From Michigan to Kansas: Picks for 16 Thursday NCAA Games in the Bettors Insider O'Sullivan, Baller Challenge
O'Sullivan NCAA Tournament: 2-2, +$3.30
Baller NCAA Tournament: 1-3, -$22.90
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(Standing Caveat: The universe is chaotic. Life is unpredictable. Things happen. Like injuries. And COVID protocols. In following Seattle O’Sullivan’s betting advice, be advised that you should always monitor your bets during the day to make certain unforeseen things have not occurred which might change your wagering opinion. Thank you.)
16 Bryant vs 16 Wright St., 6:40 pm Eastern
O'Sullivan's Pick: Bryant +3.5 (-108), bet $10.80 to win $10
LOSS: Wright St. wins 93-82, Bryant does not cover -$10.80
Baller's Pick: Under 154 1/2, $11 to win $10
LOSS: 93-82 = 175, -$11
11 Notre Dame vs 11 Rutgers, 9:10 pm Eastern
O'Sullivan's Pick: Rutgers +1.5 (-109), bet $10.90 to win $10
Loss: Rutgers lost 89-87 in 2OT
Baller's Pick: Rutgers +1.5 (-109), bet $10.90 to win $10
Loss: Rutgers lost 89-87 in 2OT
11 Michigan Wolverines vs. 6 Colorado State Rams, 12:15 pm Eastern
O'Sullivan's Pick: Michigan -1 (-110), bet $22 to win $20
Baller's Pick: Colorado St. +1.5 (-110), bet $11 to win $10
O'Sullivan: This line opened at Michigan -2.5 because when the brackets were announced, everyone immediately gravitated towards the Wolverines as a sexy “upset” pick. Michigan went through a spanking machine of a Big 10 Conference this season and the fifth-toughest schedule overall, while Colorado State lost in the semifinals of the Mountain West. People have seemed to settle down since Sunday, moving the line back down and making Michigan essentially a straight-up pick - which is where I’m grabbing them. Ken Pomeroy (KenPom) rankings actually have them 32nd with the Rams 34th; this should be an #8/#9 matchup, not a #6/#11. The lessons learned from the spanking machine will push Michigan ahead in this matchup.
Baller: Close match-up, but Colorado State's wins over Boise St., San Diego St., and St. Mary's lead me to think they can take it.
13 South Dakota State Jackrabbits vs. 4 Providence Friars, 12:40 pm Eastern
O'Sullivan's Pick: Providence -130, bet $13 to win $10
Baller's Pick: Providence -2 (-110), bet $11 to win $10
O'Sullivan: Here’s another sexy upset pick, but I’m going to resist. Yes, South Dakota State have won 21 games in a row, including the Summit League Tournament. But they arguably should’ve lost in the finals to North Dakota State, and the Summit League is not the Big East. Providence have been the “luckiest” team in the nation per the KenPom, and I get that - but why wouldn’t that luck continue? Winning close games also means you’re experienced in playing close games, or is that too much of a tautology for St. Patrick’s Day? The Friars’ defense should be able to hold the Jackrabbits at least a little bit, and Providence’s size should give South Dakota State problems. I’m going against the trendy pick, here.
Baller: I would love to see South Dakota pull a Jackrabbit out of a hat, but there's just nothing on their resumé this year that says they can play with Providence.
9 Memphis Tigers vs. 8 Boise State Broncos, 1:45 pm Eastern
O'Sullivan's Pick: Game Over 133.5 points (-110), bet $11 to win $10
Baller's Pick: Game Under 133.5 (-110), bet $11 to win $10
O'Sullivan: I like Memphis in this game, but not enough to take them. They’re just too erratic for my taste. But when they play well, they score. They’ve hung over 80 points twelve times this season. True, they got blown out by Houston on Sunday, but they were actually only down by four points with about five minutes to go before they let the Cougars pull away. The total has come down from 136.5 on Sunday. I think Memphis coach Penny Hardaway is going to have his squad come out running, hoping their talent and athleticism makes the game a track meet. I think they put forth a good effort, it comes down to the final seconds, perhaps even overtime. That would certainly favor the over.
Baller: I'm taking the opposite view. Boise St. plays D and can slow the game down and the Memphis O can get a little sketchy when things aren't going its way.
16 Norfolk State Spartans vs. 1 Baylor Bears, 2 pm Eastern
O'Sullivan's Pick: Norfolk State +21.5 (-109), bet $10.90 to win $10
Baller's Pick: Game Under 137.5 (-110), bet $11 to win $10
O'Sullivan: This is going to be a theme with my picks this year: #16 and #15 seeds covering the spread. Defending champs Baylor have a bunch of injuries and are arguably the worst #1 seed in the tourney this year. I think they’re going to focus on just getting their feet set, taking care of business, and surviving to the next round. 21.5 points is a load, and I just see a cruising victory here.
Baller: I basically agree, but am taking the under just in case Norfolk St. puts up a 55-point game, as it did a few times this year.
14 Longwood Lancers vs. 3 Tennessee Volunteers, 2:45 pm Eastern
O'Sullivan's Pick: Longwood +18 (-110), bet $11 to win $10
Baller's Pick: Tennessee -18 (-110), bet $11 to win $10
O'Sullivan: My philosophy is the same here. Tennessee should win easily, but it’ll just be a dipping their collective toe in the water. The Volunteers are coming off winning the SEC Tournament, and no doubt looking ahead to a deceptively difficult next-round matchup (especially if it’s Michigan). The Lancers (the Longwood Lancers? Really? They might not be a great team, but they’re definitely a Final Four troll) are 20-9 against the spread this year, so they’re not just going to lay down. They actually average more points per game than Tennessee too (76.38 vs. 73.18). I mean, they ain’t scoring more points in this game…but they’ll keep it close.
Baller: I want to believe. What guy wouldn't like a team named Longwood? But since they got pasted by Iowa in their opener in November, the Lancers haven't played a team in the Top 125. Tennessee's D may just steamroll them.
12 Richmond Spiders vs. 5 Iowa Hawkeyes, 3:10 pm Eastern
O'Sullivan's Pick: Iowa -10.5 (-110), bet $11 to win $10
Baller's Pick: Iowa -10.5 (-110), bet $11 to win $10
O'Sullivan: Richmond should not be here. They’re here because Davidson blew a five-point lead to them in the final three minutes in the Atlantic 10 Conference Championship. Trust me, I watched that with interest and, ultimately, annoyance. They don’t have anyone in their frontcourt who can handle Iowa superstar Keegan Murray. Murray just ripped through the Big 10 to lead the Hawkeyes to that conference’s championship. Iowa is ranked 13th in the KenPom, meaning they should be a #4 seed, while Richmond is 83rd, which again means they should not be here. The Hawkeyes average 83.77 points per game, Richmond averages 71.71. That sounds about right to me.
Baller: There's a romanticism to Richmond as an upset pick going all the way back to coach Dick Tarrant and continuing through to Princeton alum Chris Mooney. But Iowa beat Utah St., Maryland, Ohio St., Michigan and Michigan St. by more than 10 1/2 points this season. All of them are better than Richmond.
16 Georgia State Panthers vs. 1 Gonzaga Bulldogs, 4:15 pm Eastern
O'Sullivan's Pick: Georgia State +23.5 (-110), bet $11 to win $10
Baller's Pick: Gonzaga -23 (-110), bet $11 to win $10
O'Sullivan: (shrug) Too many points. Gonzaga has much, much bigger fish to fry than the Panthers, and this will be a cruise for them. The Bulldogs have been here before, they’re no longer the plucky team with big dreams. They’re now a powerhouse with expectations, and they expect to win first-round games easily. They will, but Georgia State’s adjusted defense almost cracks the Top 100 in the nation. So, if you’re gonna hand me almost two dozen points, I’ll take them and put a little taste on Gonzaga just to cruise.
Baller: Speaking of Richmond (see above) they beat Georgia St. by 16. Mississippi St. beat them by 29. Those are their only Top 100 opponents this season and Gonzaga is in the Top 1. It's a name that score game for the Zags, I expect they'll choose to name it something like 84-58.
9 Marquette Golden Eagles vs. 8 North Carolina Tar Heels, 4:30 pm Eastern
O'Sullivan's Pick: North Carolina -3.5 (-106), bet $21.20 to win $20
Baller's Pick: North Carolina -3.5 (-106), bet $11 to win $10
O'Sullivan: This line started off as North Carolina -3, and I should’ve grabbed it then. No matter, I think the Tar Heels win this easily. I’m throwing out Carolina’s stink-bomb against Virginia Tech; the Hokies were on a magic carpet ride in the ACC Tournament and were destined for the championship. The Tar Heels are bigger, stronger, and more athletic than Marquette, and they’ve gone 9-3 since February. I’ve been saying the Tar Heels are dangerous all season, and now they get to prove it. Marquette is sixteen spots below them in the KenPom, and their quickened pace will actually play into UNC’s hands.
Baller: I would love Marquette as an upset as Coach Shaka Smart as NCAA experience and UNC Coach Hubert Davis is still feeling his way. But Marquette is too young.
12 New Mexico State Aggies vs. 5 Connecticut Huskies, 6:50 pm Eastern
O'Sullivan's Pick: UConn -275, bet $41.25 to win $15; UConn -6.5 (-110), bet $5.50 to win $5
Baller's Pick: UConn -6.5 (-110), bet $11 to win $10
O'Sullivan: The website lists UConn as 86% likely to win this game, so with a moneyline of only -275, this is as much a value bet as anything else. The Huskies have an adjusted-offense that’s almost in the Top 20 and an adjusted-defense that’s almost in the Top 40. New Mexico State is at least thirty spots worse in either category. UConn’s strength of schedule is 83 spots stronger than the Aggies’. The Huskies are bigger down low, play better defense, and are playing in Buffalo, NY, close to their home. I think UConn is going to make noise in this tournament.
Baller: New Mexico St. has five losses to teams ranked below 100 this season, including one to 339 Chicago St. I saw them play in person early in the season and they were terrific one day, terrible the next. Unless they re-capture the terrific, I don't see them hanging with the Huskies.
15 Saint Peter’s Peacocks vs. 2 Kentucky Wildcats, 7:10 pm Eastern
O'Sullivan's Pick: Saint Peter’s +17.5 (-110), bet $11 to win $10
Baller's Pick: Saint Peter’s +17.5 (-110), bet $11 to win $10
O'Sullivan: Another pick banking on the huge favorite coasting but not slamming their collective foot on the gas. Kentucky is super-talented and athletic, and actually more experienced than they usually are come March. But Saint Peter’s has an adjusted-defense that’s 34th in the country. Typically it’s the underdog slowing the game down and taking the air out of the ball, but here it’s also the Peacocks not being a pushover on the defensive end. Also, not for nothing, but Saint Peter’s is 3-0 on a neutral floor and 21-9 overall against the spread, while Kentucky is 14-18-1. I think the Wildcats are a championship-caliber team when they’re playing well, but even a good performance doesn’t preclude a game within twenty points. Finally, don’t discount the fact that this game is in Indianapolis, not necessarily a friendly place for Kentucky. If Saint Peter’s starts well, the crowd will be behind them – loudly.
Baller: The Peacocks could lose by 12 or 27, but they play hard, they play D and I've gotta show a little love for the Jersey boys.
12 Indiana Hoosiers vs. 5 Saint Mary’s Gaels, 7:20 pm Eastern
O'Sullivan's Pick: Indiana +3 (-110), bet $11 to win $10
Baller's Pick: Saint Mary’s -2 (-110), bet $11 to win $10
O'Sullivan: I like Indiana a lot recently. Again, they lost to Iowa on a last-second, banked-in three-pointer in the Big 10 Tournament semi-finals, and they took care of Wyoming in the “First Four” on Tuesday. Guard Xavier Johnson has taken control of a Hoosier team that’s risen to 35th in the KenPom’s, which should make them a #9 seed. Instead, partially because of “luck” that’s ranked 264th in the country, they’re an #11 - I feel this makes them undervalued. Saint Mary’s is a strong team and they’re more experienced, technically, but they have not played as strong a schedule as their opponent here. I think Indiana keeps it close.
Baller: The Gaels get overlooked because they lose every year tp Gonzaga, whom they beat once this year. And although their conference schedule isn't quite the Big Ten, their non-conference schedule crushes the Hoosiers – they also have nine Top 75 wins.
9 Creighton Bluejays vs. 8 San Diego State Aztecs, 7:27 pm Eastern
O'Sullivan's Pick: over 119.5 points (-110), bet $11 to win $10
Baller's Pick: Under 120.5 (-110), bet $11 to win $10
O'Sullivan: In a close #8/#9 matchup, I’m more intrigued by the total. If both teams hit their average on offense, the over hits. If both teams hold the opponent to their average, the over hits. Both squads are hot, Creighton going 7-3 and San Diego St. going 8-2 in their last ten games. I think this total is suffering from the recency bias of the Bluejays’ games going under in the last six, and from them only scoring 48 in their last loss. But that was to Villanova in the Big East Tournament Final, and a lot of teams can say they had a lackluster offensive performance against the Wildcats. The game before that, Creighton scored 85. I’ll split the difference, and 66.5 points means that San Diego St. only needs to score 54 to surpass the total. As I think this game will go down to the wire, I think the Aztecs will score more than 54.
Baller: Both these teams play D-E-F-E-N-S-E, and while I agree with my esteemed colleague that San Diego St. will surpass 54, I'm not convinced either team will surpass 60.
13 Vermont Catamounts vs. 4 Arkansas Razorbacks, 9:20 pm Eastern
O'Sullivan's Pick: Arkansas -5 (-105), bet $21 to win $20
Baller's Pick: Arkansas -5 (-110), bet $11 to win $10
O'Sullivan: Here’s another sexy upset pick that I think looks too good to be true. After years of March Madnesses, by the opening game the entire nation is talking so much about which Cinderellas are going to pull off an upset that by tip-off time, they’re almost expected to win. I’m betting that Arkansas has been hearing all week about how Vermont is going to outplay them. The Catamounts score the ball despite a slow pace, and have won eight in a row. But the Razorbacks don’t take teams lightly; they’re 11-2-1 against the spread in their last 14 games, and are 16-12 ATS as a favorite. They play tough defense and make up for a lack of perimeter shooting with athleticism that should outplay Vermont.
Baller: How do you figure Vermont? They spend their season beating up on bad teams and now have to play a team which beat Auburn, Kentucky, and Tennessee. They're experienced winners and could spring an upset, but they'd have to show a gear they've never shown. As my horse racing friends like to say, "Don't bet on a horse to do something he's never done."
10 San Francisco Dons vs. 7 Murray State Racers, 9:40 pm Eastern
O'Sullivan's Pick: Murray State -1 (-110), bet $11 to win $10
Baller's Pick: Murray State -1 (-110), bet $11 to win $10
O'Sullivan: I’m getting essentially a toss-up game for what I don’t think is a toss-up. Murray State is 30-2 and maybe that wasn’t against the toughest schedule, but it is 30-2 and more than that, many of the Racers who played with Ja Morant are still around. I’m not arguing a player who doesn’t play at a school anymore is more important than, you know, the players who are actually still there. But Morant started something at Murray State and the current team’s experience in the tournament will not have them cowed. San Francisco, on the other hand, is new to all of this. This might be the first year on which to build something, but the Racers are ahead right now, still hungry, and will take this game.
Baller: I was thinking of taking San Francisco but O'Sullivan convinced me otherwise.
13 Akron Zips vs. 4 UCLA Bruins, 9:50 pm Eastern
O'Sullivan's Pick: over 128 points (-110), bet $11 to win $10
Baller's Pick: UCLA -13.5 (-110), bet $11 to win $10
O'Sullivan: Akron has won eight games in a row, scoring at least 70 points in six of them. They’re not going to score 70 points against UCLA (well, if they do, fantastic). UCLA hasn’t scored under 65 points in their last ten games. The spread scares me enough to stay away, but I think this will be a ragged blowout for the Bruins who want to prove they’re better than a #4 seed and that the Pac-10 isn’t terrible (which it is).
Baller: Akron is young, so they'll either be fearless or clueless and they've not seen anyone in the realm of UCLA's talent all season. if they hang, awesome, there will be a good late game.
16 Texas Southern Tigers vs. 1 Kansas Jayhawks, 9:57 pm Eastern
O'Sullivan's Pick: Kansas -22 (-105), bet $10.50 to win $10
Baller's Pick: Kansas -21.5 (-110), bet $11 to win $10
O'Sullivan: If you’ve read this far, you deserve my thanks. You also deserve a quick ending. Texas Southern made their tournament by winning on Tuesday, and their adjusted-offense is 269th in the country. Kansas ends the day with a blowout.
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