March Madness: First Four Betting Preview & Picks

March Madness: First Four Betting Preview & Picks

Cole Paganelli
2 years ago
3 min read
General view of the ball going through the net during practice the day before the start of the First Four

The First Four is the appetizer before the main course that is the first Thursday of March Madness, where eight teams battle it out in Dayton for the last four spots in the round of 64.

This year, three power conference programs feature in the First Four, along with one promising mid-major and four teams looking to claim a spot in a 1 vs. 16 matchup.

As always, the games are expected to be competitive, with no point spread in the First Four being larger than four points.

Texas A&M-Corpus Christi vs Texas Southern: Texas A&M-CC +3.5

The first matchup of the First Four features Texas A&M Corpus Christi taking on Texas Southern with a 16-seed in the Midwest Region on the line. The winner of this game is set to take on Kansas in the first round of the tournament, which is a less than stellar prize for picking up a win. But the champions of the Southland and SWAC would love nothing more than to take on the top-seeded Jayhawks.

In this game, the defense of Texas Southern is what could steal the show. In the SWAC tournament, the Tigers allowed 55.3 points per game, locking down their opponents en route to the First Four. The question is whether or not Texas A&M-CC can shoot well enough from the outside to stretch that defense, and they should be able to do just that.

Indiana vs Wyoming: Indiana -4

Wyoming was the last team invited to the dance, and they are tasked with taking down a Big Ten team if they want to reach the round of 64. That Big Ten team is Indiana, who is coached by former NBA head coach Mike Woodson. Indiana made plenty of noise in the Big Ten tournament and fell just short against Iowa down the stretch.

In this game, expect the size and athleticism for Indiana to be too much for Wyoming to deal with. Trayce Jackson-Davis should get what he wants and approach 20 points and ten rebounds in this contest, as Indiana should make it to the round of 64 against Saint Mary’s in the East Region. 

Bryant vs Wright State: Bryant +3.5

This 16-seed matchup is to see who gets Arizona in the South Region and is a great contrast in styles, as Bryant plays one of the quickest tempos in college basketball while Wright State prefers to play in the halfcourt. It also features the top scorer in the nation, as Bryant’s Peter Kiss has been virtually unstoppable for much of the college basketball season. That will continue to be the case in this game.

Bryant is one of the most underrated small conference programs in the country right now under Jared Grasso. They play quickly and aggressively but also have a nice anchor in the interior in Hall Elisias. Expect the Bulldogs to move onto the round of 64 by winning outright as an underdog.

Notre Dame vs Rutgers: Notre Dame -1

The final game of the First Four features the second seed in the ACC, as Notre Dame played well in the second half of the season after an abysmal start. They take on a Rutgers team that had its share of ups and downs, including an upset win over the then-number one Purdue Boilermakers. The reward for the winner is a matchup against the Crimson Tide of Alabama in the round of 64 as the 11 seed in the West Region

In this game, it will be the lack of consistency for the Scarlet Knights that will be their undoing. Mike Brey has so much more experience in these situations than Rutgers coach Steve Pikiell, which will pay off in a big way for the Fighting Irish as they make their way into the first round proper as an 11-seed in the West Region.

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