March Madness: Thursday's odds and best bets for East Region Round 1

Mar 20, 2019 |

March Madness make landfall in the East Region, with four games on the board for the Round of 64 Thursday. Jason Logan is taming the “beasts of the East”, breaking down the NCAA Tournament betting odds on that side of the bracket and giving you his best bets for Thursday.

(10) MINNESOTA GOLDEN GOPHERS VS (7) LOUISVILLE CARDINALS

Odds: UL -5, 135 at FanDuel Sportsbooks
Start Time: 12:15 p.m. ET, Wells Fargo Arena, Des Moines, Iowa

The Golden Gophers haven’t been great on offense this year, and they’ve been even worse away from home. Minnesota is shooting just under 41 percent from the field outside of Williams Arena, averaging only 63.6 points in those games – a huge drop from its 77.9 points-per production at home.

Louisville will likely throw some zone at this bigger Gophers team and force them to do damage from the perimeter. The Cardinals are among the best defenses in the country and venue hasn’t been an issue, allowing just 40 percent shooting in foreign gyms. 

Minnesota put up just 49 points in a loss to Michigan in the Big Ten tournament and has failed to crack the 65-point plateau in five of its last eight contests. Going Golden Gophers Under 65 total team points in this tournament opener.

(14) YALE BULLDOGS VS (3) LSU TIGERS

Odds: LSU -7.5, 156.5 at FanDuel Sportsbooks
Start Time: 12:40 p.m. ET, VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena, Jacksonville, Florida

Everyone and their dog is in love with Yale, which has slimmed this spread from Louisiana State -9 to -7.5 heading into Thursday openers. And there’s a lot to love about the Bulldogs (and plenty not to about LSU).

Yale enters the NCAA off an Ivy League title and brings one of the best offenses in the country to the table, putting up more than 81 points per game and shooting a blistering 49.8 percent from the field. They have four guys putting up double figures a game and a fifth scoring more than nine points a contest.

The Tigers are reeling a bit from their sad showing in the SEC tournament and the controversy swirling around suspended head coach Will Wade. Interim coach Tony Benford was in over his head in the conference tournament, and it ended up costing LSU the game. As I said, not a lot to love.

Now, given the line move and the fact that 58 percent of bets are riding on Yale, I’m hesitant to side with the public opinion. Louisiana State is the more talented team and should own every rebound, forcing the Bulldogs to be perfect from the field. So, what I will do is go Yale to cover the +4 in the first half and poke the public in my own special way.

(15) BRADLEY BRAVES VS (2) MICHIGAN STATE SPARTANS 

Odds: MSU -18.5, 133.5 at FanDuel Sportsbooks
Start Time: 2:45 p.m. ET, Wells Fargo Arena, Des Moines, Iowa

Bradley was a +800 long shot to win the Missouri Valley Conference, sitting behind four other contenders priced at +575 or lower. Yeah, the Braves shouldn’t really be here, but they stole their conference crown and are rewarded with a matchup against No. 2 Michigan State.

The Spartans barnstormed the Big Ten tournament and knocked off rival Michigan to claim their conference title, thanks in part to strong second-half efforts. Over their last four outings, the Green and White have outscored foes by an average of 40.25 to 31.25 in the final 20 minutes.

Bradley has long since cooled from its MVC run, having been sitting around since March 10, and will be making its first tournament trip since 2006. The Braves may make things interesting in the early goings, but MSU will eventually overwhelm and cover the spread once again – adding to a 24-10 record against the spread. Spartans -18.5.

(11) BELMONT BRUINS VS (6) MARYLAND TERRAPINS

Odds: MD -3, 147 at FanDuel Sportsbooks
Start Time: 3:10 p.m. ET, VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena, Jacksonville, Florida

Belmont breaks into the Round of 64 off a victory against a talented Temple team in the First Four Tuesday. The Bruins are the darlings of many a bracketologist, earning an at-large bid from the selection committee after losing in the Ohio Valley title game. That should tell you something about this mid-major program.

Belmont can score. The Bruins ranked second in the country in points per game and pick up almost 36 percent of their tallies from beyond the arc – a telltale sign of a Cinderella school. They’re also big, with five rotation players standing 6-foot-7 or taller, so don’t expect the Terps to just push them around. 

The Bruins were able to get an 0-7 NCAA monkey off their backs versus Temple and won’t be wowed by a power program. Belmont went toe-to-toe at Purdue in non-conference play and will get a Big Ten head for their trophy wall Thursday. Belmont +140 moneyline.    

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