No.14-seed St. Bonaventure Bonnies
At the start of this season’s Atlantic-10 Conference Tournament, St. Bonaventure knew that it would probably have to win it all in order to earn a berth in the NCAA Tournament. After a 71-68 victory over St. Joe’s as a two-point underdog and an 84-80 win over Massachusetts as a 3.5-point favorite, it saved its best for last with a stunning 67-56 romp over Xavier in the finals as a 3.5-point underdog. The end result was not only an automatic bid into the NCAA’s, but a solid overall record of 20-11 SU and a profitable 19-10-1 record ATS. The Bonnies roll into Friday’s game against No.3-seed Florida State with a 7-1 record both SU and ATS in their last eight games.
No.14-seed South Dakota State Jackrabbits
South Dakota State will have its hands full against No.3-seed Baylor in Thursday’s second round, but it is coming off one of its most successful seasons in school history with a record of 27-7 SU overall and a 15-3 SU record in the Summit League. The Jackrabbits have been profitable all season long with an 18-7-1 record ATS. They did fail to cover as 10-point favorites in a thrilling 52-50 overtime victory over Western Illinois in the conference tournament championship game, but they come into this tournament riding an eight-game winning streak SU and have posted a healthy 6-2 record ATS in those eight games.
No.1-seed North Carolina Tar Heels
There will undoubtedly be a number of brackets that will have North Carolina penciled-in all the way to the championship game of this tournament after compiling a stellar 29-5 SU record that earned it one of the top four seeds in the field. There also may be a decent chance to make some money off the Tar Heels along the way if they stay true to the form that posted a 9-1 SU record and 7-3 record ATS in their last 10 games. North Carolina started the regular season 5-5 ATS but improved to 18-15 ATS overall. It will face the winner of Lamar and Vermont game in Tuesday’s first-four round on Friday.
No.5-seed New Mexico Lobos
New Mexico is definitely talented enough to make a deep run in this tournament, but what caught our eye about this team is its ability to consistently cover the spread. The Lobos are currently 22-8 ATS to complement a very impressive 27-6 record SU. New Mexico finished the regular season tied with San Diego State at 10-4 SU in the Mountain West but beat the Aztecs twice along the way to claim the title on a tie-breaker. The Lobos went on to establish themselves as the undisputed MWC champion with a 68-59 victory over the Aztecs as 4.5-point favorites in the tournament finals. They come into the NCAA Tournament as one of the hottest teams in the field of 68 with a 12-2 record both SU and ATS in their last 14 games.
DJ is a freelance writer that concentrates on his true passion in life; the world of sports. He produces a number of articles each week for BangTheBook.com as well as a select group of other websites that specialize in providing the most up-to-date information for the sports gaming industry. His goal is to write insightful articles on a wide variety of sporting topics that can provide an edge to today's sophisticated online player.