2017 NCAA Basketball Tournament Round 1 Sleeper Picks

No. 11 Xavier Vs No. 1 Gonzaga Elite Eight Odds, Pick & How To Watch

2017 NCAA Basketball Tournament Round 1 Sleeper Picks

As always, Round 1 in the NCAA Tournament should produce plenty of against the spread betting upsets. While very few Cinderella teams actually have a shot winning the NCAA Basketball national title, they offer great betting value in the earlier rounds. Happy hunting!

2017 NCAA Basketball Tournament Round 1 Sleeper Picks

Why should you bet on underdogs in the NCAA Basketball tournament?

  • Since the tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985, No. 1 seeds are 14-5 ATS against 16 seeds when the line is 19.5 or lower, including 7-1 over the past 10 seasons.
  • Over the past four NCAA tournaments, top seeds are only 6-10 against the spread in this round.
  • No. 14 seeds that are at least 12-point underdogs against No. 3 seeds are 6-2 ATS over the last three seasons.
  • Over the past three seasons, No. 4 seeds are 11-1 outright against No. 13 seeds but only 5-7 ATS. 
  • Since 2009, No. 12 seeds are just 11-21 ATS versus No. 5 seeds, including 5-11 since 2014.
  • Since 2009, No. 11 seeds are 19-13 ATS against No. 6 seeds, but not all of those games have come as an underdog. 
  • No. 7 seeds are 11-5 outright against No. 10 seeds since 2013, with favorites going 10-6. No. 7 seeds that were favored have been even more successful, going 10-1 outright and 7-4 ATS in that span. 
  • Since 2009, the No. 9 seed is 20-9-3 ATS against the No. 8 seed.

There are three games in Round 1 that I believe deserve upset status. What’s going to happen when Florida Gulf Coast battles Florida State on Thursday? Also on Thursday, is Xavier or Maryland going to come out on top? Then, on Friday, can Oregon keep Iona’s players from driving to the rim without their top enforcer?

#14 Florida Gulf Coast vs #3 Florida State
When:  Thursday, March 16
Where: Amway Center, Orlando, FL
Odds: Florida Gulf Coast +14

Analysis: Florida State is a good team. But, the Seminoles proved in their loss to Notre Dame that they can get sloppy with the basketball. Not only that, but Florida Gulf Coast can run with the Seminoles.

Florida Gulf Coast averages 79.4 points per game. They allow less than 69 points at 68.8 per. What it means is that FGC plays tough defense while running and gunning on offense. Florida State is used to being the team that presses the pace.

What’s going to happen when they meet a team that’s more than happy to oblige? Florida State should win outright. But, it won’t be easy.  

NCAA Tournament Round 1 Sleeper Pick: Florida Gulf Coast +14

#11 Xavier vs #6 Maryland
When:  Thursday, March 16
Where: Amway Center, Orlando, FL
Odds: Xavier +2

Analysis: Maryland could get hot. Melo Trimble is a terrific player while Damonte Dodd is a strong presence in the middle. But, I love how Xavier played in the Big East Tournament.

The Musketeers were a three-point shot away from tying the game versus Creighton in the semifinals. At one point during the season, early on, Xavier was ranked in the Top 10. They’re a talented bunch who got a chance to battle it out in the Big East.

Maryland’s conference, the Big Ten, was sort of down this season. Although the Big Ten sends plenty of teams to the NCAA Tournament, only two of those teams, Wisconsin and Purdue, were ranked in the Top 25 at the end of the regular season.

I think Xavier wins this outright.  

NCAA Tournament Round 1 Sleeper Pick: Xavier

#14 Iona vs #3 Oregon
When:  Friday, March 17
Where: Golden 1 Center, Sacramento, CA
Odds: Iona +14.5

Analysis: Oregon will be without top inside player Chris Boucher for the NCAA Tournament. The Ducks are loaded with talent, but Boucher was arguably their best inside player.

Does that mean Iona has a chance at upsetting Oregon straight up on Friday, March 17? Not at all. Iona isn’t good enough to beat Oregon straight up. But, the Gaels are good enough to keep the game close.
Iona averages over 80 points per game. Iona starts 4 guards and a 6’ 8” forward. All the guards can shoot and drive to the basket. Their 6’ 8” forward, Jordan Washington, averages 18 points and 7 boards per game.

The Gaels are a good small ball team. Oregon should win, but beating Iona by 15 points might be tough.

NCAA Tournament Round 1 Sleeper Pick: Iona