Nothing gets my heart pumping and my skin tingling like March Madness. Whether it’s filling out brackets or just betting on each game individually, there is nothing more exciting, or can provide the kind of upsets like the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.
In terms of competitive games and upsets, the match-up between the teams ranked fifth through 12th always seems to provide value in regards to gambling, along with exciting finishes. The number 12 seed is 50-106 all-time in first round games against the number five seed, which is a win percentage of 32.1%.
In this year’s tournament I’m looking for two different number 12 seeds to provide the upset.
My best bet of the first-round comes in the match-up between the 12-seed Oregon Ducks, who are one of the hottest teams in college basketball. They’ve won eight straight games, including a 20-point drubbing of Washington in the Pac-12 Conference Championship to stamp their ticket to the big dance. Junior guard, Payton Pritchard, had a strong tournament, averaging 16 points per game, along with five assists. He anchored the Ducks’ stifling defense, which held Washington to a mere 48 points in the title game.
The Ducks will be facing off against the number five seed, Wisconsin Badgers. The Badgers will be leaning heavily on senior center, Eathan Happ. Happ averages 17 points per game, along with 10 rebounds. Having watched the Big Ten conference, I’m quite familiar with the Badgers, and this team doesn’t remind me of a traditional Wisconsin squad. They’re not great shooters and they’ve been awful from the foul line, shooting a poor 64%. I fully expect Oregon to stifle the Badger attack on their way to an upset. Play the Ducks on the money-line.
The Racers have a legitimate top five NBA draft pick in guard Ja Morant. Morant is explosive. He averages 24.6 points per game, along with 10 assists. His upside is through the roof and he’s extremely quick. The Racers, as a team, are the real deal. They boast a 27-4 record and are coming into their first-round match-up on an 11-game win streak.
The Marquette Golden Eagles have their own superstar guard in junior Markus Howard. Howard averages 25 points per game, along with 4 assists. Marquette is as talented as any team in the country, but they tend to be inconsistent.
The match-up between Marquette’s Markus Howard and Murray State’s Ja Morant might be the best of the whole tournament.
I’m going with Ja Morant and the Murray State Racers to force the issue and outgun the Golden Eagles in a high-scoring affair. I would play Murray State on the money-line +155, and also on the spread +4. The total points is 149, so if you’re feeling frisky, you might want to sprinkle a bit on the over, as I do predict this as a high-scoring game.