CLEVELAND -- Earlier this week the American Gaming Association estimated that across the United States 70 million brackets will be filled out for the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament this year and that in total, $13 billion will be wagered on March Madness.

Think America enjoys The Big Dance? You got it! Or, I should say, "You bet!"

Last fall, we launched "Picks With Nick" where we selected games against the Las Vegas spreads in the NFL and college football, strictly for entertainment purposes only, of course, to see how we stacked up against oddsmakers in hopes of having a winning year. We accomplished that goal.

However, sports betting in the United States is still illegal outside of Vegas, but it is estimated that over $133 billion, yes with a B, is wagered on sports per year in this country, 97% of which is done so illegally. So, the interest is certainly there, so why not capitalize on an interest that the American public definitely enjoys?

After a winning football season, by popular demand from listeners and folks on Twitter, we are bringing back "Picks With Nick" for March Madness. Our goal is simple: to select winners against the spread (ATS) with a goal of hitting 55%. (52.4% ATS is breaking even in handicapping).


Below are my selections ATS for First Round NCAA Tournament action for Thursday, March 16:

Game: 5 Notre Dame vs. 12 Princeton

Time: 12:15 pm ET

TV: CBS

Spread: Notre Dame -6

Nick's Pick: The Ivy League champs were fortunate to sneak past Penn and Yale in their conference tournament semifinal and title game, the Fighting Irish are too talented and will not overlook this 23-win Princeton team. We'll ride Notre Dame -6.


Game: 5 Minnesota vs. 12 Middle Tennessee State

Time: 4:00 pm ET

TV: TNT

Spread: Middle Tennessee State -1

Nick's Pick: The Blue Raiders are no slouch team, just because they may have that "mid-major" label. Just ask Michigan State last year. And, Middle Tennessee brings back plenty of talent from last year's team. That said, Richard Pitino's squad will not be caught sleep-walking and will prove to be too big and physical. Take Minnesota +1.


Game: 8 Northwestern vs. 9 Vanderbilt

Time: 4:30 pm ET

TV: TBS

Spread: Vanderbilt -2

Nick's Pick: Bryce Drew has done an impressive job in his first season at Vanderbilt, while Chris Collins did the unthinkable getting Northwestern into the dance for the first time in school history. This may be a nail-biter, but the Wildcats can attack a one-dimensional Commodores team in multiple ways. Northwestern +2 is the pick here.


Game: 6 Maryland vs. 11 Xavier

Time: 6:50 pm ET

TV: TNT

Spread: Maryland -2

Nick's Pick: The Musketeers are probably under-seeded in this tournament, but Melo Trimble and the 'Terps are a bad draw for Chris Mack's squad. Let's ride Maryland -2.


Game: 7 St. Mary's vs. 10 VCU

Time: 7:20 pm ET

TV: TBS

Spread: St. Mary's -4.5

Nick's Pick: Fundamentally sound, fantastic shooting vs. defensive-minded, athletic. Yes, the Gaels are the higher-seed and the Vegas favorite in this one, but we side with "Havoc" and VCU +4.5 and don't be surprised if they are moving on to face Arizona in the Round of 32.


Game: 3 Florida State vs. 14 Florida Gulf Coast University

Time: 9:20 pm ET

TV: TNT

Spread: Florida State - 12

Nick's Pick: Orlando, Florida will be the place to be Thursday night when these two schools clash in the First Round. Yes, the Seminoles are the more talented team and they certainly have more length. But, "Dunk City" aka FGCU has gotten comfortable as a Cinderella in the month of March...let's ride the Eagles +12.


- Nick Camino

Record for March Madness ATS: 0-0


Note from Nick: All betting lines used will come from The Wynn Race & Sports Book in Las Vegas. The lines can change at any time, but we will only use lines 72 hours in advance and closer. Picks will be made based on the lines when we post.

 

DISCLAIMER: Newsradio WTAM 1100 and Nick Camino do not accept or place bets. This is not a gambling website. WTAM 1100 and Nick Camino do not condone illegal sports wagering. Any information shared on this page is strictly for entertainment purposes, as well as on-air and online content.