9 NC State (21-11) vs. 8 Seton Hall (21-11)
NCAAM: Thursday, March 15th, 2018, 4:30 PM ET | Intrust Bank Arena, Wichita, KS
Line and Odds: Seton Hall -2
FREE NCAABB PICK NC STATE WOLFPACK VS SETON HALL PIRATES
NC State (21-11) is back in the tournament for the first time since 2015 when they lost in the Sweet 16 to Louisville. Their appearance in 2015 was their 4th in a row but they have struggled the past two seasons and missed the tournament. The Wolfpack come in to the tournament winners of 6 of their last 8 games. Like Seton Hall they lost their first conference tournament game. They got upset by a Boston College team that they had beat by 16 earlier in the year. The Wolfpack have a lot of good wins this year including, Arizona, Duke, North Carolina and Clemson. They have definitely played well at times this year but at times have played down to the competition as evidence by their upset loss in the ACC tournament. Senior Allerik Freeman leads the team in scoring at 15.4 ppg. As a team they are averaging 81.2 ppg which is 3rd in the country.
Seton Hall (21-11) is making its third straight trip to the NCAA tournament. The last two years though they bowed out early, losing in the first round to Arkansas and Gonzaga. Two years ago the were the 6th seed and Gonzaga drilled them by 16. Last year they were in this 8 vs 9 game as the 9 seed and lost by 6 to Arkansas. They are trying to reverse that trend and get their first tournament win since way back in 2004 when they beat Arizona. The Pirates started the year 15-3 but once they got into the meat of their conference schedule they finished the year just 6-8 including losing to Butler in the Big East tournament. They did have a couple of big wins early beating Texas Tech and Louisville, but have not beat a ranked team since. They have the ability to play with anyone but have struggled against the top competition. Senior Desi Rodriguez leads the team with 17.8 ppg but he is coming off a sprained ankle and only played 16 minutes against Butler in the tournament. Senior Khadeen Carrington has been hot lately scoring over 20 in 4 or their last 5 games. The Pirates are led by a bunch of seniors and they hope that experience will help them get to the second round.
FREE NCAAM PICK SETON HALL PIRATES VS NC STATE WOLFPACK
First round games can be hard to bet due to the high spreads or the seemingly even matchups. This is especially true for 8 vs 9 games. On paper these should be the most even games. And this one is no exception. So what we need to look for is some subtle differences. If you just look at record both of these teams are very similar. But if you dig deeper into their schedule one team starts to stand out. Both teams play in great conferences, NC State in the ACC and Seton Hall in the Big East. So they both have had brutal conference schedules. If you look close though you notice Seton Hall has not beat many top teams while the Wolfpack have 4 or 5 big wins in conference. Will this matter in this matchup, I think it will. They both had upset losses in their first game of the tournament, but I think that is past. I think NC State has played better in big games and what bigger game is their than a tournament game. This game will be high scoring and close but I think that experience will lift NC State to a win and a second round matchup with Kansas. Take the Wolfpack in this one.