Mount St. Mary's vs. Albany: NCAA Basketball Picks

Willie Bee

Monday, March 17, 2014 1:54 PM GMT

For a little more than a couple of hours Tuesday, the Albany Great Danes and Mount St. Mary's Mountaineers will be on top of the world. We preview their matchup and offer our free predictions to help you beat the betting odds.

The winner goes on to meet the top of the NCAA Tournament bracket, so the joy will be short-lived for whoever gets past this round. 

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The Great Danes and Mountaineers will get the Big Dance started with a First Four waltz on Tuesday in Dayton. Tip-off from the UD Arena is set for a little after 6:40 PM with truTV handling the telecast.

A 16-seed play-in game in this year's Field of 68, a matchup with the overall No. 1 seed Florida Gators awaits the victor Thursday in Orlando. The top-ranked Gators won the SEC Tournament on Sunday with a tight 61-60 decision vs. Kentucky, pushing Florida into the Big Dance on a 26-game win streak. 

SBR's live college basketball odds should have a spread and total on this game later today, so check back for those numbers. 

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Danes Dance 2nd-Straight Year

For a second time in its history, Albany (18-14 straight up, 3-0 against the spread) is headed to the NCAA's for a second consecutive year. Will Brown took the Great Danes to the tourney in 2006 and 2007 with the automatic invite out of the America East Conference, and now he has done it again with the 2013 and 2014 teams. 

They're still looking for their first victory in the tournament, however, and maybe this play-in game will help the Danes achieve that.

Albany finished fourth in the AEC this season with a 9-7 league mark, then won three straight to punch its latest ticket to March Madness. The Great Danes captured the AQ slot with a 69-60 win at Stony Brook on Saturday when they were 6.5 road 'dogs. That triumph followed a 67-58 decision vs. regular-season champ Vermont a week earlier when Albany was getting 7 at home. 

The Danes ranked second in AEC games allowing just 63.8 points per game, and third pulling down 34.6 rebounds per game. Four players are averaging double-digits of better in the scoring department, led by sophomore guard Peter Hooley's 15.7 scoring clip.

Also check out my free pick for the NC State vs. Xavier matchup.

Mountaineers Return To NCAA's After 6-Year Absence

If there's good news for Florida, as well as Wichita State, Virginia and Arizona, it is the last time Mount St. Mary's (16-16 SU, 3-2 ATS) went to the NCAA Tournament, all four No. 1 seeds made it to the Final Four. The Mountaineers reached this stage in 2008, winning their only Div. I tourney game in a play-in vs. Coppin State before falling by 39 to North Carolina two days later.

The Mount clawed its way into the NCAA Tournament with three straight Northeast Conference tournament wins after finishing fifth in the regular season standings. It started with a big rally to beat St. Francis 72-71 in the opener, then a 77-72 win at No. 2 seed Wagner before taking down top-seed and regular season champ Robert Morris a week ago, 88-71 on the road.

Mount St. Mary's was getting 7 and 7.5 respectively in the last two contests, each of which went 'over' the total. The Mountaineers shot better than 60% in the upset of the Colonials, with Rashad Whack's 20 leading five players in double-digits. 

There is some recent history between the two schools, with Albany picking up consecutive victories over MSM in 2010 and 2011. I'm expecting a very tight spread, possibly a pick 'em, and a total in the mid-130s. Until the real numbers come out, I'm leaning 'under' 135 for my free pick

My pick: Albany-Mount St. Mary's Under