March Madness Best Bets for Every NCAA Tournament Game

By VSiN Staff  (VSiN.com) 

April 5, 2021 10:32 AM
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The 2021 NCAA tournament is finally here! First-round games will be played on Friday and Saturday, and all March Madness games will take place in the state of Indiana.

Our experts -- Josh Appelbaum, Bruce Marshall, Tim Murray, Greg Peterson, Wes Reynolds, David Stall, Dave Tuley and Matt Youmans -- give their March Madness best bets and most likely upsets for every game.

Record so far: 57-40

Odds are consensus from VSiN's March Madness Vegas Odds Page.

March Madness Picks for Title Game

No. 1 Baylor Bears vs. No. 1 Gonzaga Bulldogs (-4.5, 159.5)

Peterson: This is the matchup college basketball fans have wanted all year long (and almost got in December if it the game hadn’t been canceled due to COVID-19 protocols).

These are the top two offenses in the country in points scored on a per possession basis, but they do it in different ways, as Gonzaga leads the country in two-point shooting percentage and Baylor 3-point shooting percentage.

 

The biggest mismatch in this game, though, is going to be on the interior. Drew Timme has registered at least 22 points in each of Gonzaga’s last four games and his 7.1 rebounds per game are more than any Baylor player.

Baylor ranks 289th in the country in defensive rebound rate, allows a second chance on 29.6% of opponents missed shots and shoots just 65.5% at the free throw line away from Waco, Texas. Gonzaga will win the game and cover this short number.

Pick: Gonzaga -4.5

Tuley: This is the matchup that most of us have been expecting all season to wrap up the Big Dance (with the exception of the short flirtation with Illinois at the end of the regular season and conference tournaments). It couldn’t have worked out any better for those who took our advice in the Feb. 24 issue of Point Spread Weekly on taking “Gonzaga/Baylor vs. the field” at 120 and then repeating it in the March 17 issue when it was up to 145. With the teams facing off in the title game, we don’t even have to be tempted to hedge. But we still want to bet the national title game and the lean is to Baylor plus the points.

Even though Gonzaga has been the favorite since last summer, Baylor has been a strong 1A and my initial thought when the line first game out Saturday night was that Gonzaga -5 was a little high. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not way off as I wavered between making Gonzaga -3 or -3.5 and feel the oddsmakers went with -5 because they felt all the money would be on the Bulldogs if using anything in that range. Instead, early money has shown on Baylor to drop the line to -4.5 as of Sunday afternoon.

I think the total is off by a lot more. It opened at 160 and early money has also dropped the total to 159.5 -- and I believe that money is also on the right side. In fact, in every way I handicapped this game, I had both teams scoring in the 70’s, so the total should be closer to 155. Gonzaga plays at a faster tempo than Baylor and these are the No. 1 and No. 2 teams in offensive efficiency according to kenpom.com, so that’s probably why the total was set so high. However, both teams are capable of stepping up on defense and I think we’ll see that with so much on the line.

Pick: Under 159.5 (and lean to Baylor 4.5)

COMPLETED GAMES

No. 1 Baylor Bears (-26, 139) vs. No. 16 Hartford Hawks

Peterson: Hartford + 26

Final score: Baylor 79, Hartford 55

ATS winner: Hartford

Total: UNDER

No. 1 Illinois Fighting Illini (-22.5, 144.5) vs. No. 16 Drexel Dragons

Peterson: Over 144.5

Final score: Illinois 78, Drexel 49

ATS winner: Illinois

Total: UNDER

No. 2 Ohio State Buckeyes (-16.5, 156.5) vs. No. 15 Oral Roberts Golden Eagles

Peterson: Oral Roberts + 16.5

Youmans: Oral Roberts + 16.5

Final score: Oral Roberts 75, Ohio State 72 (OT)

ATS winner: Oral Roberts

Total: UNDER

No. 8 Loyola Ramblers (-5.5, 124.5) vs. No. 9 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

Tuley: Georgia Tech + 5.5

Final score: Loyola 71, Georgia Tech 60

ATS winner: Loyola

Total: OVER

No. 5 Tennessee Volunteers (-7.5, 130.5) vs. No. 12 Oregon State Beavers

Youmans: Oregon State + 8

Final score: Oregon State 70, Tennessee 56

ATS winner: Oregon State

Total: UNDER

No. 6 Texas Tech Red Raiders (-5, 132) vs. No. 11 Utah State Aggies

Stall: Utah State + 5

Youmans: Texas Tech -4.5

Final score: Texas Tech 65, Utah State 53

ATS winner: Texas Tech

Total: UNDER

No. 3 Arkansas Razorbacks (-8.5, 161.5) vs. No. 14 Colgate Raiders

Peterson: Arkansas -8.5

Youmans: Colgate + 8.5

Final score: Arkansas 85, Colgate 68

ATS winner: Arkansas

Total: UNDER

No. 7 Florida Gators (PK, 135) vs. No. 10 Virginia Tech Hokies

Tuley: Virginia Tech + 1

Final score: Florida 75, Virginia Tech 70 (OT)

ATS winner: Florida

Total: OVER

No. 8 UNC Tar Heels (-1.5, 138) vs. No. 9 Wisconsin Badgers

Peterson: UNC -1.5

Final score: Wisconsin 85, UNC 62

ATS winner: Wisconsin

Total: OVER

No. 4 Purdue Boilermakers (-7.5, 126.5) vs. No. 13 North Texas Mean Green

Reynolds: Under 126.5

Final score: North Texas 78, Purdue 69 (OT)

ATS winner: North Texas

Total: OVER

No. 2 Houston Cougars (-20, 135) vs. No. 15 Cleveland State Vikings

Peterson: Under 135

Final score: Houston 87, Cleveland State 56

ATS winner: Houston

Total: OVER

No. 4 Oklahoma State Cowboys (-7.5, 141) vs. No. 13 Liberty Flames

Peterson: Oklahoma State -7.5

Reynolds: Liberty + 7.5 

Final score: Oklahoma State 69, Liberty 60

ATS winner: Oklahoma State

Total: UNDER

No. 5 Villanova Wildcats (-6.5, 143) vs. No. 12 Winthrop Eagles

Youmans: Winthrop + 6.5

Stall: Villanova -6

Final score: Villanova 73, Winthrop 63

ATS winner: Villanova

Total: UNDER

No. 6 San Diego State Aztecs (-3, 138.5) vs. No. 11 Syracuse Orange

Stall: Over 137.5

Final score: Syracuse 78, SDSU 62

ATS winner: Syracuse

Total: OVER

No. 3 West Virginia Mountaineers (-12.5, 137.5) vs. No. 14 Morehead State Eagles

Peterson: Morehead State + 12.5

Final score: West Virginia 84, Morehead St. 67

ATS winner: West Virginia

Total: OVER

No. 7 Clemson Tigers vs. No. 10 Rutgers Scarlet Knights (-1.5, 126.5)

Stall: Under 129

Final score: Rutgers 60, Clemson 56

ATS winner: Rutgers

Total: UNDER

SATURDAY'S GAMES

No. 16 Texas Southern Tigers vs. No. 1 Michigan Wolverines (-26, 142.5)

Peterson: Michigan -26

Final score: Michigan 82, Texas Southern 66

ATS winner: Texas Southern

Total: OVER

No. 8 LSU Tigers (-1.5, 144.5) vs. No. 9 St. Bonaventure Bonnies

Tuley:  St. Bonaventure + 1.5

Final score: LSU 76, St. Bonaventure 61

ATS winner: LSU

Total: UNDER

No. 5 Colorado Buffaloes (-5, 138) vs. No. 12 Georgetown Hoyas

Stall: Under 138.5

Final score: Colorado 96, Georgetown 73

ATS winner: Colorado

Total: OVER

No. 4 Florida State Seminoles (-11, 145) vs. No. 13 UNC Greensboro Spartans

Peterson: Under 145

Final score: FSU 64, UNC Greensboro 54

ATS winner: UNC Greensboro

Total: UNDER

No. 3 Kansas Jayhawks (-11, 146) vs. No. 14 Eastern Washington Eagles

Peterson: Under 146

Youmans: Eastern Washington + 10.5

Final score: Kansas 93, Eastern Washington 84

ATS winner: Eastern Washington

Total: OVER

No. 5 Creighton Bluejays (-7, 138) vs. No. 12 UCSB Gauchos

Youmans: UCSB + 7

PetersonUCSB + 7.5

Reynolds: UCSB + 7.5

Final score: Creighton 63, UCSB 62

ATS winner: UCSB

Total: UNDER

No. 2 Alabama Crimson Tide (-17, 147) vs. No. 15 Iona Gaels

Peterson: Over 147

Youmans:  Iona + 17

Tuley: Iona + 17

Final score: Alabama 68, Iona 55

ATS winner: Iona

Total: UNDER

No. 11 Drake Bulldogs vs. No. 6 USC Trojans (-6.5, 136)

Peterson: Drake + 6.5

Final score: USC 72, Drake 56

ATS winner: USC

Total: UNDER

No. 7 UConn Huskies (-3, 130) vs. No. 10 Maryland Terrapins

Stall: UConn -2.5

Marshall: UConn -2.5

Final score: Maryland 63, UConn 54

ATS winner: Maryland

Total: UNDER

No. 8 Oklahoma Sooners (-2, 139.5) vs. No. 9 Missouri Tigers

Peterson: Oklahoma -2

Final score: Oklahoma 72, Missouri 68

ATS winner: Oklahoma

Total: OVER

No. 4 Virginia Cavaliers (-7.5, 131.5) vs. No. 13 Ohio Bobcats

Marshall: Ohio + 7.5

Tuley: Ohio + 7.5

Youmans: Ohio + 7.5

Final score: Ohio 62, Virginia 58

ATS winner: Ohio

Total: UNDER

No. 2 Iowa Hawkeyes (-13.5, 145) vs. No. 15 Grand Canyon Antelopes

PetersonGrand Canyon + 14.5

Youmans: Grand Canyon + 14.5

Final score: Iowa 86, Grand Canyon 74

ATS winner: Grand Canyon

Total: OVER

No. 11 UCLA Bruins vs. No. 6 BYU Cougars (-4, 139)

Peterson: UCLA + 4

Reynolds: UCLA + 4

Final score: UCLA 73, BYU 62

ATS winner: UCLA

Total: UNDER

No. 3 Texas Longhorns (-9, 140.5) vs. No. 14 Abilene Christian Wildcats

Stall: Abilene Christian + 9

Youmans: Abilene Christian + 9

Final score: Abilene Christian 53, Texas 52

ATS winner: Abilene Christian

Total: UNDER

No. 16 Norfolk State Spartans vs. No. 1 Gonzaga Bulldogs (-34, 154.5)

Peterson: Over 154.5

Final score: Gonzaga 98, Norfolk State 55

ATS winner: Gonzaga

Total: UNDER

Second round

No. 8 Loyola (Chi) Ramblers vs. No. 1 Illinois Fighting Illini (-7, 133.5)

Peterson: Under 133.5

Final score: Loyola 71, Illinois 58

ATS winner: Loyola (Chi)

Total: UNDER

No. 8 Wisconsin Badgers at No. 1 Baylor Bears (-6.5, 136.5)

Peterson:  Baylor -6.5

Final score: Baylor 76, Wisconsin 63

ATS winner: Baylor

Total: OVER

No. 6 Texas Tech Red Raiders (-1, 141) vs. No. 3 Arkansas Razorbacks

Peterson: Arkansas moneyline

Tuley: Arkansas + 1

Final score: Arkansas 68, Texas Tech 66

ATS winner: Arkansas

Total: UNDER

No. 11 Syracuse Orange at No. 3 West Virginia Mountaineers (-3.5, 147.5)

Peterson: West Virginia -3.5

Tuley: Under 147.5

Final score: Syracuse 75, West Virginia 72

ATS winner: Syracuse

Total: UNDER

No. 12 Oregon State Beavers vs. No. 4 Oklahoma State Cowboys (-6, 140.5)

Peterson: Oklahoma State -6

No. 10 Rutgers Scarlet Knights at No. 2 Houston Cougars (-8.5, 132)

Peterson: Under 132.5

Final score: Houston 63, Rutgers 60

ATS winner: Rutgers

Total: UNDER

No. 15 Oral Roberts Golden Eagles vs. No. 7 Florida Gators (-8.5, 149)

Peterson: Over 148

Final score: Oral Roberts 81, Florida 78

ATS winner: Oral Roberts

Total: OVER

No. 13 North Texas Mean Green vs. No. 5 Villanova Wildcats (-7, 127)

Peterson: Under 127

Final score: Villanova 84, North Texas 61

ATS winner: Villanova

Total: OVER

No. 7 Oregon Ducks vs. No. 2 Iowa Hawkeyes (-4, 144)

Peterson: Oregon + 5.5

Final score: Oregon 95, Iowa 80

ATS winner: Oregon

Total: OVER

No. 8 Oklahoma Sooners vs. No. 1 Gonzaga Bulldogs (-14, 154)

Peterson: Under 154.5

Final score: Gonzaga 87, Oklahoma 71

ATS winner: Gonzaga

Total: OVER

MONDAY

No. 13 Ohio Bobcats vs. No. 5 Creighton Bluejays (-5.5, 150)

Peterson: Ohio + 5.5

Tuley: Ohio + 5.5

Final score: Creighton 72, Ohio 58

ATS winner: Creighton 

Total: UNDER

No. 6 USC Trojans (-1, 135) vs. No. 3 Kansas Jayhawks

Peterson: USC -1

Murray: USC ML (-120)

Tuley: Kansas + 1.5

Final score: USC 85, Kansas 51

ATS winner: USC

Total: OVER

No. 8 LSU Tigers vs. No. 1 Michigan Wolverines (-5, 148.5)

Youmans: LSU + 5.5

Final score: Michigan 86, LSU 78 

ATS winner: Michigan

Total: OVER

No. 5 Colorado Buffaloes vs. No. 4 Florida State Seminoles (-1.5, 138.5)

Youmans: FSU -1.5

Reynolds: Florida State -125 ML

Final score: FSU 71, Colorado 53

ATS winner: FSU

Total: UNDER

No. 14 Abilene Christian Wildcats vs. No. 11 UCLA Bruins (-4.5, 134)

Peterson: UCLA -4.5

Final score: UCLA 67, Abilene Christian 47

ATS winner: UCLA

Total: UNDER

No. 10 Maryland Terrapins vs. No. 2 Alabama Crimson Tide (-6, 137.5)

Peterson: Over 137.5

Reynolds: Maryland + 6

Final score: Alabama 96, Maryland 77

ATS winner: Alabama

Total: OVER

No. 12 Oregon State Beavers vs. No. 8 Loyola-Chicago Ramblers (-6.5, 125.5)

Stall: Under 126

Murray: Baylor/Loyola ML Parlay (-120)

Tuley: Oregon State + 6.5

Final score: Oregon State 65, Loyola 58

ATS winner: Oregon State

Total: UNDER

No. 5 Villanova Wildcats vs. No. 1 Baylor Bears (-6.5, 139)

Peterson: Baylor -6.5

Final score: Baylor 62, Villanova 51

ATS winner: Baylor

Total: UNDER

No. 15 Oral Roberts Golden Eagles vs. No. 3 Arkansas Razorbacks (-11.5, 159)

Peterson: Oral Roberts + 11.5

Tuley: Oral Roberts + 11.5

Final score: Arkansas 72, Oral Roberts 70

ATS winner: Oral Roberts

Total: UNDER

No. 11 Syracuse Orange vs. No. 2 Houston Cougars (-6, 140)

Stall: Houston -6

Tuley: Under 140.5

Youmans: Syracuse + 6

Final score: Houston 62, Syracuse 46

ATS winner: Houston

Total: UNDER

No. 7 Oregon Ducks vs. No. 6 USC Trojans (-1, 139)

PetersonOregon ML

Youmans: Oregon + 2.5

Reynolds: Under 139 and 1H Under 65

Final score: USC 82, Oregon 68

ATS winner: Oregon State

Total: OVER

No. 5 Creighton Bluejays vs. No. 1 Gonzaga Bulldogs (-13, 158.5)

Peterson: Over 158

No. 4 Florida State Seminoles vs. No. 1 Michigan Wolverines (-3, 145.5)

Peterson: Under 145.5

Tuley: Florida State + 3

No. 11 UCLA Bruins vs. No. 2 Alabama Crimson Tide (-5.5, 144)

Peterson: Alabama -5.5

No. 12 Oregon State Beavers vs. No. 2 Houston Cougars (-8, 132.5)

Appelbaum: Oregon State + 8

Marshall: Oregon State + 7.5

No. 3 Arkansas Razorbacks vs. No. 1 Baylor Bears (-7.5, 149.5)

Tuley: Arkansas + 7.5

No. 6 USC Trojans vs. No. 1 Gonzaga Bulldogs (-9, 153.5)

Murray: USC + 9

No. 11 UCLA Bruins vs. No. 1 Michigan Wolverines (-7.5, 136.5)

Tuley: UCLA + 7.5

 

FINAL FOUR

No. 11 UCLA Bruins vs. No. 1 Gonzaga Bulldogs (-14, 145)

Youmans: UCLA + 15.5/16 (waiting for the best number)

Tuley: UCLA + 14.5 and Under 146.5 or higher

Peterson: Gonzaga -14

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