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March Madness Round Of 64

With the first round of the NCAA tournament beginning on Thursday, there are a lot of great games to look forward to. There will be a lot of blowouts involving the top seeds and the bottom seeds, but there will also be a lot of close games between evenly matched teams, and some upsets will also happen because some good team will overlook an opponent, because they play in a smaller conference. Here are some of the best games to see when the tournament starts this week.

#9 LSU vs #8 NC State

The #9 vs #8 games are always the most anticipated games of the first week of the NCAA tournament, because it features two teams that are very evenly matches, which is why it is very common for the 9th seed to upset the 8th seed. 

LSU finished the season by winning four of their last five games, but they were upset by the 13th seeded Auburn in the quarterfinals of the SEC tournament. Despite the early loss in the SEC tournament, LSU has quality wins over West Virginia and Arkansas, and their only loss in three games against ranked teams, was a two point loss to Kentucky, which is closer than many teams managed against the Wildcats this season. The Tigers did a lot of their damage on offense, averaging 73.7 points per game, which is 41st in the country. On defense, they weren't as formidable, and allowed opponents to score 67.7 points per game, which is 210th.

NC State was one of the hottest teams at the end of the season, winning five of their final six regular season games, which included road wins over Louisville and North Carolina, so they are a very dangerous team heading into the tournament. Despite their loss to Duke in the semifinals of the ACC tournament, they are one of the teams that strike fear in a lot of opponents, and they will be hoping their recent streak carries over into the NCAA tournament.

Game Odds and Predictions

The Wolfpack are early favorites in this game, the point spread is -2.5 in their favor, and the Over/Under on total points scored is 141.5.

My Pick: LSU has come up big against some good competition, but NC State is playing about as well as any of the best teams in the country, and I expect them to get a tough win against the Tigers. If you are laying some bets on this game, put your cash on the Wolfpack.

#11 Texas vs #6 Butler

The Longhorns got into the tournament despite a losing record in conference play, because they made it to the Big 12 semifinals. They will be hoping that their current streak continues against Butler, who finished second in the Big East conference. The Longhorns, who were ranked 10th at one point in the season, struggled halfway through the season, before getting back to their winning ways, and as they showed in the Big 12 tournament, they can cause problems for most teams. They weren't special offensively, averaging 67.9 points per game, but they were ferocious defensively, and held opponents to 60.4 points per game, which was 39th best in the country.

Despite being ranked in the top 25, Butler has been underrated this year, despite a 5-2 record against ranked teams. They will try to show just how good they are against a Texas team that many feel is overrated. The Bulldogs have had a lot of success in recent NCAA tournaments, and have made it to the national championship game in two of their last three tournament appearances.

Game Odds and Predictions

Texas is favored in this game, the point spread is -2. The Over/Under on the total amount of points scored is 123.5.

My Pick: Butler is the better team in this matchup, so I'm picking them to buck the odds and win this game.

#10 Ohio State vs #7 VCU

Ohio State finished 6th in the big Ten, but they ended the season on a high note, winning four of their last six games. Last season, they were eliminated in the first round, despite having a #6 seed, and they will be trying to redeem themselves this time around. The Buckeyes were pretty good offensively this year, scoring 75.8 points per game, which was 24th in the nation, but on defense, they allowed 62.4 points per game, which was 74th.

Since their Cinderella run in 2011, VCU hasn't advanced past the second round of the NCAA tournament in their last three tries, losing to SFA in the first round last year. They will try to make a deep run this year, but will need to take care of business against Ohio State. The Rams scored 72.5 points per game this season, which was 53rd in the country, and they allowed opponents to score 65.5 points per game, which is 143rd.

Game Odds and Predictions

Ohio State is favored in this game, the point spread is -3.5. The Over/Under on points scored is 138.5.

My Pick: Ohio State fed on the bottom teams in the Big Ten towards the end of the season, while VCU looked strong, so I'm picking the Rams to emerge victorious.