March 2022 Madness Predictions: NCAA Range Expert Picks Against The Spread, Odds In Thursday’s Round 1 Games

Officially, the 2022 NCAA Tournament kicked off in earnest on Tuesday with a pair of top-four games. Unofficially, however, the real mayhem of March begins Thursday and Friday as the first round unfolds across the country. Between the two days, the field will be cut in half, from 64 to 32 teams on an (almost) sunrise to sunset schedule for the sport. That’s part of what makes March Madness, well, March Madness.

Getting extra skin in games can also get you in the tournament spirit. Below, I’ve enlisted the expertise of the college hoops team to provide insight with direct picks and against the spread for some of the best matches on Thursday’s extended roster. Our expert supports can also help you on this front.

While surviving and progressing are clearly what matters most, we care whether these teams will cover their gaps, and we’ve been following the season since November to be able to offer our own thoughts on each game.

Be sure to stick with CBS Sports throughout the month for NCAA Tournament coverage through the end of the Final Four. Let’s take a look at our expert picks as the first round matches begin on Thursday.

Odds via Caesars Sportsbook | All times Eastern

Featured NCAA Tournament Pick

(6) Colorado State vs. (11) Michigan

Thursday, 12:15 p.m. | CBS, March Madness Live: The loss of starting point guard DeVante’ Jones (concussion) for at least Michigan’s first-round game against Colorado State is significant. He’s the team’s assist leader, third-leading scorer and has been a great player down the stretch. But I still take 11 of 6 in this game. Michigan’s frontcourt between Hunter Dickinson and Moussa Diabate is a huge mismatch. I don’t see Colorado State shutting them down regularly enough, although I expect Rams star David Roddy to keep this one pretty close. Choose: Michigan -1.5

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(4) Providence vs. (13) South Dakota State

Thursday, 12:40 p.m. | truTV, March Madness Live: Since 2010, the best 3-point shooting team on the field has advanced at least one round in every year but two. That should bode well for South Dakota State, which ranks No. 1 in the nation in 3-point shooting percentage. Providence is no slouch – he won the Big East regular season and is playing a physical style that will spoil this game – but I like the Jackrabbits going forward as an underdog. Choose: State of South Dakota +2

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(5) Iowa vs. (12) Richmond

Thursday, 3:10 p.m. | truTV, March Madness Live: Iowa is arguably the hottest team in the country entering the NCAA Tournament. After winning a Big Ten Tournament title, the Hawkeyes have won 12 of their last 14 games and found a rhythm as Keegan Murray went from star to superstar. Murray averaged 26 points per game as Iowa won four games in four days to clinch the conference tournament title, and this team looks proven and perfectly positioned to continue its incredible march with a dominating first-round victory. . Pick: Iowa -10.5

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(1) Gonzaga vs. (16) Georgia State

Thursday, 4:15 p.m. | TNT, March Madness live: That’s a big line to cover, even for the No. 1 seed in Gonzaga. But I don’t care and I don’t think you should either. His average scoring margin on the season was 22.5 points, and that factored in games against Duke, UCLA, Alabama and other top schools. The Zags will roll, and I expect them to roll big. Pick: Gonzaga -23

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(5) UConn vs. (12) New Mexico State

Thursday, 6:50 p.m. | TNT, March Madness live: I don’t necessarily like the state of New Mexico as the underdog on the money line in this one, but I think it can cover the spread. The Aggies this season have gone 26-6 overall and half of those losses have been four points or less. They’re a tough, resilient group that’s well coached by Chris Jans and has the staff to give UConn a run for its money. Choose: New Mexico State +6.5

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(7) Murray State vs. (10) San Francisco

Thursday, 9:40 p.m. | CBS, March Madness Live: San Francisco is a quality team that has had some real fights all season, including against Gonzaga in the WCC game and against MVC Tournament Champion Loyola-Chicago. But Murray State is a 30-2 club that hasn’t lost since Dec. 22 and can beat you inside and out with good balance on both sides of the ball. I will put the point here with the Racers. Pick: Murray State -1

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