Last Updated on March 16, 2022 1:37 pm by Gambyl Nation Editorial Team
The NCAA Tournament has arrived and the first round is about to go into full swing.
Tuesday saw Indiana take on Texas Southern, while Wednesday will feature Bryant playing Wright State before Notre Dame faces off with Rutgers to open up what could be an incredible week of basketball to kick off March Madness 2022.
Making things even more interesting is that bookmakers and experts are split over which teams they expect to move on.
All four game spreads are four points or less, which sets the stage for what could be an insane tournament filled with upsets and surprises.
Who NOT To Bet On
This may seem like a strange way to lead off our first March Madness free picks, but it does make sense.
March Madness is infamous for beating bettors down with fast action, young players and unpredictable outcomes.
Defending your bankroll and making smarts bets is key to having an enjoyable and possibly profitable March Madness.
(16) Wright State vs. (16) Bryant
Even though Bryant has won 16 of its last 17 games and crushed Wagner by 27 points in the NEC title game thanks to Peter Kiss and his 34 points, I’d stay away from this game.
Wright State is going to be out for redemption and has likely studied their last match-up with Bryant and worked to figure out how to contain Peter Kiss.
Enjoy the game but this one makes the unpredictability meter go off the charts.
(11) Rutgers vs. (11) Notre Dame
Notre Dame sneaking into the field of 68 was definitely a Selection Sunday surprise. The ACC had a really down year, and Notre Dame’s outside wins over Kentucky and UNC were nothing to write home about. Rutgers were up and down all season, even though the highs were decent, these two unpredicatable teams make a pick a nightmare.
First Round Bets We Like
(16) Georgia State Panthers vs (1) Gonzaga Bulldogs
Gonzaga is the top seed in this year’s tournament. While the Panthers come into this one on a 10 game win streak, they haven’t faced an opponent like Gonzaga.
Holmgren and Timme will be a matchup nightmare for Georgia State.
The last time that Georgia State was a 16 seed in the tournament was 31 years ago in 1991. That year, they lost 117-76 to a powerful Arkansas Razorbacks squad.
We’re not seeing the Panthers fall by 41 this time, we do think that the Bulldogs are going to pummel Georgia State. The game will be tight for a half, but Gonzaga is going pull away in the second half.
You’re not going to make a huge profit here but if you Back Gonzaga or take the Lay bet on the Panthers, you have a solid chance at a small profit. Play the long game.
(13) UT-Chattanooga Mocs vs (14) Illinois Fighting Illini
With a little bit of help from Nebraska, Illinois were the Big 10 co-champs. They didn’t play well towards the end of the season, but they did end up beating Iowa to win the regular-season title.
With a little bit of momentum, they headed into the Big 10 Tournament and immediatley lost their first Big 10 Tournament game to Indiana.
Chattanooga can’t handle the strength and power of Illinois. The Illini have a strong, experienced backcourt, and they’re more athletic than the Mocs.
Illinois wins this one by at least 15 points and will move on to the second round.
(13) Vermont Catamounts vs (4) Arkansas Razorbacks
Even though the Catamounts are a trendy pick with thew kids to upset the Razorbacks, we’re not on that “For You” page. Vermont plays a really slow, deliberate style of offense. They’re very efficient on offense, and they don’t turn the ball over very often.
But they’re going up against a Razorback squad with a ton of speed and athleticism. The Razorbacks also have one of the top defensive teams in the country.
Arkansas wins this one by at least ten and moves on.
Check Out All 68 March Madness Teams in 12 Minutes
Final Thoughts for Smart Bettors
March Madness is one of our favorite events of the year.
The fast pace, young players, crazy upsets and literal “Madness” make it incredibly fun to watch.
It’s also always fun to research that bracket only to have your niece make a better bracket than you based on the her favorite team colors.
Be careful making big bets in the early rounds, literally anything can (and will) happen.
Treat the First and Second Rounds as a place to make some fun bets but defend your bankroll until the Elite 8 and Final 4.
Enjoy the tournament and stay tuned for our regular updates!