FOX sports betting analyst
Are you ready to bet on the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament?
First round betting is one of my favorite pastimes, and we’ve had a pretty solid run over the last two tournaments on FOX Sports. I love the challenge of balancing perception and reality during the first two days of college basketball’s biggest event.
And here it is waiting for mine Texas futures bet starting in November comes home and the Longhorns cut down the final nets at NRG Stadium in Houston.
Here are my best bets for the opening round of the NCAA Tournament, with odds via FOX Bet.
Furman (+5.5) vs. virginia
Furman has the methodical offense to combat Virginia’s slow style. The Paladins are the No. 1 team in the country in two-point offense because they consistently have four shooters on the floor and rarely turn the ball over. Making the extra pass is crucial for Furman, and as long as he continues to spin the rock, he’ll have every chance of sticking around.
COLLECT: Furman (+5.5 at FOX Bet) to lose by less than 5.5 points (or win outright)
Missouri–State of Utah More than 155
Former Villanova head coach Jay Wright said this game could reach the 90s on CBS’ “Selection Sunday.” I’m not at all this high, but these two teams could settle into the 80s on a bad day. The Tigers and Aggies are top 15 in offensive efficiency, and far from sensational defensively. This is one of the highest first round totals for a reason.
COLLECT: Over 155 points scored by both teams combined at FOX Bet
Oral Roberts (+6.5) vs. duke
The Golden Eagles cracked a bunch of brackets two years ago when they upset Ohio State in the first round. A large part of that core is still intact, including senior Max Abmas, who is averaging more than 20 points per contest. Oral Roberts makes his twos and threes and shoots nearly 80% from the foul line. You also get an extra point or so because the masses love to root for Duke.
COLLECT: Oral Roberts (+6.5 at FOX Bet) to lose by less than 6.5 points (or win outright)
Alabama, Houston, Kansas and Purdue selected as top seeds for NCAA Tournament
Jason McIntyre and Colin Cowherd react to Alabama, Houston, Kansas and Purdue being selected as top seeds ahead of the 2023 NCAA Tournament.
Northwest (-125 ML) vs. Boise State
I’m not a Northwestern fan by any stretch of the imagination, but Chris Collins has two very solid senior guards in Boo Buie and Chase Audige. The Cats are also very stingy on defense, ranking in the Top 25 in several advanced metrics. I’m opting to put the money line here instead of 1.5 points. The last thing I want is for NU to get away with a one point win, and I lose my bet. No thankyou.
COLLECT: Northwestern (-125 money at FOX Bet) to win outright
Penn State (+3) vs. Texas A&M
The Nittany Lions made a monster run to the Big Ten Championship, and I’m a big fan of the play of versatile Jalen Pickett. There’s no doubt that Penn State has a better offense, and they can run it from downtown. Micah Shrewsberry’s team shoots nearly 40% from three, good for ninth best in the country. I’m happy to take the points in what I think is a raffle.
COLLECT: Penn State (+3 at FOX Bet) to lose by less than 3 points (or win outright)
Michigan State (-130 ML) vs. USC
This line is between -1.5 and -2, and just like the Northwestern game above, I’m not doing a bit of a spread with a Big Ten team. This conference tends to win the ugliest ways in the NCAA Tournament, and I wouldn’t be surprised for a second if Sparty wins by a point or two. Michigan State is great on the glass, and it doesn’t hurt to have coach Tom Izzo instead of Andy Enfield.
COLLECT: Michigan State (-130 money at FOX Bet) to win outright
Santa Maria (-4) vs. VCU
VCU is shaping up to be a very public underdog in Las Vegas. Showing more tickets for VCU, but the line has moved from St. Mary’s -3 to -3.5 to -4. Hmmm. The Gaels shot a very uncharacteristic 33% from the field in the WCC title game against Gonzaga, and I’m betting it bounces back the right way here. And if the Rams can’t turn defense into offense, they’re done.
COLLECT: St. Mary’s (-4 at FOX Bet) to win by more than 4 points
Providence (+4) vs. Kentucky
Speaking of public sides, Kentucky is another first-round monster. Obviously, that doesn’t mean the Wildcats can’t and won’t, but I love going against teams that put up inflated numbers. Westgate SuperBook vice president of risk management Ed Salmons told me that “all the cool kids” are in Kentucky, but the respected game holds that line firmly. I’ll take the points with an underrated Providence.
COLLECT: Providence (+4 at FOX Bet) to lose by less than 4 points (or win outright)
Miami (-2) vs. Drake
We think Miami big man Norchad Omier (ankle) will play. I have been told that it is very important that the Hurricanes play one of the last games on Friday night instead of playing early on Thursday. Never underestimate those extra 24 to 36 hours for recovery purposes. Drake is getting a ton of respect from oddsmakers, and while it’s valid, he looks like a great buy in Miami’s explosive offense.
COLLECT: Miami (-2 at FOX Bet) to win by more than 2 points
Gonzaga (-15) vs Gran Cano
Everything the Grand Canyon can do, Gonzaga does better. Ken Pomeroy says the Zags are the most efficient offense in the country and you’re not going to get an argument from me. The Grand Canyon is awful defensively, and conventional wisdom says that Gonzaga should basically get whatever it wants from the floor. And if the Antelopes are sloppy with the basketball, that’s a blowout at 30 minutes.
COLLECT: Gonzaga (-15 at FOX Bet) to win by more than 15 points
Kent State (+4.5) vs. Indiana
This is a pretty trendy underdog, which makes me a little nervous, but it’s impossible to ignore the way Kent State tested in the non-conference. Close losses to Houston, Gonzaga and Charleston will only help the Golden Flashes in their push for a first-round upset. Sincere Carry is a special guard and if Kent State’s defense can limit Trayce Jackson-Davis’ touches, watch out.
COLLECT: Kent State (+4.5 at FOX Bet) to lose by less than 4.5 points (or win outright)
Sam Panayotovich is a sports betting analyst for FOX Sports and NESN. He previously worked for WGN Radio, NBC Sports and VSiN. He will probably pick against your favorite team. Follow him on Twitter @sprout.
Top March Madness betting stories:
Download the FOX Super 6 app for a chance to win thousands of dollars on the biggest sporting events every week! Just choose your picks and you could win the grand prize. Download and play today!
Get more from college basketball Follow your favorites for information on games, news and more