2024 March Madness predictions roundtable: Betting the first round of the women's tournament

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The excitement is palpable as we get ready for the first round of the women’s NCAA tournament, but which games should you bet on? And which should you avoid?

Our experts Charlie Creme, Tyler Fulghum and Mackenzie Kraemer explain which games they are keying in on for Friday and Saturday.

What’s your favorite pick against the spread?

LSU (-28.5) vs Rice. The Tigers tend to bury lesser opponents and the Owls certainly qualify. They finished in the middle of the pack of mediocre-at-best AAC. — Creme

Tennessee -7.5 vs. Green Bay. The Lady Vols are just 4-4 in their past 8 games played, but those losses have come against South Carolina (three times) and LSU. This number would likely be higher if their end-of-season schedule wasn’t so difficult. — Fulghum

North Carolina (+4.5) vs Michigan State. ESPN Analytics has this spread much closer. The Tar Heels are the more balanced and more experienced team and should keep this game tight or get the upset win. — Kraemer

What’s your ‘favorite favorite’ that’s under -200 moneyline?

Maryland (-105) vs. Iowa State. Maryland is 7-0 ATS in the past two NCAA tournaments. They’ve played an extremely difficult schedule this year, and I trust coach Brenda Frese in March. — Kraemer

Kansas (-125) vs. Michigan. Kansas put together a steady second half of the season, while backing the Wolverines was a roller coaster all year. Michigan’s offense simply can’t be trusted. — Creme

Alabama (-165) vs. Florida State. Alabama’s much tougher conference schedule should have them better prepared for this tight 8 vs. 9 matchup. Florida State is dangerous because of Ta’Niya Latson but the Crimson Tide’s superior defense should help them win a close one. — Fulghum

What’s your favorite upset pick?

Drake (+300) over Colorado. Drake was a 29-5 team this year that lost just one time in conference play. Grace Berg and Katie Dinnebier are averaging better than 17 points per game. — Fulghum

UNLV (+105) over Creighton. Two years ago, the Lady Rebels covered in the first round against Arizona. This year they are underseeded and are ready to break through for the program’s first NCAA tournament win since 1991. — Creme

Florida Gulf Coast (+230) over Oklahoma. ESPN Analytics thinks this spread should be much closer. FGCU is battle-tested and pulled off 12-5 upsets in each of the past two NCAA tournaments, and the Eagles are poised to do it again. — Kraemer

What’s your favorite pick against the point total?

Green Bay-Tennessee UNDER 136.5. With a pace ranked 324th in the country, don’t expect the Phoenix to get out of the 50s. The Lady Vols aren’t explosive enough to make up the difference. — Creme

Drake-Colorado OVER 149.5. Two loaded offenses that are comfortable playing high-scoring games. Drake’s one-two punch of Katie Dinnebier and Grace Berg can score against Colorado, and the Buffaloes will get theirs, too. — Kraemer

Texas-Drexel UNDER 121.5. Drexel is extremely happy to play an ugly and slow-paced brand of basketball. They’ve played 15 games this season in which their opponent scored less than 50. They won’t hold the Longhorns under that threshold, but they won’t let them score 80. — Fulghum

Which game are you avoiding entirely?

Kansas vs. Michigan. Good luck trying to figure out this coin flip. The spread is 1.5 points in favor of the Jayhawks, but this game has the tightest moneyline pricing in the Round of 64 with Kansas at -125 and Michigan -110. — Fulghum

Duke vs. Richmond. This game could be close because of the Blue Devils’ offensive woes, or it could be a blowout because of their superior defense. Duke is just too hard to read. — Creme

Marshall vs. Virginia Tech. Without Elizabeth Kitley, Virginia Tech is a massive question mark entering the tournament. Good luck figuring out how much the market should react against a pressing Marshall defense. — Kraemer

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