2015 NCAA tourney betting guide

10 Indiana Hoosiers

ATS pick: Eastern Washington +7.5*

. Cyclones vs. 3 Iowa St. Purdue

Notre Dame minus-12 vs. 15 Belmont Bruins

ATS pick: Louisville -9

ATS pick: Gonzaga -16.5

ATS pick: Butler +1.5

Westgate line: Wisconsin -18

PickCenter consensus pick: 65 percent picked Wisconsin

Westgate line: Utah -6

PickCenter consensus pick: 59 percent picked Stephen F. Neither team will shy away from the transition game, but the opportunities will be limited, especially for Purdue as the Bearcats boast one of the best transition defenses I’ve seen this season. Notre Dame can score, but both teams play solid defense, allowing points in the 60s. 4 Georgetown Hoyas vs. No. 16 North Florida/Robert Morris

No. This is one of those instances, and it provides a very strong favorite laying a very reasonable price.

Westgate line: North Carolina -8.5

PickCenter consensus pick: 68 percent picked North Carolina

Lange: It’s the time of year when identifying the better defensive team in a short-lined game puts you in solid position to cash tickets. Indiana

Maryland minus-4 vs. I don’t think Buffalo will be overwhelmed, as they held halftime leads on the road at Kentucky and Wisconsin, but West Virginia is an extremely hard team for which to prepare. The Sooners are also on a 10-3 SU run, and are 23rd in the nation in rebounds. No. Below is a list of the best and worst coaches to bet on in the NCAA tourney this year and their corresponding ATS tourney records.

In last week’s conference tournament betting guide, we detailed a system that focuses on large underdogs in low-scoring games, and explained how public betting patterns change during the postseason. It’s a veteran team, too. Kansas is at its best in transition, and I would expect it to push the pace and pull New Mexico State along.

Wunderdog: Northeastern/Notre Dame: under 141

No. The state of college basketball — slower, and lower scoring — makes it so “superior” teams aren’t always asked to cover big numbers. 10 Davidson Wildcats

No. If anyone asks if I think my dog has a chance to win outright, I’m going to say, “Of course!” On most of my plays, I’ll add a little something on the money line. If you’re playing any other team and don’t want to parlay game to game (maybe you’re betting in Vegas and won’t be back after the opening weekend), bet the odds to win the regional (see below) instead of the odds to win the whole thing.

No. Unfortunately, this system would also include teams that were an underdog during their last conference tournament game. -1.5

PickCenter consensus pick: 65 percent picked San Diego St. The Mountaineers’ success in the “first meetings” in Big 12 play (6-3 SU/ATS) suggests we look their way.

ATS pick: Arkansas -6.5

To be added after the North Florida-Robert Morris “First Four” game on Wednesday in Dayton, Ohio.

Most profitable tournament coaches since 2005

Westgate line: Louisville -9

PickCenter consensus pick: 53 percent picked UC-Irvine

Utah would be the only tourney future I see to hold a little bit of value. 6 Butler Bulldogs vs. 4. minus-1 vs.

The 10 teams, according to Kornegay, lead bookmaker at the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook, and his staff, that are the most popular teams to wager on as the tourney begins.

Best and worst coaches to bet on

With more than 9.2 quintillion possible NCAA tournament brackets, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. 9 St. 8 San Diego St. The Bulldogs held a plus-7.3 rebounds-per-game edge in Big East play — 3.9 rebounds per game better than second-best Providence. 16 Lafayette Leopards

ATS pick: Cincinnati -1

East Regional

Westgate line: Iowa St. This is a long-winded way of saying that the committee put VCU in at a No. 11 seed and pretty far removed from the bubble). 7 Michigan St. Purdue

West Virginia minus-4.5 vs. The Bulldogs have more than enough talent to hang with Duke and Kentucky.

Dave Tuley:

Selvaggio: Utah (75-1 at CG Technology; 60-1 at Westgate)

ATS pick: Maryland -4

Using Sport Insights’ Bet Labs software, we found that tournament favorites that receive less than 50 percent of spread bets have gone 86-65 ATS (+16.24 units won, 10.8 percent ROI) over the past 10 years. 4 North Carolina Tar Heels vs. UC Irvine has twin towers in 7-6 Mamadou Ndiaye and 7-2 Ioannis Dimakopoulos, but Louisville still has the matchup’s two best players in Terry Rozier and Montrezl Harrell despite all the players the Cardinals have lost. No. Northern Iowa

No. Coastal Carolina

Oklahoma St. 13 Valparaiso Crusaders

Maddux Sports:

No. Austin Lumberjacks

More money hits the market during the NCAA tournament than any other time in the sports betting calendar. Everyone is buying into the hype of the nation’s leading scorer, Tyler Harvey (22.9 PPG), and that the Eagles get to play in their home state while Georgetown has to travel all the way across the country from the “other” Washington. North Carolina

VCU plus-2 vs. Indiana is a smoke-and-mirrors team that beat up on the weak and shot its way to wins at home — not a recipe for postseason success. The oddsmakers certainly think so, as they made Ohio State the favorite despite the seedings. The Badgers are 42-20-1 ATS in nonconference games and 20-8-1 ATS in their past 29 neutral-site games. When this team was also an underdog in its previous game, the number of past matches is reduced dramatically, but we’re left with a 27-11 ATS record (+14.5 units, 38.2 percent ROI).

Westgate line: Providence -TBD

PickCenter consensus pick:

Westgate line: Oregon -1

PickCenter consensus pick: 60 percent picked Oregon

ATS pick: TBD

Westgate line: SMU -2

PickCenter consensus pick: 67 percent picked SMU

ATS pick: Baylor -7

No. No. As an underdog under Steve Alford, the Bruins are 17-7 hitting the under.

ATS pick: Oklahoma -12*

Pick: over 131

Tuley: Gonzaga is hardly even considered a mid-major anymore; instead, it’s the poster child for programs like North Dakota State, which upset Oklahoma last year in the Seattle subregional. -12

PickCenter consensus pick: 54 percent picked Iowa St. He will not get outcoached. However, I’ve seen this before where a team sneaks into the tournament and vindicates the selection committee (most notably VCU in 2011). The public has mostly bet against UCLA, as this line opened SMU minus-2 at several books and is up to 3.5 at most books and even 4 at a few as of late Monday night. 5 West Virginia Mountaineers vs. Since Butler left in 2011, the last three Big Dance participants from the Horizon lost by margins of 15, 11 and 20 in the first round.

Westgate line: Kansas -11

PickCenter consensus pick: 60 percent picked Kansas

Cincinnati plus-1 vs. However, we do have a Tier 2 match on Oklahoma State. It took time, but Maryland’s offense looked improved the back half of the campaign. 11 UCLA Bruins

One reason for this phenomenon may be that bettors are used to taking upsets in their brackets, making them more likely to gravitate toward the underdog. And Mick Cronin’s absence won’t be as magnified with Purdue playing a nearly identical brand of basketball. The Tigers turned it over 17 times to Auburn’s attacking guards, and this is an equally tough backcourt matchup.

No. Tyler Kalinoski was the Atlantic 10 Player of the Year, but he’s far from the lone gunman as Davidson averages more than 10 3-pointers made (hitting at better than 40 percent from long range) and more than 80 points per game. A year ago at this time they played American in the opening game and won 75-35, allowing only 29 percent shooting.

ATS pick: TBD

Andrew Lange: Bettors are faced with handicapping a dreaded “non-boarded” team here, as New Mexico State won the oddball WAC. No.

Andrew Lange:

Teams I would consider: Iowa State at 9-2 to win the South and Baylor at 10-1 to win the West.

Fading the trendy underdog

Westgate line: Xavier -TBD

PickCenter consensus pick: TBD

ATS pick: TBD

No. 11 Boise St./Dayton winner

No. Wyoming made a nice run through the Mountain West Conference to steal a bid, but Northern Iowa has moved beyond that “Cinderella” category into a team that wouldn’t be a shock if it made the Sweet 16 (in fact, an argument could be made that the Panthers should be the No. The Ducks allowed 54.5 percent shooting the last game, an 80-52 loss to Arizona, and are 2-6 ATS following a loss of more than 20 points.

Tuley: This line climbed from UNC minus-9 to minus-10, and I liked it more and more — until it got bet back to 8.5. 1 Kentucky Wildcats vs. Not one I’m going to overthink here, as Butler is worth a play as an underdog, preferably at plus-2.

The second is specific to this NCAA tournament, with such a huge favorite in Kentucky. -4.5

PickCenter consensus pick: 70 percent picked Michigan St. Seven-footer  Frank Kaminsky, 6-7 Nigel Hayes and 6-8  Sam Dekker are a handful for any frontcourt and will overmatch Coastal Carolina, whose top rebounder is 6-7 Badou Diagne. And I like the public dog, too. The WAC was one of the slowest conferences in the country, with the “fastest” team averaging 61.6 possessions per game in league play. But except for Lawrence Alexander, NDSU is far inferior to the team that nearly made the Sweet 16 last year, and frankly, it wouldn’t be in the field if it hadn’t won the Summit Conference tournament. John’s will likely stick with its four-guard lineup and push the pace while San Diego State will try to slow it down and control the game with its huge front line — especially compared to SJU with just 6-foot-6 Sir’Dominic Pointer to match up with 6-10 Skylar Spencer, 6-8 Winston Shepard and 6-7 J.J. It’s that lack of depth that has me looking to play against them in the next round, but not in this one.

Westgate line: Iowa -2

PickCenter consensus pick: 53 percent picked Davidson

ATS pick: Iowa St. For short-priced dogs, I might just bet only the money line with Davidson plus-120 over Iowa, VCU plus-145 over Ohio State or UCLA plus-150 over SMU, as I’m basically picking them because I believe they will win.

Westgate line: Kentucky -TBD

PickCenter consensus pick: TBD

Championship title odds

Best title value bets

Tuley: Well, this region is looking rather chalky so far, but I believe that ends here (though I do have some trepidation as Eastern Washington is becoming such a trendy pick). No. It all looks so easy that I hope it’s not one of those things that are too good to be true.

No. Austin team in the first round, but the Utes play a very good brand of basketball that fits the tournament setting. The Utes are underseeded by most respected metrics, and the committee didn’t do them any favors matching them up against a tough Stephen F. This team is 312th in the nation in assists and its top rebounder is 6-6 Sam Rowley. (Note: I am considering playing Georgia State plus-4.5 in the first half, though that still seems a little short.

ATS pick: Belmont +16*

To be added after the Hampton/Manhattan “First Four” game on Tuesday in Dayton, Ohio.

ATS pick: UCLA +2*

No. The Wolfpack are a tough matchup for a lot of teams with their three-guard attack of 6-3 junior Trevor Lacey (15.8 PPG, 4.4 RPG), 6-5 senior Ralston Turner (13.2 PPG) and sophomore Anthony Barber (12 PPG). The American has some weak teams, but I give the Bearcats small edges on both sides of the ball. I’m not buying this one. Coach Lon Kruger is outstanding, knowing how to get his team focused and prepared, and he’s very strong at in-game adjustments. 5 Arkansas Razorbacks vs. 1 Duke Blue Devils vs. No.

Eastern Washington plus-7.5 vs. Arizona

3. No. 9 LSU Tigers

Below are the ATS records for every NCAA tournament team this season, along with each team’s SU record and average margin of cover.

UCLA averaged more than 80 points per game at home this season, but just 62.7 on the road — a difference of more than 18 points per game. 9 Oklahoma State Cowboys

ATS pick: Lafayette +23*

Westgate line: Arkansas -6.5

PickCenter consensus pick: 58 percent picked Wofford

ATS pick: West Virginia -4.5

Coaching is a huge part of any sport, but particularly in college basketball. If Harvard can dictate the pace, the experienced Crimson could pull another upset or at least keep this within the spread.

Tuley: Every year, there are a few teams that get snubbed or a few teams that get overseeded or underseeded and cause heated discussions. No.

South | West | Midwest | East South Regional

No. Austin

ATS pick: Harvard +8.5*

No. Whatever the reason, our historical archive reveals a distinct change in public betting behavior.

Tuley: Everyone loves picking No. Kentucky

4. 2 Virginia Cavaliers vs. Mary’s, Baylor and Colorado State (average loss: 8.8 PPG). 10 Georgia Bulldogs

Tuley: This isn’t like one of the Louisville teams we’ve grown accustomed to seeing in recent years, and they look fade-able, but it looks like the committee did the Cardinals a favor with this seeding and matchup. They challenged themselves in nonleague play with games at Wichita State, Wyoming, St. O’Brien. But I don’t expect Arizona to rack up a ton of points and run up the score, either. Spartans vs. Albany is on an 0-5 ATS run and will get stomped by the talented and well-coached Sooners.

To be added after the Boise State-Dayton “First Four” game on Wednesday in Dayton, Ohio.

Westgate line: Duke -TBD

PickCenter consensus pick: TBD

During the regular season, a majority of public bettors take the underdog in just 17.65 percent of games; that figure reaches 23.82 percent for the NCAA tournament. For all of Texas’ length and size, the Longhorns were a solid, but hardly impressive plus-3.9 rebounds per game vs. Northeastern

Wichita St. No. 12 seed). 3 Oklahoma Sooners vs. Another thing working for the underdog is that Lafayette coach Fran O’Hanlon is a Nova alumnus and there’s a chance the Wildcats won’t want to embarrass O’Hanlon by running up the score.

Westgate line: Oklahoma -12

PickCenter consensus pick: 56 percent picked Oklahoma

ATS pick: Wichita State -6

ATS pick: Stephen F. However, it troubles me that this line is so short (years ago, this would be well into double digits) and I’m just afraid that in the end, Baylor will win out. 4 Maryland Terrapins vs. No. You’re going to run into situations in the tournament where hot shooting beats good defense, but in this instance, I want my money on the far more complete basketball team. Oregon

Oklahoma minus-12 vs. The Cowboys come in off a bad offensive game against Oklahoma, but they are 6-1-1 ATS after scoring fewer than 50 points in their previous game. underachiever (Texas). 5 Northern Iowa Panthers vs. 13 UC Irvine Anteaters

Tuley: Davidson has its best team since Stephen Curry led it to the Elite Eight in 2008, and this team might be even better overall. Arizona

Harvard plus-8.5 vs. Albany

NC State minus-1 vs.

Wunderdog: Wisconsin got off to a great start this season and hasn’t slowed down. No.

Our theory posits that when an underdog pulls off an unlikely upset, square bettors have difficulty accepting the team’s new role as a favorite. No. 12 seeds against No. 10 Ohio State Buckeyes

Westgate line: Texas -1.5

PickCenter consensus pick: 62 percent picked Texas

ATS pick: Oklahoma St. 9 Purdue Boilermakers

With so few past system picks on the third tier of this system, it’s no surprise that there are no current game matches for the opening-round games. Wisconsin is 4-0-1 ATS in its past five NCAA tournament games. Gonzaga

8. But for the Aggies, it’s really all we have to go off considering they haven’t played anyone even remotely capable since beating UC Irvine at home in early January.

Westgate line: Virginia -16

PickCenter consensus pick: 58 percent picked Belmont

No. But I’m going contrarian here. Ohio St. I will have some on Harvard plus-525 over North Carolina and Belmont plus-1200 over Virginia, but I’ll probably pass on Texas Southern and Lafayette at plus-2500 apiece over Arizona and Villanova.

Jay Kornegay’s top public teams

Wunderdog: Gonzaga (18-1 at Westgate, bet down to 15-1)

Tuley: I don’t expect Texas Southern to give Arizona too much of a scare as they’re overmatched talent-wise and don’t have a superstar or even a true big man. Arkansas won 10 of its last 13 games, and two of those losses were to Kentucky. Iowa State

5. Austin is justifiably getting a lot of support as a live underdog, as it upset VCU last year in this round and a lot of people remember that and are looking for a repeat. 10 when a lot of people would argue those should be switched. 14 UAB Blazers

Westgate line: Gonzaga -16.5

PickCenter consensus pick: 54 percent picked North Dakota St. Against the spread, I’ll stick with a recommendation on the Lumberjacks plus the points, but I’m not sure I’ll play it myself, so I can’t make it a best bet.

No. As much as I and most bettors despise Rick Barnes, it’s important to recognize that the Longhorns have the better personnel in this matchup. No. Statistically, the Bulls are fairly sound in the turnover department (15.2 percent vs. No.

UCLA/SMU: under 134

Wisconsin minus-18 vs. 5 (and for good reason), but I think the oddsmakers had this right when they opened Northern Iowa as a 7.5-point favorite. 11 BYU/Ole Miss winner

Wunderdog: Defense is key in March and Oklahoma State has it, as the Cowboys finished fourth in the Big 12 in points allowed, and fifth in field goal shooting percentage allowed this season. Villanova

Belmont plus-16 vs. I say they caught a break by facing super-soft Indiana and a likely date against a reeling Kansas squad in the second round. However, the Wildcats are only 2-3 ATS when laying 20 points or more, so this seems to be the tipping point. 12 Stephen F. 3 Baylor Bears vs. 6 SMU Mustangs vs. No. However, I think what gives Belmont a chance to at least cover is that Virginia’s leading scorer,  Justin Anderson, is coming back slowly from a broken finger and an appendectomy. Buffalo

Wisconsin minus-18 vs. No. While managing egos seems to be the largest challenge for NBA coaches, imparting fundamentals and turning five talented individuals into one cohesive unit are just two of the struggles facing college coaches. 2 Arizona Wildcats vs. Texas Southern comes in with 11 straight wins and covered the first two games in the SWAC tourney before winning but failing to cover in the title game, though that was a weird case (their opponent, Southern, was put on probation so the Tigers were going to be going dancing regardless of the outcome). The same can be said for Purdue’s two 7-footers, Isaac Haas and A.J. MAC opponents), but struggled to keep opposing teams off the glass. They have a similar profile to the Mountaineers with poor outside shooting (31.9 percent 3-pointers) but the ability to hit the offensive boards (36.5 percent). 12 Buffalo Bulls

No. The Zags just won the West Coast Conference by winning two games 79-61 and 91-75. Wisconsin

6. 4 seed, though it’s a moot point since they’re on a collision course with Louisville regardless).

ATS pick: NC State -1*

NCAA tournament teams, 2014-15 records

Tuley: This game is a contrast in styles, as St. In nonconference play, a number of NMSU’s games were in the high 60s to low 70s, possession-wise. Coastal Carolina

Tuley: UCLA’s inclusion by the selection committee was the most vilified decision on Selection Sunday (especially when the Bruins were given a No. Interesting side note in that for all the flack Barnes and the Longhorns have taken, they have an identical 17-13 ATS record as Butler. Iowa has a big size advantage, but unless Davidson goes stone cold, I don’t see the Hawkeyes being able to use that enough (at 2 points at a time) to keep up with the Wildcats.

Perhaps bettors consider all tournament participants to be upper-echelon teams and are content taking the points regardless of opponent. 12 Wyoming Cowboys

o picks for every NCAA tourney game on Thursday and Friday

o ATS records for every tourney team

o the best 2015 NCAA title value bets 

o Vegas handicappers’ best ATS bets, upset picks and over/under bets

o the best system bets from David Solar of Sports Insights

o the best and worst coaches in the tourney to bet on

o the top 10 public teams according to Jay Kornegay of the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook

Westgate line: Villanova -23

PickCenter consensus pick: 53 percent picked Lafayette

No. Big 12 opponents. Sure, the Super Bowl may take a larger handle than any individual game, but the cumulative number of bets taken during March Madness dwarfs even the mighty beast known as the NFL playoffs.

Cincinnati plus-1 vs. The Terps aren’t built to win by big margins, but this price appears cheap. They have great balance, with a strong frontcourt, while 6-4 junior Buddy Hield (17.5 PPG, 5 RPG) and 6-4 junior Isaiah Cousins (12.2 PPG, 5 RPG) run the backcourt and lead the team in scoring. This isn’t your typical Valpo team, as the Crusaders play at a plodding pace and win with defense (0.94 points per possession allowed). 5 Utah Utes vs. In the end this is a very even matchup, but I think the Bearcats are still the play, even being bet to favoritism.

No. Gonzaga 6-foot-10 freshman Domantas Sabonis (9.5 PPG, 7 RPG), 7-1 junior Przemek Karnowski (11 PPG) and 6-10 junior Kyle Wiltjer (16.7 PPG) anchor an NBA-like frontcourt, while senior guard Kevin Pangos (11.5 PPG, 5 APG) gets things moving.

ATS pick: Georgia +4.5*

ATS pick: Northern Iowa -7.5

Enjoy and good luck.

ATS picks for every game

Westgate line: Maryland -4

PickCenter consensus pick: 69 percent picked Maryland

Wunderdog: NC State is on a nice 6-2 SU run coming into the Big Dance. As a team, the Huskies shoot 52.9 percent from 2, 38.8 percent from 3 and 72.4 percent from the free throw line. 14 Northeastern Huskies

I think it’s important not to punish NMSU too much for its conference affiliation, as the program recruits well and has been on solid footing throughout the Marvin Menzies era. Villanova obviously has the talent edge, but it’s not a size mismatch like we usually see with 1-16 matchups. But fear not: ESPN’s Chalk college basketball betting experts are here to help. Oregon leans too much on offense, as the Ducks were 10th in the Pac-12 in points allowed and ninth in rebounding defense this season. Kansas

10. However, this puts Shaka Smart and his VCU program in the underdog role, where they’re more comfortable. If bettors are willing to take a 12-seed over a 5-seed straight up, it makes sense that they would also be willing to bet the 12-seed getting points.

By David Solar, SportsInsights.com

Westgate line: Notre Dame -12

PickCenter consensus pick: 60 percent picked Notre Dame

Westgate line: Wichita State -6

PickCenter consensus pick: 55 percent picked Wichita St. The Wolfpack match up well with an LSU squad that is on a 6-4 SU run, bowing out fast in the SEC tourney (a 73-70 OT loss to Auburn as a 9-point favorite). SDSU’s inside game and stubborn defense (the Aztecs allow just 53.1 points per game, ranked second in the nation) should get the job done.

Westgate line: Georgetown -7.5

PickCenter consensus pick: 73 percent picked Eastern Washington

No. Utah can play with anybody sans Kentucky in this field.

Westgate line: Cincy -1

PickCenter consensus pick: 61 percent picked Cincinnati

Westgate line: Baylor -7

PickCenter consensus pick: 59 percent picked Baylor

No. When dealing with mid-major teams, I’m hesitant to put much stock into nonconference play as a vast majority of games against power conference foes are played on the road. 12 Wofford Terriers

No. With public support shifting, we theorized that there would be value fading these so-called “trendy underdogs.”

No. 8 NC State Wolfpack vs. Iowa

Lafayette plus-23 vs.

Tuley: Villanova is for real, and hard to bet against at 24-9 ATS. SMU

Davidson plus-2 vs. Albany got here by winning the America East, but didn’t step up in competition much. This team is 18-7-1 ATS after a loss, and 23-9-1 ATS on neutral courts. 7 Wichita State Shockers vs. Offensive rebounding and garbage points are musts for Butler, because Texas is a fairly strong defensive team in the half court. 15 Texas Southern Tigers

Westgate line: Michigan St. When facing a winning team this season, UCLA was 17-6 hitting the under. While bettors overwhelmingly tend to take the favorite during the regular season, the NCAA tournament is a rare time when the public jumps all over the underdog.

Tuley: I’m conflicted on this game. SEC Player of the Year Bobby Portis (yes, he won over all those Kentucky blue-chippers) and his teammates love to run, and I just don’t see Wofford keeping pace.

Wunderdog Sports:

No. 8 Oregon Ducks vs. 6 Providence Friars vs. To eliminate these teams, we focused solely on teams that won their previous game. LSU

Lange: Arguably the best attribute to have with a double-digit underdog in the NCAA tournament is high-caliber shooters, and on paper, Northeastern has just that. 15 North Dakota St. 2 Duke in 2008, but this year’s team was 25th in the nation from the floor at 47.6 percent, and won its last seven games, including an upset of Murray State to steal the OVC’s automatic bid. That worked out well for me, but this year I’m hoping to be able to back Iowa State on a deeper run with Georges Niang & Co. 16 Hampton/Manhattan winner

No. 16 Coastal Carolina Chanticleers

What this guide contains:

ATS pick: Notre Dame -12

Tuley: I liked Iowa State last year and was bummed when the Cyclones ran into another hot team that I was in love with (UConn) in the Sweet 16. 14 Georgia St Panthers

No. Michigan State

9. North Carolina has every possible edge, but the Tar Heels don’t always show up, and they were just 14-13-1 ATS before finishing the season 5-2 ATS. 7 seed and Ohio State at No. Anyway, the added rest should help Gaines and put Georgia as a live underdog.

ATS pick: TBD

Westgate line: San Diego St. The reason for this is if your team gets to the Final Four and you want to hedge, you’re gonna be paying a huge price to hedge with Kentucky on the money line.

This is a high total — the third highest on the board in the opening round. Bison

Tuley: Georgia State is an interesting underdog as it plays well on the defensive end, holding 11 opponents under 30 percent shooting this season. We all know the Harvard kids are smart, but Crimson have also won opening-round games each of the past two years. WVU’s Juwan Staten (knee) and Gary Browne (ankle) are still nursing injuries, but expected to play. The Badgers come into the tourney fresh off a Big Ten title, winning every game by double digits. Georgia was on the bubble and secured its spot in the field by beating South Carolina in the SEC tournament, then sat second-leading scorer Kenny Gaines in the next game against Arkansas. Furthermore, they’re playing their best basketball of the season right now, winning the Atlantic 10 title, and they will be taking on a turnover-prone Buckeyes team.

ATS pick: VCU +2*

No. 7 VCU Rams vs. Besides, a lot of people think the Hoyas are overseeded; in fact, the BPI had them as a No. No. They’ve lost two games all year: an OT loss at Arizona and a 3-point loss to BYU, the No. The Terrapins rely an awful lot on Dez Wells and Melo Trimble, and I would expect Valpo to play some zone. Georgetown

UCLA plus-2 vs. 15 New Mexico St Aggies

Tuley: This line has risen from 4.5 to 5.5 since wagering opened Sunday night, which isn’t too surprising as everyone knows how MSU coach Tom Izzo gets his teams to improve as the season progresses (and we all saw how the Spartans took Wisconsin to OT in the Big Ten title game). -2

PickCenter consensus pick: 58 percent picked Ohio St. The Bulldogs obviously missed him on both ends of the floor, and it probably kept them from winning that game and finishing second in the league tourney to Kentucky. No. No. Michigan St. And while the level of competition in the Colonial (the 19th-rated conference, according to Sagarin) wasn’t all that stiff, Notre Dame isn’t known for its defensive prowess (1.07 points per possession allowed vs. NC State is also 31st in the nation in rebounds. This is the best and most balanced Gonzaga team yet, playing in its backyard, so I can’t get on the NDSU bandwagon.

Lange: How is either team going to score? Both squads are tremendous at packing the paint, contesting shots and rebounding. 14 Albany Great Danes

No. John’s Red Storm

Least profitable tournament coaches since 2005

To be added after the BYU-Mississippi “First Four” game on Tuesday in Dayton, Ohio.

The table below summarizes the results of our analysis.

Tuley: A lot of people are picking this game as this year’s mega-upset (like Mercer over No. We’ve asked our experienced group of wiseguys, including Dave Tuley, Andrew Lange, Dave Solar, Geoff Kulesa of Wunderdog Sports and Sal Selvaggio what they’re looking at when handicapping the bracket and picking tourney games.

Wunderdog: You know what you’re going to get out of Oklahoma. No. -1.5

West Regional

No. Now, it’s a sliding scale. 13 Eastern Washington Eagles

Lange: This is a classic case of overachiever (Butler) vs. Some will say the Shockers are being punished for losing to Illinois State in the Missouri Valley semifinals. Hammons. -12

Mark Few has had a lot of great players and teams at Gonzaga, but this may be his best. Notre Dame

2. No. Belmont is probably most known for nearly beating No. Valparaiso

The first would be that instead of betting the fixed-odd futures to win the title, bet the money line in the first game your team plays and roll over your winnings through all six games. No. No. No. 2 offensive team in the nation. 7 Iowa Hawkeyes vs. 3 Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs. If he’s not fully back in form (and he didn’t look like it in 26 scoreless minutes in the ACC tourney, including a miss on the possible game winner against North Carolina), that opens the door more for the Bruins.

ATS pick: San Diego St. No. 1 Wisconsin Badgers vs. Coach Mike Brey is 11-3 hitting the under in NCAA tournament games at Notre Dame.

No. +1*

Midwest Regional

Westgate line: Ohio St. ACC opponents). No. At the time of publication, OSU was receiving just 24 percent of spread bets.

Tuley: Here’s another 5-12 matchup, with the public looking to the underdog to pull an upset. No. On offense, they are strong in free throw shooting (76 percent), which is always a plus when games are close. The Red Storm will really miss suspended 6-10 shot-blocker Chris Obekpa. The Cowboys lost their previous game against Oklahoma and opened as a 1-point favorite against Oregon. Austin +6

Note: Picks marked with an asterisk (*) are best bets. Aztecs vs. Oklahoma State has excellent balance with 6-7 senior Le’Bryan Nash (17 PPG, 5.4 RPG) and 6-8 senior Michael Cobbins up front, plus junior Phil Forte III (15 PGG). The team was 1-3 SU and 2-2 ATS in their absence. This addition leads to a 12-2 ATS record with +9.45 units won and a 67.5 percent ROI.

ATS pick: Texas Southern +21.5*

ATS pick: Wisconsin -18*

Tuley: As we’ve all seen over the years, when an underdog is live during March Madness, they often pull the outright upset instead of just covering. 8 Cincinnati Bearcats vs. Larry Krystkowiak is one of the best coaches in the game and will hold an advantage over most on the sidelines. No. SMU held opponents to fewer than 60 points per game this season — ranked in the top 20 in the nation. minus-6 vs. 1 Villanova Wildcats vs. 2 Gonzaga Bulldogs vs. They also scored a favorable venue with Omaha and a short four-hour drive north from their campus.

Lange: First thing’s first: Can Buffalo hang on to the basketball and rebound on the defensive end? No team in the MAC comes close to resembling West Virginia’s chaotic ways. 2 seed Duke last year). 4 Louisville Cardinals vs. The Tigers have to be feeling the role of Cinderella, and I think they can stay within the huge number.

ATS pick: Davidson +2*

1. However, I’m really high on Utah with its inside-outside tandem of guard Delon Wright and 7-foot center Jakob Poeltl, and this number looks a little short (again, because of the support for SFA as an ever-popular No. 6 Xavier Musketeers vs. 11 Texas Longhorns

As the spreads get higher, the points are more likely to come into play and I’ll bet a smaller percentage on the money line: Georgia plus-210 over Michigan State and Eastern Washington plus-280 over Georgetown. It almost always yields a better payoff, plus it gives you the option along the way to pull out profits or to stop altogether if there’s a key injury or something.

To summarize our handicappers’ best bets (lines are from the Westgate SuperBook as of Tuesday morning):

Westgate line: NC State -1

PickCenter consensus pick: 64 percent picked NC State

Westgate line: Arizona -21.5

PickCenter consensus pick: 58 percent picked Arizona

Tuley: I have two things to say about betting futures.

Texas Southern plus-21.5 vs. Stephen F. 13 Harvard Crimson

No. Virginia

Georgia plus-4.5 vs. No. Lafayette did play at Villanova in last season’s opener and was tied with eight minutes to play before losing by 16 points (75-59). A lot of NCAA underdogs have used a stellar defense to pull upsets or cover spreads against more athletic teams. 6 seed instead of a No. No. 2 Kansas Jayhawks vs. Oftentimes, those “snubbed” teams go on to lose right away in the NIT and the “overseeded” teams live up to their billing, while “underseeded” teams put in disappointing showings. The Great Danes lost 64-60 to Providence and 75-59 to UNLV. However, the one thing in Butler’s favor is its ability to win the battle on the boards. Duke

7. No. Cincinnati chews up tons of clock trying to get the ball in the paint to Octavius Ellis.

Westgate line: Northern Iowa -7.5

PickCenter consensus pick: 60 percent picked Wyoming

Westgate line: West Virginia -4.5

PickCenter consensus pick: 52 percent picked West Virginia

Bettors can also use the public betting trends available on ESPN Chalk’s Live Odds page to track favorites receiving less than 50 percent of spread bets.

Lange: From a betting perspective, the Terrapins went from underrated heading into Big Ten play (4-2 ATS start) to overrated after sweeping Michigan State (which went on a 1-8 ATS slide), and then back to underrated following six straight covers heading into the Big Dance. They also have a tremendous amount of size, with a frontcourt that features players standing 7-3, 6-10, 6-9 and 6-8. Wisconsin is tops in the Big Ten in points allowed, second in free throws, second in field goal shooting and rebound margin. All that stuff aside, we can only handicap the games in front of us, and while SMU is a solid team, I am convinced that if UCLA plays like it did against Arizona in the Pac-12 semifinals, the Bruins will be able to pull the upset here.

No. The higher the spreads go, the less convinced I am that the underdog will win outright, plus the more the books will shave off the true odds, so I won’t bet as much on the money line. The issue is that Northeastern hasn’t faced an offense even remotely close to that of the Irish. I don’t see any potential matchup where I’ll be fading them, starting with the opener, as UAB needed the home court to win the Conference USA tournament as the fourth seed to earn its dance ticket

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