Early best bets: 2023 March Madness bracket picks, sleepers from our experts

Looking for information on betting on the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament? Well, there’s no better way to dive into March Madness than with the best early bets from our betting experts.

From Arkansas vs. Illinois to Grand Canyon vs. Gonzaga, we’ve got you covered.

The lines are already in motion, so let’s dive in as our FOX Sports betting experts Jason McIntyre, Sam Panayotovich (aka Sammy P) and Geoff Schwartz share their thoughts on the starting lines, with the odds from FOX Bet.

Let the Games begin!

RELATED: NCAA Men’s Bracket

First, Jason McIntyre:

Kansas State to win the East Region (+900, bet $10 to win $100 total)

First-year coach Jerome Tang has zero March Madness experience, but what he does have is a tenacious defense (19th in efficiency), an elite point guard in 23-year-old Markquis Nowell and eight wins this season against tournament teams.

Depth is an issue after the starting five, but in terms of experience, they are 16th in the tournament. This is a long shot, but I had to because I like Nowell’s matchup against Marquette’s best player, Tyler Kolek.

COLLECT: Kansas State (+900 at FOX Bet) to win East Region

Arkansas (-2) vs. Illinois

The Razorbacks are a tricky handicap because their best player, Nick Smith, missed much of the season with an injury, and his return to the lineup has been bumpy as Arkansas is just 1-4 in their last five games But all five losses were against tournament teams.

The 3-point shooting (304th in the nation) worries me, but the athleticism and length on defense can overwhelm Illinois. The Illini have one win over a tournament team in six weeks (Northwestern, at home), and even that win required a furious second-half comeback.

COLLECT: Arkansas (-2 at FOX Bet) to win by more than 2 points

Drake (+3) vs. Miami

The Bulldogs rolled into the Missouri Valley Tournament, winning every game by 12 or more points. They are a terrific shooting team, ranking 46th in the country in three-pointers and 20th in free throw percentage.

Tucker DeVries, son of Drake coach Darian DeVries, was a top-100 recruit with offers from Florida, Oregon and Iowa State, among others.

Miami lost forward Norchad Omier to an ankle injury in the ACC Tournament, and if he can’t play, the Hurricanes are in trouble. Omier had 14 double-doubles this season.

COLLECT: Drake (+3 on FOX Bet at time of pick) to lose by less than 3 points (or win outright)

Furman (+5.5) vs. virginia

I’ll be expecting a first half line in this game, which features an overrated UVA team that just lost a glue guy, forward Ben Vander Plas, for the season with a broken hand.

Furman led the nation in 2-point shooting and has one of the best young coaches in college hoops, Bob Richey, who made his NCAA Tournament debut.

COLLECT: Furman (+5.5 at FOX Bet) to lose by less than 5.5 points (or win outright)

Alabama, Houston, Kansas and Purdue selected as top seeds for NCAA Tournament

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.

Now here’s Sam Panayotovich:

MizzouState of Utah the total is still not high enough

The total opened at 152.5 offshore and appears to have settled in the states around 154.5. To be honest, it’s probably still too low. These two teams have the ammunition to reach the 80s with ease, and I’m not counting on an 87-84 finish for a second. Both teams are very efficient from 2 and 3, and neither is spectacular on the defensive side of the ball.

COLLECT: Over 154.5 points scored by both teams combined at FOX Bet

All Grand Canyon does, Gonzaga makes it better

March Madness legend Bryce Drew has done a great job at Grand Canyon this year, but he’s basically facing Grand Canyon on steroids in the first round. Gonzaga’s offense is incredibly effective when it’s rolling and this is truly a horrible matchup for the defenseless Antelopes. I’m putting the two touchdowns in a game that has all the makings of a 20-point win.

COLLECT: Gonzaga (-15.5 at FOX Bet at time of selection) to win by more than 15.5 points

Geoff Schwartz Selections:

UCLA will win the West Region

The West Region is by far the toughest of the four regions in this tournament. According to the Pomeroy College Basketball Ratings, one of the top efficiency rating systems in college basketball, the West Region’s top five finishers finished the regular season ranked second, fourth, eighth, ninth and 11th in the Ken Pom.

So predicting a winner outside of this region will be difficult. But UCLA has all the ingredients to win against the best in this group.

The Bruins have a veteran team, and their best players have Final Four experience. They are tough, physical and athletic, and it showed in their last Pac-12 tournament game. However, UCLA was without its best defensive player, Jaylen Clark, who is out with a lower leg injury. In this final game of the Pac-12 tournament, Bruins center Adem Bona was sidelined with a shoulder injury and they lost both reserve bigs after fouling out. This forced them to move Jaime Jaquez Jr. under center and struggle to protect the rest of Arizona’s outstanding and dynamic offensive team. UCLA held Arizona, a team that averages 82.7 points per game, to 61 points. The Bruins finished the season with the top-ranked defense, and that defense will carry them in every game of the tournament.

UCLA is great in the final minutes of games because they do the little things well. They have a +6.1 second-half scoring margin as they keep turnovers low and are good at attacking the set when the game slows down in the final minutes. UCLA is a team that doesn’t require a 3-pointer to score. In fact, 58.9% of the Bruins’ offense comes from two-point baskets, which ranks 16th in the country. Not great if you’re trying to come back in a game, but UCLA is rarely in that spot.

The Blue and Gold have experience and playfulness as their foundation, and you’re simply not running a deep tournament without that type of player. Tyger Campbell is the Bruins, averaging 13.6 points and nearly five assists per game this season. His production picked up over the final seven games as UCLA made a push for the Pac-12 regular season title and tournament crown. He averaged 18 points per game in his last seven games, with a total of seven turnovers. Anytime the Bruins get stuck on offense or need to regain control of a game, Campbell is who they turn to to make those plays for them. He is the key to their success, and he is playing the best ball of his career.

Winning the West Region won’t be easy, but UCLA has the strength, depth and experience to make it happen. I’ll take the Bruins.

COLLECT: UCLA (+340 at FOX Bet) to win the West Region

State of Arizona (-2) vs. snowfall

The Mountain West doesn’t win tournament games because that conference is routinely overrated, and that was a big factor in my decision to back Arizona State here.

The Mountain West has won just one opening-round tournament game in the last 12 tries dating back to 2016. The conference has put just four total teams in the Sweet 16, and yet each postseason, they continue to earn a privileged position in the classification. Great Ball

Arizona State is a scrappy offensive team, and the Sun Devils make some wild shots. Some games, you can’t miss a shot; other games, it can be a struggle. But no matter what, they keep shooting.

Nevada, on the other hand, is not a particularly good defensive team. The Wolves struggle to defend the rim, but Arizona State excels in the finish. Where Arizona State does dominate is in defense. The Devils rank 40th in defensive efficiency and sixth in the nation in 2-point field goal attempt defense. That bodes well for Nevada’s defense, which generates most of its points from the 2-point basket or free throw (23.7% of points). Arizona State is the best team with the best players.

I will bring the sun devils.

COLLECT: Arizona State (-2 at FOX Bet) to win by more than 2 points

Arizona (-14.5) vs. Princeton

When this game ends at halftime, please don’t panic. Arizona will pull away in the second half and cover the spread. Princeton will come out firing like the Tigers always do. They average 75 points per game and shoot 34% from 3-point range. Arizona’s defense is suspect, and we’ve seen recently that this is a team prone to slow starts. However, once the Wildcats The offense starts to take over and the opponent starts to press with bad shots and tries to slow down the pace, Arizona will take over.

Princeton doesn’t have the athletes to slow down Arizona’s potent offensive attack. The Cats are averaging third in points per game at 82.7 and fourth in the nation in offensive efficiency. Azuolas Tubelis and Oumar Ballo will be able to control the paint, and Courtney Ramey will have open looks at three-pointers. I don’t see this match staying close after the first half. Arizona covers.

COLLECT: Arizona (-14.5 at FOX Bet) to win by more than 14.5 points

Other games I like this weekend. Fade or follow. Good luck!

West Virginia (-2) vs. Maryland
Boise State vs. Northwestern (+1.5)
Illinois vs. Arkansas (-2)
Auburn vs Iowa (-1)
Penn State vs. Texas A&M (-2.5 at time of pick)
North Carolina State vs Creighton (-5)
Kennesaw State (+12) vs. Xavier
VCU (+5) vs Santa Maria
Kent State vs Indiana (-5)
Drake (+3) vs. Miami
Santa Barbara (+11) vs. Baylor
Oral Roberts (+7) vs. Duke
Providence (+3.5) vs. Kentucky
USC vs Michigan State (-2)
Florida Atlantic (+2) vs. Memphis

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