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Selection Sunday Outcomes and Top Draws

Publish Date: 03/14/2023
Fact checked by: Allan Howe

Now that Selection Sunday is over and we know the field of the 2023 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, we can start digging to the most interesting March Madness matchups.

After the First Four is completed on Wednesday, March 15, we’ll have the 64 teams that make up the full bracket for March Madness. For many sports fans, this tournament is the most anticipated event of the year. For three consecutive weeks, the best college basketball teams in the country will compete in a single-elimination tournament. At any time, a bad bounce here, or a rim-out shot there, can spell the end of the season for these teams.

With 16 first round games scheduled for both Thursday and Friday, we are in position to identify the most intriguing early round matchups of March Madness 2023.

Use this article to help guide your betting on March Madness.

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East Region: Copy

No. 2 Marquette vs No. 15 Vermont

Do you have any idea what a Catamount is?* It doesn’t matter that much, because you probably can’t tell us where the University of Vermont is located.**

Still, the Catamounts will look to extend their 15-game winning streak on Friday against No. 2 seed Marquette in Columbus, Ohio. Why do we like this matchup? History, that’s why.

Last year in March Madness, as the No. 13 seed, Vermont pushed No. 4 Arkansas to the brink in the opening round, before losing by four points. The Catamounts looked aggressive, fast, and poised in that game, where they staged a furious second-half comeback.

Vermont has four starters returning from the 2022 team that nearly produced the third NCAA tournament win in school history. The only first round win by Vermont came back in 2005 when the Catamounts defeated Syracuse. That year, Vermont was a No. 13 seed.

The Catamounts are built for the upset. A tried and true recipe for upset success in the NCAA Tournament is strong guard play. UVM is led by a quartet of guards, including high scorer Dylan Penn. Vermont likes to push the ball and force the opponent into bad matchups against quicker players. The Cats often utilize a three-guard or even four-guard set. That means Marquette, as good as they are, will have to play a basketball game they don’t typically exist in.

The odds have Vermont as a 10.5 underdog (+440 moneyline from DraftKings). But if you think a No. 15 or No. 16 seed will pull off an upset, this is the team to choose, in our opinion.

*It’s a medium-sized cat, sort of like a mini-cougar.**Burlington

South Region: Copy

No. 5 San Diego State vs No. 12 College of Charleston

Neither of these teams have lost many games this season. Charleston went 31-3 and won the Colonial American Athletic conference. Meanwhile, SD State brings a premier defensive team across the country to play this game in Orlando. The Aztecs went 27-6, and are making a second straight appearance in March Madness. It’s their third appearance in the last four tournaments.

The Cougars of Charleston are a very good No. 12 seed, and they have both an efficient offense and defense. This game could be the best-matched of the first round. Ignore the seeding: the Cougars are capable of winning, and we think they will. If so, it would be just the second NCAA tourney win for the school.

This game will be played Thursday afternoon. DraftKings lists Charleston at +180, and San Diego State as -5.5 on the point spread.

Midwest Region: Copy

No. 8 Iowa vs No. 9 Auburn

The Big 10 has eight schools in March Madness. The SEC has eight teams. This contest will serve as a great measure of the strength of these two powerhouse conferences, as Iowa and Auburn meet Thursday in Birmingham, Alabama.

Sure, this game between a No. 8 and No. 9 will basically be a home game for the Auburn Tigers, whose campus is only about 100 miles east of this first round tilt.

But Iowa will not shrink from the challenge. The Hawkeyes have a lot to prove after limping to a 7-7 record since Jan. 21. In their conference tournament, Iowa bowed out quickly, and they’ve lost four of their last six. Still, the roster has plenty of experience for a school making its fourth straight trip to March Madness.

The Tigers likely punched their ticket to the tournament last week when they defeated No. 12 Tennessee. But like Iowa, Auburn has played uneven basketball since Jan. 21: 4-9 since, with seven straight losses as the road team.

But Auburn brings a lot of punch to the NCAA Tournament. The guard/forward tandem of Willie Greene Jr. (14 PPG, 4 APG) and Johni Broome (14 PPG, 8 RPG) lead the Tigers roster. With many (many) Auburn fans rocking the orange in the gym in Birmingham, this game will have a late-round feel. The Tigers faced 13 ranked opponents this season, and may have paid a price for it to their overall record. But it may have prepared them for the rigors of March Madness.

DraftKings sportsbook has Iowa at +100 as an underdog despite being the lower seed. You can get -120 on the Tigers. That means you must wager $120 to win $100 on Auburn in this late Thursday matchup.

West Region: Copy

No. 4 Connecticut vs No. 13 Iona

Don’t you get the feeling we haven’t heard the last from Rick Pitino? The oft-troubled coach has his Iona Gaels back in the NCAA Tournament, after regular season and conference tournament championships for the second consecutive season.

Pitino is the only coach to take three teams to the Final Four. He’s guided five schools to the tournament, and this is the second time he’s brought Iona to The Dance. In the last two seasons, the Gaels, who run an up-tempo, court-pressing game, have gone 52-15. Pitino is no stranger to pressure, and his name has been attached to job openings at bigger market, power conference schools.

UConn used to win in the NCAA Tournament. They were national champions in 1999, 2004, 2011, and 2014. But the Huskies have been knocked out of March Madness in the first round in each of the last two years. Each time they were the higher seed. So, what are we to make of the Huskies, whom DraftKings has as a 9.5 point favorite in this matchup?

Don’t be shocked if this No. 4 goes home at the hands of Pitino, who has a career 53-18 record in March Madness.

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