The First Round of the NCAA Tournament rolls on Friday in the Midwest Region with the #5 Miami Hurricanes (25-7) and #12 Drake Bulldogs (27-7). Miami and Drake have never faced each other in the program’s history.
The winner will take on the top-seeded Houston Cougars with a chance to advance to the Sweet 16.
The contest tips off at 7:25 p.m. EST inside MVP Arena in Albany, New York. Miami is a two-point favorite while the over/under total is 146 points.
What to Know – #12 Drake Bulldogs
The veteran Bulldogs were winners of the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament after finishing in second place during the regular season. Drake breezed through the conference tournament, winning all three matchups by double digits. The Bulldogs finished 55th in the NCAA NET and 67th in the KenPom.
On offense, the Bulldogs were third in the Valley, averaging 75.3 points per game while hitting 47.0% of their shots from the field and 37.3% from the 3-point line. Drake’s defense was fourth in the conference, surrendering 63.9 ppg, 40.8% shooting from the floor, and 30.6% from three.
Drake opens up the NCAA Tournament with a 16-16-1 record against the spread and a 5-1-1 mark ATS in games played on a neutral court. The Bulldogs own an impressive 8-1 record ATS over their previous nine matchups heading into Friday’s bout.
What to Know – #5 Miami (FL) Hurricanes
Miami is looking to make another deep run in the tournament after a run to the Elite Eight last year as a ten-seed. The Hurricanes finished the regular season as the top team in the conference and advanced to the ACC semifinals before falling to Duke. Miami is the 43rd-ranked team according to KenPom and 35th in the NET.
Miami’s offense topped the ACC in scoring, leading the way averaging 79.4 ppg thanks to 48.6% shooting from the field and a 36.8% clip from deep. On defense, the Hurricanes were 11th in the league, allowing opposing teams to score 72.1 ppg, shoot 45.0% from the floor, and 33.6% from beyond the arc.
The Hurricanes finished the regular season and conference tournament play with a 17-14-1 record ATS with a 1-3 showing ATS in neutral locations. Miami has trended in the wrong direction lately ATS, with a 1-4 record over its last five contests.
The Pick is In
You could look at Drake’s schedule and see the lack of competition the Bulldogs faced, but this is a veteran team with a lineup filled with shooters. Drake matches up well against a Miami team that has struggled this year on the defensive end of the floor.
Miami can score in buckets also, and the length and athleticism of the Hurricanes will be a matchup problem for Drake. Look for both of these teams to have success on the offensive end of the floor in a high-scoring contest.
The Pick: Miami/Drake OVER 146