Thursday March 15 12:15 PM Eastern on CBS
NCAA Basketball Spread: Murray State -3
The First Four will take place Tuesday night in Dayton, but for the average fan it is Thursday afternoon’s games that really kick off March Madness. Colorado State and Murray State will square off in the 12:15 p.m. EST game that will be the first matchup of the day. This one will take place in Louisville, so the Racers should have a big advantage in crowd support. The first two full days of March Madness are two of the best sports days of the year! Let’s take a closer look at the game that will get the action started.
Colorado State received an at-large bid after finishing the season strong. The Rams only lost once all year at home, and they notched some key wins. The Rams topped UNLV, New Mexico, and Colorado during the regular season. This is Colorado State’s first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2003. The Rams have made a habit out of knocking down three-pointers this year. Colorado State is sixth in the nation in three-point shooting at 40.5%.
Wes Eikmeyer is the team leader from the point guard spot. He doesn’t always play conventionally at the point guard spot, but he finds ways to score. He leads the team in scoring at 15.6 points per game. Dorian Green averages 13.5 points per game, and he shoots 43% from beyond the arc. Green is a terrific athlete who can take over games when he is at his best. Pierce Hornung and Greg Smith are both solid in the blocks. Hornung leads the team in rebounding with 8.4 per contest. The Rams give up 68.4 points per game.
Murray State rolled through the season with a stellar 30-1 record. The Racers are the only team in the NCAA Tournament with only one loss. Many thought they would be seeded higher than sixth, but they did get to stay very close to home. If you haven’t already seen him play, you need to watch Isaiah Canaan. He is a little less than six feet tall, but he is amazing on the basketball court. Canaan averages 19.2 points per game, and he shoots 47% from beyond the arc. He has 116 assists and 42 steals this season. Canaan will be the best player in this game, but the Racers aren’t just a one-man team. Donte Poole actually went to Colorado State his freshman year, but he ended up transferring to Murray State. Poole averages 14.2 points per game, and he is an 86% free throw shooter. Ivan Aska is a versatile forward who can score in the low post or step out and bury the three-ball. Murray State ranks fifth in the nation in three-point shooting at 40.6%.
The Racers have been terrific on the defensive end as well. Opponents average just 61.2 points per game against Murray State. They will need to get out on the Rams shooters, but that has been a strength of theirs all season. Opponents are shooting a miserable 29.5% from beyond the arc.
I think Murray State is the more complete team here. In addition, Colorado State hasn’t really shown a lot away from their home floor. Look for Murray State to win a fairly close game.
Free College Basketball Pick: Murray State -3
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