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March Madness First Four Betting - The Early Picks Are In

Posted by Washington Tucker on 2/10/2014 5:08:21 AM

Western Kentucky Hilltoppers vs. Mississippi Valley State Delta Devils - March 13

March Madness betting experts finally have March Madness games to analyze, even ones between teams that are competing for the right to get a No. 16 seed and face a top-seeded behemoth in the round of 64 at this year’s NCAA Tournament. Western Kentucky is the team enjoying a magic carpet ride. In January, Western Kentucky fired head coach Ken McDonald and replaced him with Ray Harper. The Hilltoppers didn’t top the .500 mark in their conference, but when given a chance to play their way into the NCAA Tournament, they won four games in four days to win the Sun Belt Tournament championship, beating a pair of top-three seeds in the conference.

Mississippi Valley State has been the steadier and more resolutely consistent team over the past two months. The Delta Devils lost only one game in the Southwestern Athletic Conference (the SWAC) all season long. Both of these teams have ample reason to be confident, but Western Kentucky appears to be a little more dangerous. The Hilltoppers aren’t playing like a 15-18 team. They’ve sorted out their issues and enjoy the kind of cohesiveness that can’t easily be replicated at this time of year. Take the Hilltoppers over the Delta Devils.

College Basketball Betting Pick: Western Kentucky

Brigham Young Cougars vs. Iona Gaels - March 13

When you do your homework and assess your sports bet on this game, you should realize that these are both teams who are thrilled to have a chance to compete in this contest. Brigham Young was viewed by many bracketologists to be in deep trouble when it got smoked by Gonzaga in the semifinals of the West Coast Conference Tournament, but after a week in which so many bubble teams failed to win games that would have improved their own chances, BYU’s place in the pecking order continued to rise.

The Cougars were able to sneak into the field of 68, and as a result, they’ll be sky-high for this game. Iona, though, will be just as elated. The Gaels, regular-season champions of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (the MAAC), were stunned by the Fairfield Stags in the tournament semifinals. Iona was also viewed to be a team that was on the outside of the candy store. Yet, when reams of bubble teams stumbled, Iona benefited and backdoored its way into this play-in game. Motivation, therefore, is a wash. Who has the better team? It’s probably Iona. The Gaels’ Scott Machado has too much quickness for Brigham Young’s guards. In what is likely to be an up-tempo game, Iona has the best up-tempo player. Pick the Gaels.

College Basketball Betting Pick: Iona

Lamar Cardinals vs. Vermont Catamounts – March 14

The college basketball betting experts who follow the smaller conferences will tell you that Lamar is unbeaten – a robust 6-0 – ever since coach Pat Knight read the riot act to the senior players on his team in a public and very uncomfortable press conference. Lamar is riding a wave of momentum at this point, while Vermont barely scraped past Stony Brook in what was an ugly, choppy America East Tournament championship game. Lamar is playing better at the moment, and that’s as good a reason as any to tab the Cardinals in this First Four game.

College Basketball Betting Pick: Lamar

California Golden Bears vs. South Florida Bulls – March 14

These are two teams who did absolutely nothing in non-conference play, failing to win the marquee games they scheduled in November and December. Cal and South Florida then won at least 12 conference games against largely mediocre opponents. Cal won 13 games against a weak Pac-12 field that produced only one other NCAA Tournament team. South Florida played an imbalanced schedule that yielded only one particularly notable Big East win, a road triumph over Louisville. These two teams stand on equal footing. Does California have enough offensive depth and balance to withstand South Florida’s withering defensive pressure? The answer here is no. The Pac-12 has been awful all season long. Don’t expect anything to change now. Take South Florida.

College Basketball Betting Pick: South Florida

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