• The Locksmith

March Madness Round of 64: Best Bets

The best month of the year is here. The first round of the NCAA Tournament is always poised for upsets, but this year features several pick-ems and a bunch of other tight spreads for the 4 vs 13 and 5 vs 12 matchups.

#4 Arkansas -5 vs #13 Vermont

Coach Muss has turned this Arkansas season around after their struggles early on. With JD Notae as their go to guy and lots of experience across the roster, Vermont will have their hands full. The size of Jaylin Williams will cause the Catamounts trouble, on top of his skillfulness in taking charges at 6’10. The Razorbacks have the potential to make a run and getting Arkansas at -5 is my pick.

#10 Davidson vs #7 Michigan State -1

We all know Michigan State has the potential to make a deep run while Tom Izzo is the coach. Davidson possesses two of the most important qualities I look for in tournament teams. They are strong guard play and experience. MSU lacks consistent guard play and decision making, plus the team is a bit younger than Izzo teams tend to be. I’ll be taking Davidson ML at +100

#5 Houston -8.5 vs #12 UAB

This UAB roster features 9 transfers, with several of them coming from Power 6 conferences. The starting lineup features 4 guys averaging double figures and the rotation goes 8-9 deep on a given night. Houston has its stifling defense that it prides itself on year in and year out. Their star and leading scorer, Marcus Sasser, has not completely ruled out playing in the tournament, but I'm going with the assumption that he will not play. You may remember him from being the team's only offense against Baylor last year. This game will be messy and will be a battle that comes down to the wire. With that being said, UAB +8.5 is my pick.

Texas -1 vs Virginia Tech

Virginia Tech is overvalued entering this game and the tournament as a whole. While the Hokies certainly have the experience in starting two 5th years and 3 juniors, their hot streak should come to an end. Texas have the size and the athleticism to mitigate the experience, in addition to having some talented upperclassmen in their own right. While Texas is 0-10 ATS in the last 10 tournament games, They no longer have Rick Barnes or Shaka Smart at the helm. Chris Beard has had success in the tournament and brings a different edge to this Longhorn team. Texas isn’t about to let two consecutive first round exits happen. I’m riding with Texas -1.

#9 TCU vs #8 Seton Hall -1

Seton Hall lost its steam after a red hot start to the season. TCU beat Kansas and beat a ranked Texas late in the season. Even in years with NBA talent, SHU has not fared well in March. I like TCU here due to their stronger wins of late and having played a tougher strength of schedule. Frogs ML -106 is the play.

Tail or fade, love or hate my picks. Let me know on Twitter @PickinConor. Remember bet responsibly.

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