March Madness 2023: Top 5 Picks ATS Round of 64 (Thursday)

03 / 14 / 2023 By Ally Mielnicki

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Utah State -1.5 over Missouri

The fact that Missouri netted a No. 7 seed in this tournament is perplexing, but they drew a first round matchup against a No. 10 Utah State team that ranks as one of the most efficient scoring teams in the country. It’s the worst kind of opponent for the Tigers who allow an eye-popping 74.6 Opp. PPG. In fact, Utah State holds a better BPI ranking (42nd) than Missouri (59th) and should be able to capitalize on the Tigers lack of rebounding efficiency. While this would be considered an upset for the Aggies, seeding-wise, they are actually favored in this contest – and for the right reason. Utah State wins and covers.

Louisiana-Lafayette +10 over Tennessee

If you read my upset column, this is one of my top upsets of the first round. However, to be safe, I’ll gladly scoop up the points here with the Ragin’ Cajuns. Ever since the Vols lost their top point guard Zakai Ziegler to a season-ending injury, they have not been the same team. In fact, they limp into the tournament losing six of their last ten games. The Cajuns have an ideal opportunity to make this game close. They have the ability to rebound well and can shoot from any distance. Given Tennessee’s offensive struggles, the Cajuns can keep this game close. Take the points.

Arkansas -2.5 over Illinois

Arkansas can be dangerous come tourney time and many peg the Razorbacks as pulling a potential upset to Kansas in the Round of 32. However, first they must get past the Fighting Illini. On paper, these two teams are similar in PPG and Opp. PPG. They are both inconsistent from the three, yet the difference is the Razorbacks tandem of Makhel and Makhi Mitchell. The twins’ presence can disrupt under the basket with their elite rim protection and take advantage of Arkansas’s inconsistencies on offense. Going with the Razorbacks to win and cover.  

Texas -13.5 over Colgate

I hate laying double-digit points, but this one is too good to pass up. The Longhorns are perhaps the hottest team entering this tournament and their scoring acumen will prove to be too much for Colgate. We’ve seen No. 15 seeds put up fights against No. 2 seeds in recent years, but Texas should keep the ball rolling here and win comfortably.

PSU +2.5 over Texas A&M

I wish these two teams didn’t play each other in the first round because they were two of my favorite sleeper teams heading into Selection Sunday. However, I am leaning with the Nittany Lions here for one major reason: Jalen Pickett. The star guard has the ability to take over a game and can be a menace from behind the arc. PSU turned up the heat at the end of the season, advancing to the Finals of the Big Ten Championship only to lose to Purdue by a mere basket. I love the Nittany Lions here.

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