NCAA Tournament Betting: West Region Picks, Sleepers, Upsets

Gonzaga Basketball(USA TODAY Sports)`

Are you ready for March Madness? The greatest week of the sports betting season tips off Thursday afternoon. Whether it’s betting on the games or just playing in bracket pools, we have you covered with a region by region breakdown of the best bets, sleepers and first-round upsets. We started off in the East and MIdwest Regions, now we’ll take a look at the West where Gonzaga looks to make another Final Four run.

Our Thomas Casale and Matt Schmitto break down the West Region. Will Gonzaga bounce back after losing in the WCC Tournament final? Can Michigan make it back to Final Four? Where’s the value in the West? We have all the answers to your bracket questions with our best bets and sleepers.

All lines are courtesy of FanDuel Sportsbook.

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West Region

Favorite First Round Bet/Upset

Casale: Here is where I go a little off the rails. I love Montana +15.5. Michigan has been my most overrated team all season and I was hoping they would draw Montana. They did, so now it’s time to put my money where my mouth is. Michigan drew the toughest 15 seed in Montana. The Grizzlies are an experienced team that are returning to the NCAA Tournament for the second-straight year. Who did they play last season? Michigan. The Wolverines beat Montana 61-47. The Grizz should be in better position to pull an upset this time around. Montana shoots the three well and ranks sixth in effective FG% by KenPom. Michigan can get in offensive ruts where it has trouble scoring. If that happens against Montana, the Grizzlies will be in the game late with a chance to shock the world. Give me a unit on the ML +1025 too. What the hell. You only live once.

Schmitto: haha I knew that was coming. I’m going to be a bit trendy and hop on the Ja Morant/Murray State bandwagon, picking them to upset Marquette in the first round. I especially like taking the 4.5 points. Marquette ranks 10th in the country in 3-point shooting, but I’m just not sold on the Big East overall. In fact, Marquette ended the regular season losing four straight games, including homes losses to Creighton and Georgetown. This pick is really more about Marquette than Murray State for me. I’m hopeful we see Morant on the big stage for more than just one round.

Casale: I’ll have Murray State too. I’m not a big Marquette fan. That’s a game where you’ll want to take the points. Likely to go down to the wire.

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Sleeper

Casale: How is Buffalo a six seed? The Bulls not only dominated the MAC, they own road wins over power conference teams West Virginia and Syracuse. Two of Buffalo’s three losses came by a combined six points. The Bulls have been one of the most consistent teams in the country all year. Give me the Bulls at +1800 to reach the Final Four.

Schmitto: I like Buffalo a lot, I’m glad you pointed that out. I’m also pretty bullish on Nevada given the +2400 price they’re at on FanDuel Sportsbook. Nevada is led by twin brothers, Caleb and Cody Martin, who combine for over 30 points a game. They had a rough ending to the season after an amazing start where they won 24 of their first 25 games. They’re a team packed full of seniors from last year’s squad that would have made the Elite Eight if it wasn’t for blowing a second half lead to 2018’s Cinderella team, Loyola-Chicago. With that kind of experience, I think they can bounce back and make a similar run this year. I can’t pass up +2400 .

Casale: Nevada has the talent but they have been inconsistent this year. I actually like the team Nevada plays in the first round, Florida. However, the winner will have a great chance to advance considering they will be facing No. 15 Montana.

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Pick to Win

Casale: I don’t like Michigan and Gonzaga is a little overvalued at +155. While I do agree the Zags are the clear favorites in this region, I’m going with Florida State at +700. The Seminoles beat Gonzaga in the tournament last year and like Wisconsin, FSU is a tough team to prepare for because of its stifling defense. These two teams should meet up again in the Sweet 16 and since I believe No. 2 seed Michigan is an early upset candidate, I’ll roll with FSU at 7/1.

Schmitto: As a Texas Tech fanatic, I already have the Red Raiders to win the national championship at 75-to-1 odds. I’m still mad at myself for not making Vegas trip before the season to grab them at 200-to-1. It might be the homer in me, but I’m not sure there’s a better futures bet than Texas Tech at +3300, which I prefer over +600 to reach the Final Four. Seeding went really well for them especially after taking a look at a couple of the other regions. Gonzaga and Michigan are the lowest No. 1 and No. 2 seeds respectively, and Texas Tech was the second 3-seed selected. They have one of the best coaches in the tournament in Chris Beard, who previously led Little Rock Arkansas to a first-round upset over Purdue in 2016. Texas Tech’s No. 1 adjusted defense (Ken Pom) is sure to travel, it’s more of a question if their offense will show up and if Big 12 player of the year Jarret Culver can make free throws down the stretch. +7500, +3300, whatever — I’m all in.

Casale: Odds that you picked Texas Tech in this region were -500. They are legitimate Final Four team in the West. Good luck.

Schmitto: Thanks, we’ll both need it. You won’t want to be in Atlantic City with me if they go out early.

Casale: You’re talking to the guy putting at least $100 on the Montana ML. Sounds like the West region will make or break that trip.

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