On Selection Sunday night, TheLines lead writer and March Madness guru Eli Hershkovich held office hours in TheLines‘ free Discord college basketball channel. Hopefully, these NCAA Tournament bracket predictions and betting advice will help you navigate before tip-off Thursday.
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NCAA Tournament Big Picture Questions
Seeing as though you mostly take dogs, who’s your favorite favorite?
I was actually talking about this with someone on Friday. James Mazzola — a golf degen if you guys know him. Lines are inflated like the beginning of the season because the market (and public especially) has more faith in “public” teams. So the opportunity to nab some nice value with underdogs is there. You tack on the individual mismatches, and you have to attack.
How will the Wade firing will affect LSU?
Might be something to just avoid overall. Two teams with a lot of issues from a schematic perspective — and obviously now personnel wise.
Davidson going to end Coach K’s career?
Sorry Brother, at least you can accept it.
NCAA Tournament Bracket Help: First Round Game Breakdowns
Thoughts on Gonzaga vs. Georgia St.?
Definitely an inflated number (Georgia State ); Don’t remember a 16-seed as good as the Panthers. With that being said, size and athleticism up front will be an issue. But if they finally get hot from deep, which they’re capable of doing, should be able to hang around. Gonzaga can certainly give up its fair share of 3s.
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Thoughts on Indiana/Wyoming?
First Four: As much as I was impressed with the Hoosiers in the BTT, their post-up D is just about average. Interior D against dribble penetration is another story, but Cowboys play through Ike and Maldanado. IU get screwed getting the play-in game, but regardless I lean Wyoming, might add it.
What would you play Delaware down to?
Current line is fine (Delaware currently ; one of Eli’s initial bets from Sunday night)
Murray St. Moneyline?
I will say Murray State () due for defensive regression from deep. Keep that in mind.
What number would you play Davidson down to? Saw the line dropped to +1.5?
Current line is fine. (Davidson currently )
Doesn’t Providence vs. SDSU seem too low? Almost a trap game?
Bet how you want my man! That’s the best part of this.
Wright St playing in Dayton, 10 miles away, thoughts?
Yeah, not only that, but their ball-screen offense is gonna be a big issue, especially at the rim for Grasso to game plan against. Would lean that way from a matchup standpoint, but not a lot of value in the line.
ND/Rutgers a tough one. Any value either way?
Issue is Rutgers () give up quality 3s, which ND revolves its offense around. Even though Irish use matchup zone from time-to-time, not a big believer in the Knights’ 3-point shooters despite the numbers.
Thoughts on Arkansas vs. Vermont?
Another trendy upset pick here, especially after Hogs laid an egg for much of the A&M game. Razorbacks also struggle to defend the pick and roll, which Becker adores. But Arkansas’ rim protector overall is pretty stout with Williams on the back line. Might be inflated enough to take (Vermont ), but probably staying away.
You feeling Colgate over Wisconsin?
One thing to keep in mind is Wisconsin has home court to consider in Milwaukee. Davis is obviously the key factor. Might be healthier at that point than he was this week. Probably helped Wiscy to get knocked out (of the Big 10 tournament) earlier from a rest standpoint.
Thoughts on Colorado State vs. Michigan?
Another team that struggles against ball screens, which Medved can certainly expose with the Rams’ perimeter-oriented offense. But I am concerned with CSU’s ability to handle Dickinson & Diabate. Line might be slightly inflated (CSU ), but I don’t love the matchup at both ends.
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Kentucky vs. St. Peter’s?
Oscar should eat on the glass, and ‘Cats () aren’t really bothered by ball pressure. Peter’s can shoot 3s but don’t rely on them much.
UConn vs. New Mexico State?
So Aggies () can definitely challenge UConn on the glass, but I think Hurley ramps up the pressure and tries to turn them over and speed the game up. If Martin, Polley and Cole are on from deep (NMSU’s biggest weakness), I think the Huskies survive.
Virginia Tech vs. Texas thoughts?
Great matchup for the Hokies () against the Beard no-middle. Would 1000% agree.
Boise State vs. Memphis?
Agree with the market (Memphis ), but the market is gone; Tigers should control the glass and dominate in transition — Broncos’ weakness aspect defensively.
Auburn vs. Jacksonville State?
Like Georgia State, Gamecocks () have pretty much gotten no positive shooting luck from the perimeter, and Tigers give up a ton of open looks in that category. Tricky part is Auburn ball pressure isn’t a great matchup against their turnover-prone offense.
Montana State vs. Texas Tech?
Bobcats () might hang around for a bit, but Red Raiders’ athleticism likely takes over at some point — with takeaways and on the glass.
Loyala-Chicago primed to pull another seed upset?
Depends on a little Young’s health, but Valentine’s offense can definitely pick apart the Buckeyes’ ball screen D. Loyola () very sound at defending post ups too, which OSU relies on with Liddell to set up the offense.
Seton Hall vs. TCU?
It’s SUPER tough, and the line (TCU ) reflects that. Two very physical teams; you’d think Richmond’s thumb injury is still an issue, but I don’t love the matchup for the Frogs’ turnover-prone offense.
Akron vs. UCLA?
Pretty tough matchup for the Bruins if the Zips () are on from deep. Another ball-screen defense UCLA that might be worth fading. Bruins’ length might be an issue, but they’re also just overvalued in the market.
Miami vs. USC?
Two teams that are generally overvalued in the market. Staying away for a couple different reasons:
- Trojans () could absolutely destroy Miami on the glass and generate open 3s if they’re on.
- USC turns it over a ton, and Canes thrive when they’re producing takeaways and speeding up the pace, in turn beating the Trojans’ defense before their length gets set.
Chattanooga vs. Illinois?
Another trendy underdog. Mocs () have given up a ton of open 3s but haven’t been burned yet. Hello, Plummer and Frazier. Kofi has his way with DeSousa too. Remember how many open 3s Chattanooga allowed against Furman?
Richmond still seems undervalued but Iowa just kills inferior teams?
Issue is Richmond () and its transition defense is pretty rough. That’s where Iowa takes advantage.
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