NCAA Tournament Best Bets for Round One, West Region
NCAA TOURNAMENT BEST BETS FOR ROUND ONE WEST REGION – March Madness is finally here, and there will be basketball nonstop for four straight days beginning on Thursday, March 16, 2023. There are a lot of storylines this time, as always.
Can Kansas repeat as National Champions? Can Houston run through the bracket and complete a masterful season? Can Brandon Miller put everything aside and lead the Crimson Tide to a Final Four berth?
For the Round of 64, we will focus on the West Region and throw out some of the best bets.
#4 Connecticut vs #13 Iona (+9.5, O/U 143.5)
Tipoff: 4:30 pm EST, Friday, March 17
This game has a lot of people leaning toward Iona, and it’s understandable. However, let’s not forget that UConn began the season with 14 straight wins, including victories over NCAA Tournament team Iowa State and top overall seed Alabama.
The Huskies lost a heartbreaker to Marquette in the Big East Tournament, 70-68, but this team is playing well at the right time. Entering the tourney, UConn has won 10 of the last 13 games, and the three losses came by a combined eight points.
Rick Pitino has Iona back in the Big Dance, and that’s another solid season by the legendary head coach. Iona has won 14 in a row and hasn’t lost since January 27.
It’s worth noting that the Rick Pitino-St. John’s rumors are swirling furiously, and it’s hard to ignore that he would have an interest in heading there. If Iona was playing any other four seed, then I would lean toward them, but UConn has Final Four potential – if they can get past Kansas down the road.
Pick: Connecticut -9.5
#3 Gonzaga vs #14 Grand Canyon (+15.5, O/U 155.5)
Tipoff: 7:35 pm EST, Friday, March 17
Yes, there always seems to be a massive upset in the first round, and I’m sure it will come this year. Grand Canyon is an exciting team to watch, and their fans should travel well to Denver for this one. Rayshon Harrison leads the way with 17.7 PPG and dropped 31 in the last game against Southern Utah.
The Antelopes do have some bad losses lately, including a 19-point loss to Tarleton State and a 15-point loss to Seattle.
But, Gonzaga is another team with Final Fur potential in a loaded West Region. The Bulldogs have been in the top 25 all year long and enter as a trendy pick for the Elite Eight.
Mark Few’s team has just five losses, and three of those came to Kentucky, Texas, and Baylor at the start of the season. The other two were a one-point loss to Loyola Marymount and an 8-point road loss to St. Mary’s, another NCAA tourney team.
Gonzaga enters with a nine-game winning streak and a 26-point blowout of St. Mary’s in the WCC title game. Their ranks are impressive:
- 1st in PPG, field goal percentage
- 2nd in points scored
- 11th in three-point percentage
- 12th in assists
- 7th in assist-turnover ratio
It’s fun to pick underdogs, especially someone like Grand Canyon, but Drew Timme and Julian Strawther are too dominant, and Gonzaga cruises to a win.
Pick: Gonzaga -15.5 (Escalate to -20 for some plus money)
#5 St. Mary’s vs #12 VCU (+4, O/U 123)
Tipoff: 2:00 pm EST, Friday, March 17
Here it is. Every year, the 5-12 game is the popular upset pick, and the numbers show why. The 12th-seeded team has beaten a fifth-seeded team in all but four years since 2000 – that’s notable.
St. Mary’s lost two of the final three games, both to Gonzaga, and they have a lot of things going well for them. They have four players averaging double digits in scoring, and they have just seven losses all year long.
However, it’s hard to discredit what VCU has done. The Rams also have just seven losses and won three games in the Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament, including a 12-point win against Dayton, to earn the title and get the automatic bid.
VCU has won 17 of the last 19 games and the two losses have come by a combined seven points. Junior guard Adrian Baldwin Jr. leads the way with 12.7 PPG and 5.9 assists to lead the way. Again, the 12-5 game is tough to bypass, and the Rams are hot after winning nine games entering this showdown.
Pick: VCU Beats St. Mary’s in the Final Minute (VCU +4)
All odds courtesy of DraftKings as of March 14, 2023.