The 2016 NCAA Tournament is upon us, and below we have an enticing list of the best five matches of the first round, complete with free online March Madness betting picks to consider for your March Madness betting and bracket fill-ups. Enjoy and feel free to come back for more…
Top 5 Matches and NCAAB Picks for March Madness First Round
No. 5 Maryland vs. No. 12 South Dakota
By now, you probably know that every year presents us with a No.12 over No. 5 seed upset, so any of such matchups (including this one between Maryland and South Dakota) will be worth keeping an eye on. But what makes this game more alluring is the fact that Maryland, after a strong start to the season, has been struggling in taking care of the ball and former 2016 Player of the Year Candidate Melo Trimble has been far from the elite orchestrator we knew him to be at the start of the season. Additionally, Maryland coach Mark Turgeron has been to the Big Dance six times but with just one appearance in the Sweet Sixteen, making him and his team a risky pick to do well in the NCAA tournament. Now, if Trimble and Co. step up, then this Maryland team could be a potential Final Four pick. But if they continue to struggle in protecting the ball—as they have done of late—then the Jackrabbits could pull a fast one of them. I mean, South Dakota rebounds quite well, so all it needs is to up its scoring and dominate the boards in order to stick to Maryland once and for all. SU NCAAB Pick: Maryland.
No. 6 Seton Hall vs. No. 11 Gonzaga
So, Gonzaga is making a 17th appearance in the Big Dance under coach Mark Few and their performance in the Tournament has been fairly impressive, especially over the recent years. In comparison, Kevin Willard, the coach of Seton Hall, is making his maiden appearance in the NCAA tournament, which gives the Zags some edge. Added to that advantage is the fact that Kyle Wiltjer and Domantas Sabonis are two of the best two-man team in the nation, a key reason why the high-scoring Bulldogs have been putting up big numbers this season. But then again, Seton Hall has been playing more impressively than Gonzaga this year. In addition to that, Seton Hall is coming into this game with a lot of momentum after beating the Villanova Wildcats in the Big East Tournament Final. Defeating a team that won the Big East regular season title and was ranked No. 1 in the nation barely two weeks ago is a pretty big deal, and the fact that Seton Hall PG Isaiah Whitehead has been on a tear over the last few weeks should scare the Bulldogs, who’ve been maddeningly inconsistent this season. So, although the majority of the betting public is jumping on Gonzaga, I’d warn you to be very wary of this much underrated Seton Hall team. SU NCAAB Pick: Seton Hall
No. 6 Arizona vs. No. 11 Vanderbilt/Wichita State
The game between Vandy and Wichita State in Dayton will certainly be a nice one to watch. But the best part about this game is that the winner will get to face the Arizona Wildcats, who are one of the best teams when it comes to playing in the Tournament. Yes, the Shockers haven’t been consistent, but they have tons of big-game experience in Fred VanVleet and Ron Baker, two players who were instrumental in Wichita State’s run to the Final Four last year. Vanderbilt, meanwhile, can rely on its solid defense (ranked third in opponents field goal percentage) to take down its opponents, led by its two 7-footers in Luke Kornet and Damian Jones. That being said, the Wildcats have too many well-endowed players, who should prove to be better for whoever Arizona plays. Ryan Anderson is the definition of headache around the rim, Gabe York is high-premium scorer and his lights-out shooting from the three-point range will be tough to handle, and Allonzo Trier is an all-rounded scoring machine. Add that up to Arizona’s strong supporting cast, you get an Arizona squad that will make a classic encounter out of Vandy or Wichita State. SU NCAAB Pick: Arizona
No. 7 Wisconsin vs. No. 10 Pittsburgh
Barely two months ago, it looked like Wisconsin would miss the Tourney, spotting 1-4 conference record after a poor run in the non-conference games. So bad were things for the Badgers that coach Bo Ryan called it quits to his career. Fast-forward to now, Greg Gard and the Badgers are back on track, with the once-cold offense now doing on-song things offensively and forcing more turnovers, making them one of the good all-rounded teams in the Tournament. It, however, remains to be seen how they perform against an upset-minded Pittsburgh team that is led by a fierce competitor in Michael Young Jr. Moreover, the Panthers can be quite dominant in the offensive glass if they want to, which could cause problems to Wisconsin in terms of cleaning the glass. Whatever happens here, you can be sure that both teams will be fighting heartedly for a chance to win this game, something that could make this encounter one of the best games in the first round. SU NCAAB Pick: Pittsburgh
No. 8 Texas Tech v. No. 9 Butler
Texas Tech, in spite of not being a hot shooting team recently, is still capable of making its mark on the scoring board, thanks to its ability to force fouls and get on the line a lot. This plays right into one of Butler’s main weakness: difficulty in coping with aggressive and physical teams in the paint. That said, Butler will also get its chances to impress on the offensive end, using the team’s typical balanced shooting inside and outside the arc. In the end, we are thus likely to have a thrilling back-and-forth shootout affair that will go down to the wire. I seriously don’t know who to pick in this toss-up game, but I am leaning more on Texas Tech, so I’ll pick the Raiders to eke out a close win. SU NCAAB Pick: Texas Tech.