In the 2016 March Madness Round of 64 in the West Region, the dogs might have their day. Of course, it all depends on how you look at it. My West Region March Madness expert picks begin with No. 10 VCU as a -4.5 favorite over No. 7 Oregon State in a Friday game in the West Region. That battles makes my Winning Picks for the West article. I also like the game between No. 11 Northern Iowa and No. 6 Texas. No. 9 Cincinnati battles No. 8 St. Joseph’s in the final game for the West. All three matchups take place on Friday.
March Madness Expert Betting Picks for the West Region R64
No. 10 VCU vs No. 7 Oregon State
When: Friday, March 18 at 1:30 pm ET
Betting Spread: VCU -4.5
Oregon State plays a tough zone defense. But, it’s not as effective as some may think it is. It especially shouldn’t be effective versus VCU who averages 77 points per game form 45% shooting from the field and 35.6% shooting from three. VCU guard Melvin Johnson averages over 17 points per game. The Rams are also a stud ATS covering squad. VCU went 20 and 9 ATS during the season. They went 8 and 4 ATS at home and 8 and 3 ATS on the road. The Beavers have an excellent guard in Gary Payton II but he won’t be able to beat the Rams all by himself. I like VCU.
No. 11 Northern Iowa vs No. 6 Texas
When: Friday, March 18 at 9:50 pm ET
Betting Spread: Texas -4.5
Shaka Smart has done an excellent job in his first season as coach of Texas. Northern Iowa is going to be a wise guy choice to get out of Round 1 because the Panthers won 9 out of their last 10. But I’m on Texas in this matchup. I think that Texas has a huge advantage with point-guard Isaiah Taylor who averages 14.5 points and close to 5 assists per game. Smart instituted a slow it down style at Texas this season to match his talent. Northern Iowa’s entire philosophy is around slowing the game down and winning in the half court. It’s tough for me to see the Panthers getting it done against a team with a similar philosophy. Taylor and Smart are the differences in this game. I like Texas.
No. 9 Cincinnati vs No. 8 St. Joseph’s
When: Friday, March 18 at 9:57 pm ET
Betting Spread: Cincinnati -1.5
The St. Joseph’s Hawks were brilliant during the Atlantic 10 Tournament. The Hawks beat George Washington 86 to 80. They took down Dayton 82 to 79. They dominated VCU 87 to 74. St. Joe’s has all of the pieces to beat Cincinnati straight up on Friday. The Hawks go into this tournament hot while the Bearcats suffered a 56 to 69 loss to Houston March 3. The Bearcats did beat a less than inspired SMU squad 61 to 54 at home on March 6. But, Cincinnati followed that up with a 4 overtime 97 to 104 loss to UConn in Round 1 of the AAC Tournament. The Bearcats should be too tired to take on the fast, high-scoring, Hawks on Friday. I’m backing St. Joe’s.
Pick: St. Joseph’s