2022 NCAA Tournament Thursday first-round odds, trends: North Carolina (vs. Marquette), Akron (vs. UCLA) taking biggest spread leans

There are 16 games in the NCAA Tournament on Thursday!
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The most-wagered matchup as of this writing at Caesars Sportsbook among Thursday's 16 NCAA Tournament Round 1 games is No. 11 Michigan vs. 6 Colorado State, but that's to be expected with it the first on the 16-game schedule with a 12:15 p.m. ET tip. The two games today with the most lopsided spread action on one team are No. 9 Marquette vs. No. 8 North Carolina and No. 13 Akron vs. No. 4 UCLA.

The Wolverines have dropped to 1-point favorites over the Rams because Michigan will be without starting point guard DeVante' Jones as he suffered a reported concussion in practice Tuesday and didn't even travel with the club to Indianapolis. The Wolverines are hopeful Jones could recover in time to participate in the Round of 32, assuming U-M advances. Jones is a graduate transfer averaging 10.7 points, 4.6 rebounds and 4.6 assists per game. True freshman Frankie Collins, the team's backup point guard, could be elevated to the starting lineup.

Bettors are split on the spread for that game with 57 percent of tickets on Michigan but 53 percent of money on Colorado State.

The biggest money lean of the day is on Akron of the Mid-American Conference getting 13.5 points against UCLA, a 2021 Final Four team. The Zips are taking 86 percent of the money on that game and 68 percent of tickets.

It's the first-ever meeting between the schools and they didn't have any common opponents this season. Akron coach John Groce is 9-0 in his career in the Round of 64, with three wins as a head coach (Illinois in 2013; Ohio in 2012 and 2010) and six as an assistant. It's the fifth NCAA Tournament appearance for Akron and first since 2013. The Zips have yet to win a game in the Big Dance.

A close second on the biggest money lean Thursday is North Carolina at -3.5 against Marquette. The Heels, in Coach Hubert Davis' first Big Dance, are taking 84 percent of the spread money and 70 percent of tickets. UNC is 1-4 in neutral-site games this season with those four losses coming to the ACC champion (Virginia Tech), a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament (Kentucky) and two No. 3 seeds (Purdue and Tennessee). The Tar Heels are 7-4 SU all-time as a No. 8 seed, including 3-1 in the first round.

Marquette's 2021-22 roster features just a pair of players with NCAA Tournament experience, and both Darryl Morsell and Kur Kuath advanced to the postseason with different programs.

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Matt SeveranceSeverance Pays