2021 March Madness Round 1 Picks & Predictions

March Madness Round 1 starts on Saturday and we have predictions for three of the best games.

It’s a hectic few weeks for college basketball punters, but we have sorted through the plethora of Round 1 games on Saturday to find the best value.

We preview Utah State vs Texas Tech, Georgia Tech vs Loyola Chicago and Syracuse vs San Diego State.

March Madness Round 1 Picks

Utah State Aggies vs Texas Tech Red Raiders @ Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall

Texas Tech has been a tough team to beat this season and it could progress through to the latter stages of the NCAA Tournament.

The Red Raiders finished the regular season with a 17-10 record, but it doesn’t accurately reflect how well they played. They scored wins over Oklahoma, Texas and TCU throughout the year.

Texas Tech lost its last two games of the season against Baylor and Texas, but they lost by only a point to the Longhorns in the Big 12 Championship quarterfinal.

Coming up against them on Saturday are the Utah State Aggies, which went 20-8 in the Mountain West Conference. It’s not as strong as the Big 12, but there is some market confidence with Utah State.

They are $2.50 with bookmakers, which is much shorter than where we had them priced. They lost to San Diego State last time on court and they didn’t play a ranked team all season.

Texas Tech has been battled hardened against the best teams in the country and that could make the difference in the first round.

Bet: Texas Tech –4.5 @ $1.93

Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets vs Loyola Chicago Ramblers @ Hinkle Fieldhouse

The Ramblers were highly regarded throughout the season and they come off a solid 75-65 win over Drake in the MVC Championship.

Loyola Chicago is a lesser-known team that is making waves this season, but it could come to a crashing end against Georgia Tech on Saturday.

The Yellow Jackets are an underrated team that finished third in the ACC during the regular season but scored an upset win over Florida State to win the ACC Tournament.

That’s a better form guide than what the Ramblers have, so we’re surprised to see the market odds in favour of Loyola Chicago. Punters can get $2.74 for Georgia Tech, despite owning wins over many top-level teams.

They have beaten the likes of Virginia Tech, Duke, Clemson, Kentucky and Florida State on two occasions. It’s an impressive tournament resumé and we thought they would be the $1.44 favourites, not Loyola Chicago.

We’re not dismissing the chances of the Ramblers, as it should be a close game. However, we can’t look away from the value for Georgia Tech, which has the likes of Moses Wright and Jose Alvarado.

Loyola Chicago relies heavily on Cameron Krutwig, who leads the team in points, rebounds and assists per game. However, contain Krutwig and you’ll have success.

Bet: Georgia Tech +4.5 @ $1.96

Syracuse Orange vs San Diego State Aztecs @ Hinkle Fieldhouse

Syracuse comes into this game as underdogs following a loss to Virginia, but it was a three-point loss to a nationally-ranked team.

The Orange have played well throughout the season and despite a 16-9 record in a tough conference, they’re not getting much respect from bookmakers.

Syracuse has beaten some quality teams over the last few weeks, including Clemson and North Carolina. Those victories hold them in a good stead against a team like the San Diego Aztecs.

San Diego finished 23-4, but that’s not overly hard to do in the Mountain West. They lost to BYU, Colorado State and Utah State throughout the regular season before winning their last 14 games.

It was an impressive stretch of wins, but the level of opposition wasn’t as strong as what Syracuse has been facing.

We believe in the Jim Boeheim-coached team and punters are getting value odds. Syracuse is paying $2.25 to win the game outright and +2.5 in spread markets.

We suggest taking the head-to-head line as it represents excellent value.

Bet: Syracuse to win @ $2.25

Daryl Curnow
About the Author: Daryl Curnow

After graduating from the University of Auckland (BA – English), Daryl was thrown into the world of sports and horse racing journalism.
Having worked as a racing journalist for two years, he decided to move into the online world of horse racing and sports writing. Coupled with his love of US sport, Daryl’s picks have been featured on various websites around the world and viewed by millions of readers. After years of honing his craft, Daryl became a professional punter in 2009 – with a focus on horse racing, NBA, NFL, and college sports. When he’s not working, Daryl tries to avoid making bogeys on the golf course.