Most teams in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament need to win six-straight games in order to be crowned national champion. But eight of the 68 schools in the field actually have to win seven.
The first round of March Madness will officially begin Tuesday night at UD Arena in Dayton, Ohio, with No. 16 seeds Hampton and Manhattan kicking things off, followed by No. 11 seeds BYU and Ole Miss.
No. 16 Manhattan vs. No. 16 Hampton at 6:40 p.m. ET on truTV
Betting Odds: Manhattan -9
Over/Under: 140 points
The Jaspers (19-13, 13-7 MAAC) and the Pirates (16-17, 8-8 MEAC) are vying for the unenviable right to play top overall No. 1 seed and undefeated Kentucky in the second round of the Midwest Region. Manhattan earned a tournament bid after upsetting rival Iona in the MAAC conference, and has won four straight. The Jaspers are led by a stacked frontcourt featuring leading scorer and senior forward Emmy Andujar and junior 6-foot-10 forward Ashton Pankey.
Hampton also received their bid after claiming the MEAC tournament title, blasting Delaware State by 19 points, suggesting their sub-.500 record could be a little misleading. The Pirates counter Manhattan’s interior presence with junior guards Dwight Meikle, Reggie Johnson and Brian Darden. Johnson and Darden each scored 20 points in the MEAC title game, lifting the team after Meikle, who leads the team with 13 points and 7.5 rebounds, missed the last three games with ankle injury.
Prediction: Manhattan over Hampton, 65-60
No. 11 BYU vs. No. 11 Ole Miss at 9:10 on truTV
Betting Odds: BYU -4
Over/Under: 157 points
The Cougars (25-9, 13-5 WCC) and the Rebels (20-12, 11-7 SEC) matchup in the West Region play-in game, with the winner advancing to face No. 6 Xavier in the second round. Both sides feature some talented scorers, but the betting line has moved further in BYU’s favor from 3.5 to 4.0 in the last day.
BYU will send out junior guard Tyler Haws, who finished the regular season fourth in the country with 21.9 points per game, and guard Kyle Collinsworth, a smooth 6-foot-6 scorer averaging 14 points, 8.7 rebounds and 5.8 assists per contest. The Cougars are second in the nation in scoring, but are coming off a disappointing 91-75 loss to Gonzaga in the WCC championship game.
Ole Miss picked up its first at-large bid since 2002 despite an early exit in the SEC tournament. But they too have a lethal backcourt in junior Stefan Moody and senior Jarvis Summers.