NCAA Tournament Picks Of The Day: St. Patrick's Day Selections

Matthew Jordan

Thursday, March 17, 2016 1:40 PM GMT

Let's look at my top three recommendations in the NCAA Tournament on Thursday, St. Patrick's Day and see the NCAA basketball odds from BetOnline.

No. 12 Yale vs. No. 5 Baylor
West Region game at 2:45 p.m. ET from Providence, R.I. Everyone one loves to pick at least one No. 12 seed to upset a No. 5 each year. From 2008-14, No. 12 teams actually won 15 of 28 matchups against a No. 5. But there were no such upsets last year, just the fourth time since 1985 that a No. 12 failed to win a game. Yale (22-6) is in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1962 as it was the Ivy League champion.

It lost just once in the conference, to second-place Princeton. Unfortunately, the team's trip to the Big Dance is being a bit overshadowed by the fact that former guard Jack Montague is suing the school after he was expelled last month. He was the team's fourth-leading scorer and a team captain. Yale is led by senior Justin Sears. He is the first two-time Ivy Player of the Year in school history and the first back-to-back winner in the league since 2006 and '07. Sears averages 15.8 points and 7.5 rebounds and is the first player in school history to score 1,600 career points and grab 800 rebounds.

Yale played some major conference teams during the regular season and lost them all: by two at SMU, 19 at Duke, four at Illinois and 12 at USC. Baylor (22-11) finished tied for fifth in the Big 12, the nation's best conference this season. The Bears were knocked out of the Big 12 Tournament semifinals by the nation's No. 1 team Kansas, 70-66. All 11 of the Bears' losses this year were against NCAA Tournament teams. For today's NCAA Tournament picks, go with Baylor and take the 'under.' The Bears are 5-2 ATS in their past seven games vs. teams with a winning record. The 'under' is 4-0 in Baylor's past four games.

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NCAA Basketball Pick: Under 138
Best Line Offered: at 5Dimes

 

No. 11 Wichita State s. No. 6 Arizona
South Region game at 9:20 p.m. ET from Providence, R.I. Very tough and quick turnaround for the Shockers (25-8) as they played in the First
Four in Dayton on Tuesday night and handled SEC team Vanderbilt 70-50 in a pretty impressive performance. WSU outscored Vandy 40-20 after intermission and held the Dores to just 30 percent shooting overall. But then good defense is nothing new for Wichita State, which leads the nation in allowing 59.3 points per game. 

Fred VanVleet (whose right eye was bloodied by an elbow) and Ron Baker, making up one of the nation's best backcourts, each scored a game-high 14 points for the Shockers. Wichita State has now won 25 games for seven straight seasons and has eight NCAA Tournament wins over the past three years. Since the First Four began in 2011, one of its winners has advanced to the Round of 32 or further each year. Arizona (25-8) hasn't lost a first-round NCAA Tournament game since 2008.

The Wildcats were preseason Pac-12 favorites but finished third in the regular-season standings and lost to champion Oregon in the conference tournament semifinals in overtime. While Wichita will have the edge in the backcourt, Arizona will in the frontcourt with center Kaleb Tarczewski (9.6 ppg, 9.1 rpg) and forward Ryan Anderson (15.8 ppg, 10.2 rpg). The Wildcats rank sixth nationally in rebound margin.

NCAAB Free Pick: Arizona and 'under.' The Shockers are 1-6 against the NCAA Tournament odds in their past seven neutral-site games. Arizona is 6-1 ATS in its past seven non-conference games. The 'under' is 5-2 in WSU's past seven non-conference games.  

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NCAA Basketball Pick: Under 136
Best Line Offered: at Bookmaker

 

No. 13 Stony Brook Vs. No. 4 Kentucky
The best college player on the floor for this East Region game at 9:40 p.m. ET from Des Moines? It's not Kentucky point guard Tyler Ulis, the  SEC Player of the Year, or Cats freshman guard Jamal Murray, who will be a very high NBA lottery pick this summer. No, the best collegiate player on the court will be Stony Brook's Jameel Warney, one of the best players in America East Conference history and a three-time winner of that league's Player of the Year Award.

Am I saying Warney will be a better pro -- or even a pro at all -- than Ulis or Murray? Of course not. But the senior is a monster, leading the America East in scoring (19.0), rebounding (10.7), blocks (3.0) and field goal percentage (.627). He's finalist for the Karl Malone Award, given to the nation's top power forward in Division I. So I think we know which player Kentucky will focus on. Stony Brook was the America East regular-season and tournament champion and in its first-ever NCAA Tournament.

The Seawolves did play an SEC team this season, losing 79-72 at Vanderbilt early in the season. Ulis and Murray, meanwhile, form perhaps the nation's best backcourt. Kentucky (26-8) tied Texas A&M for the SEC regular-season title and then beat the Aggies 82-77 in OT for the tournament crown. UK has won 22 of its last 23 first-round NCAA Tournament games.

NCAAB Free Pick: Kentucky and 'over.' The Cats are 5-0 ATS in their past five games. The over is 5-0 in Kentucky's past five games..  

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NCAA Basketball Pick: Under 143.5
Best Line Offered: at BetOnline