March Madness Brackets: What Dogs will Bark in NCAA First Round?
Who are some underdogs worth betting on during this year’s NCAA Tournament’s first round action? We pick five that we like.
Every year there are a handful of upsets in the first round of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament that bust brackets all over the country. There are a ton of exciting matchups in the first round, as always, that should provide fireworks.
Which underdogs will survive and advance this year? Here are the likeliest to win, or at least cover, in their opening round matchup. Enjoy what should be a very memorable weekend. Check out our bracket tips here and 5 Bets to make for the first round here.
Charleston Riding Hot Streak
The Charleston Cougars, seeded No. 12, come into this matchup winners of 30 of their last 32 games and currently ten in a row, including the CAA championship game.
They have been dominating opponents all year long and are averaging a double-digit win on a nightly basis. The No. 5 San Diego State Aztecs are also coming off a strong stretch and conference championship but has not exactly been known to blow teams out this season.
This one should be very competitive and I expect it to be close either way. Five points for Charleston is plenty to hop on this one.
Prediction: Cougars +5 over Aztecs (-115 at BetMGM)
Watch: Thursday, 3:10 p.m. ET, truTV or FuboTV
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Colgate Pastes the Spread Against Texas
The Colgate Raiders are on a similar type of heater as Charleston right now, having won 20 of their last 21 and a Patriot League championship. This team has played tremendous basketball down the stretch and basically had their way in the Patriot League tournament, with easy wins all the way to the title.
This was going to be a tough first round matchup for anyone and the team ended up with one of the nation’s best in the No. 2-seeded Texas Longhorns. The Longhorns have had a great season but have not shown a consistent ability to blow teams out. This spread is far too large for what should be a close game. Take those 13.5 points and run. (13.5 or 15.5?)
Prediction: Raiders +13.5 to cover (-115 at BetRivers)
Watch: Thursday, 7:25 p.m. ET, TBS or FuboTV
Penn State Roars Past Texas A&M
Both the No. 10-seeded Penn State Nittany Lions and No. 7 Texas A&M Aggies entered their respective conference title games on a roll and as one of the hottest recent betting picks at the time.
Both teams came up just short against top-5 teams and will be looking for a big-time bounce back game in the first round of the ‘Big Dance.’
The NCAA did some great work in putting these teams together, as they’ve had similar seasons, especially down the stretch. The difference is that Penn State will have the clear best player on the floor in do-it-all point guard Jalen Pickett. This is the type of player that uses a strong NCAA tournament to catapult his draft stock and I think that’s exactly what will happen here.
Prediction: Nittany Lions +3.5 over Aggies (-108 at Unibet)
Watch: Thursday, 9:55 p.m. ET, TBS or FuboTV
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VCU Ready for Traditional No. 12 Upset
Every year at least one or two 12 seeds complete an upset and move on to the second round of the tournament. The VCU Rams seem to be the hot pick to become that team this year. They are riding a nine-game win streak into this one that includes an Atlantic-10 title.
The Saint Mary’s Gaels, on the other hand, have dropped two of its last three. Both teams have had impressive seasons but the momentum just seems to be too much in VCU’s favor here. This is your 12 seed pick to win outright.
Prediction: VCU +4 over St. Mary’s (-115 at BetMGM)
Watch: Thursday, 3:10 p.m. ET, truTV or FuboTV
Providence Knocks off Blue Blood Kentucky
The Providence Friars and Kentucky Wildcats both enter this matchup on a downward spiral. Providence has lost four of its last five and Kentucky has dropped two of its last three.
Obviously, both will be looking for a boost heading into tournament play and have the right matchup to get it. Providence seems to have the edge in a couple important areas. First, they have a lot more tournament experience on their roster which tends to go a long way. They also feature a lot more strong scoring options than Kentucky, which will be a big factor in late-game scenarios when the game slows down. These factors combined should be enough for the Friars to pull off the upset.
Prediction: Friars +4 over Wildcats (-110 at Caesars)
Watch: Friday, 7:10 p.m. ET, CBS or FuboTV
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