The Saint Louis Billikens won 24 of their first 26 games this season, but stumbled down the stretch, losing four of their last five games outright and covering the spread in just one of their last nine outings.
The North Carolina State Wolfpack, on the other hand, are riding an 11-2 against the spread run after beating Xavier in an NCAA tournament play-in game on Tuesday night. The Billikens—who were upset last year in this same position as a No. 5 seed—and the Wolfpack meet in the Midwest Region.
Spread and total points scored betting line
The Billikens opened as two-point favorites but it was -3 on Wednesday. The total was 132. (Compare lines and consensus on the Odds Shark matchup report)
Odds Shark computer pick
Why pick N.C. State to cover the spread?
Not much was expected out of N.C. State this season—who had just one returning starter—but the Pack is back in the tournament for the third straight season with an at-large bid out of the ACC.
North Carolina State sat on the bubble a couple of weeks ago, but a quick four-game winning streak—which included victories over Pitt and Syracuse—was just enough to get in. The No. 12 Wolfpack are led by sophomore forward TJ Warren (24 points per game), who can get a hoop when it's really needed. And they've got some depth, with eight guys averaging at least 20 minutes.
They also know that Saint Louis was upset as a 5 seed last year, so why not two years in a row, especially when laying just a few points?
Why pick Saint Louis to cover the spread?
Four starters from a team that won 28 games last season returned to the Billikens this year, so it's no surprise that they're a No. 5 seed for the NCAA tournament. Saint Louis won the Atlantic 10's regular-season title for the second year in a row, although their upset loss to St. Bonaventure in the conference tournament might have cost them a better seed.
The Billikens started 24-2 this season, with their only losses coming to Wisconsin and Wichita State. Saint Louis starts five seniors, has four guys averaging at least 10 PPG and plays pretty good defense, holding foes to less than 40 percent field goal shooting on the season.
Smart betting pick
Saint Louis has lost four of its last five games, but it's better than that. This team is smart, tough and experienced, playing in the tournament for the third season in a row. If the Billikens can keep Warren from going off for something crazy, they should win this game. Give the points and go with Saint Louis.
North Carolina State Wolfpack: No. 177
Saint Louis Billikens: No. 169 (per Odds Shark power ranks)
March Madness betting trends
- North Carolina State is 5-0 ATS in its last 5 games
Saint Louis 1-8 ATS past nine games
- NC State riding 10-2 ATS streak over its past dozen games
- Over is 8-1 in the past nine NC State games
- Under is 8-1 in the past nine NC State tournament games