Top 3 NCAAB Tournament First-Round Games to Bet on Today: Auburn’s Experience to Defeat Iowa’s Inconsistent Nature

Allen Flanigan Auburn Tigers Alabama Crimson Tide
Allen Flanigan #22 of the Auburn Tigers celebrates a second-half three-pointer against the Alabama Crimson Tide on March 1, 2023. Brandon Sumrall/Getty Images/AFP.

Ladies and gentlemen, it is finally here. The greatest sporting event on the calendar has arrived as the NCAA Tournament begins.

The first weekend includes 48 games over 4 days. We will get from a field of 64 to a field of 16. Every game matters and craziness is bound to happen.

The beauty of the NCAA Tournament is that you don’t have to be the better team to win. You simply have to play better for 40 minutes. Some teams have nothing to lose, and at least one team is bound to become a legend over this week.

Your brackets are likely filled in, but what about your betting slip? If you thought picking winners was hard, wait until we go against the spread. Let’s wade through these murky waters and pick three NCAAB picks for Thursday that are worth making.

Picks Summary:

  • Auburn vs. Iowa – Auburn -1.5 (-110)
  • Penn State vs. Texas A&M – Penn State -2.5 (-120)
  • Louisiana-Lafayette vs. Tennessee – Louisiana-Lafayette ML (+490)

Auburn Tigers vs. Iowa Hawkeyes

Thursday, March 16, 2023 – 06:50 PM EDT at Legacy Arena

Auburn has to be one of the luckiest teams in the NCAA Tournament. Since they are a 9-seed, they did not have a say in where they were going to play. However, they still ended up in a group of games played in Birmingham. That is essentially a home game for the Tigers, while Iowa is traveling across the country.

Auburn is well-coached, and they have NCAA Tournament experience. They are coming off a first-game exit from the NCAA Tournament, but they beat Tennessee the game before that.

Kris Murray is a key piece of Iowa’s offense, and he can score well in the paint. However, he is significantly worse in road games this year. His free-throw percentage drops, he has fewer assists and he scores 4.5 fewer points per game.

This is a great team, but so is Auburn. Give me the experience of the Tigers over the inconsistent nature of Iowa. If you can find a sportsbook that has this as a pick ‘em or an Iowa victory, use them. If not, this is still worth betting on Auburn to cover the spread.

NCAAB Pick: Auburn -1.5 (-110) at Bet365

Penn State Nittany Lions vs. Texas A&M Aggies

Thursday, March 16, 2023 – 09:55 PM EDT at Wells Fargo Arena

Let’s be honest. Texas A&M is too good to be seen as a seven-seed. This is one of the hardest seedings to understand of this year’s bracket. Because of this, they are the least likely to lose their opening matchup out of all seven seeds.

The Aggies caught fire before playing Alabama in the SEC Tournament, thanks to a stellar guard duo. They can distribute well and rely on solid defense to make a difference.

The Nittany Lions got hot during the Big Ten Tournament, but they struggled during the regular season. Having a 6’4” guard leads you in rebounds is not a recipe for success, and the Aggies should be able to limit the offensive output of Jalen Pickett.

If Pickett doesn’t catch fire, the Aggies will run away with this one. They have more options on offense, and they have guards who can defend the dribble well. Give me Texas A&M to cover the spread.

NCAAB Pick: Penn State -2.5 (-120) at FanDuel

Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns vs. Tennessee Volunteers

Thursday, March 16, 2023 – 09:40 PM EDT at Amway Center

If you want a Cinderella pick on Thursday that is a 13 seed or better, this is the one for you. The Ragin’ Cajuns are coming off of a great conference tournament run, and they had a solid regular season. They rarely played elite competition, but they were second in the conference standings.

Meanwhile, Tennessee has been lackluster in multiple games. They are 5-7 in their last 12 games and lost on two buzzer-beaters. This team struggles to hold onto leads, and they struggle to play well in clutch moments.

Jordan Brown for Louisiana is a monster in the paint, and he will need to crash the glass to give his team a shot. Against this squad, rebounds and turnovers will mean the world.

If you want to play it safe, pick Louisiana to cover the spread. If you want to do something crazy, sprinkle a little on them to win this game outright. There’s always a shocker, and I see this being the one for 2023.

NCAAB Pick: Louisiana-Lafayette ML (+490) at SBK