March Madness odds, lines, point spreads: The best bets & parlays for picking First Four, Round 1 games | Sporting News (2024)

The 2022 March Madness tournament is here and both college basketball enthusiasts and casual bettors will spend the next few days assessing their potential wagers. Gamblers will explore value picks, sleepers and prop bets before ultimately settling on their best bets for the 2022 NCAA Tournament.

This year's tournament seems wide open compared to previous years. The No. 1 seeds in it are talented, per usual, but there were numerous upsets involving highly-ranked teams throughout the college basketball season. That will make it difficult to predict the 2022 NCAA Tournament — especially its first round.

Round 1 of the tournament is full of plenty of matchups that look appetizing on paper. However, there aren't as many double-digit spreads as usual, as even the books aren't as confident that the tournament's top seeds are going to dominate as they have in years past. That's making it a bit harder for bettors to find Round 1 value.

How should you bet Round 1 of the 2022 NCAA Tournament? Sporting News has its top picks for the Round of 64 based on odds fromSports Interaction, as well as a couple of parlay options for daring gamblers to consider.

All odds courtesy ofSports Interaction.

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March Madness odds for First Four, Round 1

Below are the opening March Madness odds for the First Four and Round 1,including point spreads, money lines and over-under totals for every game, according to Sports Interaction.

GameSpreadMoneylineOver/Under
A&M Corpus Christi vs. Texas Southern*TXSO -3.5A&M +140136
Indiana vs. Wyoming*IND -4WYO +147132.5
Bryant vs. Wright State*WSU -3BU +126153
Notre Dame vs. RutgersND -1RUT -102132
Michigan vs. Colorado StateMICH -2.5CSU +121139.5
South Dakota State vs. ProvidencePRO -2SDSU +109149.5
Memphis vs. Boise StateMEM -2.5BSU +121131.5
Norfolk State vs. BaylorBAY -21NSU +1265138
Longwood vs. TennesseeTEN -17LU +869132.5
Richmond vs. IowaIOWA -10.5RICH +386150.5
Georgia State vs. GonzagaGON -23.5GST +1415148.5
Marquette vs. UNCUNC -3MAR +127152
New Mexico State vs. UConnUCONN -7NMST +229132
Saint Peters vs. KentuckyUK -17STP +827132
Creighton vs. San Diego StateSDSU -2CREI +110120
Vermont vs. ArkansasARK -5VMT +176139.5
San Francisco vs. Murray StateMST -1.5SF +102137.5
Akron vs. UCLAUCLA -14AKR +637128.5
Loyola Chicago vs. Ohio StateOSU -1LOY -106132.5
Jacksonville State vs. AuburnAUB -15.5JKST +758138.5
Montana State vs. Texas TechTTU -15.5MTST +677129.5
Yale vs. PurduePUR -16YALE +738142.5
Delaware vs. VillanovaNOVA -15.5DEL +744133.5
Miami (FL) vs. USCUSC -1.5MIA +103139.5
Virginia Tech vs. TexasTEX -1VT -102124.5
Chattanooga vs. IllinoisILL -7.5CHAT +244135.5
Cal State Fullerton vs. DukeDUKE -18.5CSF +1033143.5
Iowa State vs. LSULSU -4ISU +152126
UAB vs. HoustonHOU -8UAB +291136
Davidson vs. Michigan StateMSU -1.5DAV +105140.5
Colgate vs. WisconsinWIS -7.5COL +243139
TCU vs. Seton HallSET -1TCU -102130

*Denotes a First Four game

MORE:Print your 2022 March Madness bracket here

March Madness best bets for First Four, Round 1

New Mexico State (+7) vs. UConn

The best strategy for making bets in the first round of the NCAA Tournament is to find a popular upset pick and take the points with them. That's exactly what we're doing with New Mexico State.

The Aggies currently stand as the No. 12 seed that is most likely to earn an upset over the No. 5 seed they are facing. New Mexico State went 26-6 on the season and posted an impressive 6-2 record against Quad 1 and Quad 2 competition. That will give them a chance to knock off UConn, or at least cover since they are 4-1 ATS as an underdog.

Meanwhile, the Huskies play in the Big East, which was one of the deepest leagues in college basketball this year, but they have played in their share of close games of late. In fact, seven of their last 10 games have been decided by seven or fewer points. And the ones that weren't were decided by margins of nine, 10 and 11 points respectively.

This spread seems just a bit high given UConn's recent track record, so we're inclined to go with New Mexico State here. You could go for the value by betting the moneyline on the Aggies, but the safer option is to take the seven points to give yourself a little cushion.

MORE: Best odds to make each round, win March Madness

Iowa State (+152) vs. LSU

Let's go over what we know about LSU, shall we? On eve of the 2022 NCAA Tournament, the school fired coach Will Wade with cause due to recruiting violations. They are replacing him with interim Kevin Nickelberry, who has a career record of 96-194 as a head could at Hampton and Howard.

Nickelberry has been with the LSU program since 2019, but he has just one winning season during his 12 years as a head coach. That came in 2007-08 at Hampton.

It's hard to trust that LSU will respond well to Nickelberry. After all, the Tigers began the season 15-1 before limping to a 7-10 finish and a second-round exit at the SEC Tournament. If they aren't motivated, the underdog Cyclones could take advantage of this matchup.

This figures to be a low-scoring defensive battle, as both teams rank top 25 in scoring defense. That said, Iowa State (63 points per game) is slightly better than LSU (63.5 ppg) in that category, so with a more consistent coaching regimen under first-year coach T.J. Otzelberger, the Cyclones can be trusted to win.

If you're reluctant to bet the moneyline on underdogs, then going withIowa State (+4)is fine too. But either way, it's tough to expect LSU to win this given the turmoil within their program.

South Dakota State (+2) vs. Providence

The Friars have their work cut out for them in the first round of the 2022 NCAA Tournament. They get a tough matchup against 13th-seeded South Dakota State in a matchup that bookmakers believe will be close, and with good reason.

The Jackrabbits fit the mold that lower seeds typically need to have a chance to pull off a major upset. They won frequently this season, posting a record of 30-4, and going undefeated in their conference. They also are an excellent 3-point shooting team, as they make an NCAA-best 44.9 percent of their 3-point shots.

Providence has been merely average against the 3-point shot this season. They have also played in a lot of close games of late. They have a record of 5-3 in their last eight, but three of those wins came in overtime. As such, we can expect a close game between them and South Dakota State, so long as the Jackrabbits don't go cold from 3-point range.

Daring bettors can feel free to bet a South Dakota State upset if they like. We prefer the option of taking them as two-point underdogs. That would set bettors up with a nice little cushion if the game is tied late or comes down to a last-second basket.

BENDER:7 safest picks against the spread for Round 1 of the 2022 NCAA Tournament

March Madness best parlays for First Four, Round 1

New Mexico State (+7) AND Iowa State vs. LSU UNDER (126)

You can use any of the single-bet picks from above in a parlay, but this combination seems like one that will have a good chance to hit.

As we covered above, New Mexico State could beat UConn outright. Even if they don't, seven of UConn's last 10 games have been decided by seven points or fewer. So, in all likelihood, this will be among the closest 12 vs. 5-seed matchups.

Meanwhile, the LSU-Iowa State game features two, top-25 scoring defenses. That will lead to a grind-it-out game, especially given that LSU is operating with an interim head coach after Will Wade was fired. The point total of 126 is one of the lowest of the opening round, but this could be a game that sees both teams score in the 50s.

It's never fun to bet the under, but pairing it with a plucky underdog like the Aggies should make this bet a bit more appealing to those that hate point totals.

MORE: Breaking down teams with best odds to reach Final Four

Bryant (+126) AND Virginia Tech (-102)

Consider this an underdog special of sorts, as we're going with the moneyline of two teams not favored to win their opening-round games.

Bryant is playing against Wright State in the First Four, and Wright State is expected to win. That said, Bryant possesses the nation's leading scorer, Peter Kiss — who averages 25.1 points per game — and another quality scorer and rebounder in guard Charles Pride (18 ppg, 8.6 rpg).

Kiss and Pride will give the Bulldogs a chance to outduel the Raiders. Bryant might not have the same length as Wright State, but they dominated the NEC in 2022 and should find a way to scrap and stay in this one.

As for Virginia Tech, they are red hot and are coming off a surprise ACC Tournament championship victory. They have the third-best 3-point shooting percentage in the NCAA at 39.3 and get a good-looking matchup against a Texas team that has lost three straight contests entering the tournament.

Virginia Tech's luck will run out at some point, but they currently have a 42.8 percent chance to beat Texas, according to Sporting News' Edward Sutelan. That's as close to a coin-flip as you'll get in a 6 vs. 11-seed matchup.

March Madness odds, lines, point spreads: The best bets & parlays for picking First Four, Round 1 games | Sporting News (2024)

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