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Cal Runs Rebels Out of Town; Eastern Bracket Continues

UNLV became the first high-profile casualty in the NCAA tournament’s East bracket on Thursday, coming up short against California.

The No. 5 seeded Rebels fell 64-61 to the No. 12 seeded Golden Bears at HP Pavilion in San Jose, Calif., ending a season that had promised more. Still, some would argue that California – who came within one game of a Pac-12 regular season title – should never have been seeded as low as 12.

Elsewhere within the bracket it was business as usual on Thursday. Well, almost.

Under the shadow of impending NCAA charges, No. 4 Syracuse batted away any potential distraction and crushed No. 13 Montana by a score of 81-34 in San Jose, while No. 6 Butler saw-off No. 11 Bucknell, winning by a cool dozen points in Lexington, Ky.

Things weren’t so straightforward for No. 3 Marquette however. The Golden Eagles needed a last-second layup from Vander Blue to edge past No. 14 Davidson, with the final score reading 59-58. The side will need to do much better when it meets Butler on Saturday.

All eyes now switch to the remaining eight sides looking to navigate the tournament’s second round.

Here’s a look at the four games on tap on Friday.

(9) Temple Owls vs. (8 ) North Carolina State Wolfpack

University of Dayton Arena, Dayton, OH, 1:40 PM ET

C.J. Leslie and the North Carolina Wolfpack face a tough Temple side on Friday.

C.J. Leslie and the North Carolina Wolfpack face a tough Temple side on Friday.

Friday’s action gets underway with a doozy of a matchup between the ACC’s Wolfpack and the A-10’s Owls.

North Carolina State (24-10) had a disappointing regular season, despite handing Duke a historic defeat, but there’s still time to make good on that preseason potential. The side will look to advance to the tournament’s third round, and a potential showdown with the Hoosiers, with a victory over Temple (23-9) on Friday afternoon.

The Owls will be no pushover though. The Philadelphia side pushed for the Atlantic 10 title all the way to the end of the season, coming up just two games short of Saint Louis, and finishing tied with both Butler and La Salle. That run included an 83-79 victory over Syracuse.

North Carolina State opens as the favorite with the spread at four points.

The Wolfpack is 17-13-2 ATS this season and 14-9-1 ATS when playing as the favorite. The Owls are 16-16-0 ATS overall this season, with a 6-2-0 ATS record as an underdog.

The total opened at 152 points. Both NC State (17-14-1) and Temple (18-10-0) have favored the over this season.

(15) Pacific Tigers vs. (2) Miami Hurricanes

Frank Erwin Special Events Center, Austin, TX, 2:10 PM ET

Having achieved personal bests across the board this season, Miami (27-6) will look to prove it’s for real on Friday afternoon. Of course, this being March Madness, the side will need to be focused as it takes to the hardwood in the Lone Star state.

Having scored an unlikely Big West tournament championship, Pacific (22-12) will look to play the role of giant killer and slay the Hurricanes on the way to the third round. As unlikely as that may seem, you need only look at Harvard’s win over New Mexico on Thursday to see anything is possible at this time of the year.

Miami opens as the favorite with the spread at 11.5.

The Hurricanes are an impressive 19-9-2 ATS this season, including a 15-8-2 ATS record when playing as the favorite. The Tigers went 15-14-2 ATS this past campaign, and earned a 4-6-1 ATS record when playing as the underdog.

The total opened at 126. Pacific (15-15-0) split the over/under evenly this season, while Miami (11-16-1) favored the under.

(16) James Madison Dukes vs. (1) Indiana Hoosiers

University of Dayton Arena, Dayton, OH, 4:10 PM ET

Having passed the "First Four" test, the James Madison Dukes will look to pull-off the upset of upsets on Friday.

Having passed the “First Four” test, the James Madison Dukes will look to pull-off the upset of upsets on Friday.

With fellow No. 1 seeds Louisville and Gonzaga having successfully navigated opening games, Indiana (27-6) will look to do likewise in Dayton on Friday afternoon. With odds of 5/1 to win a national championship, the Hoosiers opened the tournament behind only Louisville (19/4) in the eyes of the bookmakers. Losing on Friday will simply be a disaster of Kentucky proportions.

James Madison (21-14) has already knocked-off LIU Brooklyn in the “First Four” round of the tournament. If that victory was accompanied by jovial celebration, a win over the Hoosiers would be followed by pandemonium. With no one expecting the Dukes to advance to the next round, the side can simply play as though it has nothing to lose. Indiana certainly cannot adopt that approach.

Indiana is a huge favorite (-21) entering this game.

The Hoosiers have tallied a 17-14-0 ATS record this season, going 14-14-0 ATS when considered the favorite. The Dukes are 22-10-0 ATS this season, with an 11-7-0 ATS record when playing as an underdog. Bettors should give serious consideration to James Madison covering the spread here.

The total opened at 136. Both Indiana (13-15-1) and James Madison (10-16-0) have favored the under this season.

(10) Colorado Buffaloes vs. (7) Illinois Fighting Illini

Frank Erwin Special Events Center, Austin, TX, 4:40 PM ET

Friday’s final game in the East bracket sees Illinois (22-12) take on a dangerous Colorado (21-11) side.

Illinois may well hail from the tough-as-nails Big Ten but Colorado has had a season to remember. Long-forgotten in NCAA tournament talk – the side hasn’t played a tourney game since the days of Chauncey Billups – the Buffaloes managed to knock-off three top teams in the Pac-12 this season. Yes, the Pac-12 was considered weak this year, but any team that adds Arizona, Oregon, and California has to be minded.

Illinois’ up-and-down season meanwhile showed little consistency and does anything but confirm the side will be a threat this postseason. That being said, getting hot right about now would cause some serious problems for some high-profile teams later down the line. The question remains though: can Illinois get hot right now?

Illinois opens as a narrow favorite, with the spread at 1.5.

The Fighting Illini was 13-18-0 ATS this season, including a 6-9-0 ATS record when entering a game as the favorite. The Buffaloes were a more impressive 17-13-0 ATS this year, and went 8-5-0 ATS when playing as the underdog.

The total opened at 130. Both Colorado (9-18-0) and Illinois (12-18-0) heavily favored the under this season, something that almost demands bettors take the low option here.


Thursday’s Results

(3) Marquette 59, (14) Davidson 58

(4) Syracuse 81, (13) Montana 34

(12) California 64, (5) UNLV 61

(6) Butler 68, (11) Bucknell 56

Friday’s Schedule

(9) Temple vs. (8 ) North Carolina State

(15) Pacific vs. (2) Miami

(16) James Madison vs. (1) Indiana

(10) Colorado vs. (7) Illinois

Saturday’s Schedule

(6) Butler vs. (3) Marquette

(12) California vs. (4) Syracuse

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