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The Grueling Truth - Where Legends Speak / Betting Tips / [2024] March Madness East Region 1st Round Games

[2024] March Madness East Region 1st Round Games: Find Latest Odds, Best Bets& Predictions

Basketball Betting Tips · - ·

Publish Date: 03/18/2024
Fact checked by: Mark Lewis

The defending National champion UConn Huskies face an uphill climb to return to the Final Four from their East region, as the Big East tournament champion is pitted against three conference tournament champions from Iowa State Cyclones (Big 12), Illinois Fighting Illini (Big Ten), and Auburn Tigers (SEC).

Dark horses include last year’s Final Four recipients, San Diego State and Florida Atlantic, and don’t sleep on a team like Morehead State. The East region has three out of four teams from last year’s Final Four; the East region is as good if not better than any region in this tournament.

Odds Duquense vs BYU

  • Point Spread: BYU -8.5
  • Moneyline Duquesnse +310
  • Moneyline BYU -400
  • Over/Under 142.5

These odds were updated at 5 am EST on 03/20/24; the odds came from Draft Kings.

 

Our Best Pick: BYU to Cover

After watching Duquesne grind through an ugly Atlantic 10 title game win against VCU, my initial assessment was not optimistic regarding its chances in the NCAA Tournament first round. With their matchup against BYU coming up on Thursday’s bracket draw and seed numbering being high for only having defeated one KenPom top-60 team all season (Dayton on Thursday night), that didn’t bode well either.

Duquesne plays a slow, grinding style that forces its opponents to resort to jump shots; BYU excels at taking this route; in fact, one of two teams that shot over 50% of its field goals from beyond the arc per game was them!

Imagine BYU hitting all their 3s but then going cold, opening up an opening for Dukes. I doubt this happens, given their shooting luck, though.

BYU will need a strong performance in this matchup after shooting an average of 31% over its last seven games. In comparison, Duquesne held opponents below 30% and only encountered one team that hit 32% in conference play over the four games last week.

If Duquesne can control the pace, they have a chance in this game, but I expect BYU to shoot well and cover

Prediction: BYU 68  Duquesnse 55 

DraftKings
DraftKings
4.5/5
Tip: BYU to cover
  • BYU shoots well from the perimeter
  • Duquesnse wants a low-scoring game
  • BYU has played better competition
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Odds Morehead State vs Illinois

  • Point Spread: Illinois -11.5
  • Moneyline Morehead State +540
  • Moneyline Illinois -800
  • Over/Under 145.5

These odds were updated at 5 am EST on 03/20/24; the odds came from Draft Kings.

 

Our Best Pick: Illinois to Cover

Styles clash in this initial round battle.

Illinois has transformed itself this season under Terrence Shannon’s speed and playmaking to become one of the country’s premier offensive units.

The Eagles will likely slow the game down, which has become their go-to strategy in one of the fastest leagues. Their unique approach of “zigging while others zag” has proven successful; Preston Spradlin has proven an outstanding coach over recent seasons.

Containing Marcus Domask in the mid-post is another crucial component for defeating Illinois. Morehead boasts larger wings and guards who can take up space there; an Illini opponent cannot just pick on them in mismatches.

Like Illinois’ near loss to Chattanooga two years ago in a 5/12 matchup, this should turn into a long battle slugfest. Morehead State boasts both size and athleticism to compete for 40 minutes.

Prediction: Illinois 77  Morehead State 63

DraftKings
DraftKings
4.5/5
Tip: Illinois to cover
  • Illinois is hot
  • Morehead State needs to control the pace
  • Illinois roster is deeper
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Odds South Dakota State vs Iowa State

  • Point Spread: Iowa State -16.5
  • Moneyline South Dakota State -1160
  • Moneyline Iowa State +2800
  • Over/Under 133.5

These odds were updated at 5 am EST on 03/20/24; the odds came from Draft Kings.

 

Our Best Pick: Iowa State to Cover

This matchup might give the Jackrabbits the edge they need to remain competitive.

Iowa State allows the second-highest rate of 3-point attempts nationally, yet that isn’t how it beats opponents; they were second-to-last in the Big 12 for percentage of points from beyond the arc.

Iowa State is currently garnering much of the media’s attention as an intriguing Final Four pick after it easily defeated Houston this p[ast weekend. Such trends often go in reverse and are followed by a tougher-than-expected game. That could happen here, but I doubt it.

Iowa State has a 7-2 record against the spread in games when it was been favored by 16 points or more this season.

Prediction: Iowa State 68  South Dakota State 49

DraftKings
DraftKings
4.5/5
Tip: Iowa State to cover to cover
  • The Cyclones are red-hot
  • Iowa State is a great defensive team
  • South Dakota State shoots the three well
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Odds Drake vs Washington State

  • Point Spread: Washington State -1.5
  • Moneyline Drake -108
  • Moneyline Washington State -111
  • Over/Under 138.5

These odds were updated at 5 am EST on 03/20/24; the odds came from Draft Kings.

 

Our Best Pick: Drake to Cover

Drake University presents a formidable opponent for any power team. Their roster boasts veteran players, and Tucker DeVries is considered one of the greatest players ever seen on campus.

The Bulldogs may become betting favorites and have already shown they can overcome high-level competition by defeating Nevada and Indiana State twice.

Drake stands out as one of the nation’s premier defensive rebounding teams. This can be essential against teams like Wazzu, which typically dominate on the offensive glass due to their superior size.

Myles Rice is Wazzu’s standout guard, but Drake has plenty of ‘Bulldogs’ at his disposal who can get in his face and cause him discomfort.

Prediction: Drake 72  Washington State 63

DraftKings
DraftKings
4.5/5
Tip: Drake to cover
  • Drake is a veteran team
  • Drake Rebounds the ball well
  • Washington State has superior size
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Odds Northwestern vs Florida Atlantic

  • Point Spread: Florida Atlantic -1.5
  • Moneyline Northwestern +114
  • Moneyline Florida Atlantic -137
  • Over/Under 141.5

These odds were updated at 5 am EST on 03/20/24; the odds came from Draft Kings.

 

Our Best Pick: Florida Atlantic to Cover

Boo Buie will get his chance at one of the weaker defenses in this tournament.

Matt Nicholson will likely be at the center of this game; he’s currently experiencing foot pain. Northwestern has seen its fair share of injuries this season – Ty Berry suffered season-ending knee ligament damage, while Ryan Langborg experienced minor ankle problems. If Nicholson can’t play look for FAU to win with relative ease.

Due to his size, Vlad Goldin will make an immediate presence on the other end of the floor. Northwestern is notoriously foul-prone and thus could find itself putting FAU at the foul line a lot.

Defense will be key against 3-point shooting for both teams. Both possess the ability to score from outside, and neither has an outstanding perimeter defense.

Since Nicholson’s uncertain status, FAU may score more points from within their perimeter.

Northwestern will need Nicholson to rget healthy, or Langborg and Buie must hit more 3-pointers than FAU backcourt to come away victorious.

At first glance, setting FAU to -3 seems reasonable.

Prediction: FAU 72  Northwestern 65

DraftKings
DraftKings
4.5/5
Tip: Owls to cover
  • Injuries hurting Northwestern
  • FAU is a veteran team
  • Boo Buie is an elite guard
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Odds UAB vs San Diego State

  • Point Spread: San Diego State -6.5
  • Moneyline UAB +240
  • Moneyline San Diego State -300
  • Over/Under 137.5

These odds were updated at 5 am EST on 03/20/24; the odds came from Draft Kings.

 

Our Best Pick: San Diego State to Cover

The UAB Blazers made history with an unlikely victory at the Conference USA Championship.

San Diego State excels at defense, while UAB ranks among the top 60 for Adjusted Offensive Efficiency.

UAB will struggle to protect its defensive glass. Jaedon Ledee can grab plenty of offensive rebounds on any given night and will take advantage of an opponent who struggles to defend putbacks.

UAB must quickly get to the free-throw line and create foul trouble for the Aztecs, something it has proven its ability to do in previous games.

San Diego State has more experience competing in postseason play than UAB, which could cause its defense to fall back against a more experienced squad unless UAB can consistently make shots from inside positions.

Prediction: San Diego State 69   UAB 61

DraftKings
DraftKings
4.5/5
Tip: SDSU to cover
  • UAB is Hot
  • SDSU will rebound the ball well
  • SDSU more experienced team
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Odds Stetson vs UCONN

  • Point Spread: UCONN -26.5
  • Moneyline Stetson +3500
  • Moneyline UCONN -20000
  • Over/Under 145.5

These odds were updated at 5 am EST on 03/20/24; the odds came from Draft Kings.

 

Our Best Pick: UCONN to Cover

Are you looking for a fun first-round bet? Consider this game. The Hatters boast incredible shooters like Stephan Swenson and Jalen Blackmon, who can score big points.

Unfortunately, the Hatters can score a lot of points, but defending UCONN will be impossible. UConn will destroy them inside and on the glass.

Aubin Gateretse of Stetson basketball has his work cut out for him in this game.

UConn’s arsenal will dismantle Stetson University’s 342nd-ranked defense, which lacks the physicality or toughness to compete against this UConn Huskies squad.

Prediction: UCONN 88  Stetson 60

DraftKings
DraftKings
4.5/5
Tip: UCONN to cover
  • UCONN Defense will is suffocating
  • Stetson can shoot
  • UCONN is too good on defense
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Odds Yale vs Auburn

  • Point Spread: Auburn -12.5
  • Moneyline Yale +610
  • Moneyline Auburn -950
  • Over/Under 138.5

These odds were updated at 5 am EST on 03/20/24; the odds came from Draft Kings.

 

Our Best Pick: Auburn to Cover

After Yale earned their automatic bid into the Ivy League Tournament, I eagerly anticipated seeing their draw, knowing they would likely be an aggressive double-digit seed.

Ivy League teams have become known as formidable tournament contenders over time. Of the last 11 Ivy League teams to make the tournament, five won their opening-round game, and two advanced to Sweet 16 play; another three were eliminated with losses by five points or less.

Are the Tigers the right matchup for Yale to win? I remain dubious. Auburn ranks top-10 on both ends of the floor when it comes to efficiency, featuring one of the fiercest defenses in college basketball. Their scoring of 24 free-throw attempts per game is evidence of their overaggressive play.

Yale is filled with experienced players who may be patient enough to avoid mistakes. It ranks among the nation’s top 20 in turnover rate, yet its players are far from regulars at free-throw attempts, as its free-throw rate ranks 332nd nationally.

Prediction: Auburn 72  Yale 61

DraftKings
DraftKings
4.5/5
Tip: Yale to cover
  • Yale scores well in the paint
  • Yale has no bench
  • Auburn is ultra-talented
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