With 68 teams making the 2016 NCAA Tournament, including numerous mid-majors, the first round of the Big Dance features plenty of interesting betting lines. The top seeds in March Madness are often favored by 20 points or more, while other matchups have point spreads of just one or two points.
Not only is Kansas the No.1 overall seed in the tournament, but they are the biggest favorite in the first round. They are giving 26 points to Austin Peay on Thursday night. The Governors received an automatic bid to the Big Dance after posting an 18-17 record.
Syracuse was a controversial choice among the final at-large bids, though no underdog is getting fewer points than the Orange. In a game that was a pick’em at one point, Jim Boeheim’s team is a one-point underdog against the Flyers, whom they lost to during March Madness two years ago. No.10 Pittsburgh is getting just one point in their matchup with No.7 Wisconsin, as well.
A few teams are favored over opponents that were given better seeds by the selection committee. No.6 Seton Hall won the Big East Tournament, but they are 1.5-point underdogs against No.11 Gonzaga. Every No.9 seed is favored against a No.8 seed with Butler being the biggest favorite. No.10 VCU is giving No.7 Oregon State 4.5 points.
Before the first-round officially gets underway on Thursday, four “First Four” games will shrink the field down to 64 teams. Tuesday and Wednesday will both feature games between No.11 and No.16 seeds that barely made the tournament.
Below are the available betting lines for all the opening-round and first-round games, including the point spreads and over/unders. These are the consensus odds from multiple sportsbooks in Las Vegas, via vegasinsider.com.
Tuesday, March 15
Fairleigh Dickinson (+6) vs. Florida Gulf Coast, 151.5
Vanderbilt (+3.5) vs. Wichita State, 135
Wednesday, March 16
Southern University (-2.5) vs. Holy Cross, 129
Tulsa (+4) vs. Michigan, 143
Thursday, March 17
Buffalo (+14) vs. Miami, 148.5
Yale (+5.5) vs. Baylor, 135
UNC Wilmington (+10.5) vs. Duke, 156.5
Providence (-1.5) vs. USC, 149.5
Hampton (+24) vs. Virginia, 132.5
Butler (-4) vs. Texas Tech, 148.5
Austin Peay (+26) vs. Kansas, 152
UCONN (-3) vs. Colorado, 136
UT Chattanooga (+12) vs. Indiana, 144.5
Stony Brook (+14.5) vs. Kentucky, 143.5
Arkansas-Little Rock (+9) vs. Purdue, 130.5
Iona (+8) vs. Iowa State, 167
Fresno State (+9) vs. Utah, 142.5
Gonzaga (-1.5) vs. Seton Hall, 143.5
Fairleigh Dickinson/Florida Gulf Coast (N/A) vs. North Carolina
Vanderbilt/Wichita State (N/A) vs. Arizona
Friday, March 18
UNC Ashville (+17.5) vs. Villanova, 141.5
Temple (+7.5) vs. Iowa, 139.5
Stephen F. Austin (+7.5) vs. West Virginia, 146
CS Bakersfield (+14) vs. Oklahoma, 139
VCU (-4.5) vs. Oregon State, 141
UW Green Bay (+13) vs. Texas A&M, 155
Northern Iowa (+4.5) vs. Texas, 124.5
Weber State (+13.5) vs. Xavier, 147.5
Pittsburgh (+1) vs. Wisconsin, 130.5
Middle Tennessee State (+18) vs. Michigan State, 141.5
Syracuse (+1) vs. Dayton, 131
South Dakota State (+9) vs. Maryland, 145
Hawaii (+7.5) vs. California, 142
Cincinnati (-1.5) vs. St. Joseph’s, 137
Southern University/Holy Cross (N/A) vs. Oregon
Tulsa/Michigan (N/A) vs. Notre Dame