2023 March Madness First Round Best Bets for Thursday: One Chalk, One Dog & One ‘Under’

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RJ Eytle-Rock #5 of the Utah State Aggies drives the ball against Darrion Trammell #12 of the San Diego State Aztecs during the first half of the championship game in the Mountain West Conference basketball tournament. David Becker/Getty Images/AFP

Top NCAAB Pick: Utah State -1½ (-108) at Heritage Sports (visit our Heritage Sports Review)

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Utah State -1½ (-108)
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From Orlando to Sacramento, we’re covering a trio of 1st-round games on Thursday’s NCAA Tournament betting card and have uncovered value on 4-13, 5-12, and 7-8 matchups. 

Pick Summary

  • Utah State vs. Missouri: Utah State -1½ (-108) at Heritage Sports
  • Charleston vs. San Diego State: Under 141½ (-108) at Heritage Sports
  • Louisiana vs. Tennessee: Louisiana +11½ (-108) at Heritage Sports

Utah State Aggies vs. Missouri Tigers

Thursday, March 16, 2023 – 01:40 PM EDT at Golden 1 Center

We love those middle-seed matchups like this 7-10 clash between Missouri and Utah State, and adding to the mix, in this case, is the fact the Tigers and Aggies both like to keep the scoreboard operator busy. 

  • Utah State – 26-8 SU, 21-12 ATS, 19-13-1 O/U/P 
    South 10 Seed, At-Large, Mountain West 
  • Missouri – 24-9 SU, 16-16-1 ATS, 18-15 O/U 
    South 7 Seed, At-Large, SEC 

Aggies vs. Tigers Draw Highest Thursday Total

While the Tigers are the higher seed, top Utah betting sites are chalking the Aggies. After going out -2½, the spread has dipped to Utah State -1½. The same oddsmakers have assigned the highest total of any Thursday clash at the NCAA Tournament at 155-156. 

Beehive Bunch Bests Show Me Squad

This will be the third meeting between the two schools, and the previous two came when the programs had a home-and-home series scheduled with each other in 1967 and 1968. Both sides posted wins on their home floors. 

Before falling to San Diego State in the Mountain West Championship, the Aggies were cruising with 7-straight wins and covers. They get back into the groove on Thursday. 

NCAAB Pick: Utah State -1½ (-108) at Heritage Sports 

Charleston Cougars vs. San Diego State Aztecs

Thursday, March 16, 2023 – 03:10 PM EDT at Amway Center

Speaking of San Diego State, the Aztecs find themselves on the other side of the Lower 48 for their 1st-round matchup against Charleston, and not only are the Mountain West champs a long way from home, but they also drew the infamous 5-12 matchup with the Cougars

  • Charleston – 31-3 SU, 19-13-1 ATS, 13-19-1 O/U/P 
    South 12 Seed, AQ, Colonial 
  • San Diego State – 27-6 SU, 15-15-2 ATS, 14-18 O/U 
    South 5 Seed, AQ, Mountain West 

Two No. 12’s Advanced Last March

With 12-seeds winning better than 1-in-3 of these matchups over the last 38 years, it has become something of a chic pick for just about all brackets to include at least one of the upsets. 

There were two victors from the No. 12 hole in last year’s NCAA Tournament. New Mexico State ousted UConn in one of the upsets as a 6½-point underdog, and Richmond did the same to Iowa as a 9½-point underdog on the NCAAB odds

Coogs & ‘Tecs Come Up Short on Scoreboard

If Charleston is going to join the club this year, the Cougars will have to do so as 5-point underdogs at Heritage Sports. The same shop is going with 141½ for the scoreboard target and that’s where I see the most value with a play on the ‘under.’ 

NCAAB Pick: Under 141½ (-108) at Heritage Sports 

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Under -141½ (-108)
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Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns vs. Tennessee Volunteers

Thursday, March 16, 2023 – 09:40 PM EDT at Amway Center 

Weeeee-doggy, they gonna’ pass a good time in Lafayette on Thursday when there should be plenty of crawfish boils going on to prep the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns fans who have their hopes set on pulling off an upset of the Tennessee Volunteers. 

  • Louisiana – 26-7 SU, 16-13-1 ATS, 17-13 O/U 
    East 13 Seed, AQ, Sun Belt 
  • Tennessee – 23-10 SU, 17-16 ATS, 14-18-1 O/U/P 
    East 4 Seed, At-Large, SEC 

Vols Burdened With Double-Digit Chalk

And let me tell you one thing, brothers and sisters, it would indeed be a pretty remarkable upset according to the numbers on BMR’s live odds board. Tennessee officially went out as 10-point chalk, and that spread is up to -11½ at most shops. 

Louisiana and Tennessee both sport modest winning records against the spread, but their totals records trend opposite of one another. The Ragin’ Cajuns lean to the ‘over’ while the Volunteers are more inclined to the ‘under,’ and Thursday’s mark is running 136 for a consensus.   

Fourth Postseason Meeting Between Cajuns & Vols

We actually have some history between these two, dating back to when ULL was known as Southwestern Louisiana, and some of that history involves collisions during the month of March

The Volunteers have an 8-1 record in the nine previous meetings, including wins at the 1982 and 2000 NCAA Tournaments plus the 1985 NIT. The two last met early in the 2018-19 campaign when Tennessee posted an 87-65 win in Knoxville as 15½-point chalk. 

Cajuns the Call to Cover

There is a lot being made about Tennessee losing point guard Zakai Zeigler to a season-ending knee injury a couple of weeks ago, and there’s no doubt the Volunteers are a different team with their playmaker on the floor. 

But the truth is they were on the decline before Zeigler went down. I’ll stop short of a free college basketball pick on an outright upset by the Ragin’ Cajuns, but Louisiana will cover. 

NCAAB Pick: Louisiana +11½ (-108) at Heritage Sports 

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Louisiana +11½ (-108)
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*The line and/or odds on picks in this article might have moved since the content was commissioned. For updated line movements, visit BMR’s free betting odds product.