At six games under .500 and 11-19 against the spread on the season, the Cal Poly Mustangs are still favorites in their First Four matchup against the Texas Southern Tigers in Dayton on Wednesday night.
The prize for the winner? A date with the only undefeated team left in the country, the Wichita State Shockers, in the Midwest Region.
Spread and total points scored betting line
The Mustangs opened as surprise two-point favorites, and that line has held up. The total was 131. (Compare lines and consensus on the Odds Shark matchup report)
Odds Shark computer pick
72-69 Texas Southern
Why pick Cal Poly to cover the spread
After going a disappointing 6-10 in the Big West this season, the Mustangs woke up and won three straight games, upsetting the top two seeds, to win the conference tournament and make the Big Dance for the first time ever.
Cal Poly starts three seniors and can play a little defense, holding foes to 63 points per game and 43 percent field-goal shooting this season.
Why pick Texas Southern to cover the spread
The Tigers finished tied for second in the SWAC this season, then won the conference tournament to earn their first NCAA berth since 2003.
Powered by monster-in-the-middle Aaric Murray, TSU has won nine games in a row. The Tigers start four seniors and are led by a coach who's tasted the big time before in Mike Davis. He guided Indiana to the national championship game 12 years ago, and that big-game experience could be the difference if this one stays close.
Smart betting pick
Texas Southern owns a nine-game winning streak, while Cal Poly is six games below .500. But the Mustangs are favored by two points, which is apparently an oddsmaker swipe at the quality of the SWAC.
However, Murray can be a handful. Just ask Temple players who watched him go off for 48 points back in December. One star player often makes the difference in a game like this. Take the Tigers plus the points.
Cal Poly Mustangs: No. 81
Texas Southern Tigers: No. 93 (per Odds Shark power ranks)
March Madness betting trends
- The total has gone OVER in six of Cal Poly's last nine games
- Texas Southern ended year on nine-game win streak, SWAC title
- First tournament game since 2003
- Cal Poly lost nine of 11 games before three upset wins in Big Sky tourney