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March 19, 2015

NOTE: Picks will be posted at noon (12:00 PM ET) on Friday.

Quality over quantity will ensure us all a good NCAA Tournament! Patience is key as always.

Take NC State at -2 spread against LSU risking 3% of bankroll.

We kick off the tournament with a play in the round of 64 as the North Carolina State Wolfpack take on the LSU Tigers. The opening round games in the Big Dance can prove somewhat tricky from a handicapping perspective because of all the various applicable angles. This tournament is the culmination of a season's worth of work and can create incredible pressure on some teams. This is the part of season where upsets happen. Let's not forget that these are still teenagers out there playing basketball and for some this is arguably the most high pressure situation that they have been in. Experience carries a lot of weight in a tournament like this and we believe that is where the Wolfpack will have the edge. A majority of their players have been in this position before having played in this tournament last year but for LSU players, this is an entirely new experience as this team has not been invited to the NCAA Tournament since 2009! Emotions will be running high for a squad that is largely made up of first or 2nd year players and that could cause nerves to play a big role in the first half.

There is not a whole lot that separates a #8 seed from a #9 seed. Both teams are fairly evenly matched and both have quality wins as well as some head scratching losses. Both schools come into this contest off a loss as LSU fell to the Auburn Tigers in the SEC tournament while NC State fell to Duke in the quarterfinals of the ACC tournament. Prior to those losses, we'd have to say that NC State has been the hotter team of the two. The Wolfpack had won six of seven games both straight up and ATS prior to that setback, with quality wins over the Louisville Cardinals and North Carolina Tar Heels! Earlier in the season, NC State was also one of the few teams to defeat the #1 seeded Duke Blue Devils and did so in convincing fashion with an 87-75 victory which shows just how good this team can be when they are playing up to their potential. The Wolfpack have lost consecutive games only twice this season and each of those included a tough opponent such as Notre Dame during the first streak and the Cavaliers in the second. 

The ACC is a tougher conference in basketball than the SEC. The Tigers got their mainstream recognition by being the team that competed with the Kentucky Wildcats the best this season. Ultimately however, that is meaningless as they did not beat Kentucky; they still lost, but simply managed to play them close. LSU does not have the signature wins that NC State has had despite playing an easier schedule of games. Having battled hard and come out on top against quality opponents such as Duke, Notre Dame, Louisville and in-state rivals UNC has toughened up the Wolfpack and will have them ready to play this type of high-pressure game tonight. LSU has a deep presence in the post which has contributed to their success this season; however NC State has the advantage on the offensive end with Trevor Lacy leading the way with an average of 16 points and also has some bigs that can get physical with LSU in the paint. The Pack are 16th in the nation in blocks and 38th in defensive rebounding. 

What could hurt LSU is their lack of depth and experience. They are an incredibly thin on the bench. Six players log at least 24 minutes per night while five others play between 6 to 9 minutes. Four log at least 30 minute with Hornsby leading the team with 35.5 a night; Mickey has been banged up but plays 34.8 mins per contest with Martin right behind at 35! When LSU starters struggle, it makes things very difficult especially in the latter stages of the game when fatigue sets in. Meanwhile NC State has good depth and a balanced rotation. Nine players log at least 12 minutes a game for the Wolfpack with only three seeing 30+ minutes per game. Their constant subbing should give them the edge by always having fresh legs on the court, especially in what should be a physical game. If the NC State team that has knocked off Duke, UNC and Louisville this season shows up ready to play, they will win this game. With the spread being as low as it is; a win should bring the cover. Senior guard, Ralston Turner transferred from LSU as a sophomore and will take special pleasure in leading his school against the one where he never got a chance!
Other notable facts to consider:

  • NC State is 14-5 as a favorite this season!
  • NC State is 4-1-1 ATS in their last 6 NCAA Tournament games. 
  • NC State is 23-9-1 ATS in their last 33 neutral site games.

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