So the early lines are up (on Bodog and, well, everywhere else) for Thursday's first-round NCAA action. The first round is, supposedly, the greatest gambling day of the year, because public money pushes the lines in all sorts of awkward directions, and reputation means more than results to a large swath of the population. Taking a look at the lines, there are a few that stand out:
UNLV (-1) v. Northern Iowa
It looks like the wrong team is favored here, with both Massey and KenPom giving UNI anywhere from a 1 to 1.5-pt edge. Of course, 2 points isn't a brutal edge, but when it flips the line, we pay more attention. Of course, depending on the money line, that might be the stronger play.
Tennessee (-3) v. SDSU
Both Massey and KenPom list this as closer to a 1.5-pt game . . . that other UT is a little overrated this year, and their "run-and-gun" style has been crippled by the 2nd Amendment (they're about average in pace) ... instead, they've done it with defensive efficiency, crushing 3P% for other teams. Unfortunately, SDSU is not a 3-oriented team (200th in 3PA/FGA), and SDSU crushes the offensive glass with a strong inside game that UT isn't tall enough to counteract. Could be a good matchup.
Vanderbilt (-3) v. Murray State
Massey has this at 3, while KenPom has it at 5.5+, giving some protection here. Vandy is likely overseeded a little, but Ogilvy in the middle may have a field day against Murray State.
BYU (-5) v.  Florida
There are some that feel Florida is the worst at-large admitted to the field this year, and both Massey and KenPom think the true line is closer to 7. Good enough for me, even if BYU is, well, BYU.
Richmond (-2) v. Saint Mary's
Again, the wrong team is favored - Massey and KenPom have StM's as between a 1.5 and 3-point favorite. The Spiders have talent, there's no doubt, and this one might not pass the smell test based on matchups - Richmond is a bad O-reb team, a true "one-shot" offense that plays with pace and doesn't turn the ball over, while StM's is pretty bad at forcing turnovers. However, StM's can shoot the lights out, and if flying across the country doesn't slow it down, watch out.
And some quick hits:
-The numbers don't love Kentucky - that (-20) might be a little high, may be value in ETSU.
-Montana isn't particularly good, but nothing indicates that NMU should be a (-9) favorite in that game. May be a good place to pound the dog.
-It's not cut-and-dried, but it looks like KSU might clear the (-16) over UNT with some ease.
-Nobody has any clue what to do with the ND/ODU game. In fact, half the capping sites have ODU as a true favorite and the other half think (-3) is perfectly right. Unreal game really.