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Bucknell vs. Michigan State - NCAA First Round - 3/16/18 College Basketball Pick, Odds, and Prediction

Bucknell Bison (25-9) vs. Michigan State Spartans (29-4)

College Basketball: Friday, March 16, 2018 at 7:10 pm (Little Caesars Arena)

The Line: Michigan State Spartans -14.5 -- Over/Under: See the Latest Odds

TV: CBS

We have some NCAA tournament first round action on tap out of the Midwest region on Friday evening as the #14 Bucknell Bison take on the #3 seed Michigan State Spartans in a college basketball matchup.

The Bucknell Bison found themselves in the big dance as a #14 seed after winning the Patriot League regular season and conference tournament championship following a 25-9 record this season, including a 16-2 conference record to enter the conference tournament as the top seed with their 7th regular season title in the last 8 years. The Bison recorded victories over Loyola-Maryland, Boston U and Colgate in the conference title game, winning in the semifinals and finals by an average of 30 points per game. Bucknell started the year 0-4, but 3 of those losses came against Arkansas, North Carolina and Maryland. The Bison also hung around with VCU and St. Joseph’s, notching wins over Ball State, Siena, Richmond and La Salle. Zach Thomas leads the Bison with an average of 20.3 points and 9.2 rebounds per game while Stephen Brown leads Bucknell in assists with 4.3 assists per game this season. As a team, Bucknell is scoring 81.1 points per game on 47.2% shooting from the field, 34.3% from behind the arc and 71.7% from the foul line this season.

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Bucknell vs. Michigan State - NCAA First Round - 3/16/18 College Basketball Pick, Odds, and Prediction

USA TODAY Sports

The Michigan State Spartans come into the tournament as a #3 seed, following a 29-4 overall mark in the regular season and a 16-2 record in Big Ten play, good enough for the regular season title and the top seed in the conference tournament which saw Sparty receive a double bye before defeating Wisconsin and then falling to rival Michigan in the semifinals. The Spartans lone loss out of conference came at the hands of Duke, but Michigan State still put up some solid results against teams like DePaul, UCONN, Notre Dame and UNC, winning each of those games by double digits. Miles Bridges leads Michigan State with an average of 16.9 points per game while Nick Ward leads the Spartans on the glass with 7.2 rebounds per game and Cassius Winston leads MSU in assists with 6.8 assists per game this season. As a team, Michigan State is scoring 81 points per game on 50.4% shooting from the field which is the 6th-best field goal percentage in the country, in addition to the 5th-highest 3-point percentage in the nation at 41.3% from downtown this season. The Spartans are also extremely tight defensively, giving up the lowest field goal percentage against in D-I at 36.6% shooting from the floor. 

Bucknell is 13-6 ATS in their last 19 games overall and 8-3 ATS in their last 11 games against a team with a winning record while the over is 4-0 in their last 4 non-conference games. Michigan State is 2-8-2 ATS in their last 12 games overall and 1-4-2 ATS in their last 7 games against a team with a winning record while the over is 5-0 in their last 5 NCAA tournament games. 

I have no doubts that the Spartans will make a run towards the final four, but this is a lot of points to give a very good Bucknell team. The Spartans will haven’t had played in a week and a half by the time this one tips off and there’s bound to be some rust. Bucknell also has a history as a 14 seed, as the Bison upset Kansas in 2005. Granted Bucknell hasn’t won in the tournament since 2006, but I don’t care if they win, in this line of work, all I care about is a cover and I think Bucknell is good enough to get one here so I’ll take Bucknell and the points.

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