NCAA Tournament Betting: Midwest Region Picks, Sleepers, Upsets

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March Madness tips off Thursday afternoon. Whether it’s sports betting or just playing in bracket pools, we have you covered with a region by region breakdown of the best bets, sleepers first-round upsets. In this edition, we look at the Midwest Region where blue bloods North Carolina are the top two seeds.

Our Thomas Casale and Matt Schmitto break down the Midwest Region. Are North Carolina and Kentucky on a collision course to meet in the Elite 8? Will a team like Utah State crash the party and bust brackets? We have all the answers to your questions in the Midwest with our best bets and potential upsets.

Other regions: East

All lines are courtesy of FanDuel Sportsbook.

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Midwest Region

Favorite First Round Bet/Upset

Casale: Most of my biggest first round picks come from the Midwest. Houston -12 over Georgia State is one of my top plays. Some will be down on the Cougars after losing to Cincinnati but few teams can defend Houston like the Bearcats. Houston is one of the most athletic teams in the country and will be too much for Georgia State.

Northeastern +7 is my upset pick in the region. The pesky Huskies will give Kansas all it wants and if the Jayhawks are struggling offensively, they could go home early.

My top overall play in the opening round though is Utah State -2.5. I love this Aggies team and they are a nightmare matchup for Washington’s 2-3 zone. Most people think the way to beat the 2-3 zone is to shoot the ball from three-point range. While that certainly helps and Utah is a good shooting team, what really hurts the zone are teams that pass the ball well. Teams that get the ball into the post and find the open shooter before the zone reacts typically have success against it. North Carolina does this well and it gives Syracuse fits. The same holds true here. Utah State may be the best passing team in college basketball. They also play great defense, which will be an issue for a poor-shooting Washington team. I like the Aggies to win the game by 10+ points.

Schmitto: My favorite first round bet and potential outright upset in this region is Northeastern over Kansas. The line opened at KU -8.5 and already dropped 1.5 points to KU -7. This is more about Kansas than Northeastern, though. Kansas has struggled all year, and they’ve been plagued with big injuries, really hurting their depth on the bench. Some thought they could come out strong and win the Big 12 Tournament after failing to win the regular season for the first time in 15 years. The truth is, they just aren’t that good. A second-round matchup between New Mexico State and Northeastern isn’t as crazy as it sounds.

Casale: It certainly doesn’t sound crazy to me. I have New Mexico State and Northeastern meeting in the second round. In other news, I haven’t won a brackets pool since 1988.

Schmitto: So…you’re due! That’s how it works, right?

Casale: I hope so. I’ve been due for 10 years.

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Casale: If you read what a wrote above, you probably know where I’m going here. Give me a dangerous Utah State team at 55/1. I wish the Aggies faced Virginia or Gonzaga in the second round instead of UNC but I’ll still roll the dice with them. Utah State is well-coached, plays great defense and can shoot the three. They are a dangerous second round opponent for the Tar Heels. I have UNC winning it all but betting is about value. It won’t shock me if Utah State pulls the big upset, so I’ll grab them at +5500 to reach the Final Four.

Houston +500 is also worth a look. Assuming UNC gets by Utah State, Houston is the only team in this region I see with a realistic chance of upsetting the Tar Heels outside of No. 2 seed Kentucky.

Schmitto: I love Bruce Pearl’s Auburn team at +1200. The same thing that makes Auburn vulnerable to a first round upset against New Mexico State is the same thing that get them over the top in this region…the three ball. They now own the SEC single-season record for 3-pointers with over 370. If they get hot from the arc they can beat anyone, as Tennessee found out in the SEC Tournament.

Casale: Agree on Auburn. I’ve been on New Mexico State all year but to be honest, it’s not a great matchup for them. Auburn is playing well. If the Tigers get past New Mexico State, they will be a tough out the rest of the way.

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Casale: This is my nightmare region. All my top sleeper picks are in here with the team I think will win the National Championship. It also has another one of my top National Championship picks in Kentucky. While I think there is some value with Houston and Utah State, I’m still going with UNC at +200 to reach the Final Four. I see UNC and Kentucky meeting in the Elite 8 in what will be one heck of a basketball game. Duke is the best team because they have Zion but North Carolina is right there with them, as they showed in the ACC Championship Game. I’ll be happy to watch Round 4 between the two rivals in the finals.

Schmitto: I’m completely sold on North Carolina, unfortunately it comes a little late, as I’ve lost too much money betting against them all season. They somehow lost to Texas in non-conference play, tricking me into believing they were overrated. I learned my lesson the hard way. I’m even more of a believer in UNC after the game they gave Duke with Zion back. But like you said, this is somewhat of a nightmare of a region. Houston, Iowa State and Auburn can all really play. is the home of the daily fantasy sports community. Our content, rankings, member blogs, promotions and forum discussion all cater to the players that like to create a new fantasy team every day of the week.

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