2019 March Madness First Round Betting Preview

2019 March Madness First Round Betting Preview

Okay March Madness betting faithful…it’s that time of year again when college hoops takes center stage in the nation’s collective betting consciousness worth its annual March Madness national basketball championship tournament.

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Better yet, you’re going to get a bunch of eye-opening March Madness insight on a handful of first round matchups that will help you in your quest to get your 2019 March Madness betting campaign off to a positive start.

2019 March Madness First Round Betting Preview

South

No. 6 Villanova (25-9) vs. No. 11 St. Mary’s (22-11)

  • When: Thursday, March 21, 2019 at 7:20 PM ET
  • Where: XL Center, Hartford, Connecticut
  • 2019 March Madness Odds: Villanova -5.5

Analysis: Sixth-seeded Villanova might be the defending national champs, but this year’s Wildcats team has been one going through some growing pains after seeing a quartet of their big-time stars leave for the NBA Draft following last season’s championship run. The good news for Jay Wright’s team is that they somehow managed to still win the Big East regular-season and tournament titles and they’ll enter March Madness on a high note because of it. On the flip side of the coin, Saint Mary’s wasn’t expected to make this year’s Field of 68 until it upset then, top-ranked Gonzaga by the mind-boggling score of 60-47 in the West Coast Conference championship game.

While a stunning 59 percent of public bettors are currently backing the Gaels to at least cover the chalk, I’m going with battle-tested Nova to get it done because they’ve got the big coaching edge and still, some players with championship experiences, starting with guard Phil Booth (18.6 ppg) and forward Eric Paschall (16.5 ppg). The Wildcats are 13-3 ATS in their last 16 NCAA Tournament games and 19-7 ATS in their last 26 neutral site games and that’s just going to be too good for St. Mary’s.

No. 8 VCU (25-7) vs. No. 9 UCF (23-8)

  • When: Friday, March 22, 2019 at 9:50 PM ET
  • Where: Colonial Life Arena, Columbia, South Carolina
  • 2019 March Madness Odds: UCF -1

VCU might have had their 12-game winning streak snapped in their 75-70 AAC loss to Rhode Island this past weekend, but UCF has lost two straight and three of their last seven games, including their ugly 79-55 loss to Memphis on Friday. While 49 percent of public bettors are currently backing the Knights to cover the chalk as a really slight 1-point favorite, I’m going to back the Rams to get the win and ATS cover, simply because I believe their winning ways were snapped the last time out and now, they’ve got some added motivation.

“A loss better hurt you,” VCU head coach Mike Rhoades said after his team’s loss this past weekend. “If you don’t learn from a loss, you’re not a real player. This is not what we expected or what we wanted, but I can’t wait to get back on the court with our guys.”

Central Florida has gone 2-5 ATS in their last 7 games following a ATS loss while VCU has gone a near perfect 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games following a straight up loss and a bankroll-boosting 15-4 ATS in their last 19 NCAA Tournament games and 10-3 ATS in their last 13 games overall.

West

No. 5 Marquette (24-9) vs. No. 12 Murray State (27-4)

  • When: Thursday, March 21, 2019 at 4:30 PM ET
  • Where: XL Center, Hartford, Connecticut
  • 2019 March Madness Odds: Marquette -4.5

No. 12 Murray State may have a flat-out superstar in mesmerizing guard Ja Morant, the No. 8 scorer in the country, but the Racers won’t be much of a match for fifth-seeded Marquette in my opinion. The Golden Eagles are giving up a very manageable 4.5 points and I’m expecting them to cover the chalk with room to spare, especially seeing as how they have their own star guard in Markus Howard, the No. 6 scorer in the country. Sure, the Golden Eagles have lost five of their last six games including a two-point loss to Seton Hall in the semifinals of the Big East Tournament, but I’m thinking their recent struggles will have them super-focused in this affair.

No. 7 Nevada (29-4) vs. No. 10 Florida (19-15)

  • When: Thursday, March 21, 2019 at 6:50 PM ET
  • Where: Wells Fargo Arena, Des Moines, Iowa
  • 2019 March Madness Odds: Nevada -2

Despite having a record-setting season, Nevada has struggled down the stretch by dropping three of their last eight games. Still though, I’m a bit stunned that 53 percent of public bettors are backing the Gators to cover the chalk. Florida isn’t exactly playing well, having lost four of their last six games while getting held to 62 points or less in three of those losses.

While Florida has an elite defense, Nevada has the big edge in scoring and they’re almost as good as the Gators defensively, not to mention the Wolf Pack have a trio of likely NBA performers on their roster. The Gators are an uninspiring 2-5 ATS in their last 7 games following a straight up loss while Nevada has gone 19-6-1 ATS in their last 26 games following a straight up loss. I picked Nevada to reach the Final Four and I still see that as a very real possibility, starting with a big – and convincing – win over Florida in this one.


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