2023 NCAA Tournament First Four odds: Heavy lean on Texas A&M-Corpus Christi over Southeast Missouri State despite Terrion Murdix injury

The NCAA Tournament's First Four tips off tonight in Dayton.
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After one day of college basketball darkness Monday, the NCAA Tournament begins tonight with two First Four games in Dayton. The first features 16-seeds and conference champions in Southeast Missouri State and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. There's a massive lean on the Islanders despite the fact their best player, guard Terrion Murdix, is now out for the season injured. A&M-CC is a 3.5-point favorite. Click here for model picks.

A&M-CC (23-10) was the Southland Conference regular-season champion and beat second-place Northwestern State 75-71 in the conference tournament title game last Wednesday despite Murdix leaving early with a knee injury. The senior guard was named the Southland's Defensive Player of the Year and first-team All-Southland. He averaged 13.4 points and 4.3 rebounds per game while leading the league and ranking 15th nationally with 71 steals (2.3 per game). He also had a league-best 168 assists (5.4 per game), which was 24th nationally.

The Islanders had three All-Conference selections for the first time in program history. Murdix and Isaac Mushila were tabbed to the first team and Trevian Tennyson to the second team. Murdix was the second SLC Defensive Player of the Year in program history along with Rashawn Thomas in 2015-16. Murdix was also on the All-Defensive Team for the second year in a row.

Despite Murdix's injury -- which frankly most casual bettors likely aren't aware of -- 90% of the spread handle and 81% of the tickets for this game at BetMGM are on the Islanders. A&M-CC is looking for its first-ever NCAA Tournament win. It lost 76-67 in the First Four last year to Texas Southern. Murdix had 10 points, six assists and three rebounds.

Southeast Missouri State (19-16) finished fifth in the Ohio Valley Conference regular-season standings but won four games in four days in the conference tournament to earn the league's automatic bid. SEMO became the first No. 5 seed to ever win the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament and is the first team to win four games in four days at the event since Austin Peay accomplished the feat in 2016.

SEMO has its first winning season in nine years and a victory tonight will give it 20 wins in a season for only the third time during its NCAA Division I era in program history. It's the second NCAA trip in school history – in 2000, SEMO lost in the first round to LSU.

It's the first-ever meeting between these programs with overall No. 1 seed Alabama awaiting the winner. On the total of 152.5 points, 66% of the handle and 62% of the tickets are on the Over.

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