NCAA Tournament: Team Props & Adjusted Lines

NCAA Tournament: Team Props & Adjusted Lines

I wrote about NCAA tournament futures when the numbers first came out Sunday night and while there are more betting options now, most of them probably aren't worth it.

For example, you can bet Texas Tech at +140 to make the Sweet 16. Even if you really like them, it makes more sense to bet on them on a game-by-game basis. The Red Raiders are a -200 favorite in their first game and will probably be an underdog in their second game if they play Arkansas. So why take the +140 when they could be +140 to beat Arkansas? In comparison, Arkansas is at +115 to make the Sweet 16, which isn't much different than +140, except they have an easier first game and will be favored against Texas Tech.

If you're betting futures, take those things into perspective. While you can't project exactly who each team will play, you can at least guess and that's how odds are created. Instead of looking at futures again, I want to focus on a few of the first-round matchups where I think there is a betting edge and look at some strategies I've used throughout the season.

My most successful route has been adjusting spreads of numbers I like and parlaying them together. It's basically a teaser, but you can pick whatever number you feel comfortable at. Yes, most professional bettors scoff at parlays and teasers, but they're fun and if you take the correct strategy, they can be profitable. And for me, it's usually best to combine bets on games that are at least near each other instead of putting together a Friday game with a Saturday one. 

That said, I'll look at some of the numbers I like ahead of the first two days and you can decide if you want to move the line or not. Cool?

Maryland under 63.5 points

The under between Maryland and UConn is 130 points. You could take that, but I feel more comfortable betting against the Terrapins, who don't have as much upside as the Huskies and James Bouknight. Maryland has scored 68 points or fewer in their last four games and the Terps have been held to 60 points or less a few times against teams like Wisconsin and Purdue.

This matchup does not favor Maryland's offense, which ranked 11th in the Big Ten in terms of efficiency. Meanwhile, UConn's defense ranked first in the Big East in adjusted efficiency. Combine that with how slow these teams play, both outside of the top 300 in adjusted tempo, and you have an ugly, low-scoring game. 

With Isaiah Whaley and Adama Sanogo at the four and five, Maryland won't have an easy time getting looks inside the paint. To surpass 60 points, the Terps will likely need to catch fire from deep. That could happen since everyone on the team can shoot, but they shot less than 35 percent from deep in conference play, ranked fifth in the Big Ten.

Oral Roberts over 70.5 points

If you don't like betting ugly games, this one should feature points, even if Oral Roberts loses by 20 points. The Golden Eagles love to run and shoot threes, so this is kind of a hit-or-miss bet because if they're cold from deep, there's a chance they score 50 points. That's kind of what happened in the first game of the season when they lost 91-64 to Missouri, shooting 7-for-35 from distance. Still, they were seven points off from this over/under mark and that was against a good defense. Against Wichita State, Oklahoma State and Arkansas, Oral Roberts had no problem hitting 70-plus points.

Ohio State is not a 2-seed because of defense, ranking 10th in the Big Ten in adjusted efficiency. A lot of that is because they don't have a big guy to defend the post and that's why this bet could struggle, but they still rank mediocre at stopping the three.

If you're unfamiliar with Max Abmas, he's gone for 40-plus points two times this season and has NBA range from behind the arc. While Ohio State will likely plan around that, at some point you can't stop someone who will pull up from 25 feet out (he also ranks first in the country in offensive rating). As long as the Golden Eagles run like they have all season, this will be an up-and-down game that features points for both teams. If you don't want to take the underdog, Ohio State over 86.5 points is also an option, and Steve Peralta backed the over 156.5 earlier this week.

North Texas under 27.5 points in 1st Half

There seems to be an edge betting ugly basketball and that's probably because the general public is all about overs. People want points and they want to bet overs. 

This game already has one of the lowest totals of the first two days and that's how it will play out. North Texas has one of the slowest tempos in the country and it's because they tend to use almost all of the shot clock on every possession. The Mean Green scored 61 points in the Conference USA title game… in overtime. Against major-conference teams earlier in the season, they scored 54 against Arkansas, 63 against Miss. State, 50 against West Virginia and 49 against Loyola-Chicago.

Enter Purdue, the 12th-fastest-paced team in the Big Ten with the third-best defensive efficiency. The Boilermakers have recently held teams like Wisconsin, Penn State and Nebraska under 60 points. 

I'm taking the first half only because I've been screwed too many times by close games that eventually hit the over after a team starts fouling with a minute to play (I guess this means you should also take the Maryland 1st half under). Betting the first half allows us to avoid that, though it doesn't allow Purdue to regroup at halftime if for some reason North Texas comes out gunning. 

Going further, the Mean Green rely heavily on big man Zachary Simmons in the paint, something that may not work in this matchup. If you aren't familiar with Purdue, Trevion Williams is a monster and his backup Zach Edey is 7-foot-4. Even worse for the underdog is that their best shooter, Rubin Jones, is injured and won't play.

Arkansas -12 (+155)

Instead of moving the line down, I'm moving it up to get better odds. I think this is the perfect matchup for Arkansas to run away with. Colgate is No. 9 in NET, but they started playing in January and have only played Patriot League teams. A couple players remain from the 2018-19 team that lost to Tennessee 77-70 in the NCAA tournament, but this team oddly plays a lot different (much faster).

The Raiders have great offensive numbers and have the 25th-highest adjusted tempo in the country. Jack Ferguson hits more than 50 percent of his threes after making 35.6 percent of them last season. Also last season, Colgate lost by 13 points to Clemson, 16 points to Syracuse and 29 points to Auburn. They lost two seniors from that team.

The metrics like Colgate, but when you don't play out of conference, it's hard to get a read on what you can do against bigger teams. I like the Razorbacks because they also love to run and they have the 14th-best defense in the country in terms of adjusted efficiency. All of the easy looks Colgate has been getting the past two months won't be there. If that happens and they still rush shots early in the clock, this could get ugly. 

Again, while Colgate ranked first in the Patriot League in defense, that doesn't mean much. They gave up 72 points in the conference title game to a Loyola MD offense that ranked eighth in the conference. Imagine only facing the Patriot League and then going against guys like Moses Moody and Jalen Tate in the first non-conference game of the season. I think Arkansas wins comfortably and wouldn't be afraid to go up to -17 which is +330. It's a long shot, but given Colgate's schedule, it wouldn't be surprising.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Adam Zdroik
Adam, a 2019, 2018 and 2017 Finalist for FSWA Soccer Writer of the Year, is RotoWire's assistant soccer editor. He also runs RotoWire's Bracketology, as well as writes on other various college basketball content. He has previously worked at ESPN and Sporting Kansas City, and he is a former Streak for the Cash winner and Michigan State graduate.
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