College Hoops

2023 March Madness: Best bets, upsets for first, second-round of NCAA Tournament

Sam Panayotovich

Are you ready to bet on the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament?

Now that the first round is well underway, it’s time to start looking at best bets for the second round of games.ย 

Let’s tip our hats, though, to an eventful and profitable Day 1. From Princeton upsetting Arizona and Furman sending Virginia packing to College of Charleston finishing with the baddest beat of the day, March is already Mad.

Let’s dive into more of the Madness with some Round 2 picks.

Second Round

Furman (+6) vs. San Diego State

I bet Furman +5.5 against Virginia, and am going right back to the well against San Diego State.ย 

How about the Paladins bouncing UVA with leading scorer Mike Bothwell fouled out early in the second half? It didnโ€™t even matter. Meanwhile, the Aztecs’ offense is so enigmatic, and it tends to go stagnant for big stretches of games. Assuming Bothwell has more of an impact Saturday, Furman will be live yet again.ย 

PICK: Furman (+6 at FOX Bet) to lose by fewer than 6 points (or win outright)

Alabama (-8) vs. Maryland

This one could get ugly. Alabamaโ€™s defense is so locked in right now, and I donโ€™t feel great about Maryland being able to hang around for 40 minutes. If the Terps arenโ€™t connecting on long shots, itโ€™ll be run outs the other way all day. The betting line tells a story, too. Even with Tide freshman phenom Brandon Miller battling a groin injury, Vegas oddsmakers opened the game -8, and itโ€™s already -8.5 at multiple shops. Money talks.ย 

PICK: Alabama (-8 at FOX Bet) to win by more than 8 points


Firing first-round wagers is one of my favorite pastimes, and weโ€™ve gone on a pretty solid run over the past two tournaments at FOX Sports. I absolutely love the challenge of balancing perception and reality during the first two days of college basketballโ€™s biggest event.

And hereโ€™s hoping my Texas future bet from November comes home and the Longhorns cut down the final nets at NRG Stadium in Houston.

Here are my best bets for the opening round of the NCAA Tournament, with odds via FOX Bet.

Furman (+5.5) vs. Virginia

Furman has the methodical offense to combat Virginia’s slow style. The Paladins are the nation’s No. 1 team in two-point offense because they constantly have four shooters on the floor and rarely turn the ball over. Making the extra pass is crucial for Furman, and as long as it keeps rotating the rock, it’ll have every chance to hang around.

PICK: Furman (+5.5 at FOX Bet) to lose by…

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