The No. 5 Miami Hurricanes take on the No. 12 Drake Bulldogs in the first round of the 2023 NCAA Tournament. The game will air on TBS at 7:25 p.m. ET on Friday, March 17.
No. 5 Miami vs. No. 12 Drake picks
Spread: Miami -2
Moneyline: Miami -130, Drake +110
Last year, Miami endeared itself to a nation when the Hurricanes went on an improbable run to the Elite Eight. This year, expectations are higher for Jim Larrañaga, as they spent most of the season ranked before losing to Duke in the ACC Championship game.
The Hurricanes are led on offense by forward Norchad Omier, who averaged 13.6 points per game and 9.7 rebounds per game. That said, Omier’s status for the Tournament is in question after he sustained a lower-body injury against the Blue Devils in the ACC Tournament. If Omier is out, more of the scoring brunt will fall on Isaiah Wong (16.2 ppg) and Jordan Miller (15.3 ppg).
The Bulldogs are a trendy upset pick and for good reason. The Bulldogs hold onto the ball (15.5% turnover rate), rebound well (77.6% defensive rebounding rate), and hold their own defensively. On offense, they’re led by guard Tucker DeVries (19 ppg) and try to play most of their game in the interior and midrange.
The other factor to consider, of course, is that Miami forward Norchad Omier may not be available. If the 6-foot-7 bruiser (13.6 PPG, 9.7 RPG, 1.3 BPG) is forced to miss the game due to his ankle injury, Miami obviously will take a huge hit on the interior. His absence would put even more responsibility on the shoulders of do-everything wing Jordan Miller, who already figures to draw the game’s key defensive assignment: trying to slow down Tucker DeVries (19 PPG). So monitor Omier’s status closely. His availability could be the deciding factor in a tight game.
Pick: Drake ML
With Omier out, Drake should have no problem creating offensive opportunities in the interior. DeVries is the type of player slasher who can make an impact in March/ They’ve got veteran leadership and can knock down threes when needed (37.9% from deep). Back the Bulldogs.