Free NCAA Tournament Betting Picks for Potential Early Upsets
The 68-team field for this season's men's basketball NCAA Tournament has been set. Starting with Tuesday and Wednesday's four play-in games ahead of the first full round of action on Thursday and Friday, it is time to do your homework when it comes to betting on any of these early matchups.
BetOnline has set the betting odds for the opening round of games. A few of the biggest favorites on Thursday's slate start with the SEC Kentucky Wildcats as 22.5-point favorites against Abilene Christian, out of the Southland Conference. The ACC's Florida State Seminoles are 10.5-point favorites against the America East's Vermont Catamounts, and the Big Ten's Michigan Wolverines are favored by 15.5 points in their opening-round matchup against the Montana Grizzlies, out of the Big Sky Conference.
There are also a number of games on the board that offer some decent value picking underdogs. While more than a few of these dogs have a good chance to win their opener straight up, there are three teams that have caught my eye with the best value on BetOnline's NCAAB board to cash a winning ticket in their NCAA Tournament opener.
Murray State Racers
With just four straight-up losses all season long, Murray State has established itself as one of those teams that nobody wants to face in this tournament. They come into this year's Big Dance as the No. 12 seed in the West Region. Right out of the gate, they will face the Big East's Marquette Golden Eagles as 4.5-point underdogs for Thursday's 4:30 p.m. tip in Hartford.
After tying the Belmont Bruins for the Ohio Valley Conference regular-season title at 16-2, the Racers beat the Bruins 77-65 as two-point underdogs for the tournament title. Murray State is 7-2 against the spread in its last nine games. Marquette dropped five of its last six games (both SU and ATS) while closing as a favorite in five of those contests. The Golden Eagles' run in the Big East Tournament came to an end with a 81-79 loss to Seton Hall as 4.5-point favorites.
Old Dominion Monarchs
Conference USA does not carry all that much clout as a top Mid Major conference for college basketball. However, the Monarchs proved they can be a tough out on more than one occasion this season. They needed two straight fantastic finishes to make it into the C-USA Tournament title game before sealing up a spot in this tournament with a 62-56 victory against Western Kentucky as 2.5-point underdogs.
ODU drew the Big Ten's Purdue Boilermakers in the opening round of a 14 vs. 3 matchup in the South Region. Purdue has been opened as a heavy 12.5-point favorite for Thursday night's 9:50 p.m. start in Hartford. The Boilermakers' stay in their conference tournament was short lived with a stunning 75-73 loss to Minnesota as 10-point favorites. They are now 3-6 ATS in their last nine games.
Cal Irvine Anteaters
Sometimes you have to go with a hot team regardless of the conference it plays in. The Big West's Cal Irvine Anteaters belong in that category riding a SU 16-game winning streak while going 11-2-1 ATS in their last 14 contests. They beat Cal State-Fullerton 92-64 as 8.5-point favorites to put an exclamation point on a Big West regular-season and tournament title. Cal Irvine went 15-1 SU in conference play as part of an overall record of 30-5.
The Big West champs were awarded the No. 13 seed in the South Region for their efforts and the right to play the Big 12's Kansas State Wildcats in a 2 p.m. tip in San Jose. Kansas State is favored by 5.5 points on BetOnline's board. Along with the hot team theory, the Anteaters did get a break when it comes to the travel distance as opposed to Kansas State. I am also a bit concerned with the Wildcats' even 3-3 record ATS in their last six games.
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Read more articles by Dave Schwab
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