March Madness odds review: Big underdogs win, higher seeds cover

USA TODAY Sports

There were plenty of March Madness upsets Thursday and more are planned for Friday. Check out the bracket review and lookahead to Friday betting action, courtesy of Odds Shark.

Last year, the Harvard Crimson made their NCAA tournament appearance in 66 seasons.

This year, they pulled off the biggest first-round upset and put money in the pockets of March Madness bettors.

The Crimson stunned what was supposed to be a pretty good New Mexico squad, winning outright as a 10.5-point underdog. They joined a pair of 12 seeds in the annual upset of No. 5 seeds.

Day One of the NCAA basketball tournament held a few surprises; not as many as we might be used to, or had hoped for, but just enough for the tournament to maintain its quota.

Here's a breakdown of how things fell Thursday along the NCAA tournament betting lines.

[ Check out all of today's March Madness odds, trends and predictions ]

The betting favorites went 11-5 straight up and 9-7 ATS, while the higher seeds went 12-4 SU and 10-6 ATS. And the biggest favorites, as a group, made a little money, too, as those favored by double-digits went 5-1 SU and 4-2 ATS.

Michigan State, favored by 10 points over Valparaiso, held on for a cover with a 65-54 victory; Louisville, favored by 26 points over North Carolina A&T, won by 31; Michigan, favored by 11 points over South Dakota State, got a cover with a 71-56 decision; and Syracuse, chalked at -13 over Montana, rolled to an 81-34 victory.

But New Mexico, favored by 11 points over the Crimson, had everything go wrong in a 68-62 loss. And No. 1 seed Gonzaga, favored by 22 points over Southern, had to sweat out a 64-58 decision.

Steam was a big fat loser Thursday, as bettors who rode with the flow on the lines that moved the most went down to defeat.

The OVER/UNDER on the Marquette-Davidson opened at around 132, then got bet up to 137. But that game played way UNDER, as the Eagles and Wildcats tallied just 117 points.

The total on the Michigan State-Valparaiso game got bet up from 127 to 130, but the game played UNDER as the Spartans and Crusaders scored just 119 points.

The total on the Memphis-St. Mary's game got bumped from 138 to 141; that game, too, stayed well UNDER its number, as the Tigers and Gaels combined to score just 106 points.

And the same thing happened in the St. Louis-New Mexico State game, which saw its total get bet from 122 to 125, then had the Billikens and Aggies combine for just 108 points.

For the day Thursday 11 of the 16 games played UNDER their the totals.

The winners as far as the individual conferences were concerned Thursday included the Atlantic 10, which pushed its record to 4-0 in this tournament with victories by Butler, St. Louis and VCU, and the Pac-12, which had two 12 seeds, Cal and Oregon, pull off upset victories.

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