NCAA Tournament Day One Preview: March Madness Upsets, Picks, and Bets for March 21, 2024

NCAA Tournament Day One Preview: March Madness Upsets, Picks, and Bets for March 21, 2024

We have made it. The tournament kicks off with Tom Izzo and rounds out with Kansas. There is a full slate of games to bust brackets and wager on. Let’s get right into it! Here are my March Madness upsets, picks, and bets for March 21, 2024!

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NCAA Tournament Day One Preview: March Madness Upsets, Picks, and Bets for March 21, 2024

(9) Michigan State vs. (8) Mississippi State (+1.5) (O/U 130.5)

The tournament gets off to a hot start, led by another Tom Izzo appearance. Some people question whether Michigan State was deserving. Back the Bulldogs duo of Josh Hubbard and Tolu Smith, although Izzo may own March.

Start your day off rooting for the under. Two coaches who made a living on defense certainly won’t fail us on a neutral court vs. an unfamiliar opponent, right? 

The Pick: Under 130.5

(11) Duquesne vs. (6) BYU (-9.5) (O/U 142)

BYU can’t or won’t play on Sundays, so they’re underseeded. In turn they overseed their opponent in Duquesne. I’m not putting any stock into Duquesne having the best three-point defense in the Atlantic 10, especially when their only path to the dance was to win the A10 tournament. BYU should shoot this team out of the game from both inside and outside the arc.

The Pick: BYU -9.5

(14) Akron vs. (3) Creighton (-12.5) (O/U 141.5)

Creighton is not invincible. They’re talented enough to win it all and inconsistent enough to lose the first weekend. Enrique Freeman will match up with Ryan Kalkbrenner, but Akron’s biggest challenge will be defending the three-point line.

If Akron can start fast, then Creighton could be in trouble. The first TV timeout will tell us a lot. Creighton’s depth won’t be tested here, but it will be shortly. 

The Pick: Akron +12.5 

(15) Long Beach State vs. (2) Arizona (-20.5) (O/U 163)

Arizona can score from anywhere and run. Long Beach State can’t shoot the three to even pretend threatening an upset for Arizona. The pace will be nonstop, as evidenced by the total. Don’t see how the scoring is mitigated by Long Beach. Arizona is on 100 watch.

The Pick: Over 163

(16) Wagner vs. (1) North Carolina (-24.5) (O/U 133)

The most overlooked team in the entire tournament is Clemson, but North Carolina may be a close second. It may seem like they got a 1 seed as others failed to secure it. North Carolina has been playing exceptionally as a team.

Wagner has already won by securing the 16 seed. UNC’s second unit isn’t a threat to score. Wagner is a conference champion and has already played a game with their seven healthy players. 

The Pick: Under 133

(14) Morehead State vs. (3) Illinois (-11.5) (O/U 147.5)

Terrence Shannon is on an all-time tear. The double-digit spread is warranted here as the Eagles haven’t competed with the Division 1 teams they played this season. Alabama and Purdue dismantled this team by 30 points in the beginning of the season. Illinois in a landslide!

The Pick: Illinois -11.5

(11) Oregon vs. (6) South Carolina (+1) (O/U 133)

Oregon was written off, and now they enter the tournament as a conference tournament champion and bid stealer. They aren’t out of place. The Ducks failed to start the season healthy but ended it in a groove.

Vegas is taking the 11-seeded Ducks as a slight favorite over the Gamecocks, who started hot and faded as the season went on. Oregon can take the Auburn approach to this South Carolina team with Dante.

The Pick: Oregon -1

(10) Nevada vs. (7) Dayton (+1) (O/U 136.5)

Da’Ron Holmes vs. the world. The only way that Dayton can make a run. Nevada can compete with the Flyers. Much is made from the Salt Lake City location and Nevada playing closer to home. Not sure that much would be different if played elsewhere. Dayton will need more than Holmes to win this one.

The Pick: Nevada -1

(10) Colorado State vs. (7) Texas (-2.5) (O/U 144)

There’s always a play-in team to make a run. Colorado took down Boise State, and Grambling won in OT. Colorado State dismantled Virginia to begin the tournament.

I’m not sure what we’re getting out of Texas at any point this season. The guard matchup between Stevens and Abmas is the storyline, but the supporting casts will have to stand these teams up. The Rams will run out of gas soon. Maybe Saturday.

The Pick: Colorado State +2.5

(14) Oakland vs. (3) Kentucky (-13.5) (O/U 162)

Oakland struggles with top 75 offensive teams—a tough draw for the Oakland Golden Grizzlies. The Kentucky Wildcats are the 5th ranked offense in the country and 1st in three-point efficiency. Oakland’s tempo will dictate the total in this game. Greg Kampe is wise enough to know not to run with Calipari’s Cats.

The Pick: Under 162.5 

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(12) McNeese State vs. (5) Gonzaga (-6.5) (O/U 150)

The trendy upset pick makes sense until you look at how McNeese State defends the post. This Gonzaga team, past and present, is a bad matchup for the Cowboys.

The transfer Graham Ike should feast in this game. The Cowboys bring a strong offense into this matchup, and I’m expecting a bit of a shootout. That relies on McNeese State’s three-pointers. Gonzaga will cover.

The Pick: Gonzaga -6.5

(15) South Dakota State vs. (2) Iowa State (-16) (O/U 135.5)

Coaching storylines in this game as Iowa State’s head coach spent time with the Jackrabbits. Everyone has grown since that time and South Dakota State shows up in the tournament again. Strength vs strength in this one. Give me the Iowa State Cyclones to shut down Zeke Mayo.

The Pick: Iowa State -16

(11) NC State vs. (6) Texas Tech (-5) (O/U 145.5)

I fear the conference tournament may have taken too much out of North Carolina State. They had an incredible run and gained some fans along the way.

This Red Raiders offense is the last thing I’d want to see after having to go all out to make the dance. The Red Raiders are in a great position to take advantage of a tired team. 

The Pick: Texas Tech -5

(13) Samford vs. (4) Kansas (-7) (O/U 153)

Bucky McMillan is the head coach of Samford and should be moving on to great opportunities soon. Bucky Ball is an adjustment regardless of the opponent.

The key is to beat them with a big. If Hunter Dickinson can go 70% or better, then this is going to be all Kansas after breaking the full-court press. Samford is the sexy upset pick. Don’t fade the Jayhawks just yet. 

The Pick: Kansas -7

(10) Drake vs. (7) Washington State (+1) (O/U 138.5)

If you are expecting points, then take the Drake Bulldogs, right? Tucker DeVries is one of the best players in the country, and many will learn his name if Drake gets by Washington State.

The Cougars would benefit from slowing the game down and taking advantage of their size. There’s enough firepower from both sides to get over this total.

The Pick: Over 138.5

 

We are LIVE every night at midnight Eastern, breaking down EVERY SINGLE GAME with more March Madness picks, bets, and upsets! Ride with Degen Nation, and SGPN will not let you down.

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