March Madness Round 1 Upset PicksNoah Williams
If you’re getting prepared for the start of the 2017 NCAA March Madness national championship tournament and you’re looking for ballclubs that are offering plenty of value as underdogs that are capable of pulling off upsets in their respective first round matchups, then look no further.
I’ve got a trio of teams that are all offering the own kind of value as upset picks when the first round gets underway on Thursday. Now, let’s find out which triumvirate of ballclubs is offering that upset value.
March Madness Round 1 Upset Picks
No. 10 VCU vs. No. 7 St. Mary’s
When: Thursday, March 16, 2017 at 7:20 PM ET
Where: Vivint Smart Home Arena, Salt Lake City, Utah
Odds: St. Mary’s -4.5
Analysis: Saint Mary’s (28-4 SU, 16-11-2 ATS) had their six-game winning streak snapped in their 74-56 West Coast Conference tournament loss against Gonzaga last Tuesday while VCU (26-8 SU, 12-17-1 ATS) had their modest three-game winning streak snapped in their 70-53 loss to Rhode Island in the A-10 title game on Sunday.
For this matchup, I’m going to advise you to back a St. Mary’s team that has been ranked in the top 20 virtually all season long and one that gives up almost 10 points per game less than VCU this season.
I suspect that VCU won’t have an answer for St. Mary’s 6-11 junior center Jock Landal (16.8 ppg, 9.3 rpg, and 1.2 bpg) although I do have some concerns that the Gaels have just one other player averaging in double figures in scoring in junior forward Calvin Hermanson (12.9 ppg).
The Rams have a very nice pair of perimeter players in guard JeQuan Lewis (14.7 points, 4.6 assists) and forward Justin Tillman (12.4 points, 8.8 rebounds), but St. Mary’s has lost to just two teams this season, with three of their four losses coming against previously No. 1 Gonzaga.
Saint Mary’s has gone a near-perfect 10-1 on the road this season and 3-1 in four neutral site games while VCU has gone 7-4 in 11 road games and 4-3 in seven neutral site contests. VCU is 2-4-1 ATS over its last seven games while St. Mary’s has gone 5-1-1 ATS over the same span. Saint Mary’s wins because of their stupendous second-ranked defense (56.5 ppg).
March Madness Round 1 Upset Pick: Saint Mary’s 71, VCU 61
No. 9 Virginia Tech vs. No. 8 Wisconsin
When: Thursday, March 16, 2017 at 9:40 PM ET
Where: KeyBank Center, Buffalo, New York
Odds: Wisconsin -5
Analysis: No. 8 Wisconsin (25-9 SU, 15-16 ATS) may be making their 19th consecutive appearance in the NCAA Tournament, but the Badgers certainly aren’t playing their best basketball as they’ve dropped six of their last 10 games and come into the NCAA tournament off a 71-56 loss against Michigan in their Big Ten conference championship loss on Sunday.
On the flip side of the coin, Virginia Tech (22-10 SU, 16-11 ATS) had won four of their last five games before falling to Florida State in their 74-68 ACC tournament loss on Thursday.
I was really high on Wisconsin this season and believed they could make a deep tourney run, but right now, I think they’re in danger of losing outright to a Virginia Tech ballclub that has recorded some quality wins over Michigan, Duke, Syracuse, Virginia and Miami.
Virginia Tech averages almost eight points per game more than Wisconsin and ranks a stellar 13th nationally in field goal percentage shooting (49.0%) and three-point shooting percentage (40.3%)
While the Badgers are one of the nation’s best defensive teams (61.4 ppg, 9th), they’ve also been held under 60 points four times in their last six games while losing to lesser teams like Michigan (twice), Ohio State, Michigan State and Iowa.
Virginia Tech forward Zach LeDay (16.3 ppg, 7.4 rpg) will likely be the best player on the floor in this matchup while leading the Virginia Tech Hokies to the ATS cover at the very least.
March Madness Round 1 Upset Pick: Virginia Tech 68 Wisconsin 65
No. 10 Wichita State Shockers (30-4) at No. 7 Dayton Flyers (24-7)
When: Friday, March 17, 2017 at 7:10 PM ET
Where: Bankers Life Fieldhouse
Odds: Wichita State -6
Analysis: The seventh-seeded Dayton Flyers (24-7 SU, 19-10 ATS) may be the higher seed in their first round matchup against No. 10 Wichita State (30-4 SU, 18-12-1 ATS), but the Shockers re the pick to get the outright upset win seeing as how they are statistically better at both ends of the floor and come into the NCAA tournament absolutely on fire!
Wichita State has won a whopping 15 consecutive games, including their 71-51 blowout win over Illinois State in their Missouri Valley Conference tournament championship matchup on Mar. 5.
Not only that, but the Shockers average a stellar 82.1 points per game to rank 20th nationally in scoring while also limiting their opponents this season to just 62.4 points per game defensively to rank a stellar 14th nationally in points allowed. Wichita State has three double-digit scorers on the roster and is led in scoring by forward Markis McDuffie (11.8 ppg).
Dayton has lost two straight including their 73-67 loss to Davidson in their A-10 conference tournament matchup on Friday. The Flyers average a respectable 76.5 points per game (102nd) on 47.0 percent shooting from the field (49th) and 38.7 percent shooting from beyond the arc (37th). The Flyers are rock-solid defensively in limiting the opposition to just 66.5 points per game (48th) while limiting the opposition to just 41.3 percent shooting (47th). Dayton has three double-digit scorers including leading scorer Charles Cooke (16.1 ppg).
While Wichita State certainly doesn’t play the best competition round, the Shockers have shown in recent years that they are indeed an elite program despite their mostly inferior MCV competition.
The Shockers have gone 7-1 ATS in their last eight games while Dayton has gone 3-3 ATS over their last six. Wichita State is 9-1 on the road this season and 5-2 in seven neutral site games while Dayton has gone 7-3 on the road and 2-3 in five neutral site games. The Shockers get the outright win to cover and advance.