March Madness is here. Get ready for some highly entertaining men’s matchups, including James Madison vs. Wisconsin, McNeese State vs. Gonzaga, Auburn vs. Yale, and Oakland vs. Kentucky.

Here are four NCAAB parlay picks to keep you on the edge of your seat as the tournament gets under way.

Best College Basketball Parlays Today - Thursday/Friday, March 21/22: 4-Leg Parlay Picks (+1173)

Leg 1 Parlay Pick: James Madison +5.5 (-115)

Leg 2 Parlay Pick: McNeese State +6. (-110)

Leg 3 Parlay Pick: Auburn Tigers -12.5 (-115)

Leg 4 Parlay Pick: Oakland +13.5 (-110)

MARCH MADNESS PARLAY PICK @ (+1173): Bet $10 to Win $127.30

WELCOME OFFER: Bet $50 Get $200 if your first bet wins. Download Betway Sportsbook today!

Best March Madness First-Round Bets Today

James Madison vs. Wisconsin Prediction and Pick

The matchup between 12th-seeded James Madison and No. 5 seed Wisconsin has sparked one of the most intriguing conversations related to the opening round of March Madness in 2024. That’s because when the NCAA Tournament schedule was announced, James Madison instantly became one of the favorites to pull off a first-round upset against a higher-seeded opponent.

JMU, which comes into this game with a remarkable 31-3 record, just put on a dominant performance in the Sun Belt Conference Tournament. The Dukes’ offense, averaging 84.4 points per game, is led by guard Terrence Edwards Jr., who averages 17.4 points. Throughout the season, James Madison’s high-octane offense has proven to be a problem for opponents.

The Dukes’ opponent on Friday, the Wisconsin Badgers, went 22-13 this season. The Badgers’ resume looks far less impressive on paper, and they are averaging nearly 10 fewer points per game than JMU this season. However, Wisconsin has been facing stronger competition all season long in the Big Ten Conference, whose teams pose a significantly tougher challenge than most of James Madison’s Sun Belt opponents.

Some people might argue that the Dukes put together their impressive season largely against weaker opponents, and there's some truth to that. However, they did defeat Michigan State early in the season. In any case, Wisconsin will likely be one of their toughest challenges yet.

While that might be the case, I am confident that the Dukes can win this Round 1 matchup. Their ability to move the basketball extremely well and score plenty of points, makes the 5.5-point spread seems like a good bet to me. I’ll take James Madison to cover the spread for the first leg of my NCAAB picks and parlays.

The Pick: James Madison +5.5 (-115)

McNeese State vs. Gonzaga Prediction and Pick The 30-3 McNeese State Cowboys face off against the 25-7 Gonzaga Bulldogs in the NCAA Tournament’s first round on Thursday, and there is a real belief that the Southland Conference team has the advantage in this matchup.

McNeese State has enjoyed a Cinderella season under first-year head coach Will Wade. The new coach has taken the program from 11 straight losing seasons to a 30-3 record in his first season running the show. The Cowboys, who have not been to the NCAA Tournament since 2002, have never won a March Madness game.

Now, not only are they in the tournament, but many people see them as one of the best “underdog” teams in this year’s event. McNeese State is a No.12 seed, but Gonzaga could be vulnerable here with a potential upset in the cards.

The Bulldogs will need to stay alert, but they have some advantages in this game. On paper, they have a much bigger team than the Cowboys, with three of their starters standing 6-foot-8 or taller. The Zags are also a dominant rebounding team, and they do a great job switching gears from defense to offense as one of the country's best counter-attacking teams. Gonzaga’s starting five features four juniors and a senior, led by forwards Graham Ike and Anton Watson.

The Bulldogs remain the favorites, but I expect this to be a closely-fought affair. With that in mind, I’m picking McNeese to beat the spread for the second leg of my CBB parlay picks.

The Pick: McNeese State +6 (-110)

Auburn vs. Yale Prediction and Pick

Auburn is one of my top picks to reach the Final Four, since the Tigers are coming into March Madness as SEC Tournament champions on a six-game winning streak.

The Tigers stifled the Florida Gators in the SEC championship game, holding one of the nation’s most productive scoring teams to just 67 points. The Gators had scored 102 points against Alabama and 95 against Texas A&M in their two previous outings, but Auburn dominated in controlling the championship game.

Florida couldn’t find open shooters throughout its loss to the Tigers, leading to poor shot selection. Auburn shot 50 percent from the floor, compared to Florida’s 36 percent. The Tigers also held the Gators to a stunning 8 percent success rate from 3-point range.

This Auburn team is the real deal, averaging 83 points per game this season and playing high-level defense.

For Yale, which just won the Ivy League tournament, this might be a bridge too far on Friday. The Bulldogs went 22-9 this season, but the only time they faced a ranked team was in a 75-60 loss to Kansas midway through the season.

Yale has a talented starting five, and 7-foot-0 sophomore Danny Wolf has had a major breakout year in leading the team with 14.3 points and 9.8 rebounds per game. However, I don’t see the Bulldogs laying a finger on an SEC powerhouse team in this one, so I’m going with Auburn against the spread.

The Pick: Auburn Tigers -12.5 (-115)

Oakland vs. Kentucky Prediction and Pick

Oakland head coach Greg Kampe seemed extremely confident on Selection Sunday after his team drew a first-round matchup against Kentucky. He noted that his Golden Grizzlies team is one of the best in the country at defending the 3-point line, which is undoubtedly where Kentucky displays its greatest strength.

That battle behind the arc makes for an interesting matchup, and some experts are putting Kentucky on upset alert because of it.

Oakland (23-11) topped the Horizon League during the regular season and also just won its conference tournament. Golden Grizzlies junior forward Trey Townsend is his team’s star, leading Oakland in points, rebounds, and assists. He’ll need to have a great performance if the South Region’s No. 14 seed plans to upset the third-seeded Wildcats.

Meanwhile, Kentucky might be one of the outsiders with a chance to go all the way this year. The thought of a first-round upset against a major college program is always entertaining, but given the talent that the Wildcats have on their roster, they should be able to win this one comfortably.

Should the Golden Grizzlies force Kentucky off the 3-point line, the Wildcats would have a size advantage driving to the basket. Kentucky senior guard Antonio Reeves has been one of the SEC’s best players all season, and keeping him quiet is far easier said than done. Reeves is averaging 20 points per game this season, while shooting 44 percent from 3-point range. Teammate Reed Sheppard leads Kentucky with a 52.5 percent mark from downtown.

This will be another must-watch game on Thursday, and Oakland will likely keep it close. I’ll take the Golden Grizzlies with the spread to round out my college basketball parlay picks today.

The Pick: Oakland +13.5 (-110)

Bet on March Madness at Betway

Find season-long NCAAB odds on the Betway sportsbook. You'll find all the latest spreads, totals, money lines and over/under. Missed tip off? No problem, Betway also offers live betting. All your NCAAB betting needs are covered at our online sportsbook.

Visit Betway’s NCAAB picks page for picks and predictions throughout the season.