March Madness First Round Parlay Picks: 2024 NCAA Tournament Day 1 Mega Parlay

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Caleb Wilfinger


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Deputy Editor for Pickswise with years of experience handicapping and giving out winning picks. Lover of all US sports and Southampton FC. For Caleb Wilfinger media enquiries, please email
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The first Thursday morning of the NCAA Tournament always feels like Christmas morning to college basketball fans. Considering the drama and intrigue we’ve seen in recent years, I couldn’t be more excited for this edition of March Madness to finally get underway. And what better way to celebrate a massive 16-game college hoops slate on Thursday than with a mega parlay? That’s right; I have crafted an NCAAB parlay for today’s games that pays out at nearly 11/1 odds at FanDuel Sportsbook.

Let’s dive in, but make sure you also check out our college basketball picks for EVERY game throughout March Madness.

Drake ML (-115)

Nevada ML (-120)

Samford ML (+245)

NCAAB Parlay odds: +1082

Drake Bulldogs ML over Washington State Cougars (-115)

A season ago, we saw Drake hold an 8-point lead against the eventual South Region winner Miami Hurricanes with 5 minutes to play. However, the Bulldogs let that game slip through their fingers, a loss that has undoubtedly fueled them on their way to a Missouri Valley title this season. The Bulldogs have a healthy mix of talented freshmen and veteran mainstays in their rotation, plus the two-time Missouri Valley Player of the Year in Tucker DeVries. Since losing to Indiana State on February 3, Drake has won 9 of its last 10 games, including a dominant showing in the MVC Tournament. Per BartTorvik, the Bulldogs have been one of the 32 best teams in the nation over the last month, well ahead of a number of higher seeds, including Kansas, Alabama, South Carolina and Utah State, among others.

On the opposite side of the court, Washington State is a team that outperformed all expectations this season, finishing with some impressive wins in conference play against the likes of Arizona and Colorado, which earned them a #7 seed. With that said, this team felt a bit overseeded to me and Drake isn’t a great matchup for a Washington State side that plays extremely slow (314th in adjusted tempo per KenPom) and can’t shoot threes. It doesn’t help matters that the Cougars are 297th in turnover percentage, a concerning stat against a Drake team that is 29th in that same metric over the past month. Let’s go with the Bulldogs on the money line.

Check out our full Drake vs Washington State predictions

Nevada Wolf Pack ML over Dayton Flyers (-110)

These teams enter this game on much different paths, with Nevada ending its season on a 10-2 run while Dayton floundered down the stretch and bowed out early in the Atlantic-10 conference tournament. The Flyers take (and make) a ton of threes, boasting the nation’s third-highest 3-point scoring rate (40.2%) entering the postseason. In fact, nearly 45 percent of Dayton’s total shot volume comes from beyond the arc, making perimeter defense a top priority for this Nevada team. Fortunately for this matchup, the Wolf Pack defense has been excellent all year long, sitting at 36th in adjusted defensive efficiency and 38th in defensive 3-point scoring rate (31.2%). Therefore, I’m confident that they can contain Dayton’s lethal 3-point shooting. In what should be a close game throughout, I’m happy to place my confidence in the Nevada backcourt of Kenan Blackshear and Jarod Lucas to get the job done.

Check out our full Nevada vs Dayton predictions

Samford Bulldogs ML over Kansas Jayhawks (+245)

There are a couple of factors at play that make Samford an intriguing money line option to pull the upset over Kansas on Thursday. First, the Bulldogs have a style of play that could give their opponents trouble. Champions of the Southern Conference, Samford plays at a breakneck pace, and they will jack a ton of threes as well. If those shots are falling early, it could put Bill Self and the Kansas Jayhawks in real trouble.

There’s also the very concerning matter of the Jayhawks’ injury issues. We know that Kevin McCullar will miss this game and Hunter Dickinson will likely not be playing at full strength either. Those are inarguably the 2 most important pieces on this Kansas offense, so the Jayhawks could be seriously handicapped on that side of the floor too. The Jayhawks have very little depth, and while Self has stated that he doesn’t need a deep rotation because of the lengthy media timeouts in the tournament, the pace of the Samford offense could end up being a problem nonetheless — especially with this game taking place in Salt Lake City. It doesn’t help that Kansas attempts outside shots at a much lower rate than its contemporaries, so the math will be on Samford’s side. Let’s roll with the Bulldogs to pull off a stunner.

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