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How public is betting the First Four in 2021

The First Four series of the 2021 NCAA Tournament kicks off Thursday, and here’s a look at where the bettors are going with their wagers.

Drake Bulldogs guard Joseph Yesufu drives to the basket as Loyola Ramblers guard Marquise Kennedy defends during the first half in the finals of the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament at Enterprise Center. Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

For the first time in 710 days, the NCAA Tournament returns tonight as the First Four takes place at Assembly Hall at Indiana University, and Mackey Arena at Purdue University. For college basketball fans it’s like Christmas Eve, except your parents are letting you open one present early.

If you’re looking to take a position on this game, which you probably are since you clicked on this article, here’s a look at where the public betting action has gone so far as we get closer to game time. All odds and info are via DraftKings Sportsbook.

No. 16 Mount St. Mary’s vs. No. 16 Texas Southern: 5:10 p.m. truTV

Point Spread

Right now the Northeast Conference winners Mount St. Mary’s Mountaineers (nice work, marketing department) are a one-point favorite over the SWAC champion Texas Southern Tigers. 59% of the handle and 54% of the bets are on The Mount to cover the digit.

Is the public right?

No! We don’t claim to be an expert in the weeds of NEC or SWAC basketball, but we did watch both championship games. TSU loves to speed teams up (41st in pace in D-1), while the NEC is so plodding they still haven’t decided what to have for breakfast today, and MSM is 356th in pace.

When in doubt on a neutral floor, go with the speed that hasn’t been seen by an opponent. Plus TSU has won 14 of their last 15 in mostly blowout fashion, albeit in a worse league than the NEC.

Point Total

The total is 131 points, with 66% of the handle and 60% of the bets on the over.

Moneyline

The Mount is -114 right now, and receiving 61% of the handle and 48% of the wagers. Texas Southern is at -104, with 39% of handle and 52% of bets, meaning the sharp side here might be MSM.

No. 11 Drake vs. No. 11 Wichita State: 6:27 p.m. TBS

Point Spread

The Drake Bulldogs are a 2.5-point favorite at DK presently, with 68% of the handle and 58% of the bets on them over the Wichita State.

Point Total

The total is 141 points, with 66% of the handle and 60% of the bets on the over.

Is the public right?

Indeed! Wichita’s 103rd ranked defense matches up nicely with Drake’s 120th ranked defense against if you’re looking for a shootout. These teams aren’t known for their pace, but they should be able to score on each other pretty efficiently.

And we’re not in Dayton this year, where the legendarily tight rims won’t be a factor.

Moneyline

The Mount is -114 right now, and receiving 61% of the handle and 48% of the wagers. Texas Southern is at -104, with 39% of handle and 52% of bets, meaning the sharp side here might be MSM.

No. 16 Norfolk State vs. No. 16 Appalachian State: 8:40 p.m. truTV

Point Spread

Appalachian State is a -3 favorite receiving 71% of the action and 72% of the bets at DKSportsbook right now.

Point Total

The total is 133.5, with 68% of the handle and 60% of the bets on the over.

Is the public right?

Probably! KenPom.com has this game ending 68-67, and we’ve established refs like to blow the whistle early in the NCAA Tournament, which leads to more free throws and scoring.

Moneyline

App State is at -159, with 64% of the handle and 66% of the bets on the (other) Mountaineers. That puts the MEAC champion Norfolk at +135.

No. 11 Michigan State vs. No. 11 UCLA: 9:57 p.m. TBS

Point Spread

As of now Michigan State is a 2.5-point favorite, receiving 90% of the handle and 87% of the bets on this game that opened at Michigan State -1 at DraftKings.

Is the public right?

Tom Izzo vs. Mick Cronin in the NCAA Tournament when UCLA has lost four in a row, two by complete meltdown. You don’t need to be Nostradamus here.

Point Total

The total is 135, with 35% of the cash and 54% of the bets on the over.

Moneyline

Michigan State is at -148, with 89% of the cash and 87% of the bets on the Spartans. That makes UCLA a +125 underdog.

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