College Basketball Odds, Picks: Our 2 Best Bets for Sunday’s March Madness & NIT Games (March 20)
Photo by Brett Wilhelm/NCAA Photos via Getty Images. Pictured: Justin Kier (Arizona)
- The college basketball postseason rolls on Sunday, and we have four best bets for the NCAA Tournament and NIT.
- Our staff sees value on four games, including TCU vs. Arizona in the NCAA Tournament and Virginia vs. North Texas in the NIT.
- Check out all four of our top picks for Sunday below.
You know the madness is in full swing when 15-seeded Saint Peter’s is heading to the Sweet 16 and No. 1 seeded Baylor is not — despite rallying from 25 points down against North Carolina.
And guess what? We’re not even finished with the second round. We’re still searching for that buzzer-beating historic March moment, but the event is just heating up.
From a betting perspective, we have two top selections from two late NCAA Tournament matchups. And since it’s Sunday, we decided to give you two bonus NIT picks.
We’ll start with the early appetizer below before diving into the main course after.
Sunday’s College Basketball Best Bets
The team logos in the table below represent each of the matchups that our college basketball staff is targeting from today’s slate of games. Click the team logos for one the matchups below to navigate to a specific bet discussed in this article.
|Specific bet recommendations come from the sportsbook offering preferred odds as of writing. Always shop for the best price using our NCAAB Odds page, which automatically surfaces the best lines for every game.|
Washington State vs. SMU (NIT Second Round)
SMU has embraced making a postseason run in the NIT after being snubbed for an NCAA Tournament bid. The Mustangs defeated Nicholls State by double digits in their first-round matchup and now will face off against Washington State.
The Cougars have been playing better recently, winning five of their last six games. The only loss came to UCLA in the Pac-12 Tournament.
SMU’s offense has one of the top point guards in the country in Kendric Davis. Davis is averaging 19 points per game while shooting 38% from deep. He’s pivotal to the Mustangs’ success dishing out five assists per game.
He’s complemented by the Weathers brothers, who transferred to SMU to finish their collegiate careers together. Both Marcus and Michael scored 16 points in the opening-round win over Nicholls State.
Washington State’s success is reliant on outside shooting. The Cougars have taken 44% of their shot attempts from behind the arc and converted at a 34% clip.
Over its last three games, the program has connected on just 24-of-79 attempts (30%). Getting clean looks from deep will be a challenge against an SMU defense that ranks 22nd in 3-point defense.
SMU is a veteran group that ranks 32nd in the country in experience. The Mustangs have been dominant at home, boasting a 17-0 record this season.
That streak is set to continue in this matchup, as they’re poised to make it to the quarterfinal round of the NIT.
Pick: SMU -3 (Play to -4.5)
Virginia vs. North Texas (NIT Second Round)
In a game that should be very low-scoring, I think there’s value on Virginia as a three-point underdog to North Texas.
Both of these teams play incredibly slow and are led by their respective defenses.
Amazingly enough, the Cavaliers and Mean Green actually check in at 357th and 358th in the country in KenPom’s adjusted tempo. You won’t find two slower teams in the country, and they happen to square off on Sunday in Denton.
If there’s a coach I trust to keep his team playing hard in a less-than-glamorous road trip in the second round of the NIT, it’s Tony Bennett.
Look for the Cavaliers to stymie the North Texas offense in the half-court, and on the other end, I think Armaan Franklin and Jayden Gardner will be able to provide enough scoring to allow UVA to keep pace.
I like Virginia to win this game, and I certainly like it as a three-point underdog in a game where points will come at a premium.
Pick: Virginia +3
Texas vs. Purdue (NCAA Tournament Second Round)
Chris Beard has taken down Matt Painter and Purdue in the NCAA Tournament at Little Rock and Texas Tech within the last six years. On Sunday, he’ll look to do it at a third different school, and I fancy his chances of doing so.
Texas’ defensive scheme and length inside helps form a good matchup in terms of slowing down the interior attack of Zach Edey and Trevion Williams. Courtney Ramey will likely be the man who chases Jaden Ivy for most of the night, and the veteran guard should be up for the challenge.
On the other end of the floor, Andrew Jones continues to shoot the ball with confidence, and the Boilermakers have struggled to defend the pick-and-roll all year.
The Texas offense struggled for various chunks of the season, but I think it’s fair to say a large chunk of that was due to some of the elite defensive teams that reside in the Big 12.
Expect this game to be tight throughout, and with the Longhorns getting 3.5 points here, I think there is a lot of value on the underdog.
Pick: Texas +3.5 (Play to +3)
TCU vs. Arizona (NCAA Tournament Second Round)
Don’t get your hopes up that the final game of the opening weekend will bring much drama, as this duel is poised to be a rout.
Arizona is a horrid matchup for TCU on both ends of the floor. The Horned Frogs’ offense ranks outside the top 300 in 3-point percentage. TCU is reliant on finding points on the interior, as 58% of the team’s total points come from 2-point range, which ranks in the top-20 nationally.
Jamie Dixon’s group is the best offensive rebounding team in the country, finding extended possessions on 38% of the team’s misses.
The Wildcats’ interior defense is one of the best in the country, highlighted by a pair of 6-foot-11 forwards. Arizona owns the second best 2-point defense in the country, holding opponents to 42%.
Mike Miles is the leading scorer for TCU, as he’s putting up 15 points per game. He’s a high-volume shooter that hasn’t been very efficient, hitting just 39% from the field and 30% from 3-point territory. He will need to catch fire to keep the Horned Frogs relevant.
If TCU wants to stay competitive in this one, it will need to slow the game down and win the turnover battle. But no one has been able to slow down Arizona, which ranks sixth in the nation in tempo.
The Wildcats have exceeded 80 points in 13 of their last 14 matchups.
Regarding turnovers, TCU’s offense ranks 336th in turnover rate.
This one could turn into a blowout early, as the Wildcats are poised to be heading to the Sweet 16.