The Vanderbilt Commodores ran the table in the SEC Championship, cashing with a 3-0 spread record. They enter the NCAA Tournament as the East bracket’s No. 5 seed, squaring off Thursday afternoon with the No. 12 Harvard Crimson.
Sportsbooks opened Vanderbilt as a seven-point favorite, with
early NCAA basketball betting action on Harvard driving the number south to 6.5. Harvard enters the “Big Dance” on a 0-4 ATS
slide, while being the Ivy League’s sole team in the NCAA Tournament as its champion.
Lets look at this matchup and decide where we should place our NCAA Basketball picks.
Vandy upsets No. 1
Vanderbilt pulled off a stunner in Sunday’s 71-64 triumph as a 7
½-point underdog against the Kentucky Wildcats. The Commodores held Kentucky to 35.9 percent field shooting, while
outrebounding the Wildcats, 36-30.
Commodores forward Jeffery Taylor piled in team-highs of 18 points
and 11 boards, while adding two of his squad’s five steals. Vanderbilt’s Festus Ezeli and John Jenkins
notched 17 points each, with Ezeli fouling out after 32 minutes of action.
The contest’s combined 135 points ducked below the closing ‘total’
of 137.5, bringing the ‘under’ to 4-0 in the Commodores’ last four games. Vanderbilt hit 21-of-32 free throws, while
guard Brad Tinsley logged four assists en route to five points.
Crimson hold off Cornell
Harvard has been idle since March 3, ending its regular season
with a 67-63 win as an eight-point road favorite against the Cornell Big
Red. The Crimson connected 48.8 percent
of their field buckets, including a 12-for-26 night beyond the arc.
Crimson guard Oliver McNally notched 17 points, hitting 5-of-11
from the floor. McNally’s mate Keith
Wright recorded a team-high 11 rebounds, while Harvard’s Wesley Saunders came
off the bench with five assists.
The tight affair’s combined 130 points leaped above the ‘total’ of
126 ½, lifting the ‘over’ to 3-1 in Harvard’s last four contests. Crimson guard Brandyn Curry logged a pair of
his team’s six steals, while finishing with 12 points.
Back Vandy as the
Thursday’s tip is scheduled for 4:40 p.m. (ET), with TNT providing
the national television coverage.
I am adding Vanderbilt to my sports picks, looking for
Taylor and Co. to continue its momentum. The Commodores have been undervalued in recent spots, holding foes in
their last nine contests to 61.3 PPG en route to a 7-2 ATS mark.
Taylor (20 PPG) and Jenkins (16.3 PPG) enter “March Madness” as
the SEC’s top two scorers, with the Commodores putting up a sizable 73
PPG. The octane from Vandy has included
39.4 percent shooting from three-point land, topping conference rivals.
Harvard is 1-4 ATS in its last five road spots, needing overtime
to crack the 70-point barrier on one occasion of the stretch. The Crimson logged a 0-2 spread record in its
pair of matchups last year that followed the regular season, including a 71-54
setback as a five-point dog in the NIT against Oklahoma State.
The Commodores have hit 46.1 percent of its field buckets away from home, with
a sizable 42.8 percent coming from downtown.
While Vandy will have to avoid a letdown after Sunday’s surging win
against Kentucky, the Commodores are set to outclass the Ivy League’s best here
en route to a cashed ticket.
My Pick: Vanderbilt