Top Betting Predictions For The NCAA First Round

Posted by Eric Williams on Monday,March 13, 2017 2:35, EDT in

If you’re looking for teams that have the look of virtual first round locks and you want to get your 2017 March Madness NCAA Tournament betting campaign off to a positive start, then you’ve come to the right place.

In an effort to help you cash in early and often over the course of the 2017 NCAA tournament, I have identified a trio of ballclubs that are all offering a bunch of value in their respective first round matchups. With the opening tip-off for all three affairs quickly approaching, let’s get down to business.

A Closer Look At The Top Betting Predictions For The NCAA First Round

 

 

No. 3 Florida State (25-8) vs. No. 14 Florida Gulf Coast (26-7)

When: Thursday, March 16, 2017 at 9:20 PM ET
Where: Amway Center, Orlando, Florida
TV: TNT

Analysis: The Florida State Seminoles (17-12-2 ATS) will make their first appearance in the NCAA Tournament in first time in five years, but I believe the ACC championship hopefuls look like they’re going to have their hands full against a very dangerous Florida Gulf Coast (4-0 ATS) squad when they battle on Thursday.

Florida State averages just less than three points per game more than Florida Gulf Coast, but the unheralded Eagles limit the opposition to three fewer points per game defensively. Florida State is coming off a 77-73 loss to Notre Dame in the ACC tournament on Friday that dropped them to 2-2 over their last four and 4-4 over their last eight games overall.

Florida Gulf Coast has won seven straight games and 12 of their last 13 games and bet North Florida 77-61 in the Atlantic Sun conference championship on Mar. 5. The Eagles have our players that average double digits in scoring including leading scorer Brandon Goodwin (18.2 ppg). Florida State has just three players that average double figures in scoring including leading scorer Dwayne Bacon (16.9 ppg). Florida Gulf Coast has covered the spread in three straight while Florida State has gone 3-4-1 ATS over their last eight games overall. I like the Seminoles to get the win, but Florida Gulf Coast to cover the spread with room to spare.

Pick: Florida State 78 Florida Gulf Coast 75

No. 4 Butler (23-8) vs. No. 13 Winthrop (26-6)

When: Thursday, March 16, 2017 at 1:30 PM ET
Where: BMO Harris Bradley Center, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
TV: TNT
NCAAB Odds: Butler -11

Analysis: The 13th-seeded Winthrop Eagles (3-4-1 ATS) average three more points per game than fourth-seeded Butler (17-12 ATS) and have won eight straight and nine of their last 10 games overall including their 76-59 Big South tournament win over Campbell in the title game on Mar. 5.

The Butler Bulldogs will look to snap a modest two-game skid after falling to Seton Hall and Xavier in their last two games, but they are also the only team in the nation to beat defending champion and second-ranked Villanova twice this season and that alone tells me they can beat just about anyone.

Winthrop has a legitimate star in 5-7 senior point guard Keon Johnson (22.5 ppg), but just one other player averages double figures for the Golden Eagles while three players average double figures for Butler, including 6-7 junior Kelan Martin (16.1 ppg), a player that has averaged 19 points in his last six games on 51.3 percent shooting from the field.

59 percent of the betting public likes Butler to win and cover the spread as double-digit favorites, but I don’t. Winthrop may be an uninspiring 1-2 ATS in their last three games but Butler has gone 2-2 ATS over their last four. The Bulldogs get the win, but not by a dozen points.

Pick: Butler 71 Winthrop 66

No. 12 Princeton (23-6) vs. No. 5 Notre Dame (25-9)

When: Thursday, March 16, 2017 at 12:15 PM ET
Where: KeyBank Center, Buffalo, New York
TV: CBS
NCAAB Odds: Notre Dame -7

Analysis: No. 12 Princeton (12-10-1 ATS) has had a fantastic season in winning the inaugural Ivy league conference championship and come into this matchup riding an insane 19-game winning streak, it is fifth-seeded Notre Dame (18-9-1 ATS) that is the easy pick to win and narrowly cover the spread in this first round pairing.

While the Irish have lost two of their last four games, they’re also 8-2 over their last 10 and have only suffered losses against nationally-ranked Louisville and Duke along the way.  While Notre Dame allows almost seven points per game more than the Tigers, they also outscore their Ivy League opponents by almost six points per game offensively.

More importantly, Notre Dame will have the best player on the court by far in superstar swingman Bonzie Colson. “We have a whole new season to go,” Colson said after unleashing a 29-point, nine-rebound performance in Notre Dame’s 75-69 loss to Duke in the ACC tournament title game on Saturday. “We have an opportunity to cut down some nets and we’re staying together and we’re excited about what we have upcoming for us. You’ve got to move on quick. It’s the nature of the game.”

The 6-foot-5 Colson (17.5 ppg, 10.2 rpg) led the ACC in scoring and rebounding double-doubles with 18 while finishing third for ACC Player of the Year honors. Notre Dame also has three other double-digit scorers in Matt Farrell (14.2 ppg), V.J. Beachem (15.0 ppg) and Steve Vasturia (13.3). The Irish are 4-1 ATS in their last five and 6-4 ATS over their last 10 and I believe they will win and narrowly cover against a Princeton team that has gone 5-4-1 ATS over their L/10 games.

Pick: Notre Dame 78 Princeton 71