March Madness Round 1 Expert PicksNoah Williams
If you’re looking to get your 2017 March Madness NCAA Tournament betting campaign off to a positive start and you’re looking for teams that have the look of virtual locks, then you should know that I’ve identified a trio of ballclubs that fit the bill perfectly!
With the opening tip-off for all three affairs quickly approaching, let’s get down to business with my Round 1 March Madness expert picks. Happy hunting!
March Madness Round 1 Expert Picks
No. 4 Butler (23-8) vs. No. 13 Winthrop (26-6)
When: Thursday, March 16, 2017 at 1:30 PM ET
Where: BMO Harris Bradley Center, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Odds: Butler -11
Analysis: The 13th-seeded Winthrop (3-4-1 ATS) has won eight straight and nine of their last 10 games overall including their 76-59 Big South tournament win over Campbell in the title game on Mar. 5, not to mention the fact that the Eagles average three more points per game than fourth-seeded Butler (17-12 ATS).
The Bulldogs will look to snap a modest two-game losing streak after falling to Seton Hall and Xavier in their last two games, but they are also the only team in the nation to beat defending champion and second-ranked Villanova twice this season and that alone tells me they can beat just bout anyone.
Winthrop has a legitimate star in 5-7 senior point guard Keon Johnson (22.5 ppg), but just one other player averages double figures for the Golden Eagles while three players average double figures for Butler, including 6-7 junior Kelan Martin (16.1 ppg), a player that has averaged 19 points in his last six games on 51.3 percent shooting from the field.
Winthrop is 1-2 ATS in their last three games while Butler is 2-2 ATS over their last four. The Bulldogs get the win, but not by a dozen points like 59 percent of the betting public believe.
March Madness Round 1 Expert Pick: Butler 71 Winthrop 66
No. 3 Florida State (25-8) vs. No. 14 Florida Gulf Coast (26-7)
When: Thursday, March 16, 2017 at 9:20 PM ET
Where: Amway Center, Orlando, Florida
Odds: FSU -12
Analysis: Florida State (17-12-2 ATS) is back in the NCAA Tournament for the first time in five years, but I believe the Seminoles are going to have their hands full against a dangerous Florida Gulf Coast (4-0 ATS) ballclub when they square off on Thursday.
Florida State averages just less than three points per game more than Florida Gulf Coast, but the unheralded Eagles limit the opposition to three fewer points per game defensively. Florida State is coming off a 77-73 loss to Notre Dame in the ACC tournament on Friday that dropped them to 2-2 over their last four and 4-4 over their last eight games overall.
Florida Gulf Coast has won seven straight games and 12 of their last 13 games and bet North Florida 77-61 in the Atlantic Sun conference championship on Mar. 5. The Eagles have our players that average double digits in scoring including leading scorer Brandon Goodwin (18.2 ppg). Florida State has just three players that average double figures in scoring including leading scorer Dwayne Bacon (16.9 ppg).
Florida Gulf Coast has covered the spread in three straight while Florida State has gone 3-4-1 ATS over their last eight games overall. I like the Seminoles to get the win, but Florida Gulf Coast to cover the spread with room to spare.
March Madness Round 1 Expert Pick: Florida State 78 Florida Gulf Coast 75
No. 6 Maryland (24-8) vs. No. 11 Xavier (21-13)
When: Thursday, March 16, 2017 at 6:50 PM ET
Where: Amway Center, Orlando, Florida
Odds: Terps -2
Analysis: Both, the sixth-seeded Maryland Terrapins (15-12-3 ATS) and No. 11 seed Xavier Musketeers (15-18 ATS) were fortunate to get in the 2017 NCAA tournament after sweating out Selection Sunday.
The Terrapins have dropped six of their last ten games while Xavier lost seven of their final 10 games coming into this matchup. Still, with the Musketeers beating nationally-ranked Butler in the Big East tournament, I believe Xavier is the pick to win and narrowly cover the spread
Maryland has a legitimate star in guard Melo Trimble (17 points, 3.7 assists), but Xavier does too in point guard Trevon Bluiett (18.1 points, 5.8 rebounds), the player that really makes the Musketeers go.
I’m not real fond of Maryland’s lack of a consistent supporting cast and believe Xavier’s collection of supporting role players like J.P. Macura (14.5 points) and Edmund Sumner (14.3 ppg) will be the difference in this contest.
Maryland is 1-5 ATS in their last six games while Xavier has gone 4-0 ATS in their last four. 57 percent of the betting public likes Maryland to get the win and ATS cover, but I don’t.