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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Monday, March 13, 2017 at 10:00 AM

There’s hardly any time to complain about who got hosed or who caught a huge break in the brackets of the 2017 NCAA Championship Tournament. The games are about to begin!

Today we’ll preview Tuesday night’s pair of play in games featuring a couple of #16 seeds and a couple of #11 seeds fighting for survival…

6:40 p.m. ET: Mt. St. Mary’s vs. New Orleans (winner plays Villanova)

9:10 p.m. ET: Kansas State vs. Wake Forest (winner plays Cincinnati)

We’ll be back in about 24 hours to do the same for Wednesday night’s matchups. The same seeding scenario will feature North Carolina Central facing Cal Davis, and Providence taking on USC.

A lot to work through. Let’s get to it!


Computer Rankings

Kansas State: #29 at Kenpom, #34 at Sagarin

Wake Forest: #30 at Kenpom, #35 at Sagarin

New Orleans: #178 at Kenpom, #208 at Sagarin

Mt. St. Mary’s: #213 at Kenpom, #216 at Sagarin

Kansas State and Wake Forest both have a right to be mad about getting stuck in a playoff game. The computers have this as the equivalent as a #8 vs. #9 game in the Round of 64. In fact, this matchup is BETTER than Arkansas-Seton Hall game that IS an 8-9 affair. It’s roughly the same as Northwestern/Vanderbilt and Miami/Michigan State if you’re looking strictly at computer ratings rather than the nuances of resume’s.

New Orleans is more respected than Mt. St. Mary’s in the computers, which is why they’re a slight favorite in the afternoon opener.


Adjusted Offensive Efficiency

Wake Forest: 120.9 per 100 possessions (#8 in the nation)

Kansas State: 112.0 per 100 possessions (#50 in the nation)

New Orleans: 100.8 per 100 possessions (#241 in the nation)

Mt. St. Mary’s: 98.9 per 100 possessions (#271 in the nation)

Well, that opener featuring the #16 seeds could get REAL ugly real fast based on those offenses. If the pressure gets to these teams, we may have a few long dry spells. Wake Forest is a Dance team because of a great offense. It’s a very under-publicized story that Wake has a top 10 offense after you adjust for pace and strength of schedule. Kansas State is fine on the national scale, but #50 isn’t really good enough to go deep in the Dance unless you have a fantastic defense. Let’s see if they do!


Adjusted Defensive Efficiency

Kansas State: 94.5 per 100 possessions (#27 in the nation)

New Orleans: 101.3 per 100 possessions (#102 in the nation)

Wake Forest: 103.6 per 100 possessions (#160 in the nation)

Mt. St. Mary’s: 103.2 per 100 possessions (#143 in the nation)

Kansas State does have the best defense of the Tuesday quartet, and will have a chance to beat Wake Forest because of a significant edge on this side of the floor. We’ve referred to a few teams in our recent previews as “The UCLA of the” such-and-such conference. Wake Forest is in that mold in terms of great offense, lousy defense. The handicapping challenge in K-State/Wake will be determining whether or not the State defense can slow down that great Demon Deacon offense.

In the lesser attraction, New Orleans has the superior defense by a bucket over 100 possessions. That could be the difference-maker in the projected ugly nailbiter.


Pace Ranking

Wake Forest: #58

Mt. St. Mary’s: #234

New Orleans: #263

Kansas State: #269

Well, the opener is fairly locked in. We’re going to have a slow game featuring poor offenses, and somebody’s going to win ugly…probably because of put-backs off of missed shots! Wake Forest/Kansas State will be a real clash of styles. Wake wants to run, and will try to get cheap points in transition. Kansas State will try to keep things slow and steady. Figure out who can force their preferred tempo…and you’ve got the pointspread winner.


Against the Spread

Kansas State: 15-12-2

Wake Forest: 16-14

New Orleans: 2-1 (games rarely on the board in the Southland Conference)

Mt. St. Mary’s: 3-3 (games rarely on the board in the Northeast Conference)

Not much value to find in the ATS records. Virtually no meaningful sample sizes for the #16 seeds. Kansas State is just a one more game over .500 than Wake Forest, just on the right side of break even. They did offer value in the Big 12 tournament held in the relatively friendly confines of Kansas City. Can they transfer that fire to Dayton in a short turnaround?

JIM HURLEY is likely to have a play in at least one of these games. But, there’s a busy NIT schedule on Tuesday…so there’s no reason to force a selection in Dayton. You can bet our on-site sources…our scouts….our statheads…our computer programmers…and our friends behind the line in Las Vegas and offshore will be working around the clock between now and tipoff to find you some BIG, JUICY TUESDAY WINNERS!

You can always purchase NETWORK’S top plays right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions about combination packages that go through the NCAA and NIT tournaments or the NBA Playoffs in June, please call us in the office during normal business hours at 1-888-777-4155. Take care of business NOW so you’re ready to roll when the flurry of games is set to begin!

Back with you tomorrow to look at those two Wednesday games. Then we’ll be up well in advance for prime time previews of the best Thursday and Friday night matchups. MARCH MADNESS IS HERE. Don’t make a move until you hear what JIM HURLEY has to say!

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