2017 March Madness First Round Betting Predictions

Posted by Peter Boysen on March 13, 2017 in

March Madness is upon us once again, but by Sunday night we’ll be down from 68 teams to 16, with four matchups on Tuesday and Wednesday as play-ins to the field of 64, and then matchups all over the country as the second and third rounds whittle down the field. Today we’re looking at the “first” round — going down from 64 to 32. The NCAA calls it the second round (in deference to those games in Dayton). Check out our March Madness betting picks for this round

2017 March Madness First Round Betting Predictions

SMU over USC/Providence (Friday, March 17, 3:10 ET)

SMU (30-4) just set a school record for victories in a season, and they were one of the few #1 seeds in conference tournament play to actually win their conference, joining Villanova to accomplish the feat. If USC comes out of the Wednesday play-in, SMU will see a team that they actually played back in November, as the Trojans came out on top out in Los Angeles, 78-73. The Mustangs were still putting things together at that point, especially on defense. If Providence comes out of the play-in, the Mustangs have more size and length inside than the Friars, and they play a grinding style on both ends of the floor that will hem in the Friars’ desire to take advantage of their guards’ athleticism.

Marquette over South Carolina

Marquette has beaten Villanova this season. South Carolina has beaten Florida. While both teams are wildly inconsistent, they both have high ceilings. However, Marquette is tops in the nation in accuracy from behind the arc — with three player shooting 45 percent or better from downtown. They have a real chance to bury the Gamecocks without having to penetrate that stiff South Carolina interior defense.

Wichita State over Dayton

Why did Wichita State get a 10-seed? Because they’re not in a power conference. So that puts them up against a Dayton team that probably deserves a kinder matchup. Wichita State is 30-4, and their four best guards all shoot at least 40 percent from downtown. In the frontcourt, they feature Shaquille Morris and Markis McDuffie, both All-Missouri Valley Conference this season.

Purdue over Vermont

The Catamounts (29-5) have one of the longest active winning streaks in all of Division I, and they face a Purdue team that was upset in the Big Ten Tournament. However, Purdue still rated a #4-seed, and while Vermont dominated the America East Conference, that’s a far cry from a Big Ten slate. As long as this line isn’t more than 10 or 12 points, I’d take Purdue to win and cover over a plucky Vermont squad.