Big Dance Will Tip Off with New Orleans Beating Mount St. Mary's in First Four

Ross Benjamin

Monday, March 13, 2017 5:33 PM UTC

Monday, Mar. 13, 2017 5:33 PM UTC

The opening game of the NCAA Tournament on Tuesday will pit Mount St. Mary’s against New Orleans in the First Four in Dayton. Check out our handicapper's pick to begin the Big Dance.

No. 16 Mount St. Mary’s vs. No. 16 New Orleans

East Region, First Four, Dayton, Tuesday, 6:40 p.m. ET


Mount St. Mary’s and New Orleans will christen the 2017 NCAA Tournament in Dayton, Ohio. The opening March Madness odds on this contest displays New Orleans as a 1.0-point favorite, and there’s a posted total of 131.5. The winner will face No. 1 seed Villanova in Buffalo on Thursday at 7:10 p.m. ET.


2016-2017 Season Resumes

Mount St. Mary’s (19-15) was the Northeast Conference regular-season and conference tournament champion. The Mountaineers began the season by losing 11 of their first 12 games. Since that time, they’ve gone a stellar 18-4. The Mountaineers' most notable non-conference win was a 7-point upset victory at George Mason.

New Orleans (20-11) enters this East Region March Madness bracket as winner of the Southland Conference regular-season and conference tournament titles. The Privateers do own a pair of notable non-conference wins this season. They defeated Tulane by 15 at home and won at Washington State by a decisive 16-point margin. Granted, both of those opponents posted losing records during this 2016-2017 college basketball campaign. However, those lopsided final scores against teams from considerably stronger conferences can’t be ignored.


Final Analysis & Prediction

Mount St. Mary’s is a guard-oriented team that lacks a true post presence. The Mountaineers led by a three-guard tandem of 6-foot Elijah Long (15.4 PPG), 5-foot-5 Junior Robinson (14.1 PPG) and 6-foot-5 Miles Wilson (11.3 PPG). On a negative note, Mount St. Mary’s is a terrible rebounding team, and that’s evidenced by their -8 rebound per game differential for the season.

New Orleans is led by star forward Erik Thomas. The 6-foot-5 Thomas averages 19.5 points and 7.8 rebounds per game and was the Southland Player of the Year. The Privateers aren’t a great rebounding team. Nevertheless, they’re still good enough in that area to have a noticeable advantage on the boards against Mount St. Mary’s.

I’ll have a slight lean on New Orleans over Mount St. Mary’s.

NCAAB Free Pick: New Orleans -1.5Best Line Offered: Heritage

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