Emmanuel Akot
Boise State guard Emmanuel Akot (14) brings the ball up court during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against San Diego State for the championship of Mountain West Conference men's tournament Saturday, March 12, 2022, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

MARCH MADNESS NCAA TOURNAMENT – BEST BETS MARCH 17

Patrick Werkmeister

A few deep-ish cuts today because it’s a huge schedule so we’re going to want to seek out guys that might not be widely owned. 12 games tonight but then only one tomorrow, which seems like a strange scheduling quirk to me. Is St. Patrick’s Day really that big a deal in the United States that we just don’t want anything interfering with it except a Pistons/Magic game that no one is going to pay any attention to anyway? Who knew that a stupid night based on racist stereotypes where people who are normally kind of loudmouth idiots when they drink now get to be loudmouth idiots while wearing green hats would affect even the travel itineraries of the world’s most popular sports leagues?

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Memphis (-3) vs. Boise State
In this battle of the 8 seed vs the 9 seed, the Boise State Broncos will face off against the Memphis Tigers. The opening line for this contest had Memphis as two point favorites but they are currently favored by three points. While Boise State is a solid 6-3 ATS in their last nine matches, Memphis is a stellar 10-3 ATS over their last 13 games. Led by coach Penny Hardaway, among a young, athletic roster, Memphis is looking to make some noise in this tournament after winning 12 of their last 14 games. Similarly, the Broncos are a formidable opponent out of the Mountain West, where they just won their conference tournament championship by defeating the San Diego State Aztecs. Although Memphis was defeated by the Houston Cougars in their conference championship, they have the talent necessary to make a substantial impact this tournament. While the Tigers are loaded with young talent, Boise is led by a group of experienced players that can shoot the lights out on any given night. With more signature wins over quality opponents, Memphis is the more battle-tested squad so they should find a way to secure a victory. Take the Tigers to handle Boise State.

Marquette vs. North Carolina (-3.5)
For this 8 vs 9 matchup, the North Carolina Tar Heels take on the Marquette Golden Eagles. The opening line for this match had North Carolina as two point favorites and they are currently favored by three and half-points. While North Carolina is a solid 4-1 ATS in their last five games played, Marquette is a shoddy 1-6-1 ATS in their past eight contests. The Golden Eagles come into this one with a 19-12 record as coach Shaka Smart is looking to repeat his Final Four run in 2011 with VCU. North Carolina has had a solid ending to their season, after some mid-season struggles, where they finished with a 24-9 record and are looking to carry this momentum into the tournament. With a strong three-point shooting percentage of 37% as a team, the Tar Heels could be a matchup nightmare for Marquette, where they are just 34% from 3. Last game out, Marquette was defeated by Creighton in the first round of the Big East Tournament, whereas the Tar Heels were defeated by the ACC tournament Champion Virginia Tech Hokies in the second round. Although North Carolina is not a top dog of the ACC, Marquette is far from a perfect team. Take North Carolina minus the points to cover against this average Marquette squad.

Vermont (+5) vs. Arkansas 
In this matchup that pits a 4 seed against the 13 seed, the Arkansas Razorbacks take on the Vermont Catamounts. The opening line for this contest had Arkansas as six and half-point favorites but they are currently favored by just five points. While the Razorbacks are a solid 11-2-1 ATS in their last 14 games played, Vermont is an impressive 6-1 ATS in their past seven contests. Led by star guard JD Notae, Arkansas has followed up their Elite Eight run last year with an impressive 25-8 record in the competitive SEC. Similarly, Vermont has been one of the hottest teams in college basketball where they finished with a record of 28-5. Last game out, the Razorbacks were defeated by Texas A&M by a staggering 18 point margin, whereas Vermont breezed to a 40 point victory in their conference tournament championship. While Vermont has been playing some of the best basketball in the country, Arkansas has picked the wrong time to go cold coming into this NCAA tournament. While Arkansas is the overwhelming favorite, I like Vermont to keep this competitive and catch these points. Take the Catamounts plus the points to at least keep this game close with Arkansas.

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