Miami vs Drake March Madness Betting Preview
Hurricanes Slight Favorite in Trendy 5/12 Matchup
The first round of the NCAA Tournament continues Friday, with Miami vs Drake in Albany, N.Y. Tip-off is slated for 7:25 p.m. on TBS. The winner will advance to play either No. 4 seed Indiana or No. 13 seed Kent State in the second round of the Midwest Regional on Sunday.
Miami Hurricanes: ‘Canes Poised to Make Noise Again?
Miami will be making its second straight NCAA Tournament appearance and the 12th all-time. Last season, the Hurricanes advanced to the Elite Eight as a No. 10 seed, where they lost to top-seeded Kansas 76-50. This will be the program’s sixth trip to the Big Dance under head coach Jim Larranaga.
How They Got Here
Miami cracked the Associated Press Top 25 in December en route to a blistering 13-1 start. It stayed there too, climbing to No. 12 in the poll before losing to Georgia Tech in ACC play. While it was a relatively down year for the conference, with preseason No. 1 North Carolina failing to make the NCAA Tournament, the Hurricanes separated themselves as the regular season champion.
With five Quad 1 wins, they were a tournament lock come Selection Sunday and might’ve even been a Top 4 seed if not for an ACC semifinal defeat to Duke. Bad losses to Georgia Tech and Florida State also hurt.
How Far Will They Go
Theoretically, Miami has the pieces needed to get back to the Elite Eight, if not go a step further. Led by ACC Player of the Year Isaiah Wong and fifth-year senior Jordan Miller, the Hurricanes are extremely talented. But they’ve also been handed a tough draw. Missouri Valley Conference champion Drake will be a trendy upset pick. We’d like the Hurricanes a lot more if they also didn’t potentially have No. 1 seed Houston, who is favored to win March Madness, in their path.
Miami has reasonably short odds (+160) to reach the Sweet 16 but is just +1200 to win the regional. That sounds about right for now.
Drake Bulldogs: MVC Champs Big Threat
This will be Drake’s sixth trip to the NCAA Tournament and the second since 2020-21 under head coach Darian DeVries. In their most recent appearance, the Bulldogs beat Wichita State in the First Four before falling in the round of 64 to USC.
How They Got Here
Drake is one of the hottest teams going, with 13 wins over its last 14 games. In stringing together double-digit victories over Murray State, Southern Illinois, and NCAAB regular season champion Bradley, the Bulldogs locked up their first MVC Tournament title in 15 years and claimed an automatic bid to the field of 68. They’re 27-7 overall, with a Quad 1 win over Mississippi State and a NET ranking of 55. Few mid-majors can match their resume.
How Far Will They Go
Drake is experienced and playing with confidence after winning the MVC Tournament title. That could be a dangerous combination for the Hurricanes, who are just a 2-point favorite. Drake stands as good a chance as any of being this year’s Cinderella. Even as a No. 12 seed, the Bulldogs are just +475 to advance to the Sweet 16.
Handicapping The Game
It’s no wonder the No. 5/12 game is often one of the most anticipated college basketball matchups. It’s been a haven for upsets. Since the field expanded to 64 teams in 1985, 12 seeds have won 53 out of 148 times, including twice last season (New Mexico State over UConn, Richmond over Iowa). Miami vs Drake is sure to be entertaining, even if it doesn’t end with the lower seed advancing.
Thanks to Wong and Miller, a fifth-year senior, the Hurricanes have a one-two punch capable of doing damage. With both on the floor, the Hurricanes have been potent in transition, ranking Top 20 in the country in fastbreak points. The Bulldogs, however, are usually adept at taking care of the ball, which should neutralize one of Miami’s biggest strengths.
Drake is led by 6-foot-7 combo guard Tucker DeVries — the coach’s son — who became just the fourth sophomore to win MVC Player of the Year. DeVries is averaging a team-high 19 points and has 15 20-point games on the season.
Health could be an issue for the Hurricanes, who lost forward Norchad Omier to an ankle injury in the loss to Duke.
Either way, Miami vs Drake figures to be must-see TV. (Odds change frequently, be sure to check for the most up to date changes.)Follow us on Twitter
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