The First Four of the NCAA Tournament is highlighted by a matchup between the storied programs at Michigan State and UCLA, but bettors don’t see it as a fair fight.
The teams have 13 national titles between them – UCLA 11 and Michigan State two – and the winner in the battle of 11 seeds will move on to play No. 6 BYU on Saturday.
Michigan State (15-12) finished below .500 in the Big Ten but has knocked off three top-10 opponents: Illinois, Ohio State and Michigan since the last week of February. The Spartans lost to Maryland in the second round of the conference tournament last week.
They are 2-point favorites at DraftKings, where the Spartans are being backed by 89 percent of the spread bets and 91 percent of the spread handle.
UCLA hurt its seeding by losing its past four games, including an 83-79 overtime defeat to Oregon State in the quarterfinals of the Pac-12 tournament.
Appalachian State is the other decided betting favorite on Thursday as a 3-point favorite against Norfolk State. Appalachian State is being backed by 74 percent of the bets and 73 percent of the handle.
The action is fairly split in the other two matchups.
Wichita State is a 1-point favorite over Drake in the First Four matchup with the highest Over/Under at 141 points. The Under is being backed by 60 percent of the bets, while Drake is being backed by 51 percent of the bets and 64 percent of the spread handle.
The shortest spread belongs to Texas Southern as a 1/2-point favorite over Mt. St. Mary’s, which is being backed by 54 percent of the bets and 63 percent of the handle.
–Field Level Media (@FieldLevelMedia)