Game Types Bonuses Slots More
Online Casinos Poker Bingo Games Lotteries Sports & Racebooks Fantasy Sports Forex Betting Exchanges Spread Betting Binary Options Live Dealers
Weekly Newsletter Online Gaming News Payment Methods Gaming Software Gaming Site Owners Gaming Jurisdictions Edit Preferences Search
Bonuses! New games! Gossip! And all the player news you can handle. Sign up NOW!

Dan Ippolito

As Casino City's associate editor, Dan produces and edits all of our weekly newsletters, and he writes about the gaming industry for our websites and the GPWA Times Magazine. Dan graduated from Marist College in 2017 with a degree in Communications and a concentration in Sports.

More about Dan Ippolito
More articles by Dan Ippolito

Related Links

Top 10 best bets for March Madness 2024 opening round

18 Mar 2024

By Dan Ippolito
March Madness is here and when the field of teams was announced last night, there were many questioning some of the decisions made by the Selection Committee. Between Thursday and Friday this week, college basketball fans have their Christmas as 32 games will be played over the two days, and like the name of the tournament indicates, there will be chaos.

As people fill out their brackets and place their wagers, take a look at these 10 bets for the opening round to consider.

(All odds provided by bet365 Sportsbook & Racebook)

10. Texas A&M (+1.5) over Nebraska
The Aggies will square off against Nebraska on Friday. If you’ve seen the Aggies play, the name that stands out is Wade Taylor IV. As a guard, he doesn’t have the best shooting percentage at 37%, but he is going to fire up shots no matter what and get points on the board and he loves the spotlight.

On the other side, Nebraska’s top player and shot-maker is Keisei Tominaga, who knocks down his shots nearly 47% of the time. Both Tominaga and Taylor can get hot in the blink of an eye and once they get into that mode, it is very difficult to shake their confidence.

Taylor is complimented by the play of Tyrece Radford and Henry Coleman III, who aren’t afraid to bang bodies inside to grab rebounds. The Aggies aren’t the biggest team, but they sure don’t play like that. They are very athletic and are a physical team that can make the offensive side of the ball uncomfortable for opponents. Nebraska holds the unique distinction of being the sole Power Five program that has never won an NCAA men's basketball tournament game and we think the Aggies make sure that streak continues.

9. Auburn (-12.5) over Yale
The SEC tournament champion Tigers face Yale on Friday after the Bulldogs won the Ivy League Championship on a last-second buzzer-beater against Brown.

There are no two ways about it, Auburn’s lineup is stacked. Led by forwards Johni Broome and Jaylin Williams, the Tigers have an array of guards who are all tough and defensive menaces.

Two major areas that help teams in the clutch are making free throws and not turning the ball over. The Tigers only turn the ball over 10 times a game, and you should avoid sending this team to the line because as a unit they make 75% of their shots from the stripe.

8. New Mexico (-2) over Clemson
This line has been a discussion since the odds were released. It isn’t often you see an 11-seed favored over a 6-seed, but that is what we have hear as New Mexico is -2 against Clemson.

While the Lobos are playing some of their best basketball, winning four in a row including the Mountain West title, Clemson has been struggling, dropping three out of its last four.

The Lobos have four players who average more than 12 points per contest, including Jaelan House, son of 2008 NBA Champion Eddie House.

Averaging nearly 92 points per game, New Mexico likes to get out and run in transition both on missed and made baskets. If Clemson isn’t sprinting back on defense, it could be a long night for the Tigers.

7. Gonzaga (-6) over McNeese State
Many fans consider that this was a down year for Gonzaga. With a 25-7 record, that’s a pretty good down year, if you ask me.

This team is playing well of late. Before losing to Saint Mary’s in the WCC title game, the Bulldogs rattled off nine wins in a row, including an 89-85 at Kentucky.

Don’t overlook McNeese State at all. In his first year coaching the team, Will Wade has the Cowboys sitting with a 30-3 record and they cruised to a Southland regular season and tournament title.

With how experienced some of the Gonzaga players are in the tournament, including Anton Watson, Nolan Hickman and Ryan Nembhard, it will be tough for McNeese to keep up with on offense that put up 100 points in a game six times this season.

6. NC State (+5) over Texas Tech
Having as high as 100-to-1 odds to win the ACC tournament, NC State shocked pretty much everyone when it ran the table and ended up taking down North Carolina in the finals.

If you watched any of the games, or even checked X (formerly Twitter) last week, you probably saw some videos of big man D.J. Burns Jr. for NC State. Listed at 6-foot-9 and 280 pounds, your first thought may just be that he can overpower players and that’s it. While his strength and size is tough to match, Burns has a surprisingly soft touch around the rim and he can get up and down the floor.

While Burns will be a handful for the Texas Tech big men, the Wolfpack’s guards will be filling up the scoresheet as well with Jayden Taylor and Casey Morsell. Then you have the leading scorer for NC State in D.J. Horne. Horne averages just under 17 per game but is lethal form behind the arc, shooting 41% from three.

5. Drake (+1) over Washington State
Drake knocked Indiana State’s tournament hopes out when the Bulldogs defeated the Sycamores by four points in the Missouri Valley Conference championship game. This marked the team’s 10th win over its last 11 games.

Washington State had a strong year, finishing with a 24-9 record. However, one thing I noticed when watching them play is they sometimes get too fast for themselves which can lead to poor shot selection or even turnovers. With 12.5 assists per game compared to the nearly 11 turnovers per game, the Cougar offense doesn’t have a very high turnover-to-assist ratio.

Drake takes car of the ball, giving it away less than 10 times per 40 minutes and they rack up nearly 16 assists per game. The turnover battle could be the difference in the game and who capitalizes on those mistakes.

4. UAB (+6.5) over San Diego State
The Mountain West Conference had one of its best years, getting six of its teams in March Madness, including San Diego State, last year’s National Championship runner up.

The American Athletic Conference is no slouch though. Despite only having two teams make the tournament, five teams in the conference finished with at least 20 wins.

UAB, the conference tournament winner, is going into this week on a high note, winning each of its last five games, while San Diego State has lost three of its last five.

The length of UAB is going to cause a lot of issues for the Aztecs on defense. UAB will make mistakes and turn the ball over, but speeding the opponent up is what they do on defense and force them to take poor shots and get out of rhythm.

Look for the Blazers to keep this one close and maybe even squeak out a victory to move into the weekend.

3. Morehead State (+12) over Illinois
On Thursday, the Ohio Valley Conference winner will face off against the Big Ten champ, and let’s call a spade a spade, the Ohio Valley isn’t as deep or competitive as the Big Ten. However, Morehead State have had four different five-game win streaks on the season and any team with 26 wins shouldn’t be overlooked.

Illinois, with a 26-8 record as well, is led by Terrence Shannon Jr. who has NBA talent and can really score from anywhere in the gym. Making him uncomfortable early will be key for the Eagles because if he gets in a groove, it is tough to knock him out of that zone.

The guy for Morehead State is Riley Minix, who does pretty much everything well. Scoring over 20 points a game, the 6-foot-7 guard is very big for his position and isn’t afraid to get physical inside where he grabs 9.8 board per game. As a guard, Minix shoots 54% from the floor which is sky high for that position. Look for him to come out early and often to set the tone that this won’t be a cake walk for the Illini.

2. Northwestern (+2.5) over Florida Atlantic
Outside from UAB, the only other AAC team in the field is Florida Atlantic, which had the crazy run to the Final Four last year. They go up against Northwestern in the first game of the day on Friday. This is going to be an unbelievable matchup between FAU’s Johnell Davis and Northwestern’s Boo Buie.

Buie scores just north of 19 points per game and knocks down the three at a 44% clip. He is not afraid to pull up from Steph Curry range and if he hits a couple in a row, the only way to stop him from scoring is to call a timeout and that may not even work! Davis just over 18 points per contest also shoots the three extremely well at 42%. Both of these players are straight up bucket getters and are the leaders of their team.

The big difference here is the supporting cast. While FAU has some solid players around Davis, Northwestern, as a team, shoots nearly 40% from behind the arc and they can go on big runs before you even know it.

The other statistic that Northwestern excels in is protecting the basketball. The basketball is gold and you can’t score without it. The Wildcats average less than nine turnovers per game which gives them an advantage over a lot of teams, including FAU.

1. Michigan State (-1) over Mississippi State
Many had arguments to why this Michigan State team didn’t’ belong in the field because of its 19-14 record, but the Spartans had one of the most difficult schedules in all of college basketball.

These conversations and remarks about how they shouldn’t be in is poster board material for legendary coach Tom Izzo to use to motivate his team.

It is a perfect opportunity for Izzo and the Spartans to make a statement that they belong in the opening game of the round of 64 against Mississippi State.

Even though it resulted in a 67-62 loss, Michigan State’s last game against Purdue was impressive. Despite being called for 29 fouls, MSU was able to keep the game close and give themselves a shot at winning.

The Spartans have a lot of talent in their starting lineup, including Malik Hall who has an NBA body and can score at all three levels.

A big factor that can help this team in March is that they play three centers so foul trouble doesn’t affect their big men as much as it does for other teams so they can remain physical throughout the 40 minutes.

Nearly this entire core for Michigan State was on last year’s team that was knocked out in the Sweet Sixteen. The experience is there, the coaching is Hall of Fame status, and the motivation is behind them.
About Us | Advertising | Publications | Land Casinos