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Wagner vs. Howard 2024 First Four Odds and Preview

By Hank Blaine

The first game of the 2024 NCAA Tournament is per usual from the First Four in Dayton on Tuesday night as No. 16 Wagner of the Northeast Conference takes on No. 16 Howard of the MEAC. Tuesday’s winner faces West Region No. 1 seed North Carolina on Thursday.

It’s the second all-time meeting between these schools. Wagner defeated the Bison, 79-54, during the 1997-98 season.

Wagner Seahawks vs. Howard Bison Game Information

  • When: Tuesday, March 19th, 2024 at 6:40 pm ET
  • Where: UD Arena, Dayton, OH
  • TV: TruTV
  • Radio: KMVP 98.7 FM (Wagner) // ESPN 700 AM (Howard)
  • Live Stream: TruTV
  • NCAAB Betting Odds: Wagner (+3.5) // Howard (-3.5)

Why Bet on the Wagner Seahawks?

Wagner was just 7-9 in regular season NEC action but stormed its way to the surprising conference tournament title by beating third-seeded Sacred Heart in the quarterfinals, top-seeded Central Connecticut in the semifinals and No. 2 seed Merrimack in the final – all true road games for the Seahawks. They became the first NEC team to win three road games’ en route to a conference championship.

Junior Tahron Allen led Wagner with 22 points in the title game, while junior Melvin Council Jr. joined Allen in double figures with 12 points. Sophomore Keyontae Lewis had eight points and 12 rebounds in the victory. This is the Seahawks’ second tournament appearance in school history and their first showing since 2003, when they lost to Pittsburgh, 87-61, in the opening round.

Council Jr. is the team’s best player and was named first-team All-NEC. In the regular season, he was the conference leader with 35.82 minutes per game while ranking fourth in the circuit in scoring (15.3 ppg), eighth in rebounding (5.8), sixth in assists (3.61), and third in assist/turnover ratio (2.02). Council scored at least 20 points in seven games and had four double-doubles.

In his second season at the helm, coach Donald Copeland, a former Seton Hall standout, guided a squad with just seven healthy players to the Dance. And he did it with a coaching masterstroke, mixing in a zone that stymied the host and getting a dominant effort on the glass from his undermanned squad.

“If I told you I know what I’m doing, I’d be lying to you,” Copeland said. “To have seven players, you’ve got to learn on the fly with it. The coaches have been great, my staff, filling in as token players. Guys who are injured, they’ve turned into coaches. … We approached it with a mentality that everybody was going to have to do more. And everybody has tried to do that.”

Wagner’s defense is significantly better (171st nationally in defensive efficiency) than Howard’s (334th). On the contrary, Howard’s offense is significantly better (192nd nationally in offensive efficiency) than Wagner’s (334th). The Bison attempt 3s on 38% of field goal attempts, connecting on 39.7% (17th nationally). The Seahawks typically excel at containing 3’s, as opponents shoot only 29% from deep against them.

Why Bet on the Howard Bison?

Howard finished tied for second in the MEAC regular-season standings but earned the automatic NCAA bid by knocking off Delaware State 70-67 in the conference tournament title game on Saturday. Jordan Hairston had 18 points to lead Howard, while the Bison, the tourney’s fourth seed, also got 16 points each from Seth Towns and Bryce Harris, and 15 from Marcus Dockery in the win.

“We really shot the 3-point basket well in the first half, but they made adjustments at the half,” Coach Kenny Blakeney said. “This allowed Bryce more room inside and that proved to be very effective for us down the stretch.”

It’s the second straight year that Howard will be in the NCAA Tournament. The Bison, who were also a No. 16 seed in 2023, faced No. 1 seed Kansas in the West Region. Down 13 heading into halftime, Howard couldn’t gain any ground in the second half, losing 96-68 in the first round matchup against the Jayhawks.

This will be the school’s fourth-ever Big Dance appearance. Two starters (Dom Campbell and Shy Odom) have battled injuries this year. But Towns (14.2 PPG), an eighth-year senior, has been a leader for this group. Harris and Dockery were named to the All-MEAC First Team and Second Team, respectively, while Towns claimed a spot on the Third Team.

Harris and Towns were selected to the All-Defensive Team. Harris led the league in field goal percentage at 57 percent during the regular season. He won MEAC Defensive Player of the Week six times after ranking among the league leaders in rebounding (2nd) and blocks (6th). Dockery topped the MEAC in three-point field goal percentage at 40 percent. Towns ranked among the conference leaders in several categories, including scoring (9th), rebounding (5th), free throw percentage (5th), three-point field goals made (3rd) and assists (7th).

Wagner vs. Howard Betting Trends

  • Wagner is 4-2 ATS in the last 6 games.
  • Seahawks are 4-2 SU in its last 6 games.
  • The total went under in 6 of Wagner’s last 6 games.
  • Howard is 2-6 ATS in the last 8 games.
  • Bison are 6-1-1 SU in its last 8 games.
  • The total went over in 4 of Howard’s last 6 games played on a Tuesday when at home.

Wagner vs. Howard Expert Prediction

Wagner takes the win to face the Tar Heels on Thursday night.

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This is just one of the many sports betting guides that you can read here at Nitrobetting news. Stay tuned for more 2024 March Madness Tournament previews and articles, and don’t forget to check out the latest college basketball betting odds on our online Bitcoin sportsbook.

*All odds stated are subject to change without prior notice.