All the lines are up at Wannamakeabet.com for the opening games of this year’s NCAA Tournament. Make sure you get into this year’s March Madness Sports Betting Championship. If you’re not a member of the site yet, click here. If you are a member already, simply log in and your invite will be waiting for you. Without further adieu, here are my March Madness first round predictions on some key games from all four regions.
No. 12 Oregon vs. No. 5 Wisconsin Badgers (-1.5)
Oregon is on an 8-0 SU and ATS streak, including four wins en route to running the table and winning the Pac 12. The Ducks (23-12 SU, 20-15 ATS) capped that run with a 68-48 ripping of No. 1 seed Washington as a 2-point chalk in Saturday’s final.
On the other side of the tip, Wisconsin won four of its last five regular-season games to finish fourth in the Big Ten. The Badgers (23-10 SU, 16-16-1 ATS) then edged Nebraska in the conference tourney quarterfinals before falling to No. 1 seed Michigan State 67-55 as 5.5-point dogs in Saturday’s semis. Two teams coming in off hot streaks, god I love this tournament. This line opened as Wisconsin -1 and has been bet heavily to Oregon and now sits at Oregon -1.5. You won’t find tons of value in either side in what appears to be a coin toss, but If you are betting into this line move I would get down on Oregon before it goes to -2. Personally, I like Wisconsin for 2000 points in the contest. And in what appears to be a toss up game, I’ll go with the much stronger conference top to bottom.
No. 14 Old Dominion Monarchs vs. No. 3 Purdue Boilermakers (-12)
Purdue earned the No. 2 seed and a double-bye in the Big Ten tournament, but made it no further than that. The Boilermakers (23-9 SU, 17-14-1 ATS) tumbled to No. 7 seed Minnesota 75-73 laying 9.5 points in Friday’s quarterfinals.
Old Dominion lived up to its No. 1 seed and won the Conference USA tournament. The Monarchs (26-8 SU, 15-19 ATS) beat Western Kentucky 62-56 as 2.5-point underdogs in Saturday’s final. This just feels like too much wood to chop for Purdue and I like Old Dominion here with the points and a small play on the moneyline to get the possible upset. 2,000 points on Old Dominion +12.
No. 10 Minnesota Golden Gophers vs. No. 7 Louisville Cardinals (-4.5)
Louisville struggled late in the regular season in the tough Atlantic Coast Conference, losing seven of its last 10 games (4-6 ATS). But the Cardinals (20-13 SU, 17-14-2 ATS) righted the ship a bit in the ACC tournament, routing Notre Dame 75-53 as 8-point favorites before losing to North Carolina 83-70 as 7-point underdogs in Thursday’s quarters.
Minnesota pulled two upsets, one mild and one bigger, in the Big Ten tournament to help secure an NCAA bid. The Golden Gophers (21-13 SU, 17-17 ATS) topped Penn State 77-72 in overtime as 3-point pups, then knocked out Purdue 75-73 as 9.5-point ‘dogs. Minnesota then ran out of steam as 9.5-point underdogs to Michigan, losing 76-49 in Saturday’s semifinals.
It seems like a lot of sharp money and gen pop money is coming out strong on Louisville as we have a perennial big name against a cinderella type here. I translate this to mean there’s a lot of dumb money on Louisville. I’ll take my chances with the Golden Gophers +5 or 6 for 2,000.
No. 14 Yale Bulldogs vs. No. 3 Louisiana State Tigers (-8)
Polar opposites. Louisiana State won the SEC’s regular-season title, but bowed out in its first game of the conference tourney. The Tigers (26-6 SU, 19-12-1 ATS) lost to Florida 76-73 as 3.5-point favorites in Friday’s quarterfinals.
Yale finished second in the Ivy League’s regular-season standings, but was first when it counted. The Bulldogs (22-7 SU, 16-12 ATS) won both games in the league tourney, including a 97-85 victory laying 4 points against No. 1 seed Harvard in Sunday’s final to nab the automatic NCAA bid.
LSU opened -8 at WANNA, but Yale money knocked the number down a tick to 7.5. I think this Yale money is a sucker bet and I’m going with a team that is battle tested in a tough conference versus the cupcake Ivy. LSU wins big and covers the 8 for 2,000 units.
No. 11 Ohio State Buckeyes vs. No. 6 Iowa State Cyclones (-6)
Iowa State is el fuego. They entered the Big 12 tournament as the No. 5 seed and exited with the championship trophy, winning three games in three nights. In Saturday’s final, the Cyclones (23-11 SU, 18-14-2 ATS) breezed by Kansas 78-66 as 1.5-point favorites.
Ohio State ended the Big Ten regular season with a thud, losing three in a row and six of its last eight. The Buckeyes (19-14 SU, 14-19 ATS) bounced back with a 79-75 win over Indiana as 2-point faves to open the conference tournament, then lost to Michigan State 77-70 catching 10.5 points in the quarters. They were ecstatic to get the bid as a bubble team and I see them being shown the door by the Cyclones here but they will not go easy and it will be a loss or possible win and definite cover. Buckeys +6 for 2,000 units.
No. 12 New Mexico State Aggies vs. No. 5 Auburn Tigers (-7.5)
Just like Oregon in the Pac-12, Auburn made a four-wins-in-four-days run through the SEC tournament, from the No. 5 spot. The Tigers (26-9 SU, 18-15-1 ATS) finished with an 84-64 pounding of No. 3 seed Tennessee as 2.5-point dogs Sunday and have now won eight straight.
New Mexico State lost on Jan. 3 and hasn’t tasted defeat since, going 19-0 SU (9-9 ATS). The Aggies won the Western Athletic Conference regular-season crown and rolled through the tournament, capped by an 89-57 route of Grand Canyon as 4-point favorites Saturday. Grand Canyon?? Is that who we’re comparing Auburn too now? As a friend of mine once said to me…”we’re not beating anyone named Auburn’. Tigers roll and cover the 7.5 for 2,000 units.
No. 10 Florida Gators vs. No. 7 Nevada Wolf Pack (-2.5)
Nevada got a lot of national attention early in the season, but lost some luster after three setbacks in its last eight games as it failed to reach the Mountain West Conference final. The Wolf Pack (29-4 SU, 17-14-1 ATS) entered the MWC semis as 10.5-point favorites against San Diego State, but lost outright 65-56 Friday.
Florida made a charge from the No. 8 spot in the SEC tournament to get the attention of the NCAA selection committee. The Gators (19-15 SU, 16-18 ATS) rolled over Arkansas in the tourney opener, then stunned No. 1 LSU 76-73 as 3.5-point quarterfinal ‘dogs. Florida then gave Auburn a strong go before bowing out in the semis 65-62 getting 3.5 points. I’ll go SEC again in this one as I don’t really think Nevada is real. Florida -2.5 for 2,000 points.
No. 15 Montana Grizzlies vs. No. 2 Michigan Wolverines (-15.5)
Michigan was the No. 3 seed in the Big Ten tournament and fell short in the title game, but still nabbed a No. 2 seed in the West. The Wolverines (28-6 SU, 19-15 ATS) opened the conference tourney with two blowout wins, but blew a double-digit second half lead to Michigan State in Sunday’s final, losing 65-60 as 1.5 point favorites.
Montana won the Big Sky Conference regular-season and tournament titles. The Grizzlies (26-8 SU, 14-18 ATS) beat Eastern Washington 68-62 laying 5.5 points in Saturday’s final. I like the Wolverines to devour this opponent and cover the big number 15.5 and win by 40. They’ll be tested in this tournament but not on the opener. Michigan for 2,000 points.
Stay tuned to our blog throughout the Tournament to get information, insights, and predictions on all the upcoming games.
Chase Knox covers college basketball for Wannamakeabet.com