NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament Betting Preview East 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, 2022. Here is a look at the first round of games and betting odds in the East region.

The Tournament: The first round games 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 East region, with odds from DraftKings Inc DKNG with seeds in parenthesis.

  • (1) Baylor -21.5 vs (16) Norfolk State
  • (8) North Carolina -3.5 vs (9) Marquette
  • (5) Saint Mary’s -2.5 vs (12) Indiana
  • (4) UCLA -14 vs (13) Akron
  • (6) Texas -1 vs (11) Virginia Tech
  • (3) Purdue -16 vs (14) Yale
  • (7) Murray State -1.5 vs (10) San Francisco
  • (2) Kentucky -18 vs (15) Saint Peters

Picks: Saint Mary’s -2.5 – Indiana advanced to the first round after winning the play-in game, which could lead to some concerns on rest.

Murray State -1.5 – Murray State was 18-0 in conference and 30-2 overall. The team hasn’t lost since December, with Auburn being one of two teams to beat the Racers during the season. The team ranks in the top 50 for points and rebounds per game.

Kentucky -18 – Kentucky’s two non-conference losses came to Notre Dame and Duke. The team is led by Oscar Tshiebwe who averaged 17 points and 15 rebounds per game during the regular season. Tshiebwe had 27 double doubles for Kentucky and could dominate against a Saint Peter’s team that ranks 150th in rebounding. Kentucky ranked in the top 25 for points, assists and rebounds per game during the season.

North Carolina -3.5 – The Tar Heels rank in the top 40 in points and rebounds per game. Marquette ranked 98th in points and 263rd in rebounds, creating a potential mismatch. Marquette finished sixth in the Big East, which has seen Providence and Villanova faded by sportsbooks despite being a 4 and 2 seed, respectively. North Carolina’s non-conference losses were to Tennessee, Purdue and Kentucky, all teams that are in the tournament.

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

Baylor: -360

Kentucky: -310

Purdue: -175

UCLA: -180

Picks: In my initial bracket, I selected the 1, 2, 3 and 5 seeds to advance to the Sweet 16, which doesn’t provide a ton of betting value. Kentucky and Baylor are heavily favored to advance, but there is slight value beyond that. Purdue has 7-foot-4 Zach Edey, who averages 14.6 points per game and nearly eight rebounds.

Purdue -175, Saint Mary’s +250, Texas +350

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

Baylor: +100

Kentucky: +100

Purdue: +220

UCLA +180

Picks: Kentucky is offered at the same odds as Baylor to advance and could be one of the best 2 seeds in the tournament. Purdue could be a dangerous 3 seed to advance and other favorites here could be Saint Mary’s +700 and Texas +900. In my first bracket I have Kentucky and Saint Mary’s meeting, which is likely how I will bet.

Kentucky +100, Purdue +220, Saint Mary’s +700

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

Baylor: +200

Kentucky: +200

Purdue: +450

UCLA: +450

Picks: Baylor won last year’s tournament and comes in as a 1 seed. I just don’t see them advancing to the title game or even making the Final 4. I think this region offers some strength on the 2, 3, 4 and 5 lines, which could prove troublesome for Baylor and also to select a winner.

Kentucky +200, Purdue +450

Outright Winner: Kentucky has the best betting odds to win the championship of any East region team with a price of +800. Baylor is offered at +1200 and Purdue is +2000. Passing on this region for an outright winner.

Pass

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