If you’re looking for value-packed ballclubs that are offering a ton of value in their respective first round matchups as part of a potentially bankroll-boosting series of parlay picks, then you’re in luck.
I’ve identified a trio of teams that all have the look of teams that will win and cash in against in their respective 2017 NCAA Tournament openers. Now, let’s find out who these value-packed teams are.
March Madness Round 1 Three-Team Parlay Pick
No. 12 Princeton (23-6) vs. No. 5 Notre Dame (25-9)
When: Thursday, March 16, 2017 at 12:15 PM ET
Where: KeyBank Center, Buffalo, New York
Odds: Notre Dame -7
Analysis: While Princeton (12-10-1 ATS) has had a fantastic season n winning the Ivy league conference crown and come into this matchup riding an insane 19-game winning streak, it is fifth-seeded Notre Dame (18-9-1 ATS) that is the easy pick to win and narrowly cover the spread in this first round pairing.
While the Irish have lost two of their last four games, they’re also 8-2 over their last 10 and have only suffered losses against nationally-ranked Louisville and Duke along the way. While Notre Dame allows almost seven points per game more than the Tigers, they also outscore their Ivy League opponents by almost six points per game offensively.
More importantly, Notre Dame will have the best player on the court by far in superstar swingman Bonzie Colson.
"We have a whole new season to go," Colson said after unleashing a 29-point, nine-rebound performance in Notre Dame’s 75-69 loss to Duke in the ACC tournament title game on Saturday.
"We have an opportunity to cut down some nets and we’re staying together and we’re excited about what we have upcoming for us. You’ve got to move on quick. It’s the nature of the game."
The 6-foot-5 Colson (17.5 ppg, 10.2 rpg) led the ACC in scoring and rebounding double-doubles with 18 while finishing third for ACC Player of the Year honors. Notre dame also has three other double-digit scorers in Matt Farrell (14.2 ppg), V.J. Beachem (15.0 ppg) and Steve Vasturia (13.3).
The Irish are 4-1 ATS in their last five and 6-4 ATS over their last 10 and I believe they will win and narrowly cover against a Princeton team that has gone 5-4-1 ATS over their L/10 games.
Pick: Notre Dame by a handful
No. 12 NC-Wilmington (29-5) vs. No. 5 Virginia (22-10)
When: Thursday, March 16, 2017 at 12:40 PM ET
Where: Amway Center, Orlando, Florida
Odds: Virginia -8.5
Analysis: The North Carolina-Wilmington Seahawks (14-15-1 ATS) re on a red-hot roll having won seven straight games including their 78-69 CAA tournament championship win over Charleston.
Unfortunately, the Seahawks won’t be any match for a Virginia Cavaliers (18-12 ATS) team that has found its footing recently despite falling to Notre Dame 71-58 in the ACC tournament last Thursday.
Virginia won its previous four games and has split their last 10 games evenly, but they’ve also held Louisville to 55 points, North Carolina to a mind-boggling 43 points and Pittsburgh to 42 points during the stretch.
NC-Wilmington averages a whopping 85.2 points per game to rank 10th nationally, but they’re facing a team on an entirely different level from their Colonial Athletic Conference counterparts and have the look of a team that is going to fall by double digits.
Virginia’s defense that led the nation in points allowed (55.6) and held six different opponents under 45 points. I do have some concerns that senior guard London Perrantes (12.5 points) is the only Virginia player averaging double figures in scoring while four players average double digits for NC-Wilmington, but the Cavs have the size advantage and should dominate the glass while limiting NC-Wilmington’s chances at the offensive end of the floor.
Pick: Virginia by double digits
No. 9 Vanderbilt (19-15) vs. No. 8 Northwestern (23-11)
When: Thursday, March 16, 2017 at 4:30 PM ET
Where: Vivint Smart Home Arena, Salt Lake City, Utah
Analysis: Eighth-seeded Northwestern (19-12 ATS) may be making its first-ever appearance in the NCAA Tournament, but I like the Wildcats to get the ‘upset’ win over No. 9 seed Vanderbilt (20-12 ATS) when they square off on Thursday night.
I know the Wildcats got blitzed in their humbling 76-48 loss to Wisconsin in the Big Ten tournament semifinals and that they’re just 5-5 over their last 10 games, but they also managed to beat the Badgers 66-59 on the road as an 11.5-point underdog on Feb. 12 and they’ll take on a Vanderbilt squad that lost to lowly Missouri 72-52 on Feb. 11 while also getting smacked around by Arkansas 76-62 in their SEC tournament matchup on Saturday.
Vanderbilt is the first team to earn an at-large bid with 15 losses. The Commodores and Wildcats both average just over 71.0 points per game, but Northwestern gives up three fewer points per game and plays a better caliber of competition in the Big Ten than Vandy does in the watered-down SEC. Four players average double digits in scoring for Vanderbilt while Northwestern has just three players that average double figures in scoring.
Still, the Wildcats have two players that average at least 14.0 points per game while Vanderbilt’s top scorer averages just over 13.0 points per contest. The Northwestern Wildcats are the pick to win and cash in as they look to extend the excitement of making their first tournament appearance in school history.
Pick: Northwestern by a couple