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No. 1 Baylor vs. No. 16 Hartford preview, picks for first round of 2021 NCAA Tournament

The Baylor Bears and Hartford Hawks meet at Lucas Oil Stadium in the first round of the 2021 NCAA Tournament. We’ve got everything you need on both teams ahead of the game here.

BJ Armstrong and Julian Edlow’s locks for the final four

Update March 19: Here are the updated bet splits for No. 1 Baylor vs. No. 16 Hartford as of March 19th at 7 a.m. from DraftKings Sportsbook:

Baylor -25: 61% of action, 57% of bets
Hartford +25: 39% of action, 43% of bets

Over 141.5: 33% of action, 67% of bets
Under 141.5: 67% of action, 33% of bets

Update March 18: Here are the updated bet splits for No. 1 Baylor vs. No. 16 Hartford as of March 18th at 1:30 p.m. from DraftKings Sportsbook:

Baylor: -26: 63% of action, 62% of bets
Hartford: +26: 37% of action, 38% of bets

Over 141: 27% of action, 63% of bets
Under 141: 73% of action, 37% of bets

Update March 17: Here are the updated bet splits for Baylor vs. Hartford as of March 17th at 11:00 a.m. from DraftKings Sportsbook:

Baylor: -26: 65% of handle, 61% of bets
Hartford: +26: 35% of handle, 39% of bets
Over: 141: 38% of handle, 65% of bets
Under: 141: 62% of handle, 35% of bets

The top-seeded Baylor Bears will begin what their hopeful march to the Final Four on Friday at 3:30 p.m. ET when battling the 16-seeded Hartford Hawks, fresh off their America East Conference Tournament championship victory.

The game will be broadcasted on Tru TV with the Bears entering as heavy favorites.

No. 1 Baylor: 22-2 (13-1 Big XII): At-large

KenPom rating: Overall 4, Offense 3, Defense: 43
NET ranking: 2nd, 8-2 vs. Quad 1
Leading scorer: Jared Butler (17.1 ppg)
Key stat: Baylor leads the nation in three-point shooting percentage at 41.8%.

A perennial Final Four favorite all season long, Baylor enters the tournament as the top seed in the South Region after a dominant regular season where they ripped off 18 consecutive victories before falling to Kansas on Feb. 27. A strong shooting team offensively led by first-team AP All-American Jared Butler, the Bears knocked off fellow one-seed Illinois early in the regular season as well as a slew of Big XII contenders like Oklahoma State, Oklahoma and conference tournament champion Texas on their way to Indianapolis.

Given that Hartford’s only two matchups against Quad 1 opponents ended in double-digit defeats, expect the Bears to push the tempo right out the gate and try to put this one to bed early.

No. 16 Hartford: 15-8 (8-6 AEC): Automatic Bid

KenPom rating: Overall 192, Offense 254, Defense 127
NET ranking: 162, 0-2 vs. Quad 1
Leading scorer: Austin Williams (13.7 ppg)
Key stat: Averaged a conference-best 7.1 steals per game in America East play.

After an up-and-down regular season, Hartford managed to get hot at the right time with four straight victories in the America East Tournament to take the conference crown and earn an auto-bid to the Big Dance. Their schedule was weak with their lone two matchups against Quad 1 foes against UConn (69-57) and Villanova (87-53) ending in lopsided blowouts.

The Hawks’ KenPom metrics certainly do not matchup with the Bears but they are holding opponents to only 28.7 percent shooting from three. Their only hope here is somehow stifling the nation’s top three-point shooting team from beyond the arc.

March Madness Odds from DraftKings Sportsbook

Point spread: Baylor -26.5
Point total: 140.5
Moneyline: Baylor -10000, Hartford +1600

The Pick

Against The Spread Pick: Baylor -26.5
Point total pick: Under 140.5
Pick to Win: Baylor

The top-seeded Bears won’t have a problem putting away Hartford quickly and given Hartford’s poor adjusted offensive efficiency rating, they won’t have enough firepower to trigger the over. This is all Baylor.

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