Pacific +12 (-105) and Miami Florida -12 (-115)

This appears to be a really odd game. It is just as easy to envision a 30 point Miami blowout win as it is to picture a big upset. Miami lost a game this season to Florida Gulf Coast who also happens to be a 15 seed so an upset is certainly possible. Miami also won the ACC regular season as well as post season tournaments and appear to be one of the hottest teams in the country which can lead someone to believe that a blowout is on the horizon. Pacific does have two factors that always bode well come tournament time working in their favor, experience and the ability to make the 3 point shot. Senior guard Lorenzo McCloud is their leading scorer as well as their leader on the court. He only averages 11 points per game, as the Tigers are not a very high scoring team. Big man Tony Gill does not have impressive numbers for the season but became much more of a force as the season wore on and went from barely playing into a 6th man and/or starter. He is a big body that can draw contact and get some of those Miami players in foul trouble.

Miami is a team that can hurt the opposition in many ways. Sophomore point guard Shane Larkin is the floor leader averaging 15 points and 4 assists a game. He has gotten better as the season has worn on. He has displayed even more poise late in close game or early on in games when his team is trailing big. He almost never comes out of the game and will have the ball in his hands the majority of the time that the Hurricanes are on offense. He averaged 20 points per game in the ACC tournament. Senior center Kenny Kadji was the leading scorer amongst their big men at 13 per night while pulling down 7 rebounds. Senior guard Durand Scott plays the game with tremendous passion and will look to be aggressive on both the offensive and defensive end. Senior guard Trey McKinney Jones is an active defender who shoots nearly 40% from the 3-point line. Reggie Johnson and Julian Gamble provide bulk and depth on the interior while freshman guard Rion Brown shows signs of being a special player.

Miami Coach Jim Larranaga has taken a team (George Mason) with much less talent to a final four a few years ago so the edge in coaching is clearly in Miami’s favor. Pacific is at its best when in transition and are a very good passing team overall. The biggest problem lies is that they have no true go-to scorer to get them a basket to break a bad stretch. Miami is a very aggressive team and sometimes that can work against you when you’re paying a smart team. In this case however the aggressive team is on a tremendous roll and that roll is going to continue much deeper into the dance.

Ray's Free Pick: Take Miami Florida -12

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