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San Francisco preview, odds vs. Murray State: Dons take the Dance Floor for the first time in 24 years

The Dons look to convert many years of program building into its first tourney win since 1979.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament First Round Indianapolis Practice Robert Goddin-USA TODAY Sports

For years, the Dons were just below that upper tier of West Coast Conference teams, behind the likes of Gonzaga, St. Mary’s and BYU that just couldn’t quite crack the tournament ranks. Now, with an experienced group of seniors and under rising star Todd Golden in his third year, the Dons were able to put it all together and go dancing. First up, the Murray State Racers.

Team: San Francisco Dons

Location: San Francisco, CA

Record: 24-9 (10-6 WCC)

Tournament history: The Dons have appeared in 17 NCAA tournaments, and won two championships with Bill Russell in 1955 and 1956 – but last appeared in 1998, and haven’t won a tournamentgame since beating BYU back in 1979.

The Dons have an experienced front line that can score, which is the kind of thing you like to see in March. Yauhen Massalski, the transfer from the University of San Diego, patrols the inside, averaging nearly a double-double at 13.5 points and 9.4 rebounds. Khalil Shabazz, in his third year with the team, is a capable scorer as well who can create off the dribble. Then there’s point guard Jamaree Bouyea, in his fifth year with the Dons, who’s a fantastic all around player that helped build this program to what it is now. He can score inside and out (16.1 ppg.), a great facilitator (4 apg.) and despite his 6’2” stature, manages to snag five rebounds per game.

Perhaps even more reliable is their defense, their perimeter defense in particular. The Dons allow just over five triples a game, which is fourth in the nation. They allow under 30% of three pointers, which is 15th in the country. However, the Racers have a bit more size and focus more of their offense through the paint, in particular, leading scorer and rebounder KJ Williams at 6’10” and Tevin Brown right behind him in both categories at 6’5”. One key matchup to watch is the rebounding battle, which always seems to be cliché – but both teams are solid on the glass. San Francisco allows opponents 8.4 rebounds per game, but Murray State pulls in over 12 per game which is top 20 in the country. A couple of extra possessions could be crucial in a matchup such as this one.

Murray State has a ton of momentum, having lost two games all year and not since late December against Auburn. But the Dons verifiably play in a tougher league, having matched up against the likes of Gonzaga and St. Mary’s multiple times over the past several weeks. This should be a tight matchup, and the winner will pose some matchup problems against what likely will be the Kentucky Wildcats.

DraftKings Odds and Game Info

Spread: MURR -1.5

O/U: 137.5

ML: SF +110, MURR -130

Game time: 9:40 ET

Venue: Gainbridge Fieldhouse, Indianapolis IN

Channel: CBS, March Madness Live