The first four games are fun and all, but Thursday is when March Madness really starts. In the onslaught of 16 tournament matches, we have three best bets to send you.
The pre-game story: Two Aggies schools (Texas A&M and Utah State) caught our eye with their impressive ATS play this season. Plus, we’re taking the points with an Oral Roberts team that has a lot of upset potential.
Check out our best March Madness Day 1 bets for NCAA Tournament games on March 16.
NCAA basketball odds starting at 12:00 p.m. ET on 03/15/2023.
March Madness Day 1 best bets
Best bet : Texas A&M -2 (-121)
Texas A&M and Penn State have both posted strong ATS records this year, but there is a key distinction. The Nittany Lions’ 20-13-2 ATS mark was buoyed by generous underdog spreads.
When Penn State got two runs or less, it compiled a lackluster 10-9-2 ATS record. Obviously, it’s not as impressive.
Texas A&M, meanwhile, went 23-11 ATS — including 17-7 when favored by two or more runs.
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When the Aggies were named the favorites, they played their part admirably.
Credit Penn State for an impressive run of Big Ten tournaments, narrowly missing out on Purdue in the Finals. But that lightning performance doesn’t erase his 10-10 conference record.
In a strong SEC, Texas A&M put up a 15-3 mark. The Aggies have two wins in the past month (vs Tennessee, v Alabama) that are more impressive than anything the Nittany Lions have accomplished all season.
Key stat: Texas A&M has covered 10 of its last 12 games.
Utah State -1.5 (-112) : No. 7 Missouri may be the top seed, but No. 10 Utah State is favored for a reason. The Aggies are 7-1 in the streak and have a trio of players shooting 38.0 percent or better from 3 points.
Missouri is just 16-16-1 ATS this year, while Utah State is 21-12 (with seven ATS in its last eight games) .
Oral Roberts +6.5 (-118) : We have already pleaded for Oral Roberts as an upset choice over Duke, so taking the Golden Eagles with a few points seems like a good play.
ORU is riding the longest winning streak in the country (17 games), and its four losses this year have come in Quad 1 matchups on the road.
The Golden Eagles rank seventh in effective field goal percentage (56.1%) and should be able to keep pace with a Duke team that has only covered that number in six of his last 13 games.
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