Spartans And Hoyas Favored In Columbus Pod

By: Adam Markowitz | Saturday, March 17, 2012

The second round of the NCAA Tournament is now in the books, and though there have been a number of surprises that have taken place throughout the rest of the field, chalk has been holding up in the Columbus pod.

The Michigan State Spartans are the top seed in the West Regional, and they have to be thrilled to know that the No. 2 Missouri Tigers were bounced on Friday. Michigan State was able to get the job done in a big way past its Friday opponent, blasting the LIU-Brooklyn Blackbirds in the second half to dismiss the No. 16 seed in this region, 89-67.

The win was good enough to cover the 18-point spread, making the Spartans one of the two top seeds in the NCAA Tournament that covered against No. 16 seeds. The North Carolina Tar Heels also covered against the Vermont Catamounts in the Midwest Regional bracket.

Michigan State is going to have its work cut out for it against the Saint Louis Billikens out of the Atlantic 10. The Billikens play stout defense and shoot the ball quite well, and that's why they are ranked No. 13 in the Ken Pomeroy rankings coming into the weekend.

The Billikens knocked off the Memphis Tigers in an 8/9 matchup on Friday, 61-54, pulling off the mild upset as 2½-point underdogs. They did so thanks to a defense which held the Conference USA champs to just 38.9 percent shooting from the field and 13.3 percent from beyond the arc. Kwamain Mitchell also put up 22 points to lead Saint Louis into the third round of the tourney.

The Spartans are laying six points on the opening NCAA Tournament odds, while the total has been set at 123. The tip from Nationwide Arena is slated for 2:45 p.m. (ET) on Sunday afternoon.

The entire day of college basketball betting action gets started at 12:15 p.m. (ET) here in Columbus with action in the Midwest Regional. The upstart North Carolina State Wolfpack will duke it out with the Georgetown Hoyas.

By bracket definition, NC State was an upset winner over the San Diego State Aztecs on Friday, but the Wolfpack closed as 2½-point favorites and were easy 79-65 victors.

North Carolina State was blistering from the field, shooting 58.5 percent, a far cry from the 37.7 percent that the Aztecs shot from the floor. The difference makers for the Wolfpack were Lorenzo Brown and Richard Howell. Brown, who played all 40 minutes, had 17 points, nine rebounds and eight assists while Howell put up 22 points on 10-of-12 shooting in just 28 minutes on the court.

Georgetown was on big time upset alert in a number of brackets this year, and for good reason. The oddsmakers only installed the Midwest No. 3 seed as 3-point favorites against the Atlantic Sun champ Belmont, and many figured the Bruins would be able to hang around. This was especially notable when you consider the last two trips to the NCAA Tournament for the Hoyas. They were beaten by the VCU Rams as a No. 5 seed last year and by the Ohio Bobcats as a No. 3 seed in 2010. Both games featured double-digit margins of defeat.

Belmont managed to hang around all of 70 seconds with an early 2-0 lead before Georgetown skated to a 74-59 triumph.

There is at least a bit of recent history between NC State and Georgetown. The Hoyas won 82-67 when these two met last season in the finale of the Charleston Classic. Still, NC State comes into this game on a roll, going 5-2 SU and 6-0-1 ATS in its last seven games.

As interesting as it is, Georgetown is favored by 4½-points against the Wolfpack, a point and a half more than it was favored by over Belmont. The total has opened at 132 for Sunday afternoon's showdown.


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