Best March Madness Bets for Today, March 18 (Bet Mid Majors in Round 1 of NCAA Tournament)

Davidson Wildcats guard Foster Loyer.
Davidson Wildcats guard Foster Loyer. / Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Well, that wasn't great. Going to wear the bad first day of the Tournament that went down 3.2 units, but hey, it's day one, that's why there's a Friday slate.

The NCAA Tournament is full of wild variance, evident in Kentucky's shocking loss as 18-point favorites to Saint Peter's, so let's see if we get some good bounces our way. Two parlays that can erase a poor Thursday are still in play, so let's get to the plays for the second day of March Madness.

As always, you can find these bets on my betstamp, but the following plays will be from WynnBET Sportsbook.

Column Record: 106-109 (-6.9) Units

Loyola Chicago (-1) vs. Ohio State

One of my favorite plays of the NCAA Tournament. The Ramblers may not have big man Cameron Krutwig anymore, but this team is still humming on both sides of the ball. They are top 10 in the country in effective field goal percentage and play defense at a top 25 rate this season.

The Buckeyes have deadly shooters and a reliable forward in E.J. Liddell but the sum of the parts on the Ramblers team now that Marquise Kennedy is healthy is too much for me not to play.

This team is humming after blasting through the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament and should take advantage of a porous Ohio State defense that is outside the top 100 in KenPom's adjusted defensive efficiency metric. They force turnovers at a bottom 30 clip in the nation and I can't see them getting enough stops to win outright.

I think we are looking at another Sister Jean run.

PICK: Loyola Chicago -1 (2U), Loyola/Arkansas Parlay (+175)

Texas (-1) vs. Virginia Tech

Part of me thinks that Texas is what I have thought this entire season, overrated and a clunky roster that struggles in the frontcourt. Glowing endorsement for a bet, right?

Well this is more of a fade against Virginia Tech, who closed the regular season strong, earning a bid to the Big Dance by winning the ACC Tournament. However, this is a tough matchup for the Hokies, who will have to deal with elite ball pressure they didn't see on their path to the ACC title.

Chris Beard's Longhorns force turnovers at a top 15 clip and have the on-ball chops to stick with the likes of Storm Murphy and Hunter Cattoor on the perimeter.

Maybe Texas is checked out after blowing a double digit lead against TCU in the Big 12 quarterfinals last week, but the Longhorns have the talent to beat what I think is an overrated Virginia Tech team now while we are grabbing UT at their lowest point. I'll trust Beard one last time even though I don't love the roster. This matchup and line is too favorable considering I make the Longhorns north of 3 point favorites.

The Big 12 was full of some of the best defenses in the country, and while Va. Tech is no slouch on that side of the floor, they are not nearly as physical as the Big 12 foes. This may be a relief for a somewhat soft Longhorns frontcourt.

PICK: Texas -1

UAB (+8.5) vs. Houston

From Monday's early bets column:

Houston checks all the boxes of a National Championship contender. Yeah, despite their place on the five line, this Cougars team boasts a top 20 adjusted offensive and defensive efficiency, per KenPom.

However, something doesn't feel right. The team has battled injuries all season, mainly in the backcourt, and can be susceptible from deep. The team allows 3's due to their compact defense and the Blazers are top 10 in the nation in 3-point percentage.

Both teams crash the glass on offense and it's going to be a physical battle down low, but I trust UAB's guard Jordan 'Jelly' Walker to lead the way for UAB. The 5'11" Blazer is off of averaging 31 points per game in the Conference-USA Tournament and is adept at drawing fouls, something that will be big against a Houston team that is physical and sends teams to the line.

I make this line closer to -5 as UAB is capable down low to battle with the Houston frontcourt and has the guard in Jelly, who can be the next March star.

PICK: UAB +8.5, play to +7 (2U), 0.5 Units ML (+330)

NCAA Tournament Best Bets

  • Texas Tech-Montana State Under 132.5
  • Purdue -16
  • Notre Dame +4.5, 0.6 Units ML (+165)
  • Delaware +15.5, 0.33 Units ML (+900)
  • Chattanooga +7.5, 0.5 Units ML (+310)
  • Arizona -21.5
  • LSU/Arkansas ML Parlay (+109)
  • Davidson/UNC ML Parlay (+205)

You can find all of Reed's bets HERE!

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