NCAAB March Madness March 22 R1 South & Midwest Betting Preview

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

We’ll be taking a close look at the eight Round 1 matchups from the South and Midwest regional brackets scheduled for Friday, March 22.

We’ll provide our best value March Madness betting pick for each contest using the top betting odds from the best betting sites.


  • No. 3 Duke could be in for a tougher time than they’re expecting against No. 14 Vermont
  • No. 12 James Madison will show they belong with a big upset over No. 5 Wisconsin
  • No. 1 Houston will win big against their Big South opponents

NCAAB March Madness Round 1 South & Midwest Regionals - March 22

All odds provided by Betway sportsbook.


No. 1 Purdue vs. No. 16 Montana State OR Grambling State - 7:25PM







-25.5 (-110)

O139.5 (-115)



+25.5 (-110)

U139.5 (-105)

If you believe in destiny, Purdue should be in your consideration to go all the way this year. In 2018, Virginia became the first No. 1 seed to lose in the first round to a No. 16 seed. The next year, the Cavaliers bounced back in the best way, going all the way to win the NCAA Championship.

Last year, Purdue became the second No. 1 seed to lose to a No. 16, which means they could very well be on a similar track as Virginia was back in 2019. Purdue should have no issues in the first round this time around, as they’ve won nine games by 20+ points against competition of similar quality.

Best Bet: Purdue to cover -25.5 point spread (-110)

No. 8 Utah State vs. No. 9 TCU - 9:55PM





Utah State


+3.5 (-105)

O151.5 (+100)



-3.5 (-115)

U151.5 (-120)

Utah State may be the higher ranked team, but they’re the underdogs according to the moneyline odds. That’s because TCU is one of the most experienced teams in the tourney, and experience pays dividends in March.

The Aggies are excellent in the paint, where the Horned Frogs struggle a bit defensively, but they won’t be able to take advantage of that if they can’t keep up with TCU, who run one of the fastest-paced offenses in the country while the Aggies run one of the slowest.

Jamie Dixon’s group excels when it comes to game-winning plays like forcing turnovers and second-chance points, and their struggles on the defensive glass shouldn’t be a problem against Utah State, who have not been a good offensive rebounding team this season.

Best Bet: TCU to cover -3.5 point spread (-115)


No. 2 Marquette vs. No. 15 Western Kentucky - 2:00PM







-14.5 (-105)

O158.5 (-110)

Western Kentucky


+14.5 (-115)

U158.5 (-110)

While the Hilltoppers can cause problems with their fast pace, they don’t take good care of the ball, which is a death knell when you’re going against a team like the Golden Eagles, who force turnovers at one of the highest rates in the country.

As long as top dog Tyler Kolek is back and ready for action (he missed the conference tourney with an oblique injury) and their starters stay out of foul trouble, Marquette should cruise here. The under is also worth a look: while Western Kentucky is fast, they’ve only topped this total in a third of their games this season.

Best Bet: Marquette to cover -14.5 point spread (-105)/Under 158.5 (-110)

No. 7 Florida vs. No. 10 Colorado - 4:30PM







-1.5 (-105)

O159.5 (-110)



+1.5 (-115)

U159.5 (-110)

Florida would have been our pick here, but after losing seven-foot center Micah Handlogten in the SEC Championship and then losing that game by nearly 20, it’s hard to argue that they come in with any kind of momentum.

Meanwhile, on the other side, the Buffaloes have won eight of their last nine, with the lone loss coming in the conference championship game, which they dropped to Oregon in a close one. Colorado does rely a lot on their three-point shooting, but the shot has been falling lately. If K.J. Simpson and Tristan da Silva can both come up with about 20 points again, they should be able to get the upset win.

Best Bet: Colorado moneyline (+100)

No. 8 Nebraska vs. No. 9 Texas A&M - 6:50PM







-1.5 (-105)

O147.5 (-105)

Texas A&M


+1.5 (-115)

U147.5 (-115)

Nebraska seems better equipped for a deep run in March than their opponents. While Texas A&M are very good when it comes to avoiding turnovers and cleaning the offensive glass, they can’t shoot the three to save their lives.

And that hole in their game is likely to sink them against Nebraska, who shoot the three pretty darn well themselves at just a shade under 36 percent. The Cornhuskers have generally been dinged by fast-paced squads, but they’re actually faster than the Aggies. Nebraska can use their deep bench (eight players averaging 18+ minutes) to tire out the Aggies, who generally stick to a six-man rotation.

Best Bet: Nebraska moneyline (-115)

No. 4 Duke vs. No. 13 Vermont - 7:10PM







-11.5 (-115)

O132.5 (-105)



+11.5 (-105)

U132.5 (-115)

These aren’t your dad’s Duke Blue Devils. Legendary coach Mike Krzyzewski has retired, and Jon Scheyer has stepped in. In the new guy’s first year on the job, Duke exited in the second round, the fourth time in their last 10 tournament appearances that they’ve been booted prior to the Sweet Sixteen.

Duke comes in having lost their last two straight and three of their last six, while Vermont has won 19 of their last 20, coming in about as hot as any team in the entire tournament. The Catamounts also have seven guys averaging 20+ minutes a game while Duke’s very short six-man rotation has started to show signs of fatigue. It doesn’t hurt that the Blue Devils can be streaky offensively, which is bad news against Vermont’s top 10 defense. We’re going upset here.

Best Bet: Vermont moneyline (+550)

No. 1 Houston vs. No. 16 Longwood - 9:20PM







-23.5 (-115)

O127.5 (-110)



+23.5 (-105)

U127.5 (-110)

Only two No. 1 seeds have ever lost in the first round, and Houston certainly doesn’t have the make up of a team that’s going to become the third. Longwood is a ‘happy to be here’ entry in the tournament this year, and their reliance on second-chance points to create offense will be a tough route to take against a strong rebounding team like the Cougars. The spread offered by Betway and other top sportsbooks may seem high, but the Cougars have won 15 of their 34 games by 20+ points, so don’t fret too much.

Best Bet: Houston to cover -23.5 point spread (-115)

No. 5 Wisconsin vs. No. 12 James Madison - 9:40PM







-5.5 (-105)

O144.5 (-115)

James Madison


+5.5 (-115)

U144.5 (-105)

The Badgers have been a bit uneven this year but do come into the tournament on a pretty good run of form overall. However, they have drawn one of the seemingly feistiest underdogs of the first round in James Madison.

One of the fastest teams in the country, James Madison has the weapons and the scheme to really cause Wisconsin’s spotty defense problems. The Badgers are outside the top 300 in pace, which means they don’t like to play against quick teams like the Dukes.

Wisconsin is also outside the top 300 in opponent shooting percentage, and that’s a major issue considering their opponents are top 10 in ppg. Not to mention that if the Badgers do go down early, they’ll have a hard time catching up, as the Dukes are a top five team defending the three-point line. For all these reasons, James Madison is a great upset bet here, whether on the moneyline or point spread betting markets.

Best Bet: James Madison moneyline (+185)/James Madison to cover +5.5 point spread (-115)

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.