College Basketball
2024 March Madness expert predictions: Bracket picks for tournament, Final Four
College Basketball

2024 March Madness expert predictions: Bracket picks for tournament, Final Four

Updated Mar. 21, 2024 9:37 a.m. ET

Are you looking for betting insights on the NCAA men's basketball tournament? Well, there's no better way to dive into the madness of March than with early best wagers from our betting experts.

From Mississippi State to Drake and Gonzaga, we have you covered.

The lines are already on the move, so let's dive in as our FOX Sports gambling experts Jason McIntyre, Sam Panayotovich (aka Sammy P) Geoff Schwartz, Patrick Everson, Will Hill and Chris "The Bear" Fallica share their thoughts from early-round games to regional picks and everything in between.

Let the games begin!


First up, Will Hill:

Mississippi State +2500 (Caesars) to make the Final Four

The long and athletic Mississippi State squad will face off against Michigan State in the first game on Thursday afternoon. 

If it can survive the March mainstay that is Tom Izzo, the bracket could really open up. It will likely get 1-seed North Carolina in the Round of 32, but UNC is not a true 1-seed according to Ken Pomeroy’s well-respected metrics, where UNC is the ninth best team in the country, making it closer to a 3-seed. 

Mississippi State showed its upside with a decisive 17-point victory over Tennessee in the SEC Tournament a few days ago. 

It has an outstanding point guard in Josh Hubbard, and a coach in Chris Jans that knows his way around the Madness from his experience turning New Mexico State into a perennial tournament team out of the WAC. 

The Bulldogs check a lot of boxes when it comes to being a potential Cinderella.

Chris "The Bear" Fallica's favorite futures:

UConn +110 to win East Region: The tough draw means we get a better price.

Drake +575 to reach Sweet 16: Drake has taken a good bit of respected money in its first-round game vs. Washington State. Win that, and it could be a second-round dream matchup with in-state rival Iowa State for a trip to the Sweet 16 at stake. If Tucker DeVries has a better game than he did last year in a first-round loss to Miami, I give the Bulldogs a shot.

Baylor to win West Region +675: Colgate has lost by 27 to Arizona and 17 to Illinois. Those are the two teams it has faced that are comparable to Baylor's level. The Bears might have to overcome the tempo of Colgate, but once they do, they should be able to name their score.

New Mexico to Win West Region +2500: Small flier in case things get weird out West.

Colorado to reach Sweet 16 +625: The Buffs will have to win three games to get there, but all three of those games are very winnable. They could face Boise State, a shorthanded Florida and a potentially shorthanded Marquette. CU has NBA talent on the squad and there’s a massive discrepancy in how KenPom views the Buffs (26th) and where the committee seeded them (10-seed). When in doubt, I’ll take my chances backing the KP metrics at a price. 

Oregon to reach Sweet 16 (+450): As mentioned above, a healthy Ducks team is a threat to make the second weekend, especially with games against an overachieving South Carolina and a potential second-round game with Dana Altman’s former team, Creighton.

Creighton to reach Final Four (+475): Speaking of Creighton, the Jays probably should have been in the Final Four last year and most of this team is back. Akron could be a bit trickier than most think and a game with Oregon or South Carolina wouldn’t be easy, but this is more of a play against Tennessee in the bottom half of this bracket.

Gonzaga/McNeese winner to reach Sweet 16: With McCullar out, it's hard to envision Kansas winning two games here. So pick your Gonzaga-McNeese winner and play 'em to win two games.

First-round bets from Sammy P:

My favorite wagering event in American sports is here.

The NCAA men’s tournament is already underway if you count the play-in games from Tuesday and Wednesday, and you can bet on college basketball’s crown jewel for nearly three weeks if you’re so inclined. It’s glorious.

I’ve cobbled together my favorite 10 — yes, ten — first-round bets on the Thursday and Friday slates, and I’ll be more than happy to sacrifice my stupid bracket for a successful stretch of winning bets.

So many picks, so little time.


Mississippi State +1.5 vs. Michigan State

Tom Izzo’s team has underachieved all year and I don’t expect the pumpkin to suddenly morph into a carriage just because it’s March. I like the Bulldogs to pull away in the second half and give North Carolina fits on Saturday.

Morehead State +12 vs. Illinois

Illinois’ big, talented guards will be enough to survive and advance in this round, but the Illini's defensive lapses are concerning. This is also a total mashup in terms of style because the Illini want to run, and the Eagles want to crawl.

Kentucky-Oakland Over 163

We’ll get plenty of points in this one. Oakland will throw a bunch of zone at the Kentucky youngsters, but I have a hard time believing numerous NBA players won’t be able to crack it. Don’t be surprised if Kentucky scores 100.

Samford +7 vs. Kansas

It’s been a weird year in Lawrence. Bill Self hasn’t had answers for a struggling offense and nagging injuries, and we just learned star guard Kevin McCullar is out for the tournament with a knee injury. Take the points.

Drake ML -125 vs. Washington State

This is my buddy Tom Casale’s favorite first-round bet. Tom’s a very sharp handicapper, and he’s been talking about this Drake team for months. It has swung from +1.5 to -1.5, and I would much rather you lay the extra 15 cents and take the Bulldogs’ moneyline. 

Nobody needs the pain of a 1-point win.

Akron +13 vs. Creighton

Zips head coach John Groce is 7-1 ATS in the Big Dance. 

Obviously, that’s not the biggest sample size in the world, but it proves his teams are constantly undervalued. 

Wise guys bet +14 and +13.5 at the South Point on Selection Sunday and I certainly agree with those moves. Just keep it close.


James Madison +5.5 vs. Wisconsin

Las Vegas oddsmaker Rex Beyers told me his power ratings have James Madison as a 1-point favorite. Wisconsin got as low as -3.5 on Monday morning before a Badger blitz all the way out to -5.5. 

The Dukes (31-3) know how to win and while I’m not sure that they will, I’ll take all those points.

UAB +7 vs. San Diego State

The Aztecs finally broke the dreaded "Mountain West curse" by making it to the National Championship Game last year. Thing is, last year’s run overrates ‘em a smidge this year. 

UAB is a scrappy team that’s won five straight and if the Dragons can goad SDSU into shooting too many 3s, they can win.

New Mexico ML -135 vs. Clemson

The Lobos are a trendy team after a nice run through the Mountain West Tournament and that’s okay. I try not to pass on what I believe are good bets because something is too sexy. 

There’s a reason the 11-seed is favored here, and I’m content laying the moneyline (-135) instead of -2 (-110).

Houston 1H -15 vs. Longwood

The forecast for this one is pain. 

Longwood finished 6-10 in Big Sun play, but won its conference tournament and now gets the nation’s most dangerous defense off a dreadful performance. Yikes. 

If Houston brings its ‘A’ game from the tip, the Cougars might be covering the full-game spread (-24) at half.

2024 NCAA Tourney Record: (0-0, 0.0) 

Patrick Everson is a sports betting analyst for FOX Sports and senior reporter for He is a distinguished journalist in the national sports betting space. He's based in Las Vegas, where he enjoys golfing in 110-degree heat. Follow him on Twitter: @PatrickE_Vegas. 

Jason McIntyre is the co-host of The Herd and a FOX Sports gambling analyst, and he also writes about the NFL and NBA Draft. He joined FS1 in 2016 and has appeared on every show on the network. In 2017, McIntyre began producing gambling content on the NFL, college football and NBA for FOX Sports. He had a gambling podcast for FOX, "Coming Up Winners," in 2018 and 2019. Before arriving at FOX, he created the website The Big Lead, which he sold in 2010. You can find him on Twitter @JasonRMcIntyre.

Sam Panayotovich is a sports betting analyst for FOX Sports and NESN. He previously worked for WGN Radio, NBC Sports and VSiN. He'll probably pick against your favorite team. Follow him on Twitter @spshoot.

Geoff Schwartz is an NFL analyst for FOX Sports. He played eight seasons in the NFL for five different teams. He started at right tackle for the University of Oregon for three seasons and was a second-team All-Pac-12 selection his senior year. Follow him on Twitter @GeoffSchwartz.

Chris "The Bear" Fallica has covered sports for nearly three decades. While college football has been his focus, he also enjoys the NFL, Soccer, Golf, Tennis, MLB, NHL and Horse Racing, with an "occasional" wager on such events. Chris recently won the inaugural Circa Football Invitational and finished in the Top 10 of the Golden Nugget Football Contest. He's a multiple-time qualifier for the NHC Handicapping Championship. Remember, "The less you bet, the more you lose when you win!" Follow him on Twitter @chrisfallica

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