Arguably the most entertaining stretch of basketball of the year is finally here — the opening round of March Madness. With 16 games going off on each of the first two days, let’s focus in on Friday’s betting card.
Let’s breakdown some college basketball bets on DraftKings Sportsbook!
No. 10 USC vs. No. 7 Michigan State (Friday 12:15pm ET)
East Region — Columbus, OH
Michigan State ML (-130) — 1-unit
I’m not trying to take the square “Izzo in March” approach here, but I think Sparty is the more tested team both out of conference and in conference play. USC has shown a high ceiling in some tests against UCLA and Arizona, but hasn’t been playing well lately, with Drew Peterson playing hurt. I like Michigan State’s veteran guards to help them advance here in a location that’s much more friendly to Sparty.
No. 14 UCSB vs. No. 3 Baylor (Friday 1:30pm ET)
South Region — Denver, CO
UCSB +11 (-110) — 1-unit
UNDER 143 (-110) — 1-unit
I bet Gauchos and put the play out on Twitter when the bracket came out. Baylor is a frustrating team. The Bears have everything it takes to win it all, but have massive issues defensively and lose focus at times. They should win this game, but I think UCSB will play scrappy and make this a game. UCSB has had no issues going away from home this season, including a 4-1 ATS record on neutral floors.
As for the under in the game, we have an early tip here and a tough place to play in Denver. I’m tailing Corbie Craig on this one, so listen to analysis on his play from the Unreasonable Odds Podcast.
No. 12 VCU vs. No. 5 Saint Mary’s (Friday 2:00pm ET)
West Region — Albany, NY
VCU +6 (-110) — 2-units
VCU ML (+200) — 1-unit
This was my favorite play when the bracket was revealed, and the drop in the price justifies what I thought when I put these plays in. I put out VCU +6 and a +200 ML play as soon as they became available, but I really like VCU outright in this game, so I think anything +3.5 and/or +150 ML or better is worth a play.
Saint Mary’s is an analytics darling that I just don’t see it with. One of my biggest bets of the season was going against them with Gonzaga. VCU isn’t the Zags, but the Rams’ full court press if going to both Mary’s. VCU will force turnovers and make more plays on offense in this game. It’s also a brutal draw geographically for the Gaels — what equates to an 11am PT tip all the way out east in Albany.
No. 12 Drake vs. No. 5 Miami (Friday 7:20pm ET)
Midwest Region — Albany, NY
Drake +3.5 (-110) — 1-unit
This is another one I played an opener on and put on Twitter with a good number. This should be a popular upset in brackets, and Drake can really play. I lean to them winning this game, but the value on the play is probably gone. If you didn’t get in early I’d pass on this one. If it moves towards Miami, I may even look to play some ML and try to middle. Stay tuned.
No. 14 Grand Canyon vs. No. 3 Gonzaga (Friday 7:35pm ET)
West Region — Denver, CO
Gonzaga Team Total OVER 86.5 (-110) — 1.5-units
Gonzaga is a team that I have a Sweet 16 future on from my previous article. While that could get interesting in the next round, I have no concerns here against an Antelopes team that plays right into Zaga’s strengths. They like to push pace and score and not play much defense — Gonzaga will beat them at their own game.
So in this one, I’m backing the Bulldogs to put up some points. Grand Canyon ranks 198th in adjusted defensive efficiency on KenPom, while the Zags have the most efficient offense in the nation. Triple digits wouldn’t shock me here.
No. 9 FAU vs. No. 8 Memphis (Friday 9:20pm ET)
East Region — Columbus, OH
Memphis ML (-135) — 2-units
In the futures article above, you’ll see I like the Tigers’ chances to upset Purdue. But to get there, we can’t overlook the Owls. I think Memphis will come ready for this game. Memphis has a veteran backcourt, and the best player on the floor in Kendric Davis. The Tigers also have size to control the paint in this one.
FAU’s had a spectacular season, but outside of the Florida win, there isn’t much to go on. Memphis has been well tested lately, taking Houston down to the wire in the regular season finale, and then beating them in the AAC Title. Let’s carry that momentum over.
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All views expressed are my own. I am an employee of DraftKings and am ineligible to play in public DFS or DKSB contests.
The contents contained in this article do not constitute a representation that any particular strategy will guarantee success. All customers should use their own skill and judgment.