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The Dagger: College Basketball Blog

A look at three matchups in which the lower-seeded team is the favorite

Ryan Greene
The Dagger

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Despite earning a 6-seed, San Diego State tips off against North Carolina State as an underdog. (AP)

According to the seeds, these teams might be looked at as slight underdogs.

Las Vegas oddsmakers think differently.

Here's a look at three teams which are listed as underdogs in Vegas despite a seeding advantage.

No. 6 San Diego State vs. No. 11 North Carolina State (-2)

 

This number actually makes a little bit of sense when you think about it. Mainly, it's because of the logistics of the situation, as the Aztecs are making a 2,300-mile trip across the country to play a game that tips off at 9:40 a.m., Pacific time. But other than that, the matchup seems pretty even. San Diego State had to replace four starters off of last year's 34-win team that made it to the Sweet 16, and was expected to struggle this season. But the mental toughness and swagger developed a year ago stuck with the returners, and in turn, they won the Mountain West regular-season title and are one of the toughest teams in the country to put down. Only one of their seven losses this season came to a non-NCAA tournament team, and that was on the road at Air Force by two points with MWC Player of the Year Jamaal Franklin not playing. North Carolina State is hot of late, sure, and the Wolf Pack will likely be a popular pick. On paper, it appears to be a toss-up, but the physical placement and time of this game could have had some influence on the line.

Related NCAA tournament video on Yahoo! Sports:

No. 8 Iowa State vs. No. 9 UConn (-2)

 

This one kind of feels like a popularity contest of sorts. Some might have an issue with UConn being in the tournament at all, though they played pretty good ball the last couple of weeks, and with several pieces back off of last season's national championship squad. They rode the will and skill of Kemba Walker through the tournament last season from the middle of the pack, and some seem to think that UConn is capable of making some noise and scaring No. 1-seed Kentucky in the second round. But they have to get there first. Iowa State flew under the radar for the better part of the year, but Fred Hoiberg's merry band of Division I transfers jelled and exceeded preseason expectations. The man who gives Iowa State the best chance is junior forward Royce White, who has the size to bang with and control the glass against UConn's big bodies up front.

Related NCAA tournament video on Yahoo! Sports:

No. 8 Creighton vs. No. 9 Alabama (-1.5)

 

Again, the line suggests that it is pretty much anyone's guess. Creighton will have arguably the best player on the floor in sophomore wing Doug McDermott, who is the nation's third-leading scorer this season. But on paper, Alabama might have the better lineup from top to bottom, and the Crimson Tide has rebounded from a midseason rash of issues with some of its individual pieces. Anthony Grant wasn't hesitant to properly punish them, and by dealing with the problems the right way, it seems to have bred a better team by year's end.

Ryan Greene also covers UNLV and the Mountain West Conference for RunRebs.com. Follow him on Twitter at @ryanmgreene.

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