It's one of the best days of the year for a sports fan. The NCAA Tournament has begun. You're probably pretending to work right now while watching it. Don't feel bad; we're all doing it.
So I won't waste your time here because I know you're busy, and you're just here to get some picks. Well, don't worry. I have three picks for tonight's slate of tournament games, but since I'm doing you a favor, would you mind doing one for me? Before skimming down for tonight's picks, give these stories a read.
- Potential top-10 pick Jalen Carter has plead no contest to misdemeanor charges.
- The first four picks of Josh Edwards' latest mock are all QBs.
- The Pac-12 is in better shape than you think.
- Mets' closer Edwin Díaz is out for the entire season.
And now, tourney time.
All times Eastern, and all odds via Caesars Sportsbook
🔥 The Hot Ticket
No. 8 Iowa vs. No. 9 Auburn, 6:50 p.m. | TV: TNT
- Key Trend: The over is 5-1 in Auburn's last six games and 16-7 in Iowa's last 23.
- The Pick: Over 151.5 (-110)
There's been a lot of talk since the brackets were released about how Texas A&M was screwed. It was a No. 7 seed when nearly every bracketologist had it pegged as a No. 5 or No. 6 seed after finishing the season with 10 wins in its last 12 games. While I understood the outrage, I couldn't feel too sorry for the Aggies. They did lose to Murray State and Wofford (No. 227 and 232, respectively, in KenPom) this season. But most important: the Aggies weren't even the team that got screwed the most!
Do you see where this game we're picking is being played tonight? It's in Birmingham, Ala. So No. 8 Iowa has to play a "neutral site" game against No. 9 Auburn only 100 miles down the road from Auburn. Worse, if Auburn wins, it will likely face No. 1 Houston in Birmingham on Saturday. What Iowa and Houston have to deal with is far worse than being a No. 7 seed instead of a No. 6.
But, anyway, I'm supposed to be picking this game. Iowa loves to move quickly and get up a lot of shots. The philosophy is "we may not be great shooters, but if we take enough shots, enough of them will go in. Also, "if we play defense, that'll just get in the way of us taking more shots." Then there's Auburn, which moves pretty quickly too, but is a better defensive team. It doesn't shoot all that well, but what it does do is get to the free-throw line with frequency and crash the glass on the offensive end.
Well, Iowa has done a great job of not fouling opponents all year (part of the not defending thing), but they don't face a lot of teams that play as Auburn does in the Big Ten. The Hawkeyes may be forced to defend in ways they aren't comfortable with tonight, and I think the end result of it all is we get a high-scoring affair.
Here's what SportsLine is saying about the game: The Projection Model doesn't see much value on the total here, but it does see quite a bit on one side of the spread.
💰 More March Madness Picks
No. 2 Texas vs. No. 15 Colgate, 7:25 p.m. | TV: TBS
The Pick: Colgate +13.5 (-110) -- Colgate is a trendy upset pick for good reason. When looking for a double-digit seed that can take down a top team, you look for teams with high variance. That's Colgate, because the Raiders can shoot. Colgate has shot 40.9% from three this season, the best mark in the country. They also shoot 57.1% from two, which ranks seventh. What's odd, however, is that they only shoot 65.9% from the free-throw line.
Of course, they also play in the Patriot League, which isn't quite as rigorous as the Big 12, where Texas plays. I have serious doubts about whether Colgate can deal with Texas' athleticism, though size won't be a problem as Colgate's actually bigger than the Longhorns. What I'm banking on is Colgate being able to hit enough shots that Texas is never able to pull too far away. I don't think we'll see the upset, but we'll see Texas have to work for it.
No. 7 Texas A&M vs. No. 10 Penn State, 9:55 p.m. | TV: TBS
The Pick: Over 135 (-110) -- Given what I wrote about Texas A&M at the top of the letter, Aggies fans probably thought I'd pick Texas to cover and Penn State to win outright. Sorry to disappoint! I genuinely have no idea who wins this game tonight.
Penn State made a run to the Big Ten Tournament Championship Game before finally falling to Purdue, but often, those kinds of runs take it out of a team before the tournament starts. On the other side, the teams everybody screams were screwed by the bracket often prove the pundits somewhat correct by being eliminated early. So we will focus on the total here because it feels low.
Penn State is a slow-moving offense, but it's incredibly efficient. Coach Micah Shrewsberry's name is coming up for jobs like Georgetown because he's a very good coach, particularly in-game. Meanwhile, the Aggies aren't outstanding offensively, but they do a tremendous job putting pressure on opposing defenses and getting to the free-throw line. I don't think Penn State is athletic enough to keep them from getting there, nor do I think the Aggies are good enough defending the perimeter to keep the Nittany Lions from getting open looks from three.
🔒 SportsLine Pick of the Day: The Projection Model's favorite tournament play of the night is also in the game between Texas A&M and Penn State, but it's not a play on the total.