The Elite 8 has arrived! And between Monday and Tuesday, we’re blessed with four incredible NCAA basketball games to bet on.
Here’s an interesting fact to kick off your sports betting week: In the last ten March Madness Tournaments, at least one Final Four team was a 5th or worse seed. This year’s Tournament features three (Oregon State, UCLA, and USC) in the Elite 8. How many teams, if any, will keep the streak alive?
Ahead are picks against the spread for both Monday games, plus an awesome even-money teaser and odds boost you’ll definitely want to take a flyer on, courtesy of our partners at the FanDuel Sportsbook.
All odds in this article come from our partners at the FanDuel Sportsbook. Right now, new FanDuel Sportsbook users can make their first bet risk-free up to $1,000. If the bet loses, the FanDuel Sportsbook will refund you in site credit. New users can lock in this offer NOW by clicking this link.
(Odds via FanDuel Sportsbook; subject to change.)
No. 12 Oregon State vs. No. 2 Houston (-8) – 7:25 p.m. ET
If this year’s Tournament has taught you anything, it’s that the Beavers are straight cash. They seem to play their “best game of the season” each time they step on the court, earning us bettors plenty of beer money.
For context, Oregon State is 13-1 against the spread in their last 14 games. They played all but one of those as underdogs. For the NCAA Tournament alone, $100 bettors would have profited $1,081 if they bet Oregon State’s moneyline each game.
But the question remains – can their incredible Cinderella run continue? The Beavers face their most challenging task yet – a matchup against the Houston Cougars, who just tore apart the dreams of another overachieving underdog, Syracuse, in blowout fashion, 62-46.
Schematically, Oregon State is a similar team to Syracuse. Though they switch up their defensive approach on a game-by-game basis, the Beavers run a 2-3 zone, much like the defense Houston ripped apart on Saturday. That says something about a Cougars team whose strength isn’t their offense, but their defense, which is comparatively brilliant.
Still, today is a new day, Oregon State is a different team, and the Beavers pose a significant threat to Houston, who has yet to play a team ranked above a 10th seed. Oregon State has proven throughout the Tournament that they shouldn’t be treated as a double-digit seeded team.
Though Oregon State wasn’t a great shooting team this season (222nd in effective field goal percentage) nor a good rebounding team (148th in total rebound percentage), they’ve disguised it with excellent 3-point shooting and length throughout the Tournament. The Beavers are the 23rd tallest team in the nation and have played like it, either tying or winning the rebound battle in each game.
But they’re playing a Houston team that attacks the boards like no other. The Cougars are ninth in the nation in total rebound percentage and impressively held a red-hot Syracuse offense to just 28% from the field. However, it’s not likely they repeat such a performance.
Amazingly, Houston is just 1-5 against the spread after holding opponents to 50 points or fewer in their previous game. Though past performance may not indicate future results, Houston is prone to letdowns after big wins, a trend that can’t be ignored when facing a team like Oregon State, who are as dangerous as any team alive in the Elite 8.
Houston probably wins, as they’re the superior team, ranked 1st in effective field goal percentage, 8th in offensive efficiency, and 6th in defensive efficiency. But like we always stress in betting, we’re playing the number, not the team. Eight points are too much to lay against a team that’s peaking, and according to my model, Houston wins inside the spread. For that reason, I’m on Oregon State to cover.
The Pick: Oregon State (+8)
No. 3 Arkansas vs. No. 1 Baylor (-7.5) – 10:07 p.m. ET
Without question, the better team in this game is Baylor, who are the best 3-point shooting team in the country. Other than the first half against Villanova (a game Baylor still won by double digits), the Bears have dominated each round, proving they continue to stand amongst the nation’s elite.
They’ll take on an Arkansas team that features the best defense Baylor will have faced in the Tournament but that limped their way into the Elite 8, winning their last two games by a margin of two points each. The Razorbacks don’t have an elite offense. They’re not great from beyond the arc (188th in the nation), but they’ve won with a quick pace that wears opponents down, and quite frankly, because they’re lucky. But Arkansas is also prone to scoring droughts, something that absolutely can’t happen against Baylor.
As mentioned in the last analysis, we’re not betting the teams, we’re betting the number, but here’s a situation where both coexist. Although you can’t expect any game this far in the Tournament to be a blowout, it’s clear Baylor is a vastly superior team, especially when the 3-ball is hitting. As evident in the second half of their Sweet 16 game against Villanova, their defense flexes its muscle, outscoring the Wildcats 39-21.
Now that the hiccup has passed, Baylor is poised to dominate their way into the Final Four. Despite trailing at halftime, Baylor pulled away late, easily covering their comparable spread. The late-game fire is encouraging enough for me to comfortably lay the points, even if the game is close going into the final minutes.
The Pick: Baylor (-7.5)
5-point Teaser (+100): Oregon State (+13) with Baylor (-3)
One of my most significant rules to betting (outside of the NFL) is not teasing anything. Generally, teasing basketball isn’t worth the risk. You’re getting suckered on the juice and still need two outcomes in your favor, just like a parlay, which puts the sportsbook at a significant advantage.
But with lines this sharp and at the unbeatable teaser price the FanDuel Sportsbook offers, I’ll gladly recommend this one Monday. The FanDuel Sportsbook offers 5-point teasers at even money, meaning if you bet $100, you win $100 if it hits.
In Vegas, 5-point teasers come at -130, meaning you’d need to bet $130 to win $100. The value alone makes this a solid bet worth taking a shot on, one I wish was offered across the board. But that’s what separates the FanDuel Sportsbook from everyone else.
Live in the FanDuel Sportsbook, a boost is available for a Houston/Baylor moneyline parlay. Instead of the standard parlay odds most books are offering (-160), the FanDuel Sportsbook will boost your bet to even money. With a max bet of $50, it’s undoubtedly worth the play.
Best of luck! Enjoy the madness.