Thursday – Session 1

This Thursday afternoon’s college basketball betting action marks the start of the first full round of games in this year’s NCAA Tournament. Minnesota is the No. 10 seed in the East Region and it will face No. 7 Louisville in the opening tip. Also in the East, No. 14 Yale takes on No. 3 LSU.

In the opening game in the Midwest Region, No. 12 New Mexico State faces No. 5 Auburn and in an early matchup in the West Region, No. 13 Vermont squares off against No. 4 Florida State.

East Region (Des Moines, IA.)
No. 10 Minnesota Golden Gophers vs. No. 7 Louisville Cardinals (CBS, 12:15 p.m. ET)

Opening Odds: Louisville -5 ½, 135

Betting Matchup

Minnesota was seventh in the Big Ten this season at 9-11 straight-up in conference play. A decent run in the Big Ten Tournament that included an important 75-73 upset against Purdue as a 10-point underdog proved to be enough to land a spot in the 68-team field. The Golden Gophers were an even 17-17 against the spread this season, but they were able to cover in four of their last six games.

The Cardinals lost some major ground down the stretch of the regular season with six SU losses in their last eight games. After hammering Notre Dame by 22 points in the opening game of the ACC Tournament, that run came to a quick end with an 83-70 loss to North Carolina as seven-point underdogs. Louisville did manage to cover in three of its final four games with the total staying UNDER or ending as a PUSH in seven of its last nine outings.

Betting Trends

-- The Golden Gophers are 4-1 ATS in their last five games following a SU loss and the total has gone OVER in five of their last six NCAA Tournament games.

-- The Cardinals have a 10-3-1 record ATS in their last 14 games against the Big Ten with the total staying UNDER in five of their last seven games against this conference.

-- These two have met twice before with the series tied 1-1 both SU and ATS. The total went OVER in each contest.

East Region (Jacksonville, FL.)
No. 14 Yale Bulldogs vs. No. 3 LSU Tigers (TruTV, 12:40 p.m. ET)

Opening Odds: LSU -7, 159 ½

Betting Matchup

Yale punched its ticket to the Big Dance by beating Harvard 97-85 as a four-point favorite in the recent Ivy League Tournament title game. Alex Copeland scored a season-high 25 points to pace the win. SU losses to Harvard, Columbia and Penn in the Bulldogs’ last five regular season games dropped them to 10-4 in conference play and 22-7 SU overall. They failed to cover in four of five games this season closing as an underdog.

LSU set the pace in the SEC regular season at 16-2 SU, but the Tigers fizzled out early in the conference tournament surrounded by off-court issues dogging the program. They dropped a 76-73 decision against Florida as 3 ½-point favorites on a last-second three-point shot after blowing a 13-point second-half lead. That was the first time LSU failed to cover in its previous six games as part of an overall record of 26-6 SU and 19-12-1 ATS.

Betting Trends

-- The Bulldogs have covered the spread in 11 of their last 14 neutral-site games with the total staying UNDER or ending as a PUSH in four of the last five games played at a neutral site.

-- The Tigers are 8-3 ATS in their last 11 games coming off a SU loss and the total has stayed UNDER in eight of their last nine games in this tournament.

Midwest Region (Salt Lake City, UT.)
No. 12 New Mexico State Aggies vs. No. 5 Auburn Tigers (TNT, 1:30 p.m. ET)

Opening Odds: Auburn -6 ½, 143 ½

Betting Matchup

The Aggies have been the class of the Western Athletic Conference all season long with a SU 15-1 record in conference play. This is part of an overall 30-4 record while going 17-15-1 ATS. Their current SU winning streak stands at 19 games, but their record ATS during this impressive run slips to 9-9-1. New Mexico State is scoring 78.1 points per game with four different players averaging at least 10 points.

Auburn was fourth on the list in the SEC this season at 11-7 SU with a 26-9 record overall. Starting with a road win against Georgia to close out the month of February, the Tigers have won their last eight games SU. This includes a dominant 84-64 victory against Tennessee as five-point underdogs in Sunday’s SEC Tournament Championship. They went 5-1 ATS over their last six games. Auburn is averaging79.4 PPG this year with 80 points or more in four of its last seven games.

Betting Trends

-- The Aggies have failed to cover in five of their last six NCAA Tournament games with the total going OVER in four of their last five games after covering ATS in their previous game.

-- The Tigers are 5-2-1 ATS in their last eight neutral-site games. The total has stayed UNDER or ended as a PUSH in four of their last five NCAA Tournament games.

West Region (Hartford, CT.)
No. 13 Vermont Catamounts vs. No. 4 Florida State Seminoles (TBS, 2:00 p.m. ET)

Opening Odds: Florida State -10, 134

Betting Matchup

As the top team in the America East at 14-2 SU with a 27-6 record overall, Vermont kept things rolling with a trio of lopsided victories in the AEC Tournament. The Catamounts covered as 10.5-point favorites in a 66-49 victory against UMBC in the title game. They bring a SU six-game winning streak into Thursday’s contest while going an even 3-3 ATS. Vermont is 2-1-1 ATS this season closing as an underdog.

Florida State’s run all the way to the ACC Tournament’s title game helped improve its position in the NCAA Tournament. The Seminoles were the only other ACC team than Duke to beat Virginia this season with a 69-59 victory against the Cavaliers in the semifinals as 8 ½-point underdogs. They lost to Duke 73-63 as seven-point underdogs in the title game. The total stayed UNDER 146.5 points against the Blue Devils and it has stayed UNDER in six of their last eight games.

Betting Trends

-- The Catamounts have a 1-4 record ATS in five previous games in this tournament with the total staying UNDER in six of their last eight NCAA Tournament games.

-- The Seminoles are 8-2-2 ATS in their last 12 games played at a neutral site and the total has stayed UNDER in nine of those 12 games.