NCAA Tournament Betting: March 19

NCAA Tournament Betting: March 19

The wait is over. In a few short hours, 64 teams will begin the quest to win college basketball’s biggest prize. The journey for some will be short, while others take one step closer to Indianapolis. It’s a crazy three weeks of frenetic action chock-full of lopsided blowouts, down to the wire thrillers, and heartbreaking defeats. If a sporting event ever earned the moniker March Madness, it’s the preamble to the Final Four, which culminates Monday, April 6th in the National Championship game. Here are a few previews and predictions for Thursday’s opening salvo.

(11) Texas vs. (6) Butler +1.5 – The Longhorns are fortunate to be in the field after finishing tied for 6th in the highly competitive Big 12, and losing five of their last eight. Texas is a physical, bruising team that pounds the glass and plays solid defense. The Bulldogs beat North Carolina, Georgetown, St. John’s twice, and played Villanova tight in mid February. They’ve also won three straight opening round Tourney tilts. Butler is 19-6-1 ATS in their last 26 Tournament games.

Bet Butler +1.5

(14) Georgia St vs. (3) Baylor -9 – The Panthers haven’t appeared in the Dance since 2001. The backcourt duo of R.J. Hunter and Ryan Harrow are athletic gunslingers, although the latter is questionable to play with a strained hamstring. If he can’t go, keeping pace with an imposing and balanced Bears’ squad will be a challenge. When Baylor is clicking, they are capable of defeating most opponents in the country. That said, spotty shooting and turnover issues are a concern. Georgia State is 1-5 ATS in their last six non-conference games. Baylor is 5-2 ATS in their last seven overall.

Bet Baylor -9

(11) UCLA vs. (6) SMU -3.5 – The Bruins have zero business being in the Field. They were hammered by Oklahoma, UNC, Gonzaga, Utah, and trailed Kentucky 41-7 at halftime back in December. The optimist surmises they are battle tested, while the pessimist concludes they have one quality win in a weak Pac-12. SMU won the American Conference so they deserve their spot. However, they haven’t beaten anyone of note, and last appeared in the Tourney way back in 1993. But they do have Larry Brown calling the shots. Bruins are 2-5 ATS in their last seven neutral site contests. Mustangs are 15-13-2 ATS overall.

Bet SMU -3.5

(16) Lafayette vs. (1) Villanova -23

Due to a string of upsets in the Patriot League Tournament, Lafayette finds themselves in the difficult position of facing one of the nation’s elite. They can shoot and score, but rank 312th in total defense. Villanova can score as well, but they actually play defense. The ‘Cats are also winners of 15 straight and have been especially unforgiving against average competition. ‘Nova is 1-6 ATS in its last seven Madness matchups. Lots of points here, but look for the top seed to light up the Leopards from three-point land.

Bet Villanova -23