Best Bets for the First Round of March Madness 2023

March Madness, NCAA, College Basketball, Players, Teams, Bracket

The field for the 2023 NCAA tournament is finally set after another dramatic Selection Sunday. We know the entire bracket and the opening set of fixtures is this week, so it’s time to explore the latest gambling opportunities.

I want to share my best bets for the March Madness 2023 first round in this article. I cover several matchups in which the odds offer value based on my predictions. Let’s dive into what should be a pretty crazy first round of competition.

Drake vs. Miami Odds and Betting Pick

  • Drake Bulldogs; +120
  • Miami Hurricanes; -140

This matchup has upset potential written all over it. Drake vs. Miami represents one of my favorite March Madness 2023 first-round best bets. The Bulldogs are a much more competitive team than people think.

Drake is one of the better teams defensively in the tournament. The Bulldogs have shown incredible control over their opponents when protecting the perimeter. The defense can contain just about anyone, and they often force a lot of mistakes.

Miami also faces one of the hottest teams entering the tournament. Drake dominated its three Missouri Valley tournament opponents by double digits. This includes a 26-point blowout victory over Bradley – the regular-season champion of the Missouri Valley conference.

Another big reason to doubt Miami is the absence of Norchad Omier for March Madness. The sophomore forward suffered an ankle injury against Duke during the ACC tournament. He’s one of the team’s biggest contributors, averaging 13.6 points and 9.7 rebounds per game.

Can Drake neutralize and overcome Miami? The Bulldogs have all the pieces in place to topple a No. 5 seed. Furthermore, with 13 victories in the past 14 games, Drake looks like the superior team. The Bulldogs also secured wins over Louisiana and Mississippi State during the regular season, two formidable opponents.

My Pick:

Indiana vs. Kent State Odds and Best Bet

  • Indiana Hoosiers; -185
  • Kent State Golden Flashes; +160

I believe this is another match that delivers one of the best bets for the first round of March Madness 2023. Indiana is a good team, but an upset here seems probable. Kent State is an extremely competitive team, and they trouble the Hoosiers.

The Golden Flashes play solid basketball on both ends of the court and are riding a six-game win streak. The Hoosiers, on the other hand, have been inconsistent in recent weeks, having lost four of their past eight games.

Starting from this opening round, they will heavily rely on Trayce Jackson-Davis during March Madness. He’s an immensely talented player, but the team will suffer if he has an off day. The only other major difference maker for Indiana is Jalen Hood-Schifino.

That will be a problem because Kent State is a team that Indiana can’t just dominate. The defense of the Golden Flashes is well above average and can slow down almost anyone. Indiana will also struggle if they can’t find offense outside of Jackson-Davis and Hood-Schifino.

I think the MAC Tournament champions have plenty of momentum to topple the Hoosiers. Kent State is on a roll right now, and they have one of the best senior trios in college basketball. This includes Sincere Carry, who won the MAC Tournament MVP this season.

My Pick:
Kent State

Texas A&M vs. Penn State Odds and Best Bet

  • Texas A&M Aggies; -150
  • Penn State Nittany Lions; +130

Texas A&M is now back in the NCAA Tournament after a five-year absence. The Aggies played incredibly well against conference opponents this season, thanks to a stellar defense. They also limited their opponents to 40.5% shooting, which ranks among the top 25 in the nation.

What I like about the Aggies is that the team is extremely well-coached. Buzz Williams is in his fourth season at the helm and has the program heading in the right direction. He also has previous March Madness experience, having coached Marquette to the Elite Eight in 2013.

Penn State made the tournament and has a tough road ahead of them. The Nittany Lions managed to pick up a few key victories as other Big Ten teams began to slip away. They also competed in the conference tournament title game but lost to Purdue.

The Nittany Lions’ best player is guard Jalen Pickett, who’s one of the more versatile players in college basketball. He does everything offensively and can put up a lot of points on just about any defense. Penn State also has reliable shooters in Seth Lundy and Andrew Funk.

This game is somewhat of a toss-up. The March Madness 2023 first-round betting lines offer a pretty reasonable price on Penn State as an underdog. It also makes a lot of sense to pick the Nittany Lions because the roster has more experience.

Containing Pickett also won’t be easy for the Texas A&M defense. His ability to score points and distribute the ball efficiently will cause headaches for the Aggies. Consistent shooting from the perimeter will ultimately be the key to success for the Nittany Lions.

Winning in the NCAA tournament also requires teams to shoot the ball well and effectively. That’s why Penn State has the advantage. I’m picking the Nittany Lions with one of my best bets for the March Madness 2023 first round. Their offense is ultimately better than the Texas A&M defense.

My Pick:
Penn State