2017 March Madness odds preview: Northwestern intriguing in top First-Round betting matchups

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Since they have no track record at all in the NCAA Tournament, the Northwestern Wildcats will be a curiosity for college basketball diehards and bettors alike during the first full day of March Madness on Thursday.

Northwestern and the Vanderbilt Commodores are in a pick’em matchup with a 131-point total at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

Northwestern, a three-point shooting team paced by PF Victor Law and PG Bryant McIntosh, does well when it’s rested. They are  5-0 straight-up and against the spread in their last five games with four days off between games. Vanderbilt is s 8-2 SU and 9-1 ATS in its last 10 games against teams with winning records.

Elsewhere, the Purdue Boilermakers are nine-point favorites against the Vermont Catamounts with a 134.5-point total in what been labeled as an upset special. Thirteen seeds have gone 5-3 ATS in the past two tournaments. Vermont is on a 21-game win streak and have a superlative scorer in F Anthony Lamb. Purdue is 7-2 ATS in its last nine games in March, but lost in the Round of 64 last season.

The Wisconsin Badgers are 5.5-point favorites against the Virginia Tech Hokies with a 138.5-point total. Wisconsin is 0-6 ATS in its last six games with three days off between games, but  6-2 SU in its last eight games as a favorite of 5.5 points or less. Virginia Tech is 11-1 SU and ATS in its last 12 games as an underdog of 5.5 points or less.

The Notre Dame Fighting Irish are seven-point favorites against the Princeton Tigers with a 134.5-point total. Notre Dame is more disciplined than the typical major conference team that falls prey to the Tigers, who are 13-3 ATS in their last 16 games as an underdog of seven points or more. The total has gone under in six of Notre Dame’s last seven games.

Twelve seeds are 10-5-1 ATS over the last four years.

The Florida Gators are 10-point favorites against the East Tennessee State Buccaneers with a 144.5-point total. East Tennessee State, 9-1 SU over its last 10 games, has towering transfers Hanner Mosquera-Perea and Tevin Glass to win the battle inside, where the Gators have been vulnerable since losing C John Egbunu (torn ACL) for the season.

Friday’s slate includes a study-in-contrasts tilt, with the defensively taut South Carolina Gamecocks listed as 1.5-point favorites against the offensive-minded Marquette Golden Eagles with a 148-point total. South Carolina is 1-9 ATS in its last 10 games. Tenth-seeded Marquette, which lost to Seton Hall in the Big East tournament, is 12-4 SU in its last 16 games after a loss.

The Miami Hurricanes are two-point favorites against the Michigan State Spartans with a 125.5-point total, with the winner of that matchup likely to get a shot at the No. 1-seeded Kansas Jayhawks in the Midwest Region of the NCAA Tournament bracket. Miami is 12-4 in its last 16 games as a favorite, while Michigan State is 0-8 SU and ATS in its last eight games as an underdog of two points or less.

And the Creighton Bluejays are 1.5-point favorites against the Rhode Island Rams with a 142.5-point total. Rhode Island is 6-1 ATS in its last seven games and has a stingy defense, while Creighton has lost continuity on offense since PG Maurice Watson Jr. was injured and subsequently suspended.