Top March Madness Predictions for First Round 2022: West Bracket

Top March Madness Predictions for First Round 2022: West Bracket
Thu 17th March 2022

Look below to find our top March Madness predictions for all the First Round action in the West Bracket. 

Thursday, March 17th

#8 Boise State vs #9 Memphis – 1:45pm ET

This mid-major game is going to be one of the better games of the first round of the tournament. As the Boise State Broncos will take on the Memphis Tigers in this game. As the winner of this one will likely get the unfortunate gift of having to play the Gonzaga Bulldogs. 

Marko Nadin

The Memphis Tigers are going into this game as 3 point favorites. Former NBA All-Star Penny Hardaway is doing a great job with the Tigers this year finishing third in the American Conference with a 21-10 record. Memphis made it to the conference final after defeating UCF and SMU but weren’t even close to winning it as Houston dominated the game winning at the end by 71-53. Memphis is a pretty good defensive team allowing 68.5 points on only 39.5% shooting by their opponents. These two schools played last year with the Tigers winning 59-56.

The Boise State Broncos finished the regular season on top of the Mountain West conference with a 27-7 record but they didn’t stop there. The Broncos won the conference in an exciting final match against San Diego State by 53-52. The Aztecs had two shots in the last possession but the Broncos played good defense and grabbed the conference title. Boise State allow only 60 points per game meaning that this one will be a low scoring one just like their previous matchup. 

Marko’s College Basketball Pick: Under 134 (-110)

Tony Battalio 

The Boise State Broncos finished the regular season with a record of 27-7. After winning the Mountain West conference tournament, the Broncos did enough to earn themselves a top eight seed. In the finals of the Mountain West conference tournament they knocked off the Aztecs of San Diego State by a score of 53-52. They will be looking to get a big win in this game over a tough and scrappy Memphis Tigers team. Boise State will have to bring their A game to this one.

The Memphis Tigers had a slow start to the season but turned it up late to earn an at-large bid in the NCAA tournament. Led by Penny Hardaway this team is always a dangerous threat and could easily end up playing in the final four this season if they get hot at the right time. They lost in the American Athletic Conference tournament championship game to the Houston Cougars. As for the result of this game, I have the Memphis Tigers getting the victory over Boise State. 

Tony’s College Basketball Pick: Memphis (-154)

Noah Dunlap

Boise State was already in the field after finishing second in the Mountain West, but decided to make sure of it by winning the conference tournament in a close one over San Diego State. They look to bring that momentum in to this one, as the slowed down pace that they bring to the table meets the up-tempo high speed Memphis Tigers.

Memphis comes in having lost to Houston in the finals of the AAC tournament, as they were able to use a strong finish to the year to get themselves an at-large bid, after a really slow start to the season. They use elite athleticism, and good shooting to lead the way, though they don’t necessarily take as many shots as one would expect. I think the Tigers get the win here, solely due to talent level, but I do think the Broncos keep it really close by trying to keep the game in the half court. Memphis by 5 or less.

Noah’s College Basketball Pick: Memphis (-154)

#1 Gonzaga vs #16 Georgia State – 4:15pm ET

The number one team in the nation and the West Coast conference tournament champions the Gonzaga Bulldogs will meet the Sun Belt champs Georgia State. Much like your typical 1 vs 16 matchup, not many people expect this one to be close at all. 

Marko Nadin

Anything but a championship would be considered a failure for Mark Few’s team. The Zags failed only in the final game last season and this year they seem ready to make up for it. They finished the regular season with a 26-3 record losing to Duke, Alabama and St. Mary’s. Gonzaga is the best scoring team in the nation with 88.3 points per game and is ranked second in rebounds (39.3) and field goal percentage (52.4%). Drew Timme is leading the team with 17.5 points per game on 58.8% shooting from the field in his junior season but the difference-maker this season is freshman Chet Holmgren. The probable top pick in the next NBA draft is averaging 14.2 points and 9.6 rebounds per game but his impact on the game is much bigger than the stat sheets can say. The Zags will have an easy warm up against Georgia State in the first round of the tournament.

The Georgia State Panthers finished the regular season third in the Sun Belt with a 18-10 record. They won the conference with a 80-71 win over Louisiana which was their 10th straight win. The Panthers are one of the worst shooting teams that made it to the final tournament as they are ranked 342nd with 40.1% shooting from the field and 272nd with 32% shooting from the three-point line.

Marko’s College Basketball Pick: Gonzaga -22.5 (-110)

Tony Battalio

After coming into this season with so much hype it almost has to be championship or bust for the Gonzaga Bulldogs. They started the regular season as the number one team in the country and they finished the regular season as the number one team in the nation. Now they will look to complete the journey and capture the elusive title they have been searching for. Gonzaga is clearly the most talented team in the nation as they feature the possible number one overall pick, Chet Holmgren. 

Georgia State won the Sun Belt conference tournament this season. However, they are basically walking into a slaughter in this one as they have no shot at competing with the Gonzaga Bulldogs. Georgia State finished the season with a record of 18-10 on the year. Now they will be looking to become only the second team to get a win as a 16 seed over a number one seed. However, it’s not going to happen as I have Gonzaga getting the win in this one.

Tony’s College Basketball Pick: Gonzaga (-7000)

Noah Dunlap

Let’s be honest, we’re not really here to say or read nice things about Georgia State. Sure, they won the Sun Belt conference tournament, which still only pushed their record to 18-10, which is the only reason they’re in the field in the first place. They’ve had a nice year so far, but it all ends here. 

They’re taking on the number one team in the country, and with Gonzaga having two probable lottery picks in the NBA draft, and a third that could go in the first round, there’s no hope for the Panthers. The Zags are looking much deeper than the first round, and that starts with the demolition of Georgia State. Don’t overthink this one, Gonzaga wins in a massive way. 

Noah’s College Basketball Pick: Gonzaga (-7000)

#5 UConn vs #12 New Mexico State – 6:50pm ET

Another 5 vs 12 potential upset is on the table in this one. As the Uconn Huskies meet the New Mexico State Aggies in this one. The Aggies one the Western Athletic Conference tournament while UConn lost in the Big East semifinals. 

Marko Nadin

The UConn Huskies are coming from another regular season that doesn’t promise much. They finished third in the Big East with a 23-9 record and have lost 2 of the last 4 games including a 63-60 to Villanova in the conference semifinals. Senior point guard RJ Cole is the leader of the team scoring 15.7 points per game and sophomore forward from Mali, Adama Sanogo, is another valuable asset averaging 15 points and 9 rebounds per game. These two players should be enough to take the Huskies over New Mexico State but that road will not be smooth. 

The Aggies are coming off a winning season finishing on top of the WAC conference with a 26-6 record and winning the conference title with a 66-52 win over Abilene Christian. Both teams are coming from conferences that are on very different levels but the Aggies have the needed quality to be competitive in the game against the Huskies. Teddy Allen is the leader of the team with almost 20 points per game and he will cause a lot of problems to the Huskies.

Marko’s College Basketball Pick: New Mexico State +6.5 (-110)

Tony Battalio

The Uconn Huskies put together a decent season in the Big East this year. They finished the season with a record of 23-9 on the season and made a run to the semifinals of the Big East Conference tournament before losing to the eventual champions, the Villanova Wildcats. Now UConn will be looking to make a big run towards their second national championship in the last ten years. It all starts with this huge game against New Mexico State.

The previously mentioned New Mexico State Aggies are coming into this game as the champions of the Western Athletic Conference. They finished the regular season with a record of 26-6 on the year. In the finals of the WAC conference tournament they beat Abilene Christian by double-digits as they won 66-52. Now they will be looking to pull off the old 12 over 5 upset over the Uconn Huskies in this game. However, as for the result of this game I don’t see it happening as I have UConn getting the win. 

Tony’s College Basketball Pick: UConn (-275)

Noah Dunlap

How good is UConn? That’s the biggest question in this one, and after a full year, I’m still not sure any of us know. They’re 23-9 on the year, and had a really good year in the Big East, as well as knocking off Auburn in an early season matchup, but they also have shown the tendency to struggle, which is a bit worrisome in my mind. If they play well, they should run away with this one, but the question is which Huskies team shows up.

They take on New Mexico State in this one, and we’re talking about an Aggies team that has a surprisingly solid year so far. They’re 26-6 on the season, including winning the WAC regular season title as well as the conference tournament. They should come into this one with extreme confidence, but the talent disparity is still a very real thing. I think NMSU plays well, keeping it extremely close, but I still like UConn to pull it out, in really tight fashion. 

Marko’s College Basketball Pick: UConn (-275)

#4 Arkansas vs #13 Vermont – 9:20pm ET

In yet another power five vs mid-major matchup the Arkansas Razorbacks meet the Vermont Catamounts who won the America East Conference. Now they will look to score a big time upset over Arkansas in this game.

Marko Nadin

The Arkansas Razorbacks are one of the dark-horse candidates that may go on a deep run this season. Arkansas finished the regular season fourth in the SEC with a 25-8 record. They started the season with 9 consecutive wins and had won 9 straight games once again during the season. The Razorbacks defeated teams like Kentucky and Auburn this season which says enough how dangerous they can be against any opponent in a win-or-go-home game on a neutral field. Arkansas is coming off a 82-64 loss to Texas A&M in the conference semifinals but will not have any problem covering a -5 spread against Vermont.

The Vermont Catamounts finished the regular season on top of the American East conference with a 28-5 record. They have won 22 of the last 23 games, losing only once since December 11th. The Catamounts won their conference with a 82-43 blowout win in the final match against UMBC. The Catamounts have not covered the spread in the last 4 games on a neutral field and that won’t be the case in the game against Arkansas either.

Marko’s College Basketball Pick: Arkansas -5 (-215)

Tony Battalio

The Arkansas Razorbacks have a legit shot at making a very deep run in the NCAA tournament this season. After being one of the best teams in a highly competitive SEC this year they are more than battle tested and could easily end up making a run to the elite eight or final four this season. Arkansas finished the season with a record of 25-8 on the year and were knocked out of the SEC tournament early on. Arkansas is likely going to run away with this one in my opinion. 

The Vermont Catamounts won the America East conference tournament. Now they come into this game with a record of 28-5 on the season. They crushed the University of Maryland in Baltimore County by a score of 82-43 in the finals. Now they will look to get a big win in this game against the Arkansas Razorbacks. Vermont is very capable of getting the upset win in this game but they will certainly have to bring their A game. As for the result of this game however, I have the Arkansas Razorbacks getting the victory. 

Tony’s College Basketball Pick: Arkansas (-215)

Noah Dunlap

I think this Arkansas Razorbacks team has the real chance to play a bit of the role of sleeper in this tournament, as they’ve already pulled off some massive wins this season, and with a guy like JD Notae, who led the SEC in scoring, who can be the guy to simply take over if needed, I don’t think they have too many issues in this one. 

They are taking on a Vermont team that can create issues though, as they come in at 28-5, and won the American East conference tournament. The Catamounts have won 22 of their last 23, including a nearly 40 point win in the conference finals, but the talent and size they’re about to get from Arkansas is something they’re yet to see this year, and I’m not sure they’re ready. Give me the Razorbacks with relative ease. 

Noah’s College Basketball Pick: Arkansas (-215)

Friday March 18th

#3 Texas Tech vs #14 Montana State – 1:45pm ET

This one certainly has upset potential as the Big 12s Texas Tech Red Raiders take on the Big Sky tournament champions Montana State. As both of these teams will look to punch their ticket to the weekend session of the tournament. 

Marko Nadin

The Texas Tech Red Raiders are coming off a good season finishing third in the Big 12 with a 25-9 record including a perfect 18-0 at home. The Red Raiders demolished Iowa State 72-41 and barely went past Oklahoma winning by 56-55, to lose the conference finals against Kansas, 74-65. The Red Raiders are a great defensive team allowing only 60.7 points per game which ranks them 14th in the league while they are ranked 10th in field goal percentage allowed with 38.5. The Red Raiders are also one of the top 10 rebounding teams in the nation, allowing only 28 rebounds per game to their opponents.

The Montana State Bobcats finished the regular season on top of the Big Sky with a 27-7 record. They won the conference in big fashion defeating Northern Colorado 87-66 in the finals. That was the Bobcats’ sixth consecutive win. They are coming into the game with Texas Tech as +15 points underdog and they can definitely cover that spread. Senior guard Xavier Bishop is a great playmaker and will be able to lead his team in a game in which they will have a chance to make an upset.

Marko’s College Basketball Pick: Montana State +15 (-110)

Tony Battalio

The Texas Tech Red Raiders weren’t too far removed from a national championship appearance only a couple years ago. They are one of the better defensive teams in the nation. They will be looking to make another trip to another national title game and it all starts with this game against Montana State. The Red Raiders finished the season with a record of 25-9 on the year. They are one of my dark horse teams to win a couple games and make a run.

Montana State comes into this game with a record of 27-7 on the season. They are the champions of the Big Sky conference. They won the Big Sky Conference tournament over Northern Colorado in a game that was hardly close as Montana State won by a score of 87-66. Now they will be looking to pull off a huge upset over the Red Raiders of Texas Tech in this one. However, as of for the result of this game I can’t see it happening as I have the Red Raiders coming away victorious.

Tony’s College Basketball Pick: Texas Tech (-1800)

Noah Dunlap

Despite a lot of people looking at this one as a potential upset, I don’t think that’s the case at all. Montana State has had a great year, at 27-7 in the Big Sky and winning the conference tournament, but I don’t know that I’m giving them much of a shot in this one. The Texas Tech Red Raiders have shown the ability to be one of the best teams in the country, coming in with a 25-9 record out of the Big-12, and made it to the conference finals before falling to Kansas. 

They’re one of the best defensive teams in the nation, and while I think the offense can be shaky at times, the defensive intensity should be enough to push them past a team like Montana State. I think we get a pretty close, low scoring affair here, but I do have the Red Raiders picking up the win. 

Noah’s College Basketball Pick: Texas Tech (-1800)

#6 Alabama vs #11 Notre Dame – 4:15pm ET

The Alabama Crimson Tide nearly had a rough end of the season that almost kept them out of the tournament. Meanwhile it took Notre Dame two Overtime’s to take down Rutgers during the first four on Wednesday night.

Marko Nadin

The Alabama Crimson Tide are still a football school but they had a pretty good basketball season as well. Alabama finished fifth in the SEC with a 19-13 record. They are one of the only three teams this season that have defeated Gonzaga. Alabama is going into the tournament with three consecutive losses, most recently 82-76 against Vanderbilt. Junior Jaden Shacelford is having a great season averaging 16.7 points and 5.3 rebounds for the Crimson Tide. 

The Notre Dame Fighting survived a double-overtime thriller to get a chance to play against Alabama. Notre Dame defeated Rutgers 95-93 in the First Four match that saw 10 extra minutes. The Fighting Irish finished the regular season second in the ACC with a 23-10 record. They lost in the conference quarterfinal to Virginia Tech 87-80. Notre Dame showed that they can play great against Rutgers but that game will take its toll in the next one against Alabama.

Marko’s College Basketball Pick: Alabama (-182)

Tony Battalio

The Alabama Crimson Tide are coming into this game with a record of 19-13 on the season. They played well at the beginning of the year but fell off towards the end and nearly missed out on the NCAA Tournament. Now they will look to prove the doubters wrong and show that world that they are better at more than just football. They will be looking to take advantage of what will likely be a tired Notre Dame team and come away from this one with a win.

It was one of the wildest NCAA tournament games in history. It took two overtime’s to decide a winner but once the clock struck midnight it seemed clear that the luck of the Irish would prevail. It was officially St. Patrick’s Day and it became Notre Dame’s day as Paul Atkinson put back a Blake Wesley miss and the Irish got the win. However, as for the result of this one, I think the Irish will squeak out another big win and move on to the Sweet Sixteen for the first time in 7 years.

Tony’s College Basketball Pick: Notre Dame (+150)

Noah Dunlap

This Alabama team is perplexing, to say the least. Last year, they were one of the best shooting teams in the country, and despite having much of the same pieces, they simply can’t shoot at all this year. They still managed a 19-13 record, but they’ve got multiple inexplicable losses, have lost three straight, and the only reason they made the field is the ability to pick up big wins, as they’ve beaten Gonzaga, Houston, and Baylor, and that doesn’t include a few good wins in SEC play. When they’re on, they can beat anyone, and when they’re off, they look like one of the worst teams in basketball. 

Notre Dame had to survive a double overtime classic in the First Four to get to this point, and now they have their sights set on the Crimson Tide. Bringing a 23-10 record into this one, they’ve had a good year, with a much needed win over Kentucky early in non-conference play to boost their resume, though I’m not sure that’s going to be enough in this one. While it may not be football, Alabama simply owns the Fighting Irish, regardless of sport, and that continues here, on the hardwood this time, as the Tide roll on, though I think it comes in a close one. 

Noah’s College Basketball Pick: Alabama (-182)

#2 Duke vs #15 Cal State Fullerton – 7:10pm ET

Coach K will be looking to make one final run towards a national title while Duke looks to avoid another 15 seeded upset loss. Meanwhile, Cal State Fullerton looks to end the legendary career of the GOAT. 

Marko Nadin

Mike Krzyzewsky is starting his last NCAA tournament, leading the Blue Devils in a game against Cal State Fullerton. Duke is an 18.5 point favorite and will show their power right away covering that spread. The Blue Devils finished the regular season on top of ACC with a 28-6 record but lost in the conference final against VIrginia Tech 82-67. Freshman Paolo Banchero is the key man for Duke. He is averaging 17 points and 7.8 rebounds per game and a lot will depend on his performance in the tournament. Duke is the ninth-best scoring team in the nation with 80.4 points per game and are ranked 13th with 48.9% shooting from the field.

The CSU Fullerton Titans finished the regular season second in the Big West with a 21-10 record. They won the conference in a dramatic final game against Long Beach State, winning by 72-71. Senior guard Damari Milstead leads the team with 12.1 points and 3.2 rebounds. The Titans are a bad three-point shooting team making only 31% of the shots from deep. They have covered the spread in 5 of the last 6 games as underdogs but will fail short against Duke.

Marko’s College Basketball Pick: Duke -18.5 (-110)

Tony Battalio

The Duke Blue Devils had a great season and picked up some great wins but were shocked by Virginia Tech in the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament finals. They finished the regular season with a record of 28-6 on the year. Now they will look to capture another national championship this season. Duke is one of the favorites in my opinion to win in all. As long as Trevor Keels, Wendell Moore, and Paolo Banchero stay healthy this team is one of the most dangerous in the nation. 

Cal State Fullerton were the champions of the Big West Conference tournament. As they finished the season with a record of 21-10. They beat Long Beach State in the finals by a score of 72-71. Now they will be looking to shock the nation and upset the Blue Devils of Duke. Cal State Fullerton is severely outmatched in this game. As for the result of this one I don’t think it will be close at all as I have the Duke Blue Devils getting the victory in this game. 

Tony’s College Basketball Pick: Duke (-3500)

Noah Dunlap

There aren’t many things I can guarantee in life, but one thing I can guarantee is that Duke wins this basketball game. They’ve had a good year, coming out of the ACC with a 28-6 record, and with Wendell Moore and Paolo Banchero leading the way, they’re one of the most talented teams in the country. The other key is that this is Coach K’s last season on the sideline, and there’s simply no way the NCAA (or it’s referees) are letting the Blue Devils get upset by a 15-seed. 

That’s not to take away from what the Cal State Fullerton Titans have done this year, as they’ve pulled out a 21-10 record, including coming out and winning the Big West conference tournament, but they simply don’t have the talent or size to hang around in this one. Duke takes care of business with ease, by 20+. 

Noah’s College Basketball Pick: Duke (-3500)

#7 Michigan State vs #10 Davidson – 9:40pm ET

The 7th seeded Spartans barely made it here, and the 10th seeded Wildcats had their auto bid stolen in the Atlantic 10. Now they will meet in the first round in what will be a highly competitive game. 

Marko Nadin

Michigan State is not having their best season so far but that can be fixed if they go deep in the NCAA tournament. The Spartans finished the regular season in seventh place in the Big Ten conference with a 22-12 record. After defeating Maryland and Wisconsin, the Spartans lost to Purdue 75-70 in the conference semifinals. The Spartans are ranked 12th in the nation with 38.4% shooting from the three-point line and are also solid from the field with 45.6% and from the stripe at 75%. Michigan State is only one point favorite in this game and knowing the difference between the conferences these two teams compete in, the Spartans will easily win this game and cover the spread.

The Davidson Wildcats will certainly search for their chance but will not stay close for long in this game mainly because of the size advantage the Spartans have over them. Davidson finished the regular season on top of the A 10 conference with a 27-6 record. They were stunned by Richmond in the conference finals losing by 64-62. Davidson is in the top 10 in the nation in three-point percentage with 38.7% and is ranked 18th with 48.4% shooting from the field.

Marko’s College Basketball Pick: MSU -1 (-110)

Tony Battalio

The Michigan State Spartans come into this game with a record of 22-12. They had a super slow start to the season but they got hot as the year progressed and played their way into the tournament. Led by Tom Izzo the Spartans will be looking to make another deep run in the NCAA tournament this year. They were knocked out of the Big Ten Conference Tournament in the semifinals by the Purdue Boilermakers by a score of 70-75. Now they will look to bounce back with a win over Davidson. 

The previously mentioned Davidson Wildcats are coming into this game with a record of 27-6 on the season. They lost in the Atlantic 10 finals to Richmond but still did enough this year to get an at-large bid in the NCAA tournament. I think Davidson is good enough to make a deep run in the tournament this season as I could easily see them ending up in the Elite Eight. As for the result of this game, I have Davidson getting the win over Michigan State.  

Tony’s College Basketball Pick: Davidson (-104)

Noah Dunlap

I have zero faith at all in this Michigan State Spartans team. They’ve played reasonably well, with a 22-12 record coming out of a really good Big Ten conference, including playing better as the year progressed, but they’re style of play is just a bit slow and draggy, and even in their wins, they haven’t looked great. 

Now they take on a Davidson team that has played well all year, coming in at 27-6 from the A-10, though they did lose in the finals of the conference tournament to Richmond. The key is that they shoot the ball extremely well, being in the top-20 in the country in both FG% and 3-pt FG%, and don’t make that many mistakes. One concern is that they don’t necessarily create all that many mistakes on the defensive end, but if they shoot the ball well enough, I think the mistakes come from the Spartans naturally. As for the result, I actually like the Wildcats to get the win here, in close fashion over a middle-of-the-pack team from the Big Ten in Michigan State. 

Noah’s College Basketball Pick: Davidson (-104)

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*Odds and spreads correct at time of publication, courtesy of FanDuel.

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