Mega Betting Guide for All 8 Saturday Tourney Matchups

Mega Betting Guide for All 8 Saturday Tourney Matchups article feature image
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Mar 15, 2018; Wichita, KS, USA; Kansas Jayhawks guard Lagerald Vick (2) celebrates after a three point basket against the Pennsylvania Quakers during the second half in the first round of the 2018 NCAA Tournament at INTRUST Bank Arena. Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

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The best two-day stretch in all of sports will unfortunately come to an end later tonight. The good news is we get two full days of Round of 32 action to sort out which teams will advance to the Sweet 16. Gotta love the madness. Let’s jump into our NCAA Tournament betting guide for each of Saturday’s eight tourney games. We will look at matchups and metrics to watch, along with trends and favorite bets from our crew of experts (Stuckey, Jordan Majewski, Bryan Mears and Wes Reynolds).

Be sure to check back here up until game time for insight into last-minute sharp action, significant line moves and any other betting market info. Also, look out tomorrow for a similar preview for all eight games on Sunday.

Let’s get to it!

All spreads as of Friday evening. 


#9 Alabama vs. #1 Villanova -11 | O/U: 148

Pittsburgh, PA | 12:10 p.m. ET on CBS

No. 1 thing I’ll be watching: If Alabama can get to the line

Alabama does not have an efficient offense, ranking 127th in effective field goal percentage and 288th in turnover rate. The only way the Crimson Tide can keep up with Nova is by getting to the line, as it ranks 16th in free throw rate nationally. That storyline manifested itself on Thursday, when Alabama shot 27 free throws against Virginia Tech. Stud freshman PG Collin Sexton took 14 of those himself in the second half. Unfortunately, the Tide now faces a Villanova defense that simply doesn’t foul frequently, ranking 19th in the country in that regard. Per BetLabs, Alabama has played five teams with a top-50 defensive foul rate this season. The Tide has gone just 1-4 ATS in those contests.  — Mears

Did You Know?

End of the road for Alabama? Since 2005, 9-seeds are 2-20 straight-up (9-12-1 against the spread) vs. 1-seeds in the Round of 32.  — John Ewing

Or will the Villanova second-round curse strike again? Since the 2010 NCAA Tournament, 1 and 2 seeds are 45-15 SU (75%) in the Round of 32. Only two head coaches have more than ONE loss as a 1 or 2 seed in this spot: Bill Self (3) and Jay Wright (4). Since the 2010 tourney, all coaches other than Wright are 44-11 SU (80%) as a 1-seed in the Round of 32. Wright and Villanova are just 1-4 SU.  — Evan Abrams

Betting Market

Despite getting only 31% of bets, the Tide have received 48% of the spread money wagered on this game which has kept the line stagnant at 11. — Danny Donahue

My Favorite Bet

Stuck: Alabama +11
Jordan: Alabama +11
Mears: Nova -11

#7 Rhode Island vs. #2 Duke -9.5 | O/U: 149.5

Pittsburgh, PA | 2:40 p.m. ET on CBS

No. 1 thing I’ll be watching: Rhode Island’s zone offense

Can Rhode Island score against Duke’s massive zone? The Rams aren’t necessarily a “bad” jump-shooting team (although they hit only 32% from deep in A10 play), but this is a team that thrives off penetration from its deep and talented backcourt. There’s a reason why URI saw zone at the 22nd-highest rate in the country, per Synergy. On the other end, I think Danny Hurley probably has to extend pressure as much as possible. He does have forward Cyril Langevine, an athletic rim defender who excels in weak-side shot blocking. However, I don’t think he and big man Andre Berry can guard Duke’s lethal frontcourt duo of Marvin Bagley and Wendell Carter straight up. Disrupting guards Grayson Allen and Trevon Duval with pressure is probably the best (only?) chance Rhody has in this matchup.  — Jordan Majewski

Did You Know?

Sizable favorites (five or more points) have gone 71-52-1 (58%) ATS since 2005 in the Round of 32.  — John Ewing

Since the 2010 NCAA Tournament, Mike Krzyzewski is 9-3 ATS in the Round of 32 or later after winning in the first round by more than 10 points (Duke beat Iona by 22). Coach K is 6-1 ATS in his last seven in this spot, but did lose SU in the Round of 32 last season to South Carolina.  — Evan Abrams

Betting Market

Duke opened -10 at Bookmaker, and has unsurprisingly received the majority of bets (65%). Going by that opener, there’s certainly some reverse line movement toward Rhody.  — Danny Donahue

My Favorite Bet

Stuck: Gonzaga/Duke ML parlay
Jordan: Duke -9.5

#13 Buffalo vs. #5 Kentucky -5.5 | O/U: 156

Boise, ID | 5:15 p.m. ET on CBS

No. 1 thing I’ll be watching: If Buffalo can somewhat hang on the glass

Buffalo has high-major athleticism and team speed. If you give minimal effort like Arizona did on Thursday night, the Bulls will flat out embarrass you. Arizona couldn’t contain Buffalo’s dribble penetration, and its bigs couldn’t get out on forward Nick Perkins and guard Jeremy Harris. That’s not likely to be the case for Kentucky, who has long and versatile perimeter defenders in Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Hamidou Diallo. That said, Buffalo is a tough team physically and mentally. It sounds lame, but the Bulls have “panache”, which they’ve shown all season. They won’t be intimidated by the setting or the name on their opponent’s jersey. However, panache won’t keep UK off the offensive glass or the free-throw line, where it should live all game.  — Jordan Majewski

Did You Know?

Buffalo is just the third team since 2005 to win by more than 20 points as a double-digit seed in the 1st Round. The previous two teams that accomplished the feat went 0-2 straight-up and ATS in their next game, failing to cover by an average of 6.8 points.  — John Ewing

John Calipari is 16-5-1 ATS with both Kentucky and Memphis in the Round of 32 and Sweet 16. With Kentucky, Coach Cal is an impressive 10-2-1 ATS in the second and third rounds combined.  — Evan Abrams

Buffalo trounced Arizona as a 13-seed to advance to the Round of 32. Two of the last three 13-seeds to advance to the Round of 32 won their matchup and advanced to the Sweet 16 (La Salle, 2013 and Ohio, 2012).  — Evan Abrams

Betting Market

More reverse line movement here, as Buffalo has drawn only 38% of bets but has moved from +6 to +5.5. — Danny Donahue

My Favorite Bet

Wes: Under 158

#11 Loyola vs. #3 Tennessee -5 | O/U: 130.5

Dallas, TX | 6:10 p.m. ET on TNT

No. 1 thing I’ll be watching: Loyola’s defensive rebounding

Loyola has an outstanding pick-and-roll defense, as the Ramblers switch on everything 1-4. They showed that in the first round against Miami, one of the most pick-and-roll heavy offenses in the country. Enter Tennessee, which doesn’t really utilize pick and roll often in Rick Barnes’ flex motion-based offense. The Ramblers and the Vols are actually remarkably similar. Neither team overwhelms with its height, but both excel at working inside out offensively. Both also move the ball extremely well, so jump shots are typically wide open. While neither attempts a lot of threes, both hit at or around 40% when they launch.

This should be a rock fight, as Loyola big man Cam Krutwig is physical enough to match up against Tennessee big Grant Williams, and Loyola forward Aundre Jackson can chase Admiral Schofield. Loyola might even have a slight edge in the backcourt. The Vols also might not be able to bully the Ramblers on the offensive glass, which they usually do against most teams.  — Jordan Majewski

Did You Know?

After Loyola’s upset win over Miami, MVC teams are now 10-0 in their last 10 NCAA Tournament first-round games. However, only two of the previous nine backed it up with a win in the Round of 32. (Wichita State did it twice, defeating No. 2 seed Kansas in 2015 and No. 1 seed Gonzaga in 2013)  — Stuckey

Underdogs from mid-major conferences have gone 37-57-2 (39%) ATS since 2005 in the Round of 32.  — John Ewing

Betting Market

Ctrl+c, Ctrl+v. Loyola has only 33% of bettors behind them, but this line has also fallen from +6 to +5.5. The Ramblers are also backed by 89% of spread dollars, making for the highest bets vs. dollars discrepancy today, which has contributed to the line move. — Danny Donahue

My Favorite Bet

Jordan: Loyola +5.5, Under 130
Mears: Loyola +5.5
Wes: Over 130

#8 Seton Hall vs. #1 Kansas -4.5 | O/U: 154

Wichita, KS | 7:10 p.m. ET on TBS

No. 1 thing I’ll be watching: The Hall’s 3-point defense

Kansas ranks 10th in the country at just over 40% from deep, but Seton Hall has a capable perimeter defense. It allows teams to shoot only 33.5% from behind the arc, which ranks 92nd nationally.

From a psychological standpoint, Seton Hall has the edge. After getting bounced in the first round of the tourney in each of the last two years, the Pirates (led by four seniors) finally got the monkey off their backs with a win over N.C. State on Thursday. That was the “pressure game”, and now Seton Hall can play looser in the underdog role. As the No. 1 seed in Wichita, Kansas will have all of the pressure on Saturday.  — Reynolds

Did You Know?

Kansas won its first-round matchup against Penn, 76-60. No. 1 seeds that won by fewer than 20 points in the first round of the NCAA Tournament have gone 13-6-1 ATS in the Round of 32 since 2005. — John Ewing

In his career in the NCAA Tournament, Bill Self is 7-1 SU and ATS as a 1-seed in the Round of 32. His one loss came in the 2010 NCAA Tournament against Northern Iowa. Yes, I’m serious! In the seven wins — all of which came by double digits — Self and the Jayhawks defeated their opponents by an average of 15.3 points. — Evan Abrams

Kansas is currently receiving over 66% of the total tickets vs. Seton Hall. Since 2005, 1-seeds receiving at least two-thirds of the total tickets in the Round of 32 are just 2-12 ATS (14.3%). (See live ticket percentages here.) — Evan Abrams

Betting Market

As a relatively short favorite, the 1-seed is getting the heavy majority of public action. But despite 75% of tickets on the Jayhawks, Seton Hall has drawn 51% of spread dollars which has kept this line at its opening number. — Danny Donahue

My Favorite Bet

Stuck: Seton Hall +4.5
Jordan: Seton Hall +4.5
Wes: Seton Hall +4.5

#5 Ohio State vs. #4 Gonzaga -3 | O/U: 142.5

Boise, ID | 7:45 p.m. ET on CBS

No. 1 thing I’ll be watching: Gonzaga’s response

How does the trendy pick to come out of the West Region respond to getting a bit of a scare in the first round vs. an inferior opponent? More often than not, that wakes a team up. I expect a much sharper Gonzaga squad in the Round of 32. Ohio State does have revenge on its mind after getting bombed 86-59 at the PK80 event in November. However, this is the NCAA Tournament. You can pretty much throw out any situational edge. Keep in mind the Buckeyes had a couple guys go down with mild ankle injuries in Thursday’s game and they are not a deep team to begin with.  — Wes Reynolds

Did You Know?

Gonzaga is 23-0 this season when holding opponents under 70 points (as it did in the first round against UNC Greensboro). The Zags gave up at least 70 in all four of their losses this season. Even last season, Gonzaga was 28-0 when holding opponents under 70. In its only two losses, it allowed both opponents to score at least 70, including UNC in the National Championship. The Heels scored 71. Can Ohio State get to 70?  — Stuckey

Between Gonzaga and St. Mary’s, the West Coast Conference is 1-5-1 ATS in their last seven games in the Round of 32 or later. Since the 2008 NCAA Tournament, the WCC is 6-14-1 ATS this late in the Big Dance, the least profitable conference in the country.  — Evan Abrams

Betting Market

Finally, a line move toward the public side. Gonzaga opened -2.5 at Bookmaker but has jumped to -3.5 behind 78% of bets and 89% of dollars. — Danny Donahue

My Favorite Bet

Stuck: Gonzaga/Duke ML parlay
Wes: Gonzaga ML

#6 Florida vs. #3 Texas Tech -1.5 | O/U: 134

Dallas, TX | 8:40 p.m. ET on TNT

No. 1 thing I’ll be watching: Turnovers

Texas Tech ranks 16th in the country in defensive turnover rate. After forcing 13 from SFA on Thursday, it will now face a Florida team that ranks in the top-five nationally in terms of protecting the ball. That will be incredibly important for the Gators, as they’ll likely struggle to generate efficient shots on offense. They don’t really hit the offensive glass and rank 301st in frequency of shots at the rim. Considering Texas Tech ranks in the top 25 in rim protection, the Gators can’t afford to cough up possessions, especially late.  — Bryan Mears

Did You Know?

Top-4 seeded Big 12 teams are 19-10 ATS in the Round of 32 since the 2005 NCAA Tourney. The Big 12 is the most profitable conference in the country in that spot over that span. All the success hasn’t belonged to just Kansas, either. Excluding KU, the Big 12 is still 12-6 ATS in this spot. — Evan Abrams

My Favorite Bet

Stuck: I’ll be looking for opportunities to bet Tech as a live dog.

Betting Market

Bets are almost completely split, with 51% taking Texas Tech as a small favorite. 72% of money on Tech, however, has moved this line from -1 to -1.5 at Bookmaker. — Danny Donahue

#6 Houston vs. #3 Michigan -3 | O/U: 134

Wichita, KS | 9:40 p.m. ET on TBS

No. 1 thing I’ll be watching: Free throw shooting

Both defenses match up well against the opposing offenses. Houston’s bigs have the mobility to guard Michigan in pick and roll. And Michigan simply has one of the best defenses in the country. The Wolverines are playing at such a high level on that end. This should be a tight, physical battle throughout. With the margins thin, this game could be decided at the line. If so, Houston has a significant advantage. The Cougars are fairly average at the line, as they rank 157th in the country at 71.8%. However, that is much better than Michigan, which ranks 332nd at 65.6%. That ineptitude could end up biting head coach John Beilein’s squad at some point in the tourney.  — Stuckey

Did You Know?

Houston has shot below 40% from the field in back-to-back games heading into the Round of 32 (AAC Final and First Round). Since the 2011 NCAA Tournament, teams playing in the Round of 32 or later after shooting under 40% in consecutive games are 13-5-1 ATS (72.2%). Through Thursday’s action, both Houston and Rhode Island fell into this situation.  — Evan Abrams

Kelvin Sampson has taken four different schools to the NCAA Tournament (Washington State, Oklahoma, Indiana, Houston) and faced the Big Ten four times, all with the Sooners. Sampson is 0-4 SU and 1-3 ATS, including an ATS differential of -23 over his last two contests.  — Evan Abrams

Betting Market

In the most lopsided game on today’s slate, 79% of bettors have taken the Wolverines. Depending which side you like, this is a case where you’ll want to shop around for the best line, as books are relatively split between 3 and 3.5. — Danny Donahue

My Favorite Bet

Stuck: Under 134
Jordan: Under 134


Editor’s note: The opinion on these games is from the individual writers and is based on their research, analysis and perspective. It is independent of, and may not always match with, the algorithm-driven Best Bets from Sports Insights.

Top photo: Kansas guard Lagerald Vick; credit: Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports