Ladies and gentlemen, we are just over 24 hours away from having an NCAA bracket. It's been over 700 days, but we have finally made it. Today is conference champ Saturday, and it's one of my all-time favorite days of the year. I will be in Vegas all day Saturday, attempting to go to the Big West, WAC, and Mountain West tournaments all in one afternoon.
In other words, let's have ourselves a day.
Aaron is hotter than the sun picking college basketball. I'm going to give you guys some more action so we can cover the whole damn board.
So without further ado, here are the picks.
Ohio State vs Michigan (Big Ten Semifinal)
Spread: Michigan (-6)
Earlier this year, Ohio State and Michigan had one of the best games of the season. Now we get a prime time matchup between the two rivals early on CBS. Well, sign me up. Ohio State will be without their reliable leader Kyle Young, but Michigan will take the floor without senior Isaiah Livers. Still, this is going to be a must-watch game.
Michigan struggled in the first half against Maryland but used a late second-half surge to win easily against the Terps. Ohio State had a stellar first half against Purdue, leading by 18, yet the Bucks still had to hang on for dear life, winning in overtime. Aaron has talked about how good Michigan is. They are legitimately one of the best teams in the country. My one concern in this matchup will be the first time they will play one of the top BIG contenders a second time.
I feel this number is a touch too high; I projected Ohio State to be a 3.5 point underdog.
The adjustment Ohio State has to make in this game is being able to defend without fouling.
This game will come down to the wire; I'll take Ohio State and the points.
The Pick: Ohio State (+6)
Memphis vs Houston (AAC Semifinal)
Spread: Houston -7.5
The Memphis Tigers get another shot at Houston after losing a heartbreaker a week ago.
While Houston gets all the love, Memphis quietly leads the country in defensive efficiency, and they rank second in effective field goal percentage defense. Evident from their last matchup against Houston, Memphis is one of the country's only teams who can match Houston's physicality. Memphis is getting too many points; take the Tigers.
The pick: Memphis +7.5
Georgetown vs Creighton (Big East Final)
Spread: Creighton -8.5
We are going to ride the Hoya train all the way to an NCAA tournament bid. Georgetown has been a different team since coming off their Covid-pause. Since mid-February, Georgetown is 9-4 ATS, and they have won six games outright as an underdog during that span. If you like chaos, Georgetown getting an NCAA tournament should create one. If the Hoyas win, they would be the highest power 5 seed since Georgia was a 13 seed back in 2003.
The Hoyas can give Creighton problems on the offensive glass. Like the other matchups, simply too many points to give up here. Take Georgetown.
The pick Georgetown +8.5
Ohio vs Buffalo (MAC Championship Game)
Spread: Buffalo (-2.5)
We wouldn’t have a fulfilled gambling day if we didn’t have action on the MAC title game. Ohio has struggled off and on with injuries all year, but the Bobcats have finally gotten fully healthy and are now on a roll. Ohio has won nine of its last 10 games, and I feel they are the better team in this one.
Buffalo's offense relies on their transition and their ability to get offensive rebounds. Ohio is very efficient on offense, ranking 36th in the country in offensive efficiency, the team is well coached and they don’t take many bad shots. Ohio’s Jason Preston will be the best player on the floor by a country mile, and the country is going to be introduced to him again today. Expect Ohio to punch their first NCAA tournament ticket since 2012.
The pick: Ohio +2.5
Georgia Tech vs Florida State
Line: Florida State (-4.5)
FSU is a wagon, and I will pick them to go on a deep tourney run, but I love Georgia Tech in this spot. The Yellow Jackets got a free pass to the ACC tournament semifinal, while the Seminoles had to play a late tough physical game against North Carolina on Friday night.
Georgia Tech has won seven games in a row and they have already beaten Florida State before. The Yellow Jackets will be the more desperate team to get the auto bid, since their NCAA Tournament at-large standing is not 100 percent secure. Give me the Yellow Jackets to pull off the upset.
The Pick: Georgia Tech (+4.5)
Oklahoma State vs Texas
Spread: Texas (-2)
Same logic as the last pick. Everyone will be on Oklahoma State after the Pokes shocked Baylor yesterday. Texas got a free pass against Kansas, and they will be extremely fresh to play this one. The Longhorns and Pokes play similar clashing styles. Texas lost a close game to Oklahoma State in overtime, but the Longhorns shot 5-35 from three in that game. I expect Texas to be better. Give me Texas.
The Pick: Texas (-2)
New Mexico State vs Grand Canyon (WAC Championship Game)
Spread: New Mexico State (-2)
As a Grand Canyon University alumni, this pick may be inherently a bit biased. However, I know these two teams better than anyone. GCU is looking to punch its first NCAA tournament ticket in school history by dismantling WAC super power New Mexico State. These schools have met in the WAC tourney final the last three times the tournament has been played, resulting in Aggie dominant wins in all three contests.
Really, what the line is reflecting here is the Aggies historic domination of the conference. GCU should be favored based on where the teams are right now. Grand Canyon swept NMSU in the regular season, but those games should be thrown out of consideration since New Mexico State was coming off a nearly two month Covid pause. This Grand Canyon team is different than years past. They are better coached, led by Bryce Drew. They have one of the better bigs in the entire conference in Ashjobrn Mitigard. The Lopes rank top 15 nationally in two point defense and offense. They can finally match New Mexico States physicality on the interior.
The Lopes should have a ton of confidence after winning by 34 in their semifinal matchup. Take the Lopes to win.
The pick: GCU (+2)
Austin is a mid-major contributor for SB Nation's "Mid Major Madness." Follow Austin on Twitter @Amontgomerylive