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Betting picks for the First Four by an analyst currently with a perfect bracket in 2021

We put our flawless record on the line with tonight’s First Four games, where there is some value to be had.

UCLA Bruins head coach Mick Cronin reacts during an overtime period against the Oregon State Beavers at T-Mobile Arena. Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Happy Big Dance 2021 to everyone! Normally they stretch this First Four thing over two nights for the max television value, but this season we’ll get all four games packed into one evening of wall-to-wall hoops.

It’s a dual screen night, so here’s your warmup before you’ve got a cell phone streaming a 1 vs. 16 game on your coffee table all weekend long because you’re out of televisions.

And the only way this gets better is in that in more states than ever before, you can legally wager on the outcome of these games from your cell phone! Over a dozen states have legalized betting since the last NCAA Tournament, and that’s only going to make the best three weeks in college sports even better.

To the betting windows and apps!

Michigan State -2.5 vs. UCLA

Body language is often overused in betting analysis by the casual wagering community. But the team from Tinseltown looks like they’d rather be writing term papers than playing basketball right now. And Mick Cronin’s record in the NCAA Tournament is that of the crazy girl caught lying on the first episode of a Bachelorette Season as he’s never gotten to third episode: He’s 4-10 in the NCAA Tournament for a reason.

Did we mention that the Bruins blew a pair of 15-points-or-better leads in the last two weeks? Or that Tom Izzo’s NCAA record is what Cronin’s if we’re all living in a negative life force black hole??

This opened at -1 in some places, which is a better sale than you’ll see on winter coats Memorial Day Weekend. If it got to -4 we’d still love Sparty. Sometimes math is overrated. This is one of those spots.

Drake vs. Wichita State over 140.5

The presenting sponsor of The Mid-Major Runner Up Showdown is ‘Ole Defense. These teams play hard and can both execute on the offensive end, but they’re just not athletic enough to stay in front of a guy with the ball (Drake 120th in adjusted defensive efficiency, Wichita St. 103rd). Add in our belief that the over is the default play early in the NCAA Tournament because of overzealous officiating, and we’ll ride the points coaster. Which is by far the most fun way to consume basketball.

Texas Southern +1 over Mount St. Mary’s

Let us stipulate that Texas Southern winning their last 14 of 15 is against teams that might finish under .500 at the highest levels of high school basketball in Houston. But they lost to Wazzu just 56-52, hung around with Cade Cunningham and Oklahoma State (shot almost 50% too), and play with some tempo at 72 possessions per game.

Mount St. Mary’s didn’t play a team better than 212th in KenPom during their conference season, and lost to them twice. They didn’t look as good against Maryland and VCU when playing P5 schools. And they average 62.2 possessions per game, which means they can get run off the court here as no one in the Northeast Conference is playing non-half-court basketball.

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