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Since pretty much my entire Thursday-Sunday this week is booked with March Madness 2023 games to watch, why not place some bets on the Big Dance?
After betting only South Region games, my three looks in the Thursday night-time NCAA Tournament slate include the East’s Duke-Oral Roberts, the West’s Northwestern-Boise State, and Midwest’s Texas A&M-Penn State.
OutKick Bets Podcast: March Madness 2023 Betting Powwow featuring Grayson Weir & Dan Zaksheske
East Region: 5-seed Duke Blue Devils vs. 12-seed Oral Roberts Golden Eagles, 7:10 p.m. ET on CBS
- Moneyline: Duke (-280), Oral Roberts (+235)
- Spread: Duke -6.5 (-105), ORAL ROBERTS +6.5 (-115)
- Total — 145 — Over: -115, Under: -105
I’m gonna side with the stat nerds whom differ from the betting market in Duke-Oral Roberts. Ken Pom predicts the Blue Devils win 75-72, Haslametrics.com has them winning “74.36-70.15″and Bart Torvik says Duke wins 75-70.
The basketball edge I see Oral Bob exploiting Thursday is in the fastbreak. Per HoopMath.com, the Golden Eagles are 9th in field-goal-attempt rate in transition and 11th in fastbreak effective field goal shooting (eFG%).
Meanwhile, the Blue Devils are 251st in defensive eFG% in transition compared to 8th in non-transition defensive eFG%. Plus, as crazy as it sounds, this Oral Bob team has more March Madness experience than Duke.
Oral Roberts was a Cinderella team as a 15-seed in the 2021 NCAA Tournament, exiting in the Sweet Sixteen. The Golden Eagles won 18 games that season and a lot of those same players are on this team.
That Oral Bob team was 245th in experience and 272nd in minutes continuity out of 363 programs, per Ken Pom. This 2022-23 version is a 30-win team that ranks 26th in experience and 27th in minutes continuity.
The Blue Devils are the tallest team in the country and Duke freshman C Kyle Filipowski is one of the best bigs in college basketball. But, Golden Eagles C Connor Vanover stands 7-foot-5, can shoot 3s and hits 81.0% of his free throws.
Vanover’s size and skillset unlocks Oral Bob’s offense. All five of the Golden Eagle starters can hit 3-pointers and Vanover has a better offensive rating than Filipowski (119.2-106.4).
March Madness Thursday BET #1: Oral Roberts +6.5 (-115) at DraftKings Sportsbook, down to +5.5
West Region: 7-seed Northwestern Wildcats at 10-seed Boise State Broncos, 7:35 p.m. ET on tru TV
- Moneyline: Northwestern (-125), Boise State (+105)
- Spread: Northwestern -1.5 (-110), BOISE STATE +1.5 (-110)
- Total — 128 — Over: -110, Under: -110
St. John’s University is my alma mater so I have a Big East bias. One of the my biggest sports takes is the Big Ten is the most overrated conference in college sports, especially basketball.
Granted, Boise State is NOT a Big East team but my point is that Northwestern, like the rest of the Big Ten, is overrated. But, also, the Mountain West Conference is underrated.
Per Ken Pom, the MWC is the 6th-toughest conference in college basketball. Ken Pom does have the Big Ten ranked 2nd behind the Big XII in net efficiency as a conference.
Either way, the sportsbooks think the Broncos are the better team. Boise State opened at -1 and has +2200 odds to win this region while Northwestern is +3500 to win the West.
It wasn’t until the public came in heavy on the Wildcats to push them up to -1.5. NU is getting sucker money because it beat overrated Big Ten teams Purdue, Indiana and Michigan State.
The Wildcats are a bunch of bricklayers and rank 311th in true shooting rate, which factors in 2-point, free-throw, and 3-point shooting percentages.
Boise State shoots a solid 36.0% from behind the arc (ranked 81st) and NU is 325th in defensive 3-point-attempt rate (3PAr) allowed. Two Bronco starters (SG Max Rice and PF Chibuzo Agbo) shoot better than 40.0% from deep.
Call me crazy but shooting is important in basketball. These teams cancel each other out in three of the “four factors” however Boise State can shoot and Northwestern can’t.
March Madness Thursday BET #2: Boise State +1.5 (-110) at DraftKings, down to pick ’em
Midwest Region: 7-seed Texas A&M Aggies vs. 10-seed Penn State Nittany Lions, 9:55 p.m. ET on TBS
- Moneyline: Texas A&M (-150), Penn State (+130)
- Spread: Texas A&M -3 (-110), PENN STATE +3 (-110)
- Total — 134.5 — Over: -110, Under: -110
I’m a little nervous that the Nittany Lions are a trendy to pick to upset the Aggies. Penn State gave all Purdue it could handle in a 67-65 loss in the Big Ten Conference championship.
Per VSIN, nearly two-thirds of the money at DraftKings is on the Nittany Lions and only a slight majority of the bets. But, Texas A&M opened at -2.5 and is up to -3 despite most of the action being on Penn State.
However, I’m pushing through with the Nittany Lions because I dig their 3-point shooting and veteran leadership. Penn State is 9th in 3-point percentage nationally and has the most Division I experience.
All five of the Nittany Lion starter are above-average 3-point shooters and the Aggies are 352nd in defensive 3PAr allowed. If Texas A&M lets Penn State chuck 3s, the Aggies are in trouble.
Nittany Lions PG Jalen Pickett is a top-five player in this tourney and the best player on the floor. Pickett will protect the ball vs. Texas A&M’s defense and win his matchup vs. Aggies PG Wade Taylor.
Penn State’s defense neutralizes Texas A&M’s two offensive strengths. The Aggies are 6th in offensive rebounding and 3rd in free-throw-attempt rate (FTr). Whereas the Nittany Lions are 43rd in defensive rebounding and 38th in defensive FTr.
March Madness Thursday BET #3: Penn State +3 at DraftKings Sportsbook
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