March Madness Round of 64 Betting Preview

March Madness begins in earnest Thursday with the first bracket busting action in the Round of 64. You’ll have to wait until Friday to see the tournament favorite though, as the Duke Blue Devils are the pre-tournament chalk at the Bovada sportsbook at +600.

Duke, the No. 2 seed in the East region, enters the NCAA Tournament after running the table in the ACC Tournament. Not only did the Blue Devils win all four games in the conference tournament, they were also a perfect 4-0 ATS. Their first tournament opponent are the Troy Trojans, who they face as a 19-point favorite at Bovada. In their last seven games as a 19-point favorite or less Duke is only 2-5 ATS, and they’re 1-4 ATS in their last five opening-round games in the NCAA Tournament.

The matchup that bettors and bracket pickers always examine the closest is the 12 vs. 5 games. You can’t blame them either, since at least one 12 has upset a 5 in 15 of the last 16 tournaments.

This year’s 12 and 5 matchups include the Notre Dame Fighting Irish (5), vs. the Princeton Tigers (12), the Minnesota Golden Gophers (5) vs. the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders (12), the Iowa State Cyclones (5) vs. the Nevada Wolf Pack (12), and the Virginia Cavaliers (5) vs. the UNC Wilmington Seahawks (12).

One 12 vs. 5 matchup that stands out this year is the Golden Gophers vs. the Blue Raiders. At Bovada they’re expecting a close game after listing it as a pick’em. Middle Tennessee delivered a shocking upset in the opening round last year as a 15 seed, when they defeated the Michigan State Spartans 90-81 as a 16.5-point underdog. Minnesota’s March Madness history leaves a lot to be desired, as they are 1-6 SU and ATS in their last seven.

If you’re looking for favored lower seeds in the Round of 64 there’s only two right now at Bovada. In the No. 8 Northwestern Wildcats vs. the No. 9 Vanderbilt Commodores the No. 9 seed is a 1-point favorite. And in the No. 7 Dayton Flyers vs. the No. 10 Wichita State Shockers the No. 10 seed is a 6-point favorite.

Being favored in their matchup may not be the best news for Wichita State, as they are 2-3 SU and 1-4 ATS in their last five March Madness games when favored. Dayton enters the tournament having lost their last two games, but in March Madness they’re 5-2 ATS in their last seven as the underdog.