NCAAB March Madness March 22 R1 East & West Betting Preview

Alex Murray
By: Alex Murray
21 Mar 24
March Madness
News - NCAA
NCAAB March Madness March 22 R1 East & West Betting Preview

March Madness is here, and we’ve got you covered with betting previews for the eight Round 1 contests from the East and West regional brackets that will take place on Friday, March 22. We’ll be providing you with expert betting analysis and the best bets for each matchup!

Highlights

  • No. 1 UConn, No. 4 Auburn, and No. 5 San Diego State will win as favorites in the East
  • No. 11 New Mexico is surprisingly favored over No. 6 Clemson, and with good reason
  • No. 12 Grand Canyon look to upset No. 5 Saint Mary’s in the final matchup of Round 1

NCAAB March Madness Round 1 East & West Regionals - March 22

All odds provided by Betway.

EAST REGIONAL BRACKET PREDICTIONS

No. 8 FAU  vs. No. 9 Northwestern - 12:15PM

School

Moneyline

Spread

Total

FAU

-152

-2.5 (-110)

O142.5 (-105)

Northwestern

+125

+2.5 (-110)

U142.5 (-115)

Last year, Florida Atlantic was the Cinderella team in the Final Four as a No. 9 seed. This year, they come in as a No. 8 with a tough matchup against a hot-shooting Northwestern squad. Both of these teams are lethal from beyond the arc, but the difference here is that while FAU is a middle of the pack team defending the three-point line, Northwestern is one of the worst in the nation.

7-foot center Vladislav Goldin has been coming on late in the season, and he should help the Owls find success if the Wildcats slow the game down. In the end, FAU is the better moneyline pick here thanks to their experienced roster, most of which was part of that 2023 Final Four group, as well as their ability to limit turnovers and crash the offensive boards.

Best Bet: FAU moneyline (-152)

No. 5 San Diego State vs. No. 12 UAB - 1:45PM

School

Moneyline

Spread

Total

San Diego State

-278

-6.5 (-110)

O139.5 (-105)

UAB

+220

+6.5 (-110)

U139.5 (-115)

Most legal betting sites in Canada have the Aztecs as six or seven-point favorites, but they could easily have a double-digit spread here against UAB. The Blazers are a great offensive rebounding team, but there aren’t many other areas where they can expect an advantage against San Diego State.

The Aztecs have one of the best defenses in the nation, which should mean that the Blazers will be in hell on offense, where they already shoot a very poor percentage. San Diego State has the size and experience to dominate this game, and we think they will.

Best Bet: San Diego State to cover -6.5 point spread (-110)

No. 1 UConn vs. No. 16 Stetson - 2:45PM

School

Moneyline

Spread

Total

UConn

-10000

-26.5 (-110)

O145.5 (-110)

Stetson

+1800

+26.5 (-110)

U145.5 (-110)

Stetson is making their first ever D-I tournament appearance, which means they’ll be excited to be part of the dance, though they drew the worst possible first-round opponent. The defending-champion Huskies are one of the most well-rounded teams in basketball.

The Hatters are an excellent shooting team, but UConn has held opponents to the 11th-lowest FG percentage this year. Stetson will have a go, but they don’t have much of a chance against a team that has won half of their 34 games this season by 19+ points.

Best Bet: UConn to cover -26.5 point spread (-110)

No. 4 Auburn vs. No. 13 Yale - 4:15PM

School

Moneyline

Spread

Total

Auburn

-909

-12.5 (-115)

O140.5 (-110)

Yale

+600

+12.5 (-105)

U140.5 (-110)

Yale last won a tournament game in 2016, but they are unlikely to be able to repeat that performance. They draw Auburn here, who are downright filthy on the defensive end.

The Tigers’ offense is solid, and their 10-man rotation means they’re always fresh, but it’s the defensive solidity and energy that will push Auburn far in this tournament: they’ve allowed the second-lowest FG percentage in the country this year.

Not to mention that they have won their first round game in four of their last five tournament appearances under experienced coach Bruce Pearl. We’d be surprised if the nerds even reached 60 points in this matchup—unless Bulldogs seven-footer Danny Wolf has the game  of his life.

Best Bet: Auburn to cover -12.5 point spread (-115)

WEST REGIONAL BRACKET PREDICTIONS

No. 3 Baylor vs. No. 14 Colgate - 12:40PM

School

Moneyline

Spread

Total

Baylor

-1111

-13.5 (-105)

O138.5 (-110)

Colgate

+700

+13.5 (-115)

U138.5 (-110)

Baylor’s Scott Drew has tons of experience and has won his last five straight first round games, dating back to 2017. They draw Colgate this year, a school which has made it to the Dance for five straight years.

However, while they’ve pushed a couple of favorites to the edge, they haven’t pulled off an upset yet, and their reliance on three-point shooting is always a worry due to the erratic nature of the shot. Baylor can score from all over the court, and with six guys scoring in double-digits, the Raiders will find it tough to key in on any one player. And don’t worry about the point spread: the Bears have won 13 games by double-digits this season.

Best Bet: Baylor to cover -13.5 point spread (-105)

No. 6 Clemson vs. No. 10 New Mexico - 3:10PM

School

Moneyline

Spread

Total

Clemson

+120

+2.5 (-115)

O151.5 (-115)

New Mexico

-141

-2.5 (-105)

U151.5 (-105)

This is one of the stranger lines for the first round, as most Canadian betting apps have the No. 11 Lobos as the favorites over the No. 6 Tigers. This is for a number of reasons, not least of which is the fact that Clemson is just 10-10 in their last 20 games, including defeats in three of their last four games entering the tournament.

New Mexico, on the other hand, is coming off of a Mountain West Conference title, which they were able to claim despite coming in as a No. 6 seed. The only chance Clemson really has is if they go unconscious from deep, which is highly unlikely considering the Lobos boast a top 10 three-point defense. The Tigers don’t push the pace either, which would have been another way to give New Mexico trouble.

Best Bet: New Mexico moneyline (-141)

No. 4 Alabama vs. No. 13 Charleston - 7:35PM

School

Moneyline

Spread

Total

Alabama

-500

-9.5 (-115)

O173.5 (-110)

Charleston

+375

+9.5 (-105)

U173.5 (-110)

Alabama will go as far as senior Mark Sears takes them, and that could be pretty darn far. He’s averaging 20+ points while boasting a 50/40/80 shooting line. However, they have been very inconsistent recently, which is never ideal when heading into the Madness.

Charleston has the depth to keep everyone fresh, and if they can get hot from deep, they could steal this one from the Tide. All five of their starters can shoot the three, which will stretch Alabama’s defense out and allow for lanes to the basket. While Sears’ star power will be enough for ‘Bama to pull this one out, we don’t see them running away with it.

Best Bet: Charleston to cover +9.5 point spread (-105)

No. 5 Saint Mary’s  vs. No. 12 Grand Canyon

School

Moneyline

Spread

Total

Saint Mary’s

-244

-5.5 (-105)

O131.5 (-110)

Grand Canyon

+190

+5.5 (-115)

U131.5 (-110)

Betting sites clearly recognize Grand Canyon’s upset potential here, as their odds are closer to those of an 11 or 10 seed rather than a 12. Tyon Grant-Foster, the Lopes’ star player, will give them a chance in any game, and he’s been especially hot of late, scoring 20+ in four of his last five appearances.

Saint Mary’s has only lost once since Christmas, so they’re in a great place right now too. They’re also a really tough defensive team, but so are the Lopes, who rank in the top 65 in both offensive and defensive efficiency, which is not easy to do.

If Grand Canyon can push the pace in this game, they can put the Gaels in unfamiliar territory, and if the game is close at the end, having the best player on the floor in Grant-Foster will give the Lopes the trump card they need.

Best Bet: Grand Canyon moneyline (+190)

Alex is a recent graduate of Ryerson's Sport Media program in 2019 and has been contributing to BettingTop10 since 2020. He has worked in the field of sports and sports betting for several years, including writing for theScore and daily fantasy sports website FantasyPros as one of their lead NBA news writers. A dedicated sports fan and experienced sports bettor, Alex has the knowledge to provide you with the best betting advice and the sneakiest props no matter what the sport may be.