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NCAA Tournament Betting Guide: Thursday Picks, trends, predictions and more

Winners, Winners, Winners

March Madness Viewing Party At The Westgate Las Vegas Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Mid-Major Madness gambling picks are back. We went 6-3 during the conference tournament and we are looking to get winners for you Thursday afternoon. The first day of the NCAA tournament is the best day of the year for gambling degenerates. From 12:30 PM to after midnight, there are multiple games playing throughout the day. There are dozens of ways to have action in the NCAA tournament from future bets, daily fantasy plays, single bets, survivor pools, and of course the traditional NCAA bracket.

Prop bet of the Weekend: Games Big East Teams Will Win In Round of 64 - Over/Under 2 The pick: Under 2 Games -125.

Aside from the Pac-12, the Big East was one of the worst power conferences in basketball. We just saw a St. Johns team that was destroyed by ASU. The Big East is only playing three games in the Round of 64 and would have to sweep for you to lose this bet. The three matchups aren’t very favorable. Number 10 seed Seton Hall is a 2.5 point underdog against a Wofford team that has won 20 straight games. Marquette is a 3.5 point favorite against an upset minded Murrary State squad. Villanova is a 4.5 point favorite against Randy Bennett’s Saint Mary’s team. A three team parlay with those teams ends up with an odds price +400. There is a value of taking no at -125. If you are fan of Ja Morant and Fletcher Magee, this the perfect bet for you. As a person that is already going to bet Saint Mary’s and Murrary State on the moneyline, this a prop that offers tremendous value. Look for the majority of the Big East to be out of the tournament by tomorrow.

Best Bet: # 11 Belmont vs Maryland:
The pick: Belmont +3 & ML +130

Fun fact, 11 seeds are 8-4 over 6 seeds over the last three years. This is the best 11 over 6 pick in the tournament. Not even going to bother taking the 3 points here because Belmont is going to win this game outright. You may think there may be a little bias since we at Mid-Major Madness are huge Rick Byrd fans. There is a lot of obvious reasons to take Belmont here. Maryland is coming off a game where they got crushed by a short handed Nebraska team that Maryland should have dominated. It’s fair to say coach Mark Turgeon has no idea what the hell he is doing, and this is a coaching mismatch of epic proportions. Belmont has quietly been one of the most efficient and effective offensive teams in the country, ranking 3rd nationally in effective field goal percentage. Belmont’s length with Dylan Windler and Nick Muszynski will not allow Maryland to dominate the game on the offensive glass. The Bruins rank 30th nationally in defensive rebounding percentage. Maryland point guard Anthony Cowan has been unreliable late in games. Give me Rick Byrd and Belmont with an easy victory to start the morning.

#4 Kansas -6.5 vs #13 Northeastern

It seems every sharp and joe in the world is picking Northeastern to upset Kansas. The spread opened at -9 and has since trickled down to -6. This is a situation where I just like the number. I simply don’t see how Northeastern is going to stop Kansas. Northeastern plays a four guard lineup and essentially give layups at the rim. The Huskies rank 271st in 2-point defense and 325th in block percentage, per KenPom. They also sit in the lowest 20th-percentile nationally in post-up defense, per Synergy. Expect Dedric Lawson to have a huge game. Northeastern does run a very effective offense and shoots the three ball extremely well. They should get plenty of good looks based on the way Kansas defends their ball screens. Will Northeastern be able to shoot the ball well at 2 PM tip halfway across the country in high altitude? With everyone doubting the Jayhawks, I think Bill Self gets a focused Kansas team that runs Northeastern out of the gym in the second half. Bill Self is 7-5 ATS in his career during NCAA tournament first round games.

Saint Mary’s +4.5 vs Villanova

Love the line here for Randy Bennett’s Gaels. The defending national champion hasn’t made it to the second weekend of the tournament since 2007 when the Florida Gators repeated as champs. I believe the trend continues here. The Gaels are playing with confidence after upsetting Gonzaga in the WCC final. This is a matchup of similar styles of basketball and each team will play slow. Saint Mary’s has held their opponents to under 65 points their last 8 games. I think they get done here against Villanova.

Trend of the Tournament Afternoon: First Half Unders:

Louisville vs Minnesota under 62.5, Yale vs LSU first half under 74.5, Bradley vs Michigan St First half Under 61.5 Vermont vs FSU first half under 61.5

Full disclosure, I will be betting on the majority first half unders in the NCAA tournament in the first round. Last year, first half unders went 11-0 in first round NCAA games that had a local start time before 2. It is hard for shooters to find a rhythm during a noon start tip during the NCAA tournament. The lines are adjusted due to the trend last year, but there is still value that bettors can still take advantage of.

NMSU vs Auburn over 145.5

I took the over when it came out at 143, but I still think it is an okay play at 145.5. The only deterrent is that it is an early start time on the western part of the country. Based on the trend above, taking an over is typically not very smart. However, this game may be an outlier. Both teams are capable of playing with tempo and have the potential to get really hot. When Auburn is hot they are on. They rank 8th in the country in overall efficiency and rank 7th in three pointers made. NMSU is very efficient around the basket. The Aggies have 14 different players that can score, and you will rarely see an Aggie take a bad shot. The over has good value here.

Nevada -2 vs Florida

Probably my least confident pick. Nevada hasn’t played very good basketball lately. Florida is a very good team that has beaten LSU twice and hasn’t gotten very unlucky bounces. Eric Mussellman’s team tends to show up in the NCAA tournament. Nevada was a preseason top 12 team and they are finally going to flash the potential we’ve expected from them all season. This team has way too much talent not to win a game in the NCAA tournament.

Gonzaga -27 vs Fairleigh Dickinson

After a wild second half comeback to beat Prairie View, the run for Fairleigh Dickinson stops. FDU’s tallest starter stands at 6’8 and the Zags should run over them. Expect Gonzaga to be motivated after dropping the ball to Saint Mary’s. Gonzaga has been covering high spreads all year and they do it again easily here.

Bonus Mid-Major Madness Three Team Moneyline Parlay

Belmont +130, New Mexico St +225, Murrary St +145: Payout +1758. $10 bet wins 175.80.

If you want to have fun and have an opportunity to cash out big - a moneyline parlay may be the way to go. The best time to utilize this strategy due to the volatility of the NCAA tournament. As mentioned before, we love Belmont and think Murrary State has a solid chance to pull off the upset. New Mexico State is a good flyer pick at +225. The Aggies have been to the NCAA tournament in six out of the last seven years. The last NMSU win in the NCAA tournament happened in 1993. NMSU fans are going to travel to Salt Lake in huge numbers. The Aggies are due for an NCAA victory. If we can get an Ohio Valley conference sweep and NMSU victory we will be able to cash out big this afternoon.