Eli’s First March Madness Bets: NCAA Tournament Opening Line Value

Written By Eli Hershkovich on March 16, 2022 - Last Updated on March 19, 2022
March Madness Bets

With the bracket reveal behind us, there’s no better time to nab early value for March Madness bets in the Round of 64.

Click on the odds below to place a bet, and continue the discussion in our Discord betting community, as we dig into all of the games in the dance. Stay up-to-date on the top-68 programs with my college basketball power rankings.

BetMGM March Madness Special Offer! Bet $10 on a moneyline and win $200 if either team makes a 3-pointer!

No. 6 Colorado State Rams vs. No. 11 Michigan Wolverines

I was leaning towards backing Colorado State, and now Michigan point guard DeVante Jones (concussion) is out.

With Juwan Howard relying more on freshman Frankie Collins, who’s tallying a 29.8% turnover rate, expect Medved to ramp up the pressure. Colorado State already generated the fourth-highest takeaway rate in Mountain West play.

At the other end, Rams lead guard Isaiah Stevens should feel more at ease without a ballhawk like Jones hounding his every step. Stevens is a part of a sufficient amount of ball-screen action too, which the Wolverines fail to slow down because of the slow-footed Hunter Dickinson.

Best Available Line: Colorado State 
Eli’s March Madness Bets: Colorado State +2.5 (-110)

No. 4 Providence Friars vs. No. 13 South Dakota State Jackrabbits

According to ShotQuality, the Friars are outperforming their shooting metrics at both ends by more than any other Division I team. Enter the Jackrabbits, which haven’t lost since Dec. 15, 2021.

Eric Henderson’s crew should blitz Providence’s transition defense, especially from behind the arc. Ed Cooley’s unit surrendered the fourth-most open 3s in Big East play — a death sentence against the No. 1 perimeter shooting bunch in the country (44.2%).

South Dakota State is the shortest underdog of any No. 13 seed in tournament history. Don’t go contrarian.

Best Available Line: SDST
Eli’s March Madness Bets: South Dakota St. +3 (-110)

No. 4 Arkansas Razorbacks vs. No. 13 Vermont Catamounts

Although the Razorbacks showcase an excellent ball-screen defense, John Becker’s motion offense should be able to expose them enough with cutting action. The Catamounts boast the 16th-lowest turnover rate in the nation as well — a key against Eric Musselman’s ball pressure.  They’ll at least hang within a pair of possessions.

Best Available Line: Vermont
Eli’s March Madness Bets: Vermont +5 (-110)

No. 2 Villanova Wildcats vs. No. 15 Delaware Blue Hens

The Wildcats’ run to a Big East tournament championship jacked up their overall market perception, so let’s pounce on it.

Not only does Martin Ingelsby’s attack utilize its fair share of post-up sets and cutting action, which Villanova struggles to guard, but its perimeter offense can match Jay Wright’s shooters as well. They’re led by do-it-all guard Jameer Nelson, Jr. and big man Dylan Painter, who was a benchwarmer with the Wildcats before transferring.

On top of that, Tom Ingelsby — Martin’s father — was also Villanova’s point guard during its run to the 1971 national championship game before losing to UCLA. Hence, Painter and his coach will have plenty of individual motivation.

Best Available Line: Delaware
Eli’s March Madness Bets: Delaware +17 (-110)

No. 6 Texas Longhorns vs. No. 11 Virginia Tech Hokies

With the market betting this spread down from Texas -2 to a pick’em, there’s value in Chris Beard’s unit. His pressure-driven, no-middle scheme should bother Virginia Tech’s ball handlers, especially Storm Murphy. I still believe there’s buy-low value in this offense as well, and its motion principles can certainly exploit Mike Young’s man-to-man defense.

On top of that, I added a fun, tiny long-shot dart on the Longhorns to win it all at +9000. If they win this game, their path to the Elite Eight is very feasible — with Purdue and the winner of Murray State-Saint Peter’s on deck. Keep in mind, Beard outcoached Matt Painter in the 2016 Round of 64 (Little Rock) and 2018 Sweet 16 (Texas Tech). I wouldn’t be surprised to see him replicate that same success.

He also took Texas Tech to the national championship game a year later after falling in the Big 12 quarterfinals (similar to this season) — the lone program to accomplish that feat in college basketball history.

Best Available Line: Texas
Eli’s March Madness Bets: Texas PK (-110)

No. 5 Houston Cougars vs. No. 12 UAB Blazers

Similar to the Friars, the market overvalued the Cougars throughout the campaign after last season’s Final Four push. So we’ll aim to capitalize with the first-leg of our March Madness bets.

Houston is also due for defensive regression from behind the arc. It’s allowing the 11th-lowest perimeter clip (29.8%) despite letting up a top-105 3-point scoring rate. Blazers lead guard Jordan “Jelly” Walker & Co. should take advantage, and they even present the gang rebounding prowess to challenge Kalvin Sampson’s crew on the glass.

Plus, the Cougars’ backcourt has shown cracks against ball pressure while their opponent’s 1-3-1 trapping zone forces turnovers at the 33rd-highest rate in the country.

Best Available Line: UAB
Eli’s March Madness Bets: UAB +9 (-110)

No. 7 Michigan State Spartans vs. No. 10 Davidson Wildcats

January. February. Izzo. April.

Sorry, Tom Izzo protagonists. These aren’t your father’s Spartans, and Bob McKillop’s illustrious motion-centric offense should exploit their their struggling ball-screen defense — particularly in transition.

Moreover, this game represents a revenge spot for Davidson point guard Foster Loyer, who’s manufacturing a career-high 16.6 points per game. Consider it a narrative, but Loyer was a captain at Michigan State before Izzo shifted to the transfer portal and acquired Tyson Walker (ankle sprain) to replace him.

Loyer and his fellow long-range gunners will expose Sparty’s variance-driven 3-point defense (31.6%), putting the Wildcats in position to win outright. Take the points to be safe, though.

Best Available Line: Davidson
Eli’s March Madness Bets: Davidson +2 (-110)

No. 3 Wisconsin Badgers vs. No. 14 Colgate Raiders

Matt Langel’s team unperformed during non-conference play while the 6-foot Nelly Cummings dealt with an upper-body injury. That didn’t help the Raiders’ metrics, but it’s produced some value for us down the road.

Earlier this month, I broke down why the Badgers are overhyped in the betting market. In regards to this matchup specifically, they gave up the highest percentage of open 3-pointers during their Big 10 slate. Their pick-and-roll defense is susceptible too, which Colgate should abuse with bigs Keegan Records and Jeff Record.

Don’t be surprised if the Raiders pull off the upset, as their experience will bode well in arena filled with Badgers fans. Johnny Davis can only carry Wisconsin so far.

Best Available Line: Colgate
Eli’s March Madness BetsColgate +8 (-110)

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Written by
Eli Hershkovich

Eli Hershkovich is a lead sports betting writer with TheLines and Catena Media, formerly with Audacy and The Action Network. His goal is to provide you with data and information to lead you to winning bets. Eli is an avid college basketball gambler — among many other sports — and still hasn't forgiven Virginia for ruining his 2018-2019 Texas Tech futures.

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