Monday, December 11th, 2017

First Four Starts Tonight!

Published on March 15, 2011 by   ·   6 Comments

The First Four is a new creation from the minds of the NCAA selection committee. They have decided to expand the number of NCAA bids from 65 to 68 teams. 31 of these bids are automatic qualifiers from the various conference tournaments leaving 37 bids for at-large teams.

The First Four is a set of four play-in style games that will be held in Dayton, Ohio like the previous prelim games have been. There will be two games held tonight and two games will be played on Wednesday night to start the NCAA tournament (sort of).

The First Four will match up 4 minor conference winners against each other for two 16 seeds into the NCAA tournament. The other two matchups are between the last four at-large selections. They will be playing for a 12 seed and an 11 seed respectively.

First Four Tuesday Matchups


I’m going to do a quick breakdown on the two First Four games that are starting tonight. You can watch these games on truTV.

first-four-16-seedsThe first matchup is at 6:30 PM ET tonight and involves the North Carolina-Asheville Bulldogs (19-13) from the Big South conference will play against the Arkansas-Little Rock Trojans (19-16) out of the Sun Belt conference. These two teams are playing for the right to face the #1 seed in the Southeast, Pittsburgh.

This game has very little impact on the rest of the tournament (as does the other 16 seed matchup) and will be more for betting purposes and the fans of those two schools. NC-Asheville was a 3 seed in their conference tournament and they beat the heavily favored Coastal Carolina (28-5) to win the Big South crown.

Arkansas-LR had a more interesting road to the tournament. They had a record below .500 before their conference tournament and were 3-7 down the stretch. The Trojans were the 5 seed headed into the Sunbelt tournament and won four games in four days to win the championship and the automatic birth. The title game was against another upstart team in North Texas that had also had to play four in four. The Mean Green lost the title game by a single point as the Trojans scored a 3 pointer with 1.5 seconds left.

As far as the two team schedules are concerned, NC-Asheville has played many more quality non-conference opponents and didn’t perform horribly against the top teams save one game against Ohio State.

The early part of this game should go a long way to deciding who is going to win. Will the four games in four days miracle run drain Akransas-LR or will the 10 days off make NC-Asheville start off rusty.

As far as the betting is concerned, the line opened up with NC-Asheville as a 3 point favorite and that has recently been pushed up to 4. I don’t see Bulldogs losing to the Trojans, but it could be a very close game. That being said, I’m going to predict that NC-Asheville will win the opening First Four game by the score of 68-58.

UAB vs Clemson

first-four-12-seedsThis is going to be the start of something very intriguing with these matchups that produce a higher seed. In this case, the UAB Blazers (22-8) from Conference USA will play the Clemson Tigers (21-11) from the ACC. The two teams are playing for a 12 seed in the East Region and a date to play #5 seed West Virgina.

The analysts were critical that both of these teams made the field of 68. I can understand why people would be upset that Colorado did not make the NCAA tournament, but that is pretty much it. You are really splitting hairs when you are talking about the last 5 to 10 at-large bids and the 15 teams that could take them.

In UAB’s case, they were the Conference USA regular season champ in a down year, but they are only 1 of 2 teams from the conference in the tournament. Clemson is a little bit more perplexing. They didn’t beat a top 50 team all year and had the same record as Virginia Tech, who missed the tournament. I would have swapped those two teams if I had my say.

Clemson primarily got into the tournament on the strength of beating VT and BC a week before selection Sunday. They lost to UNC in overtime in the semi-finals of the ACC tournament.

C-USA #1 seed UAB lost in embarrassing fashion in their first conference tournament game to #8 seed East Carolina. That loss almost took them out of the NCAA tournament, but not quite. The one thing working against the Blazers is that they only have one win against a team in the NCAA tournament and did not fare very well against the better teams that they faced.

Overall, I think that Clemson has the advantage in that they have played a much tougher schedule in the ACC then UAB did in C-USA. They have played North Carolina tough in a 2 games this year and definitely have the better non-conference schedule. I’m looking at the different sportsbooks right now and I’m seeing that Clemson is a 4 to 5 point favorite depending on which book you look at with most places setting the line at 4 1/2.

I’m fairly confident that both of these teams are capable of winning, but not so confident that either of these teams are going to pull off the 12 vs 5 upset against West Virginia. The one point of interest that I would like to make is whether the First Four game will give any edge to a team in the first round because they got an extra playoff game and will be warmed up to start the first round.

I’m not so thrilled with the 4 1/2 line on this game. I like Clemson, but it a close battle. I think that they will win the game by the score of 64-63.

Live College Basketball Betting Lines

Would you like to see live betting lines for college basketball games from multiple sports betting sites? Then check out’s NCAA college basketball tournament live lines.

You will see the Line Movement on a game as it happens. The boxes change color when a line moves for a certain sportsbook. The line movement is an indication of what team that people are betting on. Give it a try!

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Readers Comments (6)

  1. […] recently previewed the opening two games of the First Four. You should check out that article if you are unfamiliar with the premise behind the First Four […]

  2. […] on the NIT (National Invitation Tournament) games. This tournament started yesterday along with the First Four games, which are the four preliminary games played for the right to enter into the field of 64 in […]

  3. […] could not get a win. They are coming into the field of 64 after a blowout win against UAB in the First Four. The Tigers lost in the semi-finals of the ACC tournament in overtime to North […]

  4. […] North Carolina-Asheville Bulldogs (20-13) won the inaugural First Four game in overtime against the University of Arkansas-Little Rock. That gave them a 16 seed and a date […]

  5. […] games in the first day of action. After starting out 0-1-1 against the line on Tuesday with the First Four games on Tuesday, I went 1-1 against the spread on the First Four games on Wednesday. I was very happy because I […]

  6. […] heard several of the commentators call it the “second round”, implying that the First Four was the first […]

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