South Dakota State vs. Providence Betting Odds, Predictions: Our Top Pick for Thursday’s NCAA Tournament Game

South Dakota State vs. Providence Betting Odds, Predictions: Our Top Pick for Thursday’s NCAA Tournament Game article feature image

Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images. Pictured: Ed Cooley (Providence)

South Dakota State vs. Providence Odds

Thursday, March 17
12:40 p.m. ET
South Dakota State Odds
-110o / -110u
Providence Odds
-110o / -110u
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute college basketball odds here.

By Anthony Dabbundo

One of the most public underdog selections of the entire first round is sure to be South Dakota State. This is especially true after last year’s Summit League champion Oral Roberts made the Sweet 16 and was an open 3 at the buzzer away from making an Elite Eight appearance.

South Dakota State is more balanced than Oral Roberts was, but the profile is similar — all offense, bad defense.

The Jackrabbits will travel up to Buffalo, New York for their first-round game against Providence, which just won its first-ever regular season Big East title.

The Friars are widely viewed as a pretty overrated 4 seed, as most predictive metrics would have them around an 8 or 9 seed at best.

The current spread set at two points would be the lowest spread for a No. 4 seed since the tournament’s expansion in 1985.

Providence’s 12-2 record in close games this season has inflated its resume and overall record, but the Jackrabbits’ ability to shoot from the perimeter can scare any defense, especially one that has been picked apart in recent games against Creighton and Villanova.

This matchup comes down to how much the Friars are able to dominate the interior, and whether SDSU can make up for that on the perimeter with its elite offense.

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South Dakota State Jackrabbits

By Ky McKeon

South Dakota State is the best shooting team in the country. The Jackrabbits rank No. 1 nationally in eFG%, No. 1 in 3P% and 10th in 2P%. Five players shoot over 40% from deep and two shoot over 49%.

In a tournament setting, they are as dangerous a foe as a mid-major comes.

No team has ever run the table in the Summit League until SDSU this season. The Bunnies went a perfect 18-0 in the regular season and breezed through three tournament games.

In the non-conference, SDSU matched up with three power foes (Alabama, Washington and Washington State) and went 1-2 straight up and against the spread.

SDSU scored victories over tough mid-majors, including Nevada, Stephen F. Austin, Montana State, George Mason and Bradley. A head-scratching loss to Idaho is the only blemish on an otherwise sparkling resume.

Though SDSU was the Summit’s best defensive team this season, that isn’t saying much. Against better competition, SDSU doesn’t offer much resistance on this end of the floor. SDSU’s path to victory over a power foe is to simply outscore them.

The Jackrabbits are a prime fit for a Cinderella slipper. The Bunnies are talented, have knockdown shooters, are well-coached and are certainly battle-tested.

Providence Friars

By Shane McNichol

The discourse around Providence has reached the point of exhaustion. The Friars over-performed through the end of February and look to be in the midst of some regression. There are eight teams with a double-digit seed that are ahead of Providence in KenPom’s current rankings.

The regression possibility is scary, yet let’s not be so quick to toss out the baby with the bath water.

Over the Friars’ last seven games, they played two disappointing close games against Butler, needed three overtimes to beat Xavier and got boat-raced by Creighton in the Big East Tournament semifinals.

In that span, they also beat Creighton by 21 and lost two games to Villanova by a combined seven points. The sky is not exactly falling on Providence, at least not enough to consider a matchup with South Dakota State a foregone conclusion.

Jared Bynum and Al Durham have played on par with any backcourt duo in the nation and Nate Watson is a problem for any frontline, especially that of a mid-major program.

Shooting regression and record luck can be powerful, but Ed Cooley’s team is built to withstand adversity. The Friars won’t be eliminated from this tournament without one hell of a fight.

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South Dakota State vs. Providence Betting Pick

By Anthony Dabbundo

The market has shown very little respect for Providence’s success this season, and that remains the case heading into the first round of the tournament.

The matchup isn’t terrible for the Friars, who should be able to pull in plenty of offensive rebounds through Watson, and should be able to get both Bynum and Durham going offensively against a very bad Jackrabbits defense.

With that being said, I don’t see how the Friars stop South Dakota State, either.

The Friars allowed the fourth-most open 3s in Big East play, and there is nothing fluky about the shooting percentages that SDSU has.

Not only are the Jackrabbits No. 1 in 3-point field goal percentage, but they’re also No. 1 in ShotQuality 3-point percentage.

The Jackrabbits like to run out in transition and that’s an area where Providence also really struggles defensively. Providence is outside the top 200 in guarding ball screens, guarding in transition and guarding off the dribble 3s, all places where the Jackrabbits live offensively.

South Dakota State will be a popular upset pick and while that’s scary to join in with, the matchup and regression indicators suggest that the Friars’ trip to the NCAA Tournament will be short lived.

It’s probably a tossup game late, so I’m taking the points.

Pick: South Dakota State +2 or better

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