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March Madness Picks: NCAA Basketball Best Bets for Thursday March 23 on DraftKings Sportsbook

Julian Edlow gives his top March Madness bets for Thursday March 23 on DraftKings Sportsbook

We’re through the opening weekend of the Madness, and now we have the week to let the dust settle and breakdown these Sweet Sixteen matchups. With a shorter board, lines tend to tighten up, but there are still some games I’m interested in taking a side.

Let’s breakdown some college basketball bets on DraftKings Sportsbook!

No. 8 Arkansas vs. No. 4 UConn (Thursday 7:15pm ET)

West Regional Semifinal — Las Vegas, NV

UConn -3.5 (-115) — 1-unit

This matchup terrifies me, but I do think the Huskies are ultimately the side. Arkansas has shown a high ceiling at times this season, and bottled up one of their best games on both ends in the win over Kansas — a game I backed the Hogs.

Eric Musselman is a tremendous coach, and will give his team an advantage at this time of year. Arkansas has talent and size, and will play as hard as they possibly can. That’s tough to go against.

What pushes me towards Connecticut is the way that I bet a lot of games this deep in the tournament — the balance on both sides of the ball. KenPom has UConn winning this game by six points, as the Huskies rank third in adjusted offensive efficiency and 14th in adjusted defensive efficiency. As for Arkansas, the defense is solid at 15th, but the offense ranks 51st.

While it’s clear that Arkansas is much more dangerous at its ceiling than a typical 8-seed, the Hogs are also going to have to find ways to score against elite defense, and its not a good jump shooting team. This should be a fabulous game, but I think UConn eventually pulls away due to their advantages shooting the ball from outside, and in the paint with Adama Sanogo.

No. 3 Gonzaga vs. No. 2 UCLA (Thursday 9:45pm ET)

West Regional Semifinal — Las Vegas, NV

UCLA ML (-125) — 2-units

This has the potential to be one of the best games of the tournament, if anything for the atmosphere of these two west coast heavyweights going at it in Vegas. Both programs will have significant fan bases at this game, a rematch of one of the all-time great tournament games in the Final Four back in 2021 (Jalen Suggs banked one in to win it for the Zags at the buzzer).

This is a different Gonzaga team, in the sense that they aren’t a one or two loss top-seeded team with all the pressure on them. That could help them in some ways, but the Bulldogs historically struggle once they make the Sweet 16. I see that happening again this year, once again, due to balance.

Sure, the Zags have the most efficient offense in the nation, but they also rank 75th on defense. UCLA is 21st on offense, but second in terms of defensive efficiency. I also give the Bruins a coaching advantage in this one. I feel Mick Cronin can come up with a game plan to grind this game up, and play to UCLA’s advantages. A good comparison was the PAC-12 title game, which although UCLA barely lost, they proved they can compete with an elite offense while playing banged up — we discussed on Unreasonable Odds here.

If UCLA plays its game defensively, I expect Jamie Jaquez Jr. to match Drew Timmie, and the Bruins to win the rest of their matchups. I placed this bet early in the week, and as someone with an 18-1 ticket on Gonzaga, might have the luxury to add to it.

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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.