March Madness expert picks: Picks against the spread for First Four games

Feb 28, 2022; Laramie, Wyoming, USA; Wyoming Cowboys guard Hunter Maldonado (24) controls the ball against the San Diego State Aztecs during the first half at Arena-Auditorium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Babbitt-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 28, 2022; Laramie, Wyoming, USA; Wyoming Cowboys guard Hunter Maldonado (24) controls the ball against the San Diego State Aztecs during the first half at Arena-Auditorium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Babbitt-USA TODAY Sports /

The First Four will get the 2022 NCAA Tournament started on Tuesday and Wednesday and we have our March Madness expert picks against the spread.

While most college hoops fans are more excited for the First Round games of March Madness beginning early Thursday afternoon, the 2022 NCAA Tournament will officially get underway on Tuesday and Wednesday with the First Four games.

Yes, these are the last four at-large teams to make the field of 68 and then the four lowest-seeded teams in the tournament. But particularly in the case of the 11 and 12-seeds that we’re looking at, these are teams that have traditionally gotten the first win and made runs. More importantly, though, this is a proverbial warm-up for the betting public to get ready for the First Round and so on.

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So how should you bet on the First Four games over Tuesday and Wednesday? We have our March Madness expert picks locked and loaded with the pick against the spread and the best bet from each game.

All odds are courtesy of WynnBet. For more betting content and analysis, head over to BetSided.

First Four: March Madness expert picks against the spread

Texas A&M Corpus Cristi vs. Texas Southern (-3.5) – O/U 136.0 – Tuesday, March 15, 6:40 p.m. ET

As a pair of 16-seeds, your assumptions are probably correct that these aren’t particularly great teams. Both offenses from an efficiency standpoint have been substandard this year, though the defenses aren’t particularly great either.

One thing that does stand out is that Texas A&M Corpus Cristi has the more identifiable playmakers in this matchup with the problem that Isaac Mushila, the team’s leading scorer and rebounder this season, can provide. That certainly makes me lean their way since we’re getting over a possession for them to cover as underdogs. However, the pace that these squads play with is what has me strongly feeling the over in this game as the best bet.

Pick: Texas A&M Corpus Cristi +3.5 | Best Bet: Over 136.0

Indiana (-4.0) vs. Wyoming – O/U 132.0 – Tuesday, March 15, 9:10 p.m. ET

On name brand alone, there’s a reason that Indiana is favored in this game — but I think that might be the entire reason they’re favored. The Cowboys are a balanced team with a do-it-all playmaker in Hunter Maldanado and an actual matchup for Trayce Jackson-Davis with Graham Ike. Oh yeah, they also have a bevy of shooters.

Reed Wallach at BetSided has Wyoming covering as an underdog. Here’s his reasoning for that.

"The Cowboys protect the ball well, 62nd in the country in turnover rate and have a reliable big man in Graham Ike that can match up with Trayce Jackson-Davis. This is the matchup that will likely dictate the game. Both are great at finishing and command a ton of attention down low, but I trust Wyoming’s complimentary threats to make the Hoosiers pay.This is a tight matchup, and I’ll note that it’s not the prettiest travel situation for Wyoming, who is traveling across time zones for a Tuesday night game, but I believe in a team who has made a habit of grinding out close games all season."

I’m with him wholeheartedly. That’s the side I’m taking — but I’m also willing to go all-in on Wyoming and take them on the moneyline for plus-value on Tuesday night as my best bet.

Pick: Wyoming +4 Best Bet: Wyoming Moneyline (+155)

Bryant vs. Wright State (-3.5) – O/U 154.5 – Wednesday, March 16, 6:40 p.m. ET

In most First Four matchups, I wouldn’t necessarily base a pick on one player, but Peter Kiss for Bryant in this matchup is the exception to that rule. The leading scorer in Division I college basketball this season at over 25 points per game, Kiss is a March Madness villain waiting to be born — but he can also fill it up.

While Wright State has their own lethal combination with Grant Basile and Tanner Holden (averaging a combined 37+ points per game), the defense is worrisome, especially against a player like Kiss. Understanding that Raiders might be the better team on the surface, I’m taking the points with Kiss and the Bulldogs and not looking back.

Pick: Bryant +3.5 | Best Bet: Bryant +3.5

Notre Dame (-1.0) vs. Rutgers – O/U 133.0 – Wednesday, March 16, 9:10 p.m. ET

Point blank, Notre Dame didn’t deserve to be in the NCAA Tournament. Their résumé, particularly in the first two quadrants, was lackluster at best. Rutgers is highly imperfect in their own right but they made the March Madness field on the strength of their ability to beat good teams, which they did late in the regular season to get this ticket punched.

If you like slugfests, though, this is the game for you. These teams both like to limit possessions and grind things out. For me, the lean against the spread is definitely to take Rutgers as the slight underdog and not think twice about it. With that being said, the best bet for this game is definitely the under as that’s just too many points for the way these teams play.

Pick: Rutgers +1 | Best Bet: Under 133.0

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