Look below to find our top March Madness predictions for all the First Four action on Wednesday, March 16.
#16 Bryant vs #16 Wright State – 6:40pm ET
Bryant shot the lights out in the Northeast Conference tournament championship game to get here. While Wright State won the Horizon League. Now, these two teams will face off for the privilege to play the Arizona Wildcats.
The Wright State Raiders and Bryant will meet up in the First Four of the South region. Wright State finished the regular season third in the Horizon Conference with a 21-13 record. The Raiders are going into this match with a five-game winning streak and a conference championship after a one-point win over Northern Kentucky. Wright State is a 3.5-point favorite in this game. They have covered the spread in 5 of the last 6 games against teams with a winning record of over 60%.
The Bryant Bulldogs finished the season on top of NEC with a 22-9 record. They have lost only once in 2022 and won the other 17 games. The Bulldogs also won their conference with a 70-43 win over Wagner. Senior Peter Kiss is the leading scorer in the NCAA with 25.1 points per game. Bryant has covered the spread in 12 of the last 16 games overall and 4 of the last 5 games against teams with a winning record.
Marko’s College Basketball Pick: Bryant +3.5 (-110)
The Bryant Bulldogs left no doubt about it when they stormed their way through the Northeast Conference this season. They ended up with a combined conference record of 19-2 and won all three of their tournament games scoring at least 70 points. There was never a doubt in the championship game as they blew the doors off of Wagner by a score of 70-43. Led by the nation’s leading scorer Peter Kiss, this Bulldogs team has the potential to be dangerous if they get past the Raiders in this one.
— Wright State Men’s Basketball (@WSU_MBB) March 16, 2022
When the Wright State Raiders hit the floor on Wednesday evening they will have made a trip of around five minutes to the arena. As the campus of Wright State University is located in Dayton, Ohio which provides the Raiders with a unique home-court advantage in this one. They stormed their way through the Horizon League conference tournament and beat Northern Kentucky by one to get here. That home-court advantage will play a huge in the outcome in my opinion. As I have the Raiders getting the win in this one.
Tony’s College Basketball Pick: Wright State -3.5 (-110)
The Wright State Raiders enter this first matchup on Wednesday night at 21-13 and had to use a massive run through the Horizon League tournament to win the conference and get the automatic bid. They’ve been extremely mediocre outside of the last five games, with the last three being enough to win the league, and that has me nervous about their legitimate prospects in this one, as while they’re taking on another mid-major in Bryant, it’s a Bryant team that has a legitimate star on its roster.
Bryant comes in having won the Northeast Conference tournament in wild fashion against Wagner, in a game that they won in a blowout, but the bigger storyline was the brawl in their stands late in the game. After a shaky nonconference slate, they managed to put together a great run in the NEC, as they went 16-2 in conference play, and the win in the tournament puts their record at 22-9 on the year. The biggest reason for this is the play of Peter Kiss, the nation’s leading scorer at a touch over 25 ppg. He’s been an unstoppable force for the Bulldogs (and he’s quick to let you know about it.) I think he proves to be the difference-maker in this one, as I look for Kiss to lead the way, almost single-handedly taking down the Raiders in Dayton.
Noah’s College Basketball Pick: Bryant (+134)
#11 Notre Dame vs #11 Rutgers – 9:10pm ET
This game will be the best one out of all of the first four games. As the Notre Dame Fighting Irish meet the Rutgers Scarlet Knights in an old Big East basketball matchup. The winner of this one will go on to play the Alabama Crimson Tide.
The Rutgers Scarlet Knights and Notre Dame Fighting Irish will collide in the First Four of the West region. Notre Dame finished the regular season with a 22-10 record that put them in the second spot in the ACC. That didn’t help them much as they lost in the opening round of the conference championship against Virginia Tech. The Fighting Irish are an excellent three-point shooting team as they are ranked 18th in the nation with 38% from deep. They will need plenty of those to stand a chance against Rutgers.
The Rutgers Scarlet Knights finished 4th in Big Ten with an 18-13 record. Rutgers started the conference tournament with two impressive wins against Indiana and Penn State before losing to Iowa. Rutgers is one of the least predictive teams in the league as they proved this season that they can defeat anyone and at the same time lose to anyone. Rutgers is a one-point underdog in this one and they have covered the spread in 8 of the last 11 games as an underdog.
Marko’s College Basketball Pick: Rutgers
The Notre Dame Fighting Irish finished the season at number two in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Most years this is an incredibly impressive accomplishment as the ACC is usually a top 2 conference in college basketball. However, the ACC was down this year, and it’s shown by the fact that only 5 teams made the field of 68. Duke, Carolina, Miami, Notre Dame, Virginia Tech are the lucky five and of the five, it will be the Irish or Miami that leave first. An early exit in the ACC conference tournament thanks to eventual winner Virginia Tech is the reason the Irish are in Dayton.
— Notre Dame Men’s Basketball (@NDmbb) March 15, 2022
The Rutgers Scarlet Knights also let an early exit in their conference tournament allow them to end up playing in this first four matchup. Even a win over the former number one team in the nation on their resumes didn’t seem to help. However, I think both them and the Irish are in a great spot as I look for the winner of this one to end up in the Sweet Sixteen. As for the result of this one, I have Rutgers getting the win over a veteran Notre Dame team, and I think the effect of the win will end up with Notre Dame firing long-time head coach Mike Brey.
Tony’s College Basketball Pick: Rutgers
This one has the potential to be the best First Four matchup that we see this year. Notre Dame comes in at 22-10 on the year, including 15-5 in the ACC, though they did lose in their conference tournament opener to the eventual champions, the Virginia Tech Hokies. The key with this Fighting Irish team is that they only have two of what I would consider being bad losses, as they slipped up to Florida State and Boston College. Outside of that, they only have two other losses to non-NCAA tournament teams (Texas A&M and Wake Forest), both of which are high seeds in the NIT, and Texas A&M should arguably be in the field of 68. On top of the relatively few bad losses, they have multiple good wins, which is how they snuck into the field in the first place.
Now they take on a Rutgers team that has been an absolute roller coaster of a team so far this season. They have multiple massive wins, including Purdue, Wisconsin, and Iowa, but they also have way too many inexplicable losses (UMass, Lafayette, Penn State, Minnesota). That’s the reason they find themselves in the First Four, and not already solidly in the field of 64. While they have better wins than ND, the losses worry me way too much with this Rutgers team, so I’m taking the Irish by a nose, just because I like them to be a touch more consistent.
Noah’s College Basketball Pick: Notre Dame
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*Odds and spreads correct at time of publication, courtesy of FanDuel.