It’s the most wonderful time of the year -- to skip work and gamble! The 2018 NCAA Tournament is finally here.
Before the games begin on Thursday, you need the right analysis predictions and picks. That's why you came here, right?
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If you're trying to win your bracket pool, our analysis will not steer you wrong.
NCAA TOURNAMENT SOUTH REGION ANALYSIS, PICKS, LINES:
No. 1 Virginia vs. No. 16 UMBC, Friday 9:20 PM
ANALYSIS: The question isn’t if Virginia will win. Instead, will Virginia hold UMBC to less points than they allowed to Pitt (7) in the first half of a real game played between two power five teams this year.
PICK: Watch something else and come back to find UVA covered easily.
LINE: Virginia -21.5
No. 2 Cincinnati vs. No. 15 Georgia St., Friday 2:00 PM
ANALYSIS: The Bearcats got the final bid in the tournament, but potentially the easiest path to the Elite 8 by avoiding Virginia, Arizona, and Kentucky. They could be upset in Round 1. I picked Michigan State to win it all in 2016 so I’m never doubting a 15-seed ever again.
LINE: Cincinnati -14
No. 3 Tennessee vs. No. 14 Wright State, Thursday 12:40 PM
ANALYSIS: The second game of the tournament and first on TruTV, good luck finding it. However, when you do… just remember the channel for the next three days before forgetting it for another 361 days.
PICK: You’ll miss the first ten minutes searching for TruTV, but Tennessee will be on their way to a win.
LINE: Tennessee -12
No. 4 Arizona vs. No. 13 Buffalo, Thursday 9:40 PM
ANALYSIS: By now you know Arizona is under NCAA scrutiny and no joke I can make about that will be new nor can I muster any outrage at paying players (most because there is none and they should be paid).
PICK: Arizona makes a statement and the NCAA cringes.
LINE: Arizona -8.5
No. 5 Kentucky vs. No. 12 Davidson, Thursday 7:10 PM
ANALYSIS: Everyone wants to pick 12-seeds to upset 5-seeds and Davidson was a trendy pick for a few upset before seeding came out.
PICK: Kentucky wins, but they won’t cover the 6 points.
LINE: Kentucky -5.5
No. 6 Miami (Fl.) vs. No. 11 Loyola-Chicago, Thursday 3:15 PM
ANALYSIS: Loyola-Chicago, a University I definitely knew was real before Sunday, is one of the trendiest picks for an upset in the first round. With an offense and defense in KenPom’s top-70, I totally get it.
PICK: Loyola-Chicago not only covers, but wins outright.
LINE: Miami -2
No. 7 Nevada vs. No. 10 Texas, Friday 4:30 PM
ANALYSIS: This is very relatable and completely influencing my decision. Get Nevada a win AND Bojangles.
PICK: Wolfpack avoid the upset and deserve some Bo-berry biscuits for their work. I’d buy if it wasn’t a violation.
LINE: Nevada -1
No. 8 Creighton vs. No. 9 Kansas State, Friday 6:50 PM
ANALYSIS: These 8/9 games are impossible to predict and every time I think I have a good idea about one, not only do they lose, but the team that beats does well against the No. 1 seed. Creighton does better in the KenPom rankings, so I’m just going to default to that.
LINE: Creighton -1
RELATED: NINE FIRST-ROUND UPSETS TO PICK
NCAA TOURNAMENT WEST REGION ANALYSIS, PICKS, LINES:
No. 1 Xavier vs. No. 16 NCCU/Texas Southern Winner, Friday 7:20 PM
ANALYSIS: I’ve heard Xavier was overseeded, but last I checked they still have Trevon Blueitt and no one else does.
PICK: No 16-seed upset here, Xavier covers too.
LINE: Xavier TBD
No. 2 UNC vs. No. 15 Lipscomb, Friday 2:45 PM
ANALYSIS: Lipscomb loves to run and UNC is no slouch either, this may be an entertaining game for a 2/15 matchup, but I don’t know if Garrison Matthews is enough.
PICK: A fun game, which is usually pretty rare for these types of games, but UNC pulls away in the second half.
LINE: North Carolina -19
No. 3 Michigan vs. No. 14 Montana, Thursday 9:50 PM
ANALYSIS: Wolverines vs. Grizzlies sounds like a midwest matchup if I’ve ever heard one. As far as No. 14 seeds go, Montana is pretty good… coming in No. 71 in KenPom’s rankings. Unfortunately, they are just no match for Michigan.
PICK: Michigan pulls away late.
LINE: Michigan -11
No. 4 Gonzaga vs. No. 13 UNC-Greensboro, Thursday 1:30 PM
ANALYSIS: Full disclosure -- I have Gonzaga in my Final Four. A favorable early location (Boise) and a potential 12-seed in the second round. I like Gonzaga’s chances.
PICK: Gonzaga. Don’t think twice.
LINE: Gonzaga -12.5
No. 5 Ohio State vs. No. 12 South Dakota State, Thursday 4:00 PM
ANALYSIS: This is going to be an extremely chalky region, but the Jackrabbits are one team I actually like for an upset. I think it helps Ohio State fans immediately hated the matchup, which in turn made me instantly like it.
PICK: South Dakota State pulls the upset.
LINE: Ohio State -8
No. 6 Houston vs. No. 11 San Diego State, Thursday 7:20 PM
ANALYSIS: I genuinely hate when two non-Power 5 teams get matched up in the tournament. I’m not saying the committee does it on purpose, but it *kinda* feels like the do it on purpose some years.
PICK: Aztecs are hot, winning 9 in a row. Make it 10.
LINE: Houston -4
No. 7 Texas A&M vs. No. 10 Providence, Friday 12:15 PM
ANALYSIS: Both the Aggies and the Friars seem like wild cards. Xavier had a “bad” loss to Providence in the Big East Tournament, and here they sit as a 10-seed.
PICK: Texas A&M is just better than Providence. Sorry, Friars.
LINE: Texas A&M -3.5
No. 8 Missouri vs. No. 9 Florida State, Friday 9:50 PM
ANALYSIS: Michael Porter, Jr. is must-watch TV, whether or not that translates into wins in the NCAA Tournament… we’ll see.
PICK: I’m going with the upside of Porter, Jr.
LINE: Florida State 1.5
RELATED: NINE TEAMS TO BE CAUTIOUS ABOUT
NCAA TOURNAMENT EAST REGION ANALYSIS, PICKS, LINE:
No. 1 Villanova vs. No. 16 Radford, Thursday 6:50
ANALYSIS: Doug McKinney, I’m glad your team gets credit for an NCAA Tournament win in the play-in game because Villanova is going to crush your Highlanders.
PICK: Sorry, Doug.
LINE: Villanova -21
No. 2 Purdue vs. No. 15 Cal State-Fullerton, Friday 12:40
ANALYSIS: Hopefully you aren’t too hungover that you forgot where TruTV is. They are savage on Twitter and you don’t want to test them.
PICK: Boilermakers roll.
LINE: Purdue -20.5
No. 3 Texas Tech vs. No. 14 Stephen F. Austin, Thursday 7:30 PM
ANALYSIS: I always like Stephen F. Austin as a potential “Giant Killer” for one reason or another and 2 out of the last 3 times they’ve come through in the first round.
PICK: That’s going to be 2-2 after this year. Texas Tech is too much.
LINE: Texas Tech -11.5
No. 4 Wichita State vs. No. 13 Marshall, Friday 1:30 PM
ANALYSIS: Wichita State came into the year considered one of the favorites. 25-7 and a No. 4 seed kinda feels disappointing, but they are so dangerous that it doesn’t really matter. It won’t be a … wait for it… Shocker… if Wichita State gets to the second weekend. Dad jokes rule.
PICK: Wichita State slows the roll of Jon Elmore and the Thundering Herd.
LINE: Wichita State -12
No. 5 West Virginia vs. No. 12 Murray State, Friday 4:00 PM
ANALYSIS: Press Virginia vs. The Racers. Murray State is a popular upset pick because they are pretty good at not turning the ball over and they shoot well. Two things you need to do to beat a Bob Huggins team.
PICK: The Mountaineers squeak by.
LINE: West Virginia -10.5
No. 6 Florida vs. No. 11 St. Bonaventure, Thursday 10:00 PM
ANALYSIS: Bonnies took down UCLA and I think it’s possible they take down Florida. Jaylen Adams and the St. Bonaventure veteran backcourt could give Florida fits. Also, I can’t ever get over Joakim Noah.
PICK: St. Bonaventure continues their winning ways.
LINE: Florida TBD
No. 7 Arkansas vs. No. 10 Butler, Friday 3:10 PM
ANALYSIS: Arkansas seemed overseeded. Butler seemed underseeded. It ain’t rocket science which way I’m going here. Just in case it isn’t clear: a Butler vs. Purdue matchup in the second round would be awesome… if you’re from Indiana.
PICK: Butler and their adorable bulldog mascot.
LINE: Butler -1.5
No. 8 Virginia Tech vs. No. 9 Alabama, Thursday 9:20 PM
ANALYSIS: Collin Sexton is awesome. He’s drawn comparisons from Russell Westbrook to Kemba Walker to… name a guard who had a great Tournament one year. Don’t worry about forcing a comparison, just watch him play.
PICK: I love Buzz Williams, but I’m going with Sexton. Roll Tide.
LINE: Virginia Tech -2
NCAA TOURNAMENT MIDWEST REGION ANALYSIS, PICKS, LINE:
No. 1 Kansas vs. No. 16 Penn, Friday 2:00 PM
ANALYSIS: Listen, I’m not saying it is going to happen… I’m just saying in era of fake news, Penn being the best 16-seed ever is quite real.
PICK: Penn pulls off an unbelievable… first half. Kansas wins, but probably doesn’t cover.
LINE: Kansas -13.5
No. 2 Duke vs. No. 15 Iona, Thursday 3:45 PM
ANALYSIS: The entire nation is rooting against Grayson Allen and I’m no different.
PICK: Duke will eventually lose, but it won’t be to Iona.
LINE: Duke -20.5
No. 3 Michigan State vs. No. 14 Bucknell, Friday 7:10 PM
ANALYSIS: Zach Thomas isn’t enough for Bucknell to upset Sparty, but I also didn’t Upshaw and Potts were enough in 2016.
PICK: Sparty moves on.
LINE: Michigan State -14.5
No. 4 Auburn vs. No. 13 College of Charleston, Friday 7:30 PM
ANALYSIS: Can you believe College of Charleston hasn’t been to the NCAA Tournament since 1999? That seems impossible. Even crazier (to me) is that they’ve only been to the NIT three times since then. It’s weird and I feel old.
PICK: Heart and mind are for CofC, but the wallet is on Auburn.
LINE: Auburn -9.5
No. 5 Clemson vs. No. 12 New Mexico State, Friday 10:00 PM
ANALYSIS: Do you remember Sim Bhullar? That dude was huge. He also played at New Mexico State. Good times.
PICK: Why not, we need an upset in this region. New Mexico State pulls off the upset.
LINE: Clemson -5
No. 6 TCU vs. No. 11 Arizona State/Syracuse Winner, Friday 9:40 PM
ANALYSIS: Now that Herm Edwards is back coaching football and learning on the fly, I’d like to imagine him learning about the NCAA Tournament for the first time and some of the press conferences he could have. It would be incredible. Anyway, Syracuse probably didn’t deserve to be in the tournament and were the final seed and will somehow get by both ASU and TCU.
PICK: Syracuse because somehow these things always happen.
No. 7 Rhode Island vs. No. 10 Oklahoma, Thursday 12:15 PM
ANALYSIS: This is probably going to be the best game of the first round, and potentially of the first weekend. It’s also the first game of the Tournament. Kevin Harlan is on the call and it just feels like a big game despite the 7/10 matchup. I’m all in.
PICK: The game you absolutely have to watch comes down to Trae Young. I don’t think it’s enough to take down the Rams.
LINE: Rhode Island -2
No. 8 Seton Hall vs. No. 9 NC State, Thursday 4:30 PM
ANALYSIS: Omer Yurtseven is the Uzbekestani-born Turkish player who is going to give NC State the right to lose to Kansas.
PICK: NC State edges by Seton Hall.
LINE: Seton Hall -2.5
NCAA TOURNAMENT FINAL FOUR THOUGHTS
1. You can tell me how great Virginia is until you are blue in the face, but I don’t see them winning the Tournament, let alone getting out of their region. Give me Arizona.
2. I made it clear I have Gonzaga coming out of the West, but I think UNC will probably be the team to come out. I’m just going with my heart here.
3. I think Villanova has the softest region and that’s not much of a stretch. It’ll probably be Texas Tech or Purdue against the Wildcats, but chaos in this region could be fun to shake things up.
4. Kansas, Duke, and Michigan State are all really, really good teams. Any of the three could make a run to the Final Four. Give me the Spartans.
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