It’s finally here.
One of the most exciting gambling weekends of the year has finally graced us with it’s presence. Last second shots, Cinderella stories, and major upsets are just a couple of things that make March Madness and specifically this opening round so thrilling/agonizing.
Today, I’ll give you my top picks for opening weekend and what to watch for in each game. Let’s beat the bookie.
(14) New Mexico State +12.5 vs. (3) Baylor
Baylor enters this tournament as one of the biggest frauds in the field in my opinion. The Bears bring a 25-7 record into the tournament. However, they faded down the stretch losing six of their last eleven games including an opening conference tourney loss to Kansas State. New Mexico State finds themselves back in the tournament for the fifth time in the past six years. The Lobos haven’t won a tournament game since 1993 and are 0-8 in their last eight appearances. I’ve not only got New Mexico State covering the 12.5, I’ve got them winning outright in a big first round upset. However, we don’t need the W here. Take the points for an easy cover.
(11) Rhode Island +1 vs. (6) Creighton
Rhode Island is one of the hottest picks in the first round and I’m going to side with the public. The Rams entered their conference tournament before reeling off a string of wins, eventually winning the A-10 Title, that put them in the field of 64. They feature one of the country’s best in protecting the rim in 6’7″ Hassan Martin, who averages more than 2.5 blocks per game. The Rams also play great defense and will have enough to beat the Blue Jays outright.
(2) Duke vs. (15) Troy OVER 154
Duke enters the tournament on a high note after winning the ACC Tournament. Their top three players in Grayson Allen, Luke Kinnard, and Jayson Tatum are all playing at a very high level now. Each three are players that can score and score in bunches. Troy has struggled on the defensive side of the floor this season and don’t look for that to change in this game. While Troy was a great surprise by winning the Sun Belt tournament as a six seed, look for Duke to make a big statement in this game and score a lot of points.
(7) Dayton +5.5 vs. (10) Wichita State
Some people are riding high on this Wichita State team and I just don’t see it. While they boast an impressive 15 game winning streak, their schedule features opponents nowhere near the quality they will be seeing in the tournament. The Shockers struggled against every decent team they saw and Dayton will give them plenty of trouble. Look for Charles Cooke to have a great game and the senior leadership of the Flyers to shine here as Dayton easily covers the five and a half.
(4) Purdue -9 vs. Vermont
The Catamounts enter this game not having lost since their December 21st clash against the Butler Bulldogs. Vermont plays an efficient style of basketball and will bring that efficiency to the floor in their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2012. Expect their visit to be a short one. The Big Ten regular-season champion Boilermakers will be a tough out in this tournament and are led by conference player of the year Caleb Swanigan. Issac Haas, a 7’2″ center anchors the court down low and will be too much for an over-matched Vermont squad.
Check back later in the tournament for more winners. We’re live bullets baby.