2023 March Madness NCAAB Tournament First-Round Preview: Texas A&M Moves Ahead & A Couple of Trips Down Under

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A general view of the March Madness logo on center court is seen before a game on March 21, 2021 in Indianapolis, Indiana. Maddie Meyer/Getty Images/AFP

Top NCAAB Pick for Today

NCAAB Pick: Texas A&M –3 (–108) at Heritage Sports (visit our Heritage Sports Review)

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Texas A&M –3 (–108)
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Picks Summary:

  • Texas A&M –3 (–108)
  • Kennesaw State vs. Xavier – Under 151 (–108)
  • UC Santa Barbara vs. Baylor – Under 143 (–110)

You can see the “madness” in our eyes. Here’s our look at the First Round of the Big Dance, plus three tasty college basketball picks

Let the madness commence. The 2022-23 NCAA Division I Men’s College Basketball Tournament is here; the First Four round is about to tip off in Dayton as we go to press, but let’s jump ahead and look at the First Round proper, which starts this Thursday and continues Friday. 

This is one of those rare times when we have the college basketball odds for all these games (except those involving the First Four winners) well ahead of schedule. And after a close study of all these NCAAB lines, we’ve identified some pretty strong trends you should know about. 

The Under Is King 

In other news: Water is wet.

Of course, the under is the best of the “straight” bets (spreads, moneylines, totals) when it comes to your March Madness picks. This is the time of year when the betting public comes in and dumps all their money on the outcomes they want to see happen, and the public wants buckets, not bricks. 

The projections we’re following here at the ranch support this old-school approach. Almost all of the 28 scheduled First Round matchups (again, the other four TBD at press time) are leaning towards the under, with much higher potential profit margins than you’ll get with the spreads. Speaking of which… 

Small Favorites FTW 

Several of these March Madness games are pretty close on paper, especially the ones where there isn’t much gap between the seeds in question.

Most of the teams favored by three points or less seem to be on the sharp side, according to the projections, but only for a slight lean. 

Penn State Nittany Lions vs. Texas A&M Aggies

Thursday, March 16, 2023 – 09:55 PM EDT at Wells Fargo Arena 

There is one notable exception: the No. 7 Texas A&M Aggies.

They’re 3-point favorites versus the No. 10 Penn State Nittany Lions on the NCAAB odds board at Heritage Sports, but the projections have the Aggies winning by about 4.5 points this Thursday, which makes the computers very happy when it comes to bet-sizing. 

Remember, fans from the Lone Star State who want to wager on this game should check out our top-rated Texas betting sites.

NCAAB Pick: Texas A&M –3 (–108) at Heritage Sports

Not-So-Giant Killers

At the same time, I’m not seeing quite as much potential with the usual upset specials for your March Madness bracket. Not that you should avoid these teams entirely.

Here are the ones the computers like from a betting perspective: 

  • No. 14 Kennesaw State Owls (vs. No. 3 Xavier Musketeers) 
  • No. 12 Drake Bulldogs (vs. No. 5 Miami Hurricanes) 

And that’s it. Both of these underdogs are still only worth a slight lean according to the projections, and the Owls are 11.5-point underdogs at Bovada Sportsbook for Friday’s matchup with Xavier, so you’re probably not putting them in your bracket. 
Those Drake Bulldogs, though. They’re only 2-point underdogs versus Miami as we go to press, down from +3 at the open, but they’re the obvious 12-seed for your 12 vs. 5 upset special; we’ll take a closer look at this game tomorrow, so stay tuned. 

What Should I Bet On? 

The aforementioned Aggies should be worth up to two units of your bankroll according to the range of projections we’re following.

However, if you want to lay some serious wood on these First Round games, under 151 on that Kennesaw State-Xavier contest looks like the best of the bunch. 

Kennesaw State Owls vs. Xavier Musketeers

Friday, March 17, 2023 – 12:40 PM EDT at Greensboro Coliseum

The sharps have already started feeding. The total for Friday’s tilt opened at 151.5 points, and it’s been bet down to 151 at press time, with the consensus reports at BMR showing 59% support for the under.

Not too bad – still ample room left to call this a 5-star deadbolt lock. 

NCAAB Pick: Kennesaw State vs. Xavier – Under 151 (–108) at Heritage Sports

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UC Santa Barbara Gauchos vs. Baylor Bears

Friday, March 17, 2023 – 01:30 PM EDT at Ball Arena

We’ll also give four stars (and four bankroll units) for under 143 in Friday’s game between the No. 14 UC Santa Barbara Gauchos and the No. 3 Baylor Bears.

This bad boy opened at 144.5 at current NCAAB odds, and the under is at 95% consensus, so this price might not last.

Get in while the getting’s good, and may the sphere be with you. 

NCAAB Pick: UC Santa Barbara vs. Baylor – Under 143 (–110) at Bovada (visit our Bovada Review)

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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.