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NCAAB Tournament First Round Smart AI Computer Picks for Thursday: Big Dogs, Small Bets


The computers are infallible; it’s the players who messed up. Both of Tuesday’s AI-approved college basketball picks for the First Four were on the over, and both games went under: 

  • SE Missouri State 71, Texas A&M-CC 75 (under 157.5) 
  • Pittsburgh 60, Mississippi State 59 (under 133.5) 

At least you got a good price if you placed both of those bets early enough. The totals for those games were 156 and 132.5 respectively when we presented our picks; earlier is usually better for taking the over, and later for the under. 

We’ve got another over pick in Thursday’s First Round NCAAB picks, alongside two very large underdogs whom the computers at OddsTrader have projected to cover their point spreads by wide margins. 


Pick Summary

  • Texas A&M-CC vs. Alabama: Texas A&M-CC +23.5 (-102) at FanDuel 
  • Colgate vs. Texas: Colgate +13.5 (-110) at SugarHouse 
  • Northern Kentucky vs. Houston: Over 122 (-110) at Caesars

Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Islanders vs. Alabama Crimson Tide

Thursday, March 16, 2023 – 02:45 PM EDT at Legacy Arena
 


Our first big dog is the aforementioned No. 16 Texas A&M-CC, who are getting up to 24.5 points at press time for Thursday’s South Region tilt with No. 1 Alabama. We’re recommending +23.5 (-102) at FanDuel instead because of the -102 juice; the computers say the Crimson Tide will “only” win 87-70

How Much Should I Bet?

Maybe not as much as that gap between the projections and the actual NCAAB odds would suggest. Both these teams move quickly up the court, especially the Tide at 72.7 possessions per game (No. 4 on Ken Pomeroy’s charts), and they might need all those possessions to cover a spread this huge
 
Consider the last time Alabama was favored by this many points, which was back on December 20 against Jackson State (+30 away). The Tigers lost 84-64, but covered easily; they rank No. 143 in Adjusted Tempo at 68.1 possessions per game, so it’s not like they were playing keep-away with ‘Bama. 

Don’t be overly impressed with the Tide earning the No. 1 overall seed for March Madness, either. They’re still second to Houston on the Pomeroy charts, with the No. 19-ranked offense in the nation. Yes, that’s way ahead of TAMU-CC at No. 172 overall (No. 142 offense, No. 224 defense), but even if the computers are being a bit generous, the Islanders are still worth a slight lean at this price

NCAAB Pick: Texas A&M-CC +23.5 (-102) at FanDuel 


Colgate Raiders vs. Texas Longhorns

Thursday, March 16, 2023 – 07:25 PM EDT at Wells Fargo Arena
 


The situation is much the same for No. 15 Colgate, who have at least a sliver of value as 13.5-point underdogs at SugarHouse versus the No. 2 Longhorns. The computers have it much closer than that with Texas winning 81-75

What’s Wrong With Texas?

Not all that much, really. From an old-school perspective, you’d expect a dominant low-major champion like the Raiders (Patriot League) to have some betting value here, but the Longhorns (Big 12) were also big winners during Champ Week. They’re not some at-large pretenders with question marks about their motivation level. 
 
Texas was also very deserving of their 2-seed, based on their No. 7 overall ranking (No. 18 offense, No. 11 defense) on the Pomeroy charts. But they will be facing a Colgate team with some punch at No. 114 overall (No. 44 offense, No. 232 defense). 

The Longhorns are also staring at a double-digit spread here, and they’re 1-2 ATS when laying at least 13 points since interim head coach Rodney Terry took over from Chris Beard on December 12. We’re guessing that change didn’t factor into the computer projections. 

NCAAB Pick: Colgate +13.5 (-110) at SugarHouse 


Northern Kentucky Norse vs. Houston Cougars

Thursday, March 16, 2023 – 09:20 PM EDT at Legacy Arena
 


Finally, we return to Birmingham for their remaining 16-1 matchup between No. 16 Northern Kentucky and No. 1 Houston. There’s a 122-point total on the NCAAB lines at Caesars with -110 juice attached; the computers like Houston to win 76-62

Should I Bet the Farm?

Definitely not. That 16-point gap between the odds and the projections is easily the biggest on the board, and upon further review, the computers did indeed find us the best over matchup on Thursday’s slate. But some discretion with your bet size would be warranted here. 
 
We’re dealing with two under teams in Houston (16-14-1) and especially Northern Kentucky (18-10), with both among the very slowest in Division I; they might only get in around 62-63 possessions this Thursday. Bet accordingly – the AI has spoken. 

NCAAB Pick: Over 122 (-110) at Caesars


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