NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament Betting Preview, South Region: Opening Round Lines, Upset Picks, Final Four Winner

The first round of games in the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament kicks off Thursday. Here is a look at the first round of games and betting odds in the South region. 

The Tournament: Games in the first round will be split between Paramount Global PARAPARAA on its CBS network and AT&T Inc T, with coverage on its truTV, TBS and TNT channels.

Games begin Thursday at 12:15 p.m. EDT.

First Round Games: Here is a look at the first round matchups for the South region, with odds from DraftKings Inc DKNG with seeds in parenthesis.

(1) Arizona vs (16) Play-in Game Winner (No line yet)

(8) Seton Hall pick-em vs (9) TCU

(5) Houston -8.5 vs (12) UAB

(4) Illinois -7.5 vs (13) Chattanooga

(6) Colorado State vs (11) Michigan -2.5

(3) Tennessee -17.5 vs (14) Longwood

(7) Ohio State pick-em vs (10) Loyola Chicago

(2) Villanova -17.5 vs (15) Delaware

Picks: Chattanooga +7.5 - Since the bracket was revealed, many experts have pointed to Chattanooga being a potential first round winner against Illinois, the line of +7.5 makes it a great play. Illinois is led by Kofi Cockburn who averages 20+ points and 10+ rebounds per game.

Michigan -2.5 – Michigan is favored as the 11 seed and should see strong interest as they had an up and down season and could get hot in the tournament led by Hunter Dickinson. The Michigan big man averages 18.3 points and 8.3 rebounds per game. Dickinson scored under 10 points in only three games and will be counted on to help lead the Wolverines.

Loyola pick-em - Loyola will also be a popular pick against Ohio State with some of the team returning from last year’s Sweet 16 team. Loyola held its own in early season matchups with Michigan State and Auburn.

Sweet 16: To advance to the Sweet 16, the top four seeds are offered at:

Arizona: -500

Villanova: -295

Tennessee: -265

Illinois: +160

Picks: Arizona and Villanova will be popular picks to advance and don’t offer a ton of betting value. I see Illinois struggling in the first round, which knocks them out. I am looking further down the seeds at Houston (-130) and could also see teams like Loyola and Chattanooga advancing.

Houston -130, Loyola +425, Chattanooga +1500

Elite 8: To advance to the Elite 8, the top four seeds are offered at:

Arizona: -140

Villanova: +130

Tennessee: +140

Illinois: +550

Houston: +280

Picks: Arizona offers some value here as the number two overall seed in the tournament and a -140 price. Houston could also play upset knocking them off before this game, which I’m hedging. Tennessee is also another potential option here as the 3 seed and possibly being underseeded in the tournament.

Final 4: To win the South region, the top four seeds are offered at the following odds:

Arizona: +150

Villanova: +300

Tennessee: +330

Illinois: +1200

Picks: Arizona is my champion in the region in most of my brackets and is a pick here at plus money. Houston (5) at odds of +500 is also a tempting play with the name getting thrown out as a potential sleeper.

Arizona +150, Houston +500

Outright Winner: Arizona is the second favorite to win the NCAA Men’s Tournament and offered at odds of +650. Arizona ranked fourth for points per game, third for assists and 13th for rebounds per game. The team ranks in the top 15 for offensive and defensive efficiency, typical a common trait for championship teams. They are the only team from the region that I see having a decent shot at winning the championship.

Arizona +650

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