Hyderabad, Andhrapradesh (PressExposure) March 17, 2011 -- March Madness betting tips off on Thursday for 30 teams, but right off of the bat, we see a team that is playing for the second time already, as the Clemson Tigers take on the West Virginia Mountaineers.
It's been a rocky road for the Tigers, as they really have had some emotional highs and lows over the course of these last several games. The good news is that they are coming off of an incredible high, a 70-52 win over the UAB Blazers on Tuesday in Dayton.
Jerai Grant had a huge game on the inside, shooting 10-of-15 from the floor and scoring 22 points. He also had seven rebounds, while was tied for the team lead with another one of the bigs, Devin Booker. Booker scored 10 points, while Tanner Smith also had 10.
Milton Jennings was good for 11. Amazingly, the team reached 70 without really getting all that much out of leading scorer, Demontez Stitt, who was held to just seven points and four rebounds. In spite of the fact that UAB nailed 12 three pointers on the day, it just shot 37.5 percent from the floor in an effort that was truly dominating for the men in purple and orange.
Keeping up this defensive intensity is going to be the key for winning these tourney games, Clemson knows that it doesn't have the talent on the other side of the ball to be able to win without that 'D'. There's good news and bad news for the Mountaineers coming into this one. The bad news is that they didn't have to play all that long in the Big East Tournament, but the good news might be exactly the same.
Often times, teams that last quite some time in the Big East Tourney often struggle when it comes to March Madness picks, something that will definitely be put to the test for the Connecticut Huskies as they try to make it to the Final Four. WVU is another team that is built for defense and not much else.
The squad is holding foes down to just 40.9 percent shooting from the field and 29.1 percent from beyond the arc, but on the other side of the ball, those shooting percentages are awfully bad. Part of the problem is that the team's leading scorer, Casey Mitchell, has been coming off the bench for the last half of the season after getting suspended by Head Coach Bob Huggins.
The key man might be Joe Mazzulla, who had a lot of pressure on his back last year in the NCAA Tournament when he was cast into a starting role for the first time. This isn't the first meeting for these two teams in the dance, as they met in 2007 with WVU scoring a 78-73 win. The problem for Clemson is that it really hasn't beaten a team like this all year. Stick with the 'Neers to end the Tigers' season.
For More March Madness picks here.
NCAA Basketball Free Pick: West Virginia Mountaineers