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

The NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament kicks off the first round of games Thursday, March 17. Here is a betting guide for the Midwest region. 

The Tournament: Games in the first round will be split between Paramount Global PARA PARAA 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 Midwest region, with odds from DraftKings Inc DKNG with seeds in parenthesis.

(1) Kansas -21.5 vs (16) Play-in Game winner (No line yet)

(8) San Diego State -2.5 vs (9) Creighton

(5) Iowa -10.5 vs (12) Richmond

(4) Providence -2 vs (13) South Dakota State

(6) LSU -4 vs (11) Iowa State

(3) Wisconsin -7.5 vs (14) Colgate

(7) USC -2 vs (10) Miami

(2) Auburn -15.5 vs (15) Jacksonville State

Picks: Iowa -10.5 – Iowa’s only non-conference loss was to state rival Iowa State. Otherwise the team’s losses all came in a competitive Big Ten Conference that saw nine teams make the tournament. Iowa ranks fifth in the country with 83.8 points per game. The team ranks 26th for assists and 99th for rebounds. Keegan Murray averages 23.6 points per game on 55.5% shooting.

South Dakota State +2 – South Dakota State went a perfect 18-0 in conference play and only had four losses on the season. The team ranks third in the country in points per game at 86.7. If the team can establish tempo, they could win the game outright.

Iowa State +4 – There’s a lot to question for Iowa State as the team finished 7-11 in conference play and scored only 41 points in the Big 12 Championship loss. The team excelled in non-conference play beating Creighton, Xavier, Memphis and Iowa. The team was one of four teams that had nine “quad 1” wins, which was a major factor in making the tournament. The team faces a LSU team that could be distracted by a recent coaching change.

USC -2 – USC went 11-0 in non-conference play and contended in the Pac-12 Conference that saw Arizona and UCLA get in with 1 and 4 seeds respectively. I like the early matchup here with Miami and think USC wins.

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

Kansas: -350

Auburn: -320

Wisconsin: +125

Providence: +425

Picks: Fifth seeded Iowa has the third best odds to advance to the Sweet 16 in the region, which could show you how people view the seeding in the region. This is the region where I could see the 1 seed (Kansas) falling early, which could make the 8 or 9 seed a potential play. Iowa State is also a favorite of mine to win the first round and a second round matchup against Wisconsin could be winnable.

Iowa -240, San Diego State +800, Iowa State +500

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

Kansas: -110

Auburn: -130

Wisconsin: +500

Providence: +1500

Picks: If Providence could play up to their #2 seed, there is huge value here. Personally, I’m not a believer, but the odds do look tempting. Auburn at -130 is one of my favorite Elite 8 plays. I also like Iowa potentially winning the region. Auburn started the season 22-1 before losing some momentum late in the season. I expect a return to early form here.

Auburn -130, Iowa +170

To win the West region, the top four seeds are offered at the following odds:

Kansas: +160

Auburn: +250

Wisconsin: +1400

Providence: +3500 (eighth best odds among teams)

Picks: As mentioned above, I just don’t like Kansas as a 1 seed as much as the field and think this is a winnable region for a lower seed with my preference going to Auburn or Iowa.

Auburn +250, Iowa +330

Final 4:

Outright Winner: Kansas has the best odds of any team in the region with +850 odds to win the championship. This region isn’t my favorite and sportsbooks aren’t giving it much love outside of Kansas and Auburn (+1200) with Wisconsin (+8000) and Providence (+20000) ranking below many lower seeds.

Pick: Pass

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