Bleacher Fan’s Full Guide to Betting Every Game in the First Round of the NCAA Tournament

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Last year, we decided to do an article containing all of our favorite games from the first round and the picks against the spread. Well, we ended up going 19-9 ATS, which as you probably know, is beyond fantastic. So this year we decided to up the ante and give our picks for EVERY SINGLE GAME of the first round. Take a look through, follow along and let’s win some damn money during all this madness. Click that above link to get a full 100% bonus on your first deposit from our guys over at MyBookie.

Virginia Vs. UMBC (+21.5)

Virginia is going to roll over them. UMBC has a terrible offense and they’re going up against the number one defense in the nation. Yes, the number is huge here but you can feel comfortable laying those points. This will be a blowout through and through. UMBC might not score 40, literally.

Pick: Virginia -21.5



Creighton (-1.5) Kansas State

I like Creighton here to win here as they are the more talented team but have underperformed for most of the season. However, they have shown potential beating teams like Villanova, Providence and Seton hall giving them a 5-5 record against top 50 teams. Kansas State has just two top 25 wins and they both came against an overrated TCU team. Creighton went 21-11 on the year and has the 21st best offensive efficiency and still only 61st in defensive efficiency. Look for the Bluejays to win by 6-7.

Pick: Creighton -1.5



Kentucky Vs. Davidson (+5)

Kentucky is clearly the better team with more athletic players, better coaches, and an overall much better program. This Kentucky team has gone under the radar much of the season simply because they are no longer that powerhouse, however, they are still VERY dangerous. 5 points is just too juicy to pass up for me against a less athletic Davidson.

Pick: Kentucky -5



Arizona (-8.5) Buffalo

I don’t know about you, but I think Arizona is one of the most dangerous teams in the tournament. There’s no way Buffalo is stopping or even slowing down Deandre Ayton. They are on fire lately 8-2 and ever since the scandal with Sean Miller hasn’t lost. They seem to be using this as fuel, Ayton with Trier makes up one of the best inside-outside combos in all of college. Arizona was the preseason number one for a reason and has a chance to win it all, look for Arizona to win by 20 with Ayton towering over the smaller Buffalo players.

Pick: Arizona -8.5



Loyola Chicago Vs. Miami (-1)

Miami is a tough resilient team that tends to grind out games, wearing down their opponent with a stingy defense. They can rotate 7 guys all with the ability to create havoc for opposing offenses. Loyola has not seen a team like Miami and I am surprised this line is not 4.5-5.5. Pure value play with a discount of -1

Pick: Miami -1



Tennessee Vs. Wright State (+12.5)

Wright State is ranked 248th in the country in defense, a putrid offense. Tennessee is the 5th ranked defense. This game is going to be a nightmare for Wright State. They only shoot 34% from three, which you can imagine will drop against Tennessee’s great defense. Three-pointers are something that normally could keep a dog in a game, but the math just doesn’t add up here. Although I’m not the biggest Tennessee fan to go deep in this tournament, they’ll breeze through this one to blowout city.

Pick: Tennessee -12.5



Texas (+1) Nevada

It’s in Nashville so Texas should have much more of a fanbase willing to travel for the game. But this in large part comes down to their beast of a Center Mo Bomba who says he is back from injury and is at 100% he has a 7 FOOT 9 INCH WINGSPAN!! LIKE WHAT! He averages 3.7 blocks a game as well as a double-double and is just a monster down low. They also have the 10th best defensive efficiency in large part because of Bamba and have a great veteran coach in Shaka Smart who too the VCU Rams to the Final Four years ago with one of the best Cinderella stories we have ever seen.

Pick: Texas +1



Cincinnati Vs Georgia State (+12.5)

Cincinnati is 15-3 in Road/Neutral site games. They are second in the nation in defensive efficiency. They have a +7.5 rebound margin per game, while Georgia State struggles big time on the glass. Big upsets rely on the underdog being able to control the tempo of the game, something Georgia State is not in a good position to that. Cincinnati was 16-2 in the ACC, the best conference in the country. While Georgia State’s coach Hunter is no stranger to upsets, he doesn’t have the same talent he did before. Lay the points.

Pick: Cincinnati -12.5



Xavier Vs. Whoever (Lay the points)

This team is a play in game, the spread will probably be in the 18-22 range. a 16 seed in a play in game, that’s the real worst team in the tournament. Xavier is 7th in offensive efficiency and was 21-12 against the spread this year. Assuming the line falls within that range, lay the points and move on.

Pick: Xavier



Missouri Vs. Florida State (-1.5)

These two teams are close. It will be a solid game, but Missouri has something they haven’t had all year, rather, someone. That is Michael Porter Jr. The consensus number one draft pick entering the year before his major back injury that sidelined him until last game. Porter has the talent to take over a game and possibly snag Missouri a couple of wins in this tournament. The casual fan probably doesn’t even know his name at this point. Before his injury, there were scouts and coaches saying he was the most complete player they’ve ever seen entering college. Missouri will live and die by his success as they’re missing another starter, but if I have to bet on Michael Porter’s talent, then I’m laying those points.

Pick: Missouri +1.5



Ohio State Vs. South Dakota State (+8)

Dauminator-Mike Daum is one of the best NBA prospects you’ve never heard of. He’s 6”9 245 and puts up 24 points and 10.4 rebounds and shoots 42.3% from three, he can do it all. South Dakota St. is 29-11 in their last 40 games and 12-5 in their last 17. Meanwhile, Ohio State is just 15-15 ATS this year. I like the Jackrabbits to not only cover but possibly upset Ohio State as they have the lowest offensive turnover rate in the country and can catch fire from deep. Remember Dauminator will be the best player on the floor.

Pick: South Dakota State +8



Gonzaga Vs. UNC Greensborough (+12)

Gonzaga is 10-0 in their last ten games, they’re 15-3 in road/neutral site games. Gonzaga ranks in the top 20 in both offensive and defensive efficiency. Gonzaga also has a +9 rebounding rate. Although this should be a slower game since UNCG ranks 30th in defensive efficiency, the advantage on the boards is where Gonzaga can negate that and pull away. Expect them to get a ton of second-chance points and control the tempo from start to finish. This game might not end up in the biggest blowout, but expect the Zags to be comfortable the entire time and cover this spread.

Pick: Gonzaga -12



San Diego State (+4) Houston

This is a real tough game to pick and maybe one to stay away from. Both teams are playing great basketball and covering at unreal rates. SDS has won 9 straight and is 8-2 ATS in their last 10 and Houston is 11-3-1 ATS in their last 15. Both great and two teams trending upward. Houston lost to Cincy in the AAC Finals but is a top 31 team in both offensive and defensive efficiency. SDS doesn’t do anything bad but isn’t great at anything either and is stout defensively and on the boards but inefficient on offense. Look for them to make this a sloppy grind it out game and slow the game down.

Pick: San Diego State +4



Michigan Vs. Montana (+10)

Montana hasn’t played a top 100 team since December, they lost. They are 1-3 on the year against Power 6 conference teams, with their sole win coming against the Pittsburgh Panthers, who, to put it nicely, were dreadfully terrible this year. Pretty sure they won zero games in the ACC.

Michigan is 12-6 in road and neutral site games. They’re 5th in the nation in defensive efficiency and 29th in offensive efficiency. a solid combination. Although they only shoot 66% from the free throw line, Montana fouls at an alarming rate. Michigan has done a good job of keeping the ball in the hands of their competent free throw shooters in late game situations.

Pick: Michigan -10



Texas A&M Vs. Providence (+4)

The Friars program is still on the up, getting better every year. In 2018 they have had impressive wins most notably against the 1 seed and powerhouse Xavier. They tend to play up and down to their competition, however, the tournament is do or die so I expect to see the best Providence team for however long they last. Look for a shootout in their battle against the Aggies.

Pick: Providence +4



Lipscomb Vs UNC (-19.5)

The Bisons are HOT right now winning 8 straight and scoring over 80 points in 7 of those 8 games. Tar Heels are clearly the better team in all facets of the game however if this Bison team can find a way to score late in the game, I believe a cover is highly probable. Look for Tar Heels to go cold and scoreless for 4+ minutes at least twice in this game, allowing Lipscomb time to make up some ground.

Pick: Lipscomb +19.5



Villanova Vs. Radford (-whatever it is)

Nova is 22-12 ATS this year and is the de facto second-best team In the country. I don’t care who the hell Radford is this game isn’t going to be close. Nova was #1 both in points and offensive efficiency this year while still being more than respectable defensively ranking 23rd in efficiency. They also shoot nearly 40% from lead by stars Jalen Brunson and Mikal Bridges. This is also a home game for them as they are just going across the state to Pittsburgh.

Pick: Villanova – Whatever it is



Alabama Vs. Virginia Tech (-2)

The Hokies are 17-11 ATS this year and playing a virtual home game playing in Virginia. Alabama is only 19-15 on the year, 15 losses being the most of any tournament team, and is a one-man wrecking crew consisting of lottery pick Collin Sexton. Alabama has 3 losses outside of the top 100 and shoots only 32 % from deep. Take the Hokies even as the public pounds the Sexton led Crimson Tide.

Pick: Virginia Tech -2



West Virginia Vs. Murray Stae (-9.5)

Press Virginia will cause major problems for Murray State. Murray State has never played a team like them, not even close. West Virginia will control the tempo and play at a fast pace that Murray state simply is ready to handle. Murray has only played one team since January ranked in the top 150. West Virginia has a defensive and offensive efficiency both ranked in the top 40. They will simply just be too overwhelming with their press for Murray State to hang in there. Expect this one to get ugly early.

Pick: West Virginia -9.5



Marshall Vs. Wichita State (-11.5)

A lot of people are high on Wichita State because of their high powered offense, but they are often overvalued as they are as a 4-seed and in this game. The Shockers are 12-17 against the spread this year and rank 106th in defensive efficiency, which will counteract their great offense. Marshall scores 83.6 points per game which is 10th best in the country, so their offense can definitely run right along with Wichita State. Marshall is a team that can catch fire and punch Wichita State right in the mouth out of the gate. Not only do I love taking the points here, but Marshall might walk away with a moneyline win here too.

Pick: Marshall +11.5



Florida Vs. St Bonaventure

I don’t know how many points I’m getting but I don’t care, give me the Bonnies! Loving the Bonnies after watching them beat a respectable UCLA team this team has GUTS! This is a team that I like to not only win another game but possibly make it to sweet 16. They just seem like they got something special in the works and they got Courtney Stockard back from injury who dropone’s26 big ones tonight. Florida is a team that doesn’t do anything terrible, but they don’t wow me and have won just 5 of their last 10. The Bonnies have beaten tournament teams in Davidson, UCLA, URI, Syracuse, and Buffalo so it’s not as if they haven’t had decent competition.

Pick: St Bonaventure



SF Austin Vs. Texas Tech (-11.5)

Texas Tech is 0-6-1 in last 7 and has lost 4 of 6 games. After a hot start to the year, they have cooled off, to say the least, and are 7-8 in neutral site/road games. Stephen F Austin is a Cinderella team from the past with a good coach and I WILL NOT be surprised if they win this game outright. In fact, Austin leads the country in turnover rate and ranks 8th in defensive efficiency in the country. They have a fast-paced offense that could cause the Red Raiders to play out of character from their slow grind it out pace making this a high scoring affair.

Pick: SF Austin +11.5



Arkansas Vs. Butler (-1.5)

14 times before a double-digit seed has been favored in the first round of the NCAA tournament. Those teams are 11-3 against the spread. Arkansas has a terrible defense that ranks 105 in the nation, while Butler ranks in the top 50 in both offensive and defensive efficiency. This is a matchup that’s perfect for the Butler Bulldogs. There’s a reason they are favored, and Vegas always knows. Butler is underseeded and Arkansas is overseeded. Lay the small number for Butler to move on and cover with clutch late-game free throws down the stretch (77% from the stripe as a team).

Pick: Butler -1.5



Purdue Vs. CSU Fullerton (+20)

CSU Fullerton started off their season by losing to USC by 42, yes 42. They’re a team that quits they’re behind. They turn the ball over a ton, which is always a death sentence come March. Especially against a talented and experienced Purdue team. A Purdue team that has been playing together for 4 years. A Purdue team that ranks 2nd in the nation in offensive efficiency. 28th in defense so no slouches their either. Fullerton has no answer for Isaac Haas and will struggle to defend the three where Purdue shoots 42%. Expect Purdue to force a ton of turnovers and translate them into easy buckets on the other end and cruise to a blowout victory.

Pick: Purdue -20



Kansas Vs. Penn (+14)

Kansas is playing a home game traveling just 162 miles. The poor Quakers don’t have a prayer. I think they’re better than the 16 seed indicates possibly but Kansas shoots 42% from 3 and has the 9th best offense efficiency wise. If this was a competition of SAT scores I’d take Penn, but it’s not, this is basketball and Kansas is very good at basketball.

Pick: Kansas -14



NC State Vs. Seton Hall (-2.5)

This game is a close call, but I have to give the nod to NC State. Seton Hall is 4-6 in their last ten games and is 7-8 in road or neutral site games. NC State has 6 wins against top 50 teams this year, one of the highest tallies in the tournament field. They know how to win on the biggest stages against the best competition. NC State puts up a whopping 81.2 points per game which is 27th in the country. Seton Hall ranks 57th in defensive efficiency, so this might pose a problem for them. Take the points with a team that has proven big wins.

Pick: NC State +2.5



New Mexico State Vs. Clemson (-4.5)

New Mexico State might be my favorite double-digit team. Definitely my best 12/5 upset. Clemson is way overseeded in this tournament and will be missing one of their best players. Clemson is stumbling into the tournament at 5-5 in their last ten. They are 5-6 against top 50 teams and are an even 8-8 on the road and neutral site games. The New Mexico State Aggies have the 14th best defensive efficiency in the country, Clemson’s offense ranks 49th, which again will be even weaker without one of their best players. Watch out for New Mexico State’s guy Zach Loften who averages almost 20 points a game and shoots almost 40% from three-point range. This team is packed with experience, with upperclassmen loading their roster. There’s a reason this line is so low given the seeds. I have New Mexico State, covering this game, winning this game and going out and beating Auburn in the next round. Watch out for the Aggies and gladly take the points.

Pick: New Mexico State +4.5



Auburn Vs. Charleston (-9)

Auburn is 19-11 ATS this year and hasn’t made the tournament in years. Bruce Pearl is a great head coach, so he brings experience to a team that doesn’t have it. Look for Auburn’s fast pace to speed up a slower paced Charleston team who has just 2 wins against the top 100. Charleston has played another 4 seed in Wichita St. and lost by 18 points, the only other ranked team they played was URI where they lost by 6.

Pick: Auburn -9



Syracuse/ASU Vs TCU (Don’t know)

I am not sold on TCU whatsoever they are just 4-8 verse top 50 teams and 5-8 on road games/ neutral site. They’re also just 105th in defensive efficiency. If it’s Syracuse you’re getting a team that has a zone which is very tough to prepare for and one of the best coaches the game has seen in Jim Boeheim. Arizona State is also a very dangerous team who plays up to their competitions level as they have beaten both Kansas and Xavier who are 1 seeds.

Pick: Syracuse/ASU



Michigan State Vs Bucknell (+14.5)

Michigan State is the real deal. They’re one of the handful of teams that really could be cutting down the nets in San Antonio. Though Bucknell carries a 17% turnover rate, that’s really all they got. They struggle medially on the boards which will counteract some of those forced turnovers. Michigan State holds a phenomenal +10.4 rebound differential. Bucknell is also producing these turnovers against much lesser competition, not a top ten team in the nation. Michigan State is too talented, too well coached and too motivated to be playing around this year. They’ll control the tempo and the glass, leaving Bucknell scratching their heads by halftime. Not to mention this will essentially be a home game for Michigan State as they will be playing in Detroit. Bucknell will be in way over their heads, lay the points.

Pick: Michigan State -14.5



Rhode Island Vs. Oklahoma (+2)

I’m off the Trae Young bandwagon, in fact, I was never on it. Teams have figured out how to game plan against him and he is their team. They’re just 2-8 in their last ten games and are LIMPING into the tournament. They are 3-13 in their last 16 ATS, read that again. Take URI who has a savage coach in Hurley and dynamic guards such as Jeff Downtin. They take care of the basketball with a +5.4 TO margin. Oh yeah, OK is just 5-11 on neutral site/road games. This screams URI.

Pick: Rhode Island -2



Duke Vs Iona (+19.5)

Duke could very well win the whole damn thing. They are unarguably the most talented, deep and complete team in the tournament. They really have no flaws. The only way Duke loses a game in this tournament is if they shoot themselves in the foot. They’re the only team that is top ten in both offensive and defensive efficiency. Duke is an absurd 20-11 against the spread and is 8-3 against top 50 teams. They’re 11-6 in road or neutral site games. Iona has nobody to matchup with Marvin Bagley, if it wasn’t for this game turning into a blowout, he could have 40 points in this one. Although Iona has the potential to shoot the lights out, I doubt we see that against the 7th best defense in the nation. Especially when Iona holds the 212th best defense, compared to Dukes 3rd best offense. Iona struggles big time on the glass with their lack of size, while Duke holds a fantastic +9.4 rebounding margin. Duke has been known the blow teams out huge in the first weekend and I expect this to be no different. Even Duke’s bench should be able to cover this spread. Lay the 19.5 because Duke may win by 35.

Pick: Duke -19.5

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