March Madness Bracket 2017: Latest Picks and Odds Advice Before 1st-Round Day 1

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorMarch 14, 2017

WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 10: Caleb Swanigan #50 of the Purdue Boilermakers dribbles the ball against the Michigan Wolverines during the Big Ten Basketball Tournament at Verizon Center on March 10, 2017 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images

If you're feeling lucky and just so happen to be in Las Vegas for the NCAA tournament, take a close look at the spreads and see if any of them make you scratch your head and wonder how the sportsbooks arrived at those figures.

Of course, the sportsbooks are right much more often than not, but there are a few deficits to take advantage of during March Madness this season.

Here's a look at three spreads to consider betting.

March Madness Bracket

Day 1 Schedule and Odds

Games (First Round)RegionalOddsTime (ET)Network
No. 5 Notre Dame vs. No. 12 PrincetonEastNotre Dame (-7)12:15 p.m.CBS
No. 4 Virginia vs. No. 13 UNC-WilmingtonEastVirginia (-7.5)12:40 p.m.truTV
No. 4 Butler vs. No. 13 WinthropMidwestButler (-11)1:30 p.m.TNT
No. 1 Gonzaga vs. No. 16 South Dakota St.WestGonzaga (-23)2 p.m.TBS
No. 4 West Virginia vs. No. 13 BucknellEastWest Virginia (-13.5)2:45 p.m.CBS
No. 4 Florida vs. No. 13 East Tennessee St.EastFlorida (-9.5)3:10 p.m.truTV
No. 5 Minnesota vs. No. 12 Middle Tennessee St.MidwestEVEN4 p.m.TNT
No. 8 Northwestern vs. No. 9 VanderbiltWestVanderbilt (-1)4:30 p.m.TBS
No. 6 Maryland vs. No. 11 XavierWestMaryland (-2)6:50 p.m.TNT
No. 1 Villanova vs. No. 16 Mount St Mary's/New OrleansEastN/A7:10 p.m.CBS
No. 7 Saint Mary's vs. No. 10 VCUWestSt. Mary's (-4.5)7:20 p.m.TBS
No. 4 Purdue vs. No. 13 VermontMidwestPurdue (-8.5)7:27 p.m.truTV
No. 3 Florida State vs. No. 14 Florida Gulf CoastWestFlorida State (-12)9:20 p.m.TNT
No. 8 Wisconsin vs. No. 9 Virginia TechEastWisconsin (-5.5)9:40 p.m.CBS
No. 2 Arizona vs. No. 15 North DakotaWestArizona (-16.5)9:50 p.m.TBS
No. 5 Iowa State vs. No. 12 NevadaMidwestIowa State (-6)9:57 p.mtruTV

Odds via OddsShark.

Bucknell (+13.5) over West Virginia

With all due respect to West Virginia, whose turnover margin of 8.2 is by far the best in Division I, Bucknell is not going to go up to Buffalo and get creamed as the line implies.

The Bison won 26 games this year en route to a Patriot League Championship. They challenged themselves out of conference, playing NCAA tournament participants Wake Forest, Butler, Vanderbilt and Princeton. The Bison even beat Vanderbilt, 75-72, and nearly took down Princeton, only losing 72-70.

Bucknell has four players who score at least 10.9 points per game, led by junior forward Zach Thomas with 16 a night. Thomas, sophomore guard Kimbal Mackenzie and junior guard Stephen Brown are also lights-out from deep, shooting a combined 40.3 percent from three-point range. Junior center Nana Foulland is the big man in the middle, posting 14.9 points and 7.8 rebounds per game.

West Virginia should still win this game outright, as its press defense will prove to be too strong, but Bucknell will make enough outside shots to keep things interesting.

Florida Gulf Coast (+12) over Florida State

This is going to be a tempo battle, as FGCU ranks 299th in Division I and FSU is 52nd, per the Ken Pomeroy College Basketball Ratings.

If they are hitting shots, the Eagles can slow this game down to a crawl and keep it close. That's what FGCU has been doing all year, in fact, as the Eagles only lost two games by more than that 12-point spread. They also gave Michigan State (78-77 loss) and Baylor (81-72) runs for their money in their own arenas.

On the flip side, Florida State is just 7-6 in its last 13 games after starting 18-2. The Seminoles have also lost to Georgia Tech, Syracuse and Pittsburgh down the stretch, three teams that did not make the NCAA tournament.

Expect FGCU to keep this close for 39-plus minutes before Florida State pulls away with some late free throws.

Purdue (-8.5) over Vermont

Folks might forget how good the Purdue Boilermakers are simply because they bowed out early to Michigan in the Big Ten tournament quarterfinals.

The Boilermakers' size has been a problem for teams all year, as they went 25-7 overall and won the Big Ten regular-season title.

Purdue's front line includes 6'8", 225-pound forward Vince Edwards, 6'9", 250-pound forward Caleb Swanigan and 7'2" junior center Isaac Haas.

Meanwhile, Vermont doesn't have a player on its roster taller than 6'8". Granted, the Catamounts are no pushover, as they finished undefeated in American East Conference play, but they haven't faced a team as big as Purdue this season.

Purdue should beat the spread and win by double digits.


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