March Madness Betting Guide: First Round, Saturday

numberFire has built comprehensive algorithms to pinpoint the bets with the highest probability of returning money, whether you are betting on the total, the spread, or the moneyline. For those new to numberFire, we use a five-star system to show which bets you should be targeting for any given game. Stars represent how much you should risk on a wager relative to what you would normally bet.

For example, if you would normally bet $110 to win $100 on a -110 spread wager, if we give a three-star ranking, we suggest risking three times that amount: $330 to win $300. Here are the best bets for this weekend with guidance from our model.

Please note that lines are subject to change throughout the day after this article is published. Please check here to make sure you're seeing the most updated information. You can also look at our oddsFire tool to get a feel for what the betting public is doing.

UNC-Greensboro vs. Florida State

UNCG +10.5: 3 Stars out of 5

North Carolina-Greensboro finished the season 21-8, and they are 15-3 in their last 18 games. They certainly finished the year strong en route to the Southern Conference title.

We rank UNC-Greensboro 97th in our nERD rankings with a nERD of 4.89 (indicating that our algorithm would expect them to win by just under 5 points against an average team at a neutral location). That means they should be able to compete in this game despite being 10.5-point underdogs.

Florida State does rank much higher in our rankings (23rd with a nERD of 11.97). That's a nERD differential of 7.08 points before accounting for matchup and historical similarity. Our model projects a close game with the Seminoles winning by a score of 74.31-69.19 on average.

We have this as a 5.12-point Florida State win, so we have UNCG covering by almost 5.5 points. We project a 65.42% likelihood of UNC-Greensboro covering at 10.5-points, making this a three-star bet (out of five) for Saturday.

Eastern Washington vs. Kansas

EWU +10.5: 3 Stars out of 5

Eastern Washington finished the season 16-7, and they went 13-1 down the stretch after a 3-6 start. Our algorithm ranks Eastern Washington 112th in the nation with a nERD of 4.04. They will certainly not be a pushover.

Kansas finished the year 20-8 and were eliminated from the Big 12 Tournament due to a positive COVID test. Their star forward, David McCormack, is expected to return for this game, but he has not been practicing with the team. It certainly could have an impact.

Our model projects a 75.32-69.98 victory for the Jayhawks, so we give Eastern Washington a 64.85% likelihood of covering the 10.5-point spread. We like this as another three-star betting opportunity.

UCSB vs. Creighton

UCSB +7.5: 3 Stars out of 5

California-Santa Barbara went 22-4 this season and finished the regular season ranked 58th in our nERD rankings (with a score of 8.23). They face a good Creighton team that ranks 10th in our rankings (with a nERD of 13.72).

Even against a top-10 opponent, we expect the Gauchos to be able to keep the final score with the 7.5-point spread -- because there's only a 5.49-point gap in their nERD scores.

Creighton finished the year 20-8, but they have faltered a little bit recently, having gone 3-3 in their last six games. This stretch has included losses to the 54th-ranked Xavier and 60th-ranked Georgetown Hoyas, so it seems fair to believe that our 58th ranked UCSB will have a strong chance to win this game.

Our model projects a 72.06-68.79 victory for Creighton, which would be a 3.27-point win for Creighton. Our model predicts a 62.40% likelihood of the Gauchos covering, making this another three-star bet.