March Madness Betting Guide: First Round, Friday
March Madness is here!
Filling out a bracket is the main attraction for most sports fans this time of year, but the fun doesn't have to stop there. It's also the perfect opportunity to place some bets at NCAAB odds.
The first round continues on Friday, with the second batch of 16 games starting at 12:15 pm ET. Who has time for work?
Which games should draw our attention? Let's find out.
Please note that lines are subject to change throughout the day after this article is published. Please check here to make sure you're seeing the most updated information.
CSU Fullerton Titans (15) vs. Duke Blue Devils (2)
The Duke Blue Devils always draw plenty of attention in the NCAA tournament, and they're an even bigger storyline this time around in what will be coach Mike Krzyzewski's last season.
Coach K's final run could get off to a smooth start against the CSU Fullerton Titans, too, as the Blue Devils are 18.5-point favorites on FanDuel Sportsbook.
But that line might be a tad high.
Although Duke is an offensive powerhouse, they fell off defensively down the stretch. The Blue Devils are a top-50 adjusted defense for the season, per BartTorvik, but that efficiency plummeted to just 155th over their last 10 games and 208th over their last 5.
Duke has struggled to force turnovers all year, as well, ranking 300th in defensive turnover rate. They also rank 199th in defensive rebounding rate.
In all, CSU Fullerton should have an easier time making buckets than expected, which could go a long way for a squad with an average adjusted offense (180th).
Truth be told, the Titans probably don't have the firepower or talent to truly be a threat to bounce the Blue Devils early. But if Duke continues to play mediocre defense, it will open the door for CSU Fullerton to stay within this massive spread.
numberFire's model is also a fan of taking the Titans and the points.
Iowa State Cyclones (11) vs. LSU Tigers (6)
Although the over/under in this contest isn't especially high (128.5), this should be a grind-it-out, defensive slugfest, so the under could still be the play.
The LSU Tigers and Iowa State Cyclones rank 8th and 11th in adjusted defensive efficiency, and both teams fall outside the top 90 in adjusted offense. In fact, Iowa State doesn't even crack the top 150 offensively.
These two squads also rank outside the top 175 in effective field goal percentage and outside the top 250 in three-point percentage. Turnovers are also an issue for both offenses; they're tied for 298th in turnover rate.
These teams also shouldn't play at a particularly brisk pace, either. The Tigers are 88th in adjusted tempo, and the Cyclones are way back at 223rd.
As all of this would suggest, games with either of these teams involved hit the over less than half the time. LSU has a 48.4% over rate this season, while Iowa State's just 42.4%.
Although this is one of the lower totals on the board, the data still points to a low-scoring affair, and I like under 128.5 points.
UAB Blazers (12) vs. Houston Cougars (5)
If you read any pre-tournament content on this website, you're probably already well aware that the Houston Cougars are arguably the most under-seeded team in the bracket. According to historical data, the Cougars are closer to the equivalent of 2 seed.
With that in mind, Houston should be able to bulldoze a team like the UAB Blazers and cover as 8.5-point favorites.
Houston owns top-10 marks in both adjusted offense and adjusted defense. Meanwhile, UAB is top 30 offensively but falls outside the top 100 on defense.
The Blazers are a solid team, but they just aren't in the same class as Houston.
If the Cougars play up to their usual standards, they should win comfortably and cover this spread.