This is Day 1 of my daily “Picking The Lines” posts. Remember that gambling is for fun only, and this is really just a blogging gimmick to talk about each game. Never bet significant sums of money on sporting events.
As always, the Vegas lines used will be the VegasInsider consensus line at the time the post goes live on the blog.
Anyway, it's time to get this tournament started. Join in the comments section on these posts daily to talk about the games as they happen, or tweet at me.
Let's get to the games:
2016 Tournament ATS: 36-30-1 (55%)
2010-15 ATS: 220-167-11 (57%)
New Orleans (-1.5) over Mount St. Mary's: You have to be a gambling degenerate to actually throw real money on a 16/16 play-in game. That said, with a spread this small I'm just going to pick whoever I think is going to win the game. New Orleans isn't just the team higher rated in the computers, but they're a more athletic team, with the ability to apply a lot of defensive pressure and to get to the line in a way that Mount St. Mary's simply can't.
Kansas State (PK) over Wake Forest: Kansas State is a team that I didn't think deserved a spot in the NCAA Tournament due to a very mediocre non-conference strength of schedule, conference W-L record, and RPI Top 50/100 records. That said, they are better than their resume, suffering from a little bit of bad luck in close games. Also, the Big 12 was just ridiculously strong, with no opportunities for easy victories. Both of these teams have mismatches, from Kansas State's pressure defense to Wake Forest's John Collins inside, but when all else fails I give the coaching advantage to Bruce Weber. Criticize Weber's recruiting all you want, but he's one of the best game coaches that you'll find in Division I basketball.