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Aaron Torres NCAA Tournament Day 1 Betting Card - presented by Betfred Sportsbook

Credit: Aaron Torres

It's Thursday, the first day of the NCAA Tournament, and you know that means.

Wall-to-wall basketball. And wall-to-wall betting.

That's right, while the NCAA Tournament is a sport's fans dream, an afternoon meant for day drinking, but it's also a bettor's delight, with so many games to wager on.

So with it, who am I taking?

Well, here is my Day 1 betting card, presented by Betfred Sportsbook.

I won't be betting on every game, but the ones I like... I REALLY like.

Here's who I'm taking.

And again, for all your wagering needs, visit the Betfred Sportsbook.

No. 12 Charleston vs. No. 5 San Diego State (-5) - South Regional (3:10 ET, TruTV)

Pat Kelsey's Charleston Cougars (love me some cougars!) are a trendy upset pick, coming off a 31-3 regular season. But from the second the bracket came out, this was one I just couldn't see.

Charleston is one of the highest scoring teams in college hoops this season (80 ppg), despite not shooting the ball particularly well (just 33 percent from behind the arc) and starting just one player over 6'4 tall. It's also worth noting that they beat a grand total of one team in the regular season that ended up in the NCAA Tournament field, Kent State.

Well, not only is San Diego State elite defensively, holding opponents to 41 percent shooting, but athletically, they're just different than anyone that Charleston has seen since the out of conference portion of the slate.

Also, there's this: San Diego State coach Brian Dutcher has never won a tournament game since taking over for Steve Fisher, and his players are openly talking about how important it is to get him a win here.

Think the Aztecs win and dominate.

No. 10 Boise State (ML - +110) vs. No. 7 Northwestern - West Regional, (7:35 ET, TruTV)

What's that you ask: A year after the Mountain West went 0-4 in the NCAA Tournament (and Nevada lost in the First Four on Wednesday), I'm taking a second Mountain West team to win and cover here?

You're darn right I am.

Look, Northwestern was an incredible story this year. But if you look at their schedule, they won a lot of close games, against either bad teams, or at times that was advantageous schedule wise. They won by three against Wisconsin, and then a two-point win in Madison. A six-point win over a bad Ohio State team. A one-point win over Indiana right after they lost Xavier Johnson for the year, and then a two-point win over Indiana where they nearly blew a huge lead.

Once the Big Ten found out they were for real, the Wildcats faltered, losing four of their final five overall.

Boise State is a veteran team that is in its second straight NCAA Tournament after losing a heartbreaker last year. And unlike Northwestern (which is primarily a defensively driven team), Boise is both excellent defensively (Top 40 in field goal percentage defense), while also starting five players who average double figures.

Boise rolls into the second round here.

No. 10 Penn State vs. Texas A&M (-3) - Midwest Regional (9:55 ET, TBS)

Yes, I know there's a lot of smoke about Texas A&M's seeding - and some think it might be a distraction. Then again, they were pissed off about missing the NCAA Tournament last year, and ultimately ended up in the NIT Final, giving them momentum into this year.

Well, fast-forward to 2023, and I don't think A&M is all too worried - and beyond that, I just like the matchups here.

Everything that Penn State does is centered around All-American guard Jalen Pickett, a star fifth-year guy who averaged 17, seven and six this year. The thing is though, A&M actually has the perfect matchup for him on the perimeter, Dexter Dennis.

Dennis was literally brought in this off-season because the one thing the Aggies were missing was an elite wing defender.

In other words, Dennis was brough in for this moment.

Cut off Pickett, you cut off the head of the snake.

Aggies roll here.

To get full odds on the NCAA Tournament - visit Betfred Sportsbook

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