A trio of unlikely first-round winners will be looking to punch tickets to the Sweet 16 on Sunday, starting with the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders, whose stunning upset of the Michigan State Spartans has earned them a date with the Syracuse Orange as six-point betting underdogs at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.
The Blue Raiders busted brackets across the nation with a 90-81 victory over No. 2 Michigan State as 16 1/2-point underdogs Friday, shaking up the Midwest Region with the first win by a No. 15 seed at the NCAA Tournament since 2013 and just the sixth in the past 20 years.
Middle Tennessee rides a seven-game straight-up win streak into Sunday’s Blue Raiders vs. Orange betting matchup at Scottrade Center, including four straight against the spread victories, holding opponents to 61 or fewer points in four of its past six outings.
No. 10 Syracuse staged a big first-round win of its own, knocking off No. 7 Dayton by a 70-51 score, covering as one-point chalk and ending a three-game SU losing streak.
The Orange now have advanced beyond the NCAA Tournament’s Round of 64 in each of the last seven years, including a Final Four appearance in 2013, posting a 14-6 SU record over that stretch.
But Syracuse has proven to be a shaky March Madness bet, going 6-7 ATS in its past 13 games at the tournament according to the OddsShark College Basketball Database.
In the West Region, No. 11 Northern Iowa will try to follow up its thrilling 75-72 upset win over No. 6 Texas as it takes on No. 3 Texas A&M as six and a half-point underdogs Sunday.
The Panthers shocked the Longhorns with a buzzer beater from half-court to claim their second opening-round win in as many years and continue a torrid run that has seen them post SU wins in 13 of their past 14 games, 12-1-1 ATS.
The Aggies rebounded from an 82-77 loss to Kentucky in the SEC Tournament final, pounding No. 14 Wisconsin-Green Bay 92-65 on Friday to pick up their first March Madness win since 2010.
In East Region action, No. 14 Stephen F. Austin will be aiming to even its all-time March Madness record at 3-3 SU when it battles No. 6 Notre Dame as a slender one-point underdog.
The Lumberjacks dominated No. 3 West Virginia in a 70-56 first-round win to remain perfect in 2016 with 21 straight SU wins, while the Fighting Irish topped No. 11 Michigan 70-63 as three-point chalk Friday for just their fourth SU win in their past eight games.
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