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Northwestern may be in the NCAA tournament for the first time in school history, but oddsmakers are saying that their run will be short-lived. The Wildcats are the underdogs heading into their first game in school history, valued as a +2 underdog against Vanderbilt.

Here’s a preview of Thursday’s action:


Northwestern vs. Vanderbilt Preview

Date: Thursday, March 16, 2017

Start Time: 4:30 p.m. ET

TV Channel: TBS

Line: Vanderbilt (-2), per OddsShark.com

Moneyline: -135

Over/Under: 130


Prediction

Northwestern may be riding an emotional high, but Vanderbilt earned their NCAA ticket with a tough SEC schedule. Head coach Bryce Drew has his team dancing in his first season, and Vanderbilt beat Florida twice in the final week of the season to secure their place in the tournament.

Northwestern also made a strong late-season run, but a blowout loss to Wisconsin in the Big 10 tournament was an abrupt end to their season. They’re led by a pair of standout Junior guards in McIntosh and Lindsey, and Northwestern are one of the best passing teams in the nation.

The Commodores enter the tournament 8-1 against the spread in their last nine games, and their only losses in the last month have been to tournament teams Arkansas and Kentucky.

Both teams rank near the bottom of the nation in rebounding, but Northwestern gets the defensive edge. The Wildcats surrender only 65.1 points per game, but I can’t get the blowout loss to Wisconsin out of my head. Taking the Commodores to advance.

Prediction: Northwestern 66, Vanderbilt 70