The 2024 NCAA tournament got off to an average start on Thursday.

Sure, Oakland’s win over Kentucky was stunning and Dayton’s comeback was awesome, but only five of the 16 first-round games were decided by single digits.

Here’s hoping Friday’s games are more electric across the board and we get a little more chaos. Usually there’s one tame day and one insanely crazy day in the first round.

Let’s take a look at the biggest games on deck with lines from NJ sportsbooks and PA sportsbooks.


No. 16 Grambling vs. No. 1 Purdue (-27) (O/U:138.5) (7:30 p.m. ET)

Purdue is only a first-round story as a No. 1 seed because of its previous NCAA tournament shortcomings.

The Boilermakers have been eliminated by a double-digit seed in each of the last three tournaments. The losses to North Texas, St. Peter’s, and FDU are the reasons why anyone would consider betting on Grambling.

Outside of FDU’s upset of Purdue last year, No. 16 seeds coming out of the First Four have not fared well. Only two of the seven No. 16 seeds to come out of the First Four and lose kept their games within 20 points since 2021. Just eight of the 24 teams to advance as a No. 16 seed from the First Four stayed within 20 points of their top-seeded opposition.


No. 9 Texas A&M vs. No. 8 Nebraska (-1; O/U: 147.5) (6:50 p.m. ET)

This is the game that will make you fall in love with guard play.

Nebraska’s Keisei Tominaga and the Texas A&M duo of Wade Taylor and Tyrece Radford are awesome!

A&M posted four straight totals in the 80s despite ranking 352nd in three-point offense (analytics be damned).

The Aggies went 21-13 to the over and Nebraska was 21-11-1 to the over this season.

Simply put, there are a lot of shot makers on both squads and that should give us one of the most, if not the, most exciting game of the first round.


No. 10 Colorado vs. No. 7 Florida (-1.5; O/U: 158.5) (4:35 p.m. ET)

At least one at-large team who participated in the First Four won another game in the NCAA tournament in every year since 2011, except one.

Colorado is the lone team left to fill that trend after Colorado State’s painful, low-scoring loss to Texas on Thursday.

The Buffaloes are 18-17 against the spread and 20-15 to the over. Florida is 22-12-1 to the over and plays at one of the fastest paces in the country.

The Gators scored at least 80 points in eight of their nine wins in February and March, so if there’s a high over/under you want to attack at FanDuel or DraftKings, this is likely the one.


Cinderellas to Watch


No. 12 James Madison (+5.5; O/U: 145.5) vs. No. 5 Wisconsin (9:45 p.m. ET)

James Madison is the super trendy underdog pick because they’ve got more than 30 wins and beat Michigan State earlier this season.

The Dukes have a legit chance to down Wisconsin because they rank 39th in three-point offense and the Badgers own the worst three-point defense of any team in the field.


No. 13 Charleston (+9; O/U: 172.5) vs. No. 4 Alabama (7:40 p.m. ET)

Alabama’s scouting report is simple.

The Crimson Tide refuse to play an ounce of defense, which is why the total sits at 172.5.

Charleston has not lost since February 1st and does play some defense. The Cougars have not allowed an opponent to score over 80 points since February 3rd. Alabama loves to play in the 80s and 90s.


No. 15 Western Kentucky (+14.5; O/U: 157.5) vs. No. 2 Marquette

Western Kentucky plays at the No. 1 tempo in the country.

Marquette point guard Tyler Kolek will be playing in his first game in three weeks.

Maybe that’s the perfect set of circumstances for Friday’s most unlikely upset?