I’ve always had mixed feelings about Four First. The games are usually very competitive, I just don’t like the teams that have won their leagues having to fight for the minutiae of this phase of the NCAA.
I also don’t like the power conference teams that have so many chances to prove they’re worth it get “another hit”. I feel these games should only be for teams that have won their league but only lost their conference tournament. Or the same thing.
The editorials aside, here’s a quick look at the First Four:
The first four best bets
16 Texas Southern Tigers vs. 16 Texas A&M Corpus Christie Islanders
Texas Southern had some notoriety when they beat Florida out of the SEC at the start of the season. Now, they have a chance to return to everyone’s attention with a game against another team from Texas. The Tigers got the Islanders hot at the right moment after posting just a record .500 in the Southland Conference. Southland and SWAC (Texas Southern) are the worst games in America, so although these teams have earned their spots, it probably won’t be a good game. The advanced stats say the Tigers are the better team so it seems like smarter play, though overtaking could also make sense. You can skip some of these games if you want, remember.
Number 16 Wright State Raiders vs Number 16 Bryant Bulldogs
Wright State earned the spot with a 1-point win over Northern Kentucky in the Horizon League title game. The Raiders can compete in Horizon but there’s a good reason they’re just a 16th seed. They don’t have a specific strength but they’re definitely a fair game for the Bulldogs, so look for this one to stiff competition. Bryant have dominated in the Northeast Conference title game and they’ve only lost twice since Dec. 8. It’s been a nice game so you have to wonder how they’ll handle it if they face some. adversity. Most of those wins also go to superior diversity. Bulldogs are fun. They are not big but also don’t start any players under 6’4″. This is probably a coin flip game so it makes sense to take the value with the score as a small margin.