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NCAA March Madness First Round Odds & Picks

Butler BulldogsThis Thursday marks the beginning of the end of everyone’s March Madness predictions as the first round of the NCAA Tournament kicks off. The most intriguing matchups Wednesday are a mid-major 5-12 battle, and a 7-10 matchup featuring a young SEC team; with a coach with a championship pedigree, against an underrated powerhouse of the Mountain West Conference.

# 5 Butler Bulldogs (28-4, 18-0 in Horizon League) vs. # 12 UTEP Miners (26-6, 15-1 in Conference USA)

March Madness Odds
Spread: Butler -2
Over/Under: 130.5
Money Line: Butler -130, UTEP +110

[ad#336r]Butler ran the table in the Horizon League going 18-0 and wasn’t really challenged along the way. Led by G/F Gordon Hayward (15.4 points, 8.5 rebounds), F Matt Howard (12.3 points, 5.4 rebounds) and G Shelvin Mack (13.9 points, 3.5 rebounds, 3.1 assists) the Bulldogs are a small team and don’t have a true center. Butler’s veteran presence and extreme ball movement skills will be up against a physical bunch in the University of Texas El-Paso Miners. Derrick Caracter is a junior transfer from Louisville and has seen his production sky-rocket in Conference USA where he averaged 13.8 points and eight rebounds a game this season. Caracter is a 6’9”physical power forward who will be a load to handle, especially with the chemistry with junior guard Randy Culpepper who averaged 18 points and just fewer than three rebounds and two assists a game and is going to be an interesting challenge for Shelvin Mack and Butler.

Prediction: Butler has not lost a game since before Christmas and UTEP lost to Houston who was a hot team, but merely an average team in the conference during the season. Butler is the better team and will be able to neutralize the two man game UTEP likes to play with great team defense and ball movement on offense in a tight game.
Final: Butler 73 – UTEP 68. Take Butler -2.

# 7 BYU Cougars (29-5, 13-3 in MWC) vs. #10 Florida Gators (21-12, 9-7 in SEC)

Sportsbook Review
Spread: BYU -4.5
Over/Under: 146.5
Money Line BYU -205, Florida +170

[adinserter block=”2″]BYU was knocked out in the semi-finals by a hot UNLV team and ended up with a seven seed for their trouble. BYU is far better than the seed given and guard Jimmer Fredrette is one of the best players in the nation. From Glen Falls, NY, the 6’2″ junior is averaging 21.7 points, 3.7 rebounds and 4.7 assists shoots 90% from the charity stripe and 45% on threes. He is a pro-prospect and one of the best guards in the history of the Mountain West Conference. The MWC has four teams in the tournament (3, 7, 8 and 11 seeds) and BYU was ranked high this year in the national polls. Florida had a tough season in the SEC and the young Gators will have a steep challenge against the quick Cougars. The Gators are young and are led by small guards Erving Walker and Kenny Boynton. Fredrette is an elite talent and should make easy work of the youngsters and BYU should cruise to an easy double digit victory.
Final: BYU 90 – Florida 72. Take BYU -4.5. (*also check out the rest of the March Madness odds)

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