Videos by OutKick
The sports betting world stops Thursday, March 16th when the 1st round of the 2023 NCAA Tournament tips off. Fifteen of the 16 possible games are set with the last awaiting results from the First Four matchups.
There will be wall-to-wall NCAA Tournament games airing on CBS, TNT, TBS, and tru TV all day on both Thursday and Friday. For now, let’s hone in on the games starting from 12:15-4:30 p.m. ET.
NCAA TOURNAMENT 2023: BETTING SLEEPERS FOR EVERY REGION, INCLUDING NO. 8 SEED MEMPHIS
All of the games handicapped below are in the South Region and that’s random. Five of the eight Thursday early window NCAA Tournament matchups are from the South and I like what I like.
South Region: 4-seed Virginia Cavaliers vs. 13-seed Furman Paladins, 12:40 p.m. ET on tru TV
- Moneyline: Furman (+195), Virginia (-230)
- Spread: FURMAN +5.5 (-110), Virginia -5.5 (-110)
- Total — 132 — Over: -110, Under: -110
Point blank, teams need to hit free throws if you’re going to back them to cover -5.5. Virginia ranks 250th nationally out of 363 programs in free throw percentage.
These elimination games usually come down to the final possessions and teams need to put away opponents by hitting free throws. Possessions are particularly hard to come by in UVA games.
The ‘Hoos are 343rd in tempo, per Ken Pom, which makes them ripe for upsets. In a low possession game, there is a smaller margin for error for multi-possession favorites. Especially if that favorite cannot make free throws.
Also, I’m looking to fade Virginia here because its over-seeded according to the analytics community. The Cavaliers are ranked 16th in the NCAA Tournament’s 68-team field.
But, UVA average rank across Ken Pom, Bart Torvik, Ed Feng, Jeff Sagarin and Erik Haslam is roughly 29th. Furthermore, Virginia has shot poorly down the stretch.
According to BartTorvik.com, the ‘Hoos are 291st in effective field goal shooting since the middle of last month and 334th in 3-point percentage.
Furman moves the ball well (22nd in assist-to-field-goal made rate) and attacks the paint. The Paladins are 2nd in offensive free-throw-attempt rate (FTr) over the last month. These teams have the same average height so Furman won’t be scared away from the paint.
Based on Virginia’s stale offense, struggles at the foul line and Furman’s aggressiveness, -5.5 is just too many points for the ‘Hoos to be laying.
BET: Furman +5.5 (-110) at DraftKings Sportsbook
OutKick Bets Podcast: March Madness 2023 Betting Powwow featuring Grayson Weir & Dan Zaksheske
South Region: 7-seed Missouri Tigers vs. 10-seed Utah State Aggies, 1:40 p.m. ET on TNT
- Moneyline: UTAH STATE (-125), Missouri (+105)
- Spread: Utah State -1.5 (-110), Missouri +1.5 (-110)
- Total — 155 — Over: -110, Under: -110
Not only is the lower-seed Utah State favored over the higher-seed Missouri. But, both the analytics community and the betting market like the Aggies more than the Tigers.
Plus DraftKings lists the Aggies to win the South Region at +2500 and the Tigers at +4000. Most of the money at DraftKings is on Missouri as of Tuesday evening, per VSIN, and the line isn’t budging.
This is a red flag since typically the sportsbooks adjust spreads based on liability. Perhaps oddsmakers are taking pro-Utah State from sharps or trying to bait the public into betting more money on Missouri.
Utah State’s average rank among Ken Pom, ESPN’s BPI, and Jeff Sagarin is 28.7 and Missouri’s is 49.7. Ken Pom and Bart Torvik give the Aggies better than a 60% chance to beat the Tigers.
The Aggies have a strength-on-weakness edge over the Tigers in getting to the foul line. They rank 65th nationally in offensive FTr and Missouri 276th in defensive FTr.
Also, Utah State is 11th in 3-point percentage, Missouri is 266th in defensive 3-point percentage, and 347th out of 363 programs in 3-point-attempt rate (3PAr) allowed.
So not only can we fade the public but we get the more efficient team in Utah State that has a couple of strength-on-weakness edges over Missouri.
BET: Utah State -125 moneyline at DraftKings Sportsbook, up to -130 before laying up to -3 with the Aggies
South Region: 5-seed San Diego State Aztecs vs. 12-seed Charleston Cougars, 3:10 p.m. ET on tru TV
- Moneyline: San Diego State (-215), Charleston (+185)
- Spread: San Diego State -5.5 (-110), Charleston +5.5 (-110)
- Total — 155 — Over: -110, Under: -110
If you’re familiar with my work then you’ve heard me say: “Public ‘dogs get slaughtered by sportsbooks”. Charleston is a 30-win team and 12-seeds beat 5-seeds in almost every NCAA Tournament.
With that in mind, roughly 60% of the betting action at DraftKings as of Tuesday evening is on the Cougars getting points, per VSIN. The public likes to bet favorites so it’s rare for the House to root for a favorite.
More money in the consensus market is on SDSU and more bets have been placed on Charleston, according to Pregame.com. This is called a Pros vs. Joes game in the betting market.
The oddsmakers are siding with the presumed sharp side of the market by taking the Aztecs up from -4.5 on the opener up to the current number.
San Diego State has been a quality basketball program for years and flies under the radar due to being in the Mountain West Conference.
Since the beginning of February, the Aztecs are 6th in the country for adjusted net efficiency, per BartTorvik.com, whereas the Cougars are 66th.
Charleston won the Colonial Athletic Association, which is the 26th-toughest conference and San Diego State plays in the 6th-toughest conference, according to Ken Pom.
Usually when the market backs these smaller schools it’s because those teams have experience and have played together for years. But, that’s not the case with Charleston and, in fact, it’s the opposite.
The Aztecs rank 21st nationally in experience and 34th in minutes continuity. While the Cougars are 301st in experience and 194th in minutes continuity.
San Diego State’s elite defense matches up perfectly with Charleston who plays fast and chucks 3-pointers. The Aztecs are 7th in defensive 3-point percentage and hold their opponents to the 348th-fastest pace.
BET: San Diego State -5.5 (-110) at DraftKings, up to -6
FOLLOW GEOFF ON TWITTER: @Geoffery_Clark
Listen to the ‘OutKick Bets with Geoff Clark’ podcast HERE.
PointsBet Sportsbook users can make their first bets risk-free up to $2,000. If the bet loses, PointsBet will refund you in site credit. New users can lock in this offer NOW by clicking this link.
First-time DraftKings users can get up to a $1,000 deposit bonus and receive a 20% first deposit match up to $1,000 when they sign up. New users can lock in this offer NOW by clicking this link.