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2024 March Madness predictions: Expert picks against the spread, NCAA bracket odds in Friday first round games

On Friday, the first-round of the 2024 NCAA Tournament rolls along as non-stop March Madness action enters its second day with the the field shrinking from 64 to 32 by the end of the day.

The sun-up to sun-down schedule is unique in the sports world, and now that your brackets are set — hopefully without too many red marks after the first 16 games — there are other picks that can be made in the first round. Getting some extra skin in the game can certainly put you in the tournament spirit or liven things up even more.

Our CBS Sports experts have convened to provide you further insight into Friday’s first-round games with picks straight up and against the spread. Our expert brackets may offer some help, too, especially if you’re considering seed-line upsets.

The NCAA Tournament is all about surviving and advancing, but for those plunking down on their coach or pulling up to their desk to consume as much March Madness content as possible — especially over the next four days — which teams cover their spreads will be quite important as well. The CBS Sports college basketball experts have been covering the sport for years and certainly all season since November, and they are not shy with their picks for these games.

Be sure to stick with CBS Sports for the rest of the month as NCAA Tournament coverage continues through the end of the Final Four. Let’s take a look at our expert picks as first round games continue Friday.

Odds via SportsLine concensus | All times Eastern

2024 NCAA Tournament picks

(6) Clemson vs. (11) New Mexico

Friday, 3:10 p.m. | truTV, March Madness LiveWhat a poor draw for Clemson, catching a New Mexico team whose quality is much more fitting of a No. 8 seed and therefore provides a much tougher test than the Tigers would have faced in another bracket. The backcourt trio of Donovan Dent, Jaelen House and Jamal Mashburn Jr. are going to cause all kinds of havoc for Clemson’s defense, and I’m not sure if the Tigers’ ball-handlers are going to succeed enough against New Mexico’s pressure. Clemson does have a size advantage that New Mexico will want to avoid, but with pace and pressure, the Lobos can dictate the terms of the game. Pick: New Mexico -2.5 — Chip Patterson

Parrish Norlander Palm Boone Cobb Patterson

Spread

NMEX -2

NMEX -2

NMEX -2

NMEX -2

NMEX -2

NMEX -2

Straight up

NMEX

NMEX

NMEX

NMEX

NMEX

NMEX

(7) Florida vs. (10) Colorado

Friday, 4:30 p.m. | TBS, March Madness LiveA team from the First Four has made the second round of the NCAA Tournament in three of the last four years, and the Buffaloes seem best-equipped to keep that trend rolling. They scooted past a really talented Boise State team in the First Four on Wednesday with one of their best defensive outings of the season and have a number of weapons inside and out to keep Florida on alert. I like the Buffs by a smidge here, so I’ll take the free points. Pick: Colorado +2 — Kyle Boone

Parrish Norlander Palm Boone Cobb Patterson

Spread

COLO +1

COLO +1

COLO +1

COLO +1

UF -1

COLO +1

Straight up

COLO

COLO

COLO

COLO

UF

COLO

Who will win every college basketball game, and which favorites should be on upset alert? Visit SportsLine now to get picks and predictions for every college basketball game, all from a model that simulates every game 10,000 times.

(8) Nebraska vs. (9) Texas A&M

Friday, 6:50 p.m. | TNT, March Madness LiveTexas A&M has won five of its last six games, including a convincing win over Kentucky in the SEC Tournament. The Aggies are finding their stride offensively and beginning to look like the team that was expected to compete for the SEC title. With veteran guards Wade Taylor IV and Tyrece Radford leading the way, TAMU is going to be a tough out for a Nebraska program unaccustomed to this stage. The Aggies are ferocious on the glass and can turn into a juggernaut when they make 3s. Pick: Texas A&M +1 — David Cobb

Parrish Norlander Palm Boone Cobb Patterson

Spread

TAMU +1.5

NEB -1.5

TAMU +1.5

NEB -1.5

TAMU +1.5

TAMU +1.5

Straight up

TAMU

NEB -1.5

TAMU

NEB -1.5

TAMU

TAMU

(4) Alabama vs. (13) College of Charleston

Friday, 7:35 p.m. | truTV, March Madness LiveAlabama comes into the NCAA Tournament struggling defensively, which makes Charleston a challenging opponent. The Cougars are one of the nation’s top 3-point shooting teams and will be totally fine playing at Bama’s preferred uptempo pace. Charleston took San Diego State, an eventual Final Four team, down to the wire in last year’s tournament. That experience will serve the Cougars well against a Crimson Tide squad that is searching for rhythm. Pick: Charleston +9 — David Cobb

Parrish Norlander Palm Boone Cobb Patterson

Spread

BAMA -9.5

SAM +7.5

BAMA -9.5

BAMA -9.5

BAMA -9.5

BAMA -9.5

Straight up

BAMA

BAMA

BAMA

BAMA

BAMA

BAMA

(8) Utah State vs. (9) TCU

Friday, 9:55 p.m. | TBS, March Madness LiveIn what turned out to be a terrific year for the Mountain West, Danny Sprinkle’s Aggies stood above the rest in winning the regular-season title with a potent and balanced offensive attack. TCU has been hot and cold on that end, and it’s coming off a season-low 45 points vs. Houston in the Big 12 Tournament. Utah State has the goods to keep it within the number and potentially pull off the upset. Pick: Utah State +4 — Kyle Boone

Parrish Norlander Palm Boone Cobb Patterson

Spread

UTST +3

UTST +3

UTST +3

UTST +3

UTST +3

TCU -3

Straight up

UTST

UTST

UTST

UTST

UTST

TCU

(8) FAU vs. (9) Northwestern

Friday, 12:15 p.m. | CBS, March Madness LiveThis is too many points to give to Mr. Clutch Boo Buie and the Wildcats. This is a team that’s defeated Purdue, Illinois and Michigan State this season, and in total, has more wins against NCAA Tournament teams (five) than FAU. The Owls have been a bit inconsistent over the last month, going 5-3 in their last eight games with losses in some of their toughest games. When Buie has a history of coming up big in close game scenarios, I love getting Northwestern now catching more than a whole possession of points. Pick: Northwestern +3.5 — Chip Patterson

Parrish Norlander Palm Boone Cobb Patterson

Spread

FAU -2.5

FAU -2.5

NW +2.5

NW +2.5

FAU -2.5

NW +2.5

Straight up

FAU

FAU

FAU

NW

FAU

NW

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