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One of the biggest Cinderella stories, Oregon State, is still alive, and they play against Houston today. Can they keep the six-game winning streak alive, and can they go from the last seed in the Pac-12 Tournament to the Final Four? Today’s other game has the two big dogs that many had to make it to the Final Four. Can Baylor keep their magnificent run alive, and has it always been destiny for a Gonzaga vs. Baylor finals? If you followed the last two Fade or Follow the public articles, you saw that we went 5-1 in the previous two days.
No 12. Oregon State vs. No 2. Houston (-7) -7:15 p.m. ET
The Beavers are looking to keep their Cinderella story alive today as they go against the Cougars. I don’t want to root against an underdog. March Madness is all about the little guys, so instead of taking a spread, we will be looking at the total. The total is set at 129.5, and the public is rooting for points as 67% are on the over. There’s a reason why this total is set so low: Houston is an excellent defensive team. According to Kenpom, their Adjusted Efficiency is 88.3, good for 6th in the nation. For the season, their opponents had a 42.9% Effective FG%. Not only are their team stats impressive, but in the last six games, the Cougars have allowed only 57 ppg. We’ve gone over this before, but tempo determines points, and Houston’s tempo was 326th in the nation while Oregon State’s was 305th. Oregon State isn’t a defensive juggernaut like Houston, but they aren’t half bad. The Beavers finished with a 95.7 Adjusted Efficiency, good for 60th in the nation. They have turned a corner in the last six games, as they have allowed only 63.2 ppg. What the Beavers and the Cougars are both great at is defending the three. Oregon State allowed 30.4% from deep, and Houston 29%. After watching how Houston stopped Syracuse, I don’t care if the total is set for 110, I would probably still bet the under. I’m fading the public with this pick.
The pick: Under 129.5
No 3. Arkansas vs. No 1. Baylor (-7) -9:57 p.m. ET
The two big dogs meet tonight, and whoever wins this game will more than likely be favored to make it to the Finals. The public is backing Baylor, with 62% of the bets on the Bears spread. Baylor is the better team here, as they finished 3rd in the nation with a 122.5 Adjusted Efficiency on offense. They shoot great both from the field and from deep. According to Kenpom, they finished with an Effective FG% of 56.6%, good for 6th in the nation. They finished 2nd in the nation from deep as they shot 40.8%. Arkansas finished 110.8 Adjusted Efficiency for 47th in the nation. The Razorbacks play at a blistering speed, as they finished 17th in Adjusted Tempo. Arkansas has come back from three straight double-digit deficits, so the game may very well end up close in the final minutes. Baylor will need to hit its free throws to cover the spread and not let Arkansas back in the game. The Bears shot 69.9% from the charity stripe compared to the Razorbacks, who shot 74%. Whoever wins the turnover and offensive boards battle will win this game. Baylor made teams turn the ball over 24.8%, while Arkansas only turned the ball over 17% of the time on offense. The Bears are bad at allowing offensive rebounds, as they finished 265th in the nation, and the Razorbacks were able to control 31.6% of offensive rebounds, good for 65th in the nation. Arkansas is 12-4 ATS in their 16 games, and I see them making it 13-4. Even though Baylor might win, I don’t see them covering this large of a spread. I’m fading the public with this pick.
The pick: Arkansas +8