March Madness Round 1 Best Bets

Frank AmmiranteSenior Sports Writer
Last Updated: Mar 17, 2023

March Madness is here, so it’s time to dive in to find the best bets for Round 1. It’s a tournament that will surely bring us thrilling finishes with wild upsets.

The first round is the best time to place a March Madness wager because there is so much action. We’ve got 32 games to choose from in the Round of 64, so there’s no shortage of options here.

With that in mind, let’s get right into the March Madness Round 1 best bets.

All bets are current as of 3 p.m. ET on Monday, March 13, and are courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook.

March Madness Round 1 Best Bets

While searching for an underdog among March Madness odds to pull off the unlikely win is always appealing due to the greater payouts, the safer play is to target mismatches.

A good way to do this is by using Ken Pomeroy’s rankings to help determine which teams are better than their seed suggests.

Before reading about Frank’s CBB Round 1 best bets, track our top March Madness odds for every game:

It’s also helpful because you have metrics like adjusted efficiency (both offense and defense), strength of schedule, and more. We’ll use the KenPom rankings to help inform our selections throughout this article.

Saint Mary’s vs VCU: 1st Half Under 57 Points (-115)

WAGER: 1 unit

First half Unders are good targets, especially in the opening round, where teams may go with a conservative approach as they feel out their opponents.

Saint Mary’s (ninth) and VCU (17th) both rank well in adjusted defensive efficiency, per KenPom. What’s even more promising is that VCU is among the worst teams offensively (140th).

While this is a low number at 57 points, it reflects their prowess standing up to offenses.

Utah State (-120) vs Missouri

WAGER: 1 unit

Here we have No. 10-seeded Utah State as short favorites over No. 7-seeded Missouri. This is highlighted in Pomeroy’s rankings, as well.

Utah State comes in at 18th overall in KenPom, ahead of higher-seeded teams like Duke, Kentucky, Virginia, and Indiana.

Meanwhile, Missouri is ranked 51st, behind lower seeds like Penn State, Providence, and USC. Utah State is favored for good reason here, so we’ll take them at the short price.

Houston -19.5 (-110) vs Northern Kentucky

WAGER: 1 unit

Houston came into the season as one of the tournament favorites and have delivered on lofty expectations so far.

This is reflected in Pomeroy’s rankings, where the Cougars are first overall (11th on offense, fourth on defense).

They should have their way with No. 16-seeded Northern Kentucky (161st). While 19.5 points is a high bar, Houston has 16 wins of 20 or more points this season.


Frank Ammirante

Frank Ammirante is a Senior Sports Writer at The Game Day. Previously, he wrote for 4for4 Football and RotoBaller. Frank is a member of the Fantasy Sports Writer's Association while maintaining an active presence within the community. He has competed in industry contests like the Scott Fish Bowl, The Great Fantasy Baseball Invitational, and more. Frank will be making his debut in Tout Wars this year. He's got a diverse sporting background, but specializes in football and baseball.

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