Free 2018 March Madness Picks: Best Value Bets
The brackets get all the focus when it comes to the NCAA Tournament. Remember, though, that this is always a great time for bettors. Teams are going to play as hard as they can - there is no reason to hold anything back - so we are going to see as close to best on best as we get during a season. There are a lot of games to choose from but few enough that things are reasonably manageable for handicappers . As I have looked over the 32 first-round games there are six - three on each day - that stand out as having some interesting potential value for bettors. ( Odds are from BetOnline ):
No. 16 Penn ( +14) vs. No. 1 Kansas, Thursday, 2 p.m. ET: It's well known that a No. 16 team has not beaten a No. 1 in 132 tries. And it has only rarely come close. I'm not saying it is going to happen here, but there are reasons to be optimistic about the underdog at least against the spread. Penn is a team that rolled to a conference title. They are a lot better than most No. 16 teams - I think they are better than all of the No. 15 teams and at least two of the No. 14 squads this year. And while Kansas is legitimate No. 1, that has as much to do with the fact that no one else stepped up to grab it as anything. At their best they are great, but they are very reliant on shooting, so if they can be disrupted it could get scary. A cover is a possibility here - a decent one.
No. 12 South Dakota State (+8) vs. No. 5 Ohio State, Thursday, 4 p.m. ET: I really like this play. Heck, I'd take a look at the Jackrabbits on the moneyline at +330, too. The Jackrabbits are rolling and have a really good player in Mike Daum. Ohio State has dropped three of five, with two of those losses being ugly. They haven't play for almost two weeks, and they are vulnerable. A loss by the Buckeyes would be a long way from surprising, so a cover by South Dakota State would be far less of surprise.
No. 13 Buffalo (+8.5) vs. No. 4 Arizona, Thursday, 9:40 p.m. ET: Let's be clear - the WIldcats are really good. If you wanted to argue that Deandre Ayton is the best player in the tournament then I wouldn't be able to convincingly disagree. And he isn't alone on the court, either. This is not your typical No. 4. But there are a couple of reasons to think Buffalo could potentially cover. For one, the Bulls are pretty good, too. MAC good instead of major conference good, but they are more than solid. And then there are all the distractions Arizona is dealing with. The FBI is circling, and the program is under attack. They focused well despite that in the Pac-12 Tournament, but then how tough is winning the Pac-12 right now? Not very - they are a terrible conference. But it could be a factor here, and it could help a feisty Buffalo team with nothing to lose make a game of this.
No. 7 Arkansas (+1.5) vs. No. 10 Butler, Friday, 3:10 p.m. ET: This one is straightforward - Arkansas, the higher seed, is an underdog. They are athletic - flawed, but athletic. And Butler is a solid team but one with some issues, too. Whenever I can take the higher seed and take points as well I will very often do so.
No. 10 Texas (+1) vs. No. 7 Nevada, Friday, 4:30 p.m. ET: Texas hasn't looked great since the middle of January, but they had a nice win against West Virginia three games back, and Mo Bamba is back in action after being banged up. There is upside here. Nevada, meanwhile, has lost two of three and have lost some of the confidence they had weeks ago. They are vulnerable enough that Texas is attractive enough at the price.
No. 12 New Mexico State (+5) vs. No. 5 Clemson, Friday, 9:55 pm ET: I really like this play, too - the No. 12s are looking solid again this year. The Aggies are a talented team that has won their conference five years in a row. They can score, and they can rebound. Clemson limps into this tournament and just don't impress me at all. They feel extremely vulnerable, while New Mexico State is confident and experienced. I would look at the Aggies at +190 on the moneyline if you are so inclined, too.
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