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March Madness: The best betting props for the First Round

Profile Picture: Robert Criscola

March 18th, 2021

The NCAA Tournament is nearly here, and while filling out the perfect bracket is the ultimate goal, bettors should not sleep on the slew of available wagering opportunities. Here are some prop bets you should consider making before March Madness begins.

Total Big East Teams to advance to the Round of 32 (Over/Under 2.5)

The Big East advanced four teams to the big dance; No. 5 Creighton, No. 5 Villanova, No. 7 UConn, and No. 12 Georgetown.

Georgetown winning the Big East Tournament was a bolt from the blue. Their reward is facing fifth-seeded Colorado, who lost a nail-biter against Oregon State in the Pac-12 Tournament. The Buffaloes ended the season ranked while boasting the 27th-best defense in the country. The Hoyas should be sent packing in the First Round.

There have been very few NCAA Tournaments in which all four five-seeds advanced. So if Colorado does, that puts Villanova and Creighton in some peril, historically speaking. The former seems the most vulnerable, as they face a Winthrop Eagles program that went 23-1 en route to a Southland Conference championship. 

Add to this that UConn is involved in a 7-10 coin-flip type game with Maryland, and it means the Big East is unlikely to advance at least three teams to the next round.

March Madness free pick: Under

Total Points by Winthrop vs. Villanova (Over/Under 68.5)

Piggybacking on our above wager, bettors should back Winthrop to exceed 68.5 points when they face Villanova in their First Round matchup.

The Eagles had the 30th-ranked offense in the country during the regular season, tallying 79.5 points per contest. Winthrop topped 68.5 points in five straight to conclude the campaign, including three games with 80 or more points in a row.

The Wildcats’ defense was solid but not spectacular this year, ranking 89th at 67.1 points per game.

March Madness free pick: Over

Total Points by Oklahoma State vs. Liberty (Over/Under 73.5)

Cade Cunningham and the Oklahoma State Cowboys are definitely an offense-first squad, but Atlantic Sun champion Liberty’s calling card this year was their tenacious defense.

The Flames were fourth in the nation in points allowed per game (59.6). They were also 11th in defensive rebounds (29.6), allowing opponents few second-chance opportunities. Don’t be surprised if the Cowboys struggle to break 70 on Friday night.

March Madness free pick: Under

Total Points by Illinois Fighting Illini vs. Drexel (Over/Under 83.5)

Illinois’ team total is very high for this one-seed vs. 16-seed matchup with Drexel, but with good reason.

Illinois’ offense was 14th in the country in points per game this season, tallying 81.4 per contest. Ayo Dosunmu was nearly unstoppable at times, contributing a team-leading 20.7 points per game.

It seems unlikely that the Dragons will be able to contain him, Kofi Cockburn (17.6 points per game), and an Illini offense that produced 87.7 points per game during the Big 10 Tournament.  

March Madness free pick: Over