Sunday NCAA Tournament Betting Mega-Guide: Analysis, Picks for All 8 Games

Sunday NCAA Tournament Betting Mega-Guide: Analysis, Picks for All 8 Games article feature image

USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Ty Jerome and Zion WIlliamson

One of the best sports weekends of the year is coming to an end. But that’s no reason to pout, since eight excellent Sunday games will carry us through the day.

We’ve covered every game in depth and compiled it all below. Our breakdown of Tennessee-Iowa is available for free — all others for EDGE subscribers.

Let’s get to it.

#2 Tennessee vs. #10 Iowa NCAA Tournament Betting Odds

  • Spread: Tennessee -8
  • Over/Under: 155.5
  • Date: Sunday, March 24
  • Time: 12:10 p.m. ET
  • TV: CBS
  • Location: Columbus, Ohio

>> All odds as of Sunday morning. Download The Action Network App to get real-time odds and live win probabilities on your bets.

Iowa (14-20 against the spread) held a shooting clinic en route to its victory over Cincinnati.

The Hawkeyes started slow after star forward Tyler Cook got into foul trouble. Nevertheless, they shot lights-out in the 79-72 victory, with Luka Garza and Joe Wieskamp leading a 3-point effort that went 11-for-22. Cincinnati had no answer for Iowa’s shooting despite winning the turnover battle 14 to 7.

No. 2-seeded Tennessee had issues of its own in the form of sharp-shooting Colgate. The Raiders stayed within covering range the entire game thanks to 52% three-point shooting, tying Tennessee in defensive rebounds. But Colgate isn’t a great defensive team, with most statistical categories outside the top 150 nationally, so Tennessee will face a much stiffer test in the Round of 32.

Will Iowa Duplicate Long-Range Sharp Shooting?

The Hawkeyes rank 66th in 3-point shooting percentage, and took full advantage of a Cincinnati defense that doesn’t defend the perimeter. And there are a few advanced metrics that suggest that could happen again in the second round.

The Volunteers are 211th in opponent 3-point shooting — a stat contrasted with their opponents ranking 58th in the nation in point distribution coming from behind the arc.

Tennessee can be exposed on its defensive glass, ranking 259th. It’s crucial that Cook stay out of foul trouble for the Hawkeyes, as Iowa is 114th nationally in offensive rebounding.

Hitting 3s and crashing the offensive glass will be key against the Volunteers.

Where Will Tennessee Have the Most Success?

Tempo is an area where Tennessee can take advantage of Iowa. The Volunteers love to push offensively with weapons like Grant Williams and Admiral Schofield. Tennessee is 107th in average possession length on offense, while the Iowa defense ranks 312th in the same category.

Iowa has had a tough season defending 2-point shots, ranking outside the top 300. The Hawkeyes defense is not known for steals, blocks or rebounds. So for Tennessee to win this game, the Vols will need their stars to hit shots while limiting the Hawkeyes on the offensive glass.

Finding Value

Tennessee struggled with a Colgate formula that consisted of long range shooting and offensive rebounds. That will be the exact prescription Iowa will use against the Volunteers.

Tennessee has struggled with perimeter defense and one-on-one penetration. Turnovers have plagued the 2-seed from the SEC, but Iowa does not specialize in creating havoc.

This will be a dog fight on the boards, and if Tennessee does not limit Iowa 3s, the Hawkeyes are a perfect candidate for the upset.

THE PICK: Pass at the current number; I played Iowa +8.5 and would advocate for waiting to see if it moves that direction again.

Our Projected Odds: Tennessee vs. Iowa

Get point spreads for this game and every possible tournament matchup with our bracket simulator built by Sean Koerner, our Director of Predictive Analytics, a former oddsmaker and FantasyPros’ most accurate in-season fantasy football ranker from 2015-2017.

  • Spread: Tennessee -10
  • Over/Under: 154
  • Score: Tennessee 82 | Iowa 72
  • Win Probability: Tennessee 84.3% | Iowa 15.7%

#1 North Carolina vs. #9 Washington NCAA Tournament Betting Odds

  • Spread: UNC -11.5
  • Over/Under: 148
  • Date: Sunday, March 24
  • Time: 2:40 p.m. ET
  • TV: CBS
  • Location: Columbus, Ohio

North Carolina may have struggled for a half with Iona (which was hitting every 3 imaginable), but that didn’t last, as the Tar Heels exerted their dominance over the course of the second half to pull away.

Washington’s first-round blowout was far less expected, as it was a 3.5-point underdog entering its 17-point win over Utah State. Can Washington come up with another spectacular effort to knock off a true contender?

North Carolina Has Seen Washington’s Defense

UNC is going to see a defense it faces in the ACC, and that’s a bonus. Longtime Syracuse assistant Mike Hopkins has instilled a lot of the same principles at Washington, and has talented players to execute the scheme.

The infamous 2-3 zone can give teams headaches, but Carolina’s offense had no such issues with it against Syracuse this year, putting up 90-plus points despite very lackluster 3-point shooting numbers.

The 2-3 zone does a great job generally of limiting 3s and lay-ups, and forces offenses to run what may be a very basic “zone-beating” offense, as opposed to the more unique schemes that can be run against man-to-man defense.

Carolina has two big edges against a zone. First, guard Coby White can attack via the drive either to score or to dish — and he was very successful against Syracuse doing just that.

Second, and most importantly, Luke Maye is the ideal big man to “flash” to the foul line, in the middle of the zone, receive the pass, and either score or pass to a teammate. Against Syracuse, he led the team with six assists, and he has a good mid-range game. His skill set is ideal for this role, and could be a key to a Carolina victory over the Huskies.

Lastly, UNC is always an excellent offensive rebounding team, and because of the zone, those opportunities will always be there. Washington was 345th in the country in offensive rebounding allowed, so this may be the most glaring statistical mismatch in the game.

When Washington Has The Ball

The Huskies need to hope they shoot it as well as they did Friday night, when they made 10-of-17 three-pointers against Utah State. Washington isn’t a bad 3-point shooting team, so it wasn’t a complete outlier performance, but 58.8% is just very unlikely to be repeated.

One thing Washington probably won’t have to worry about as much is getting turned over. Against Utah State, the Huskies’ big lead evaporated quickly because of their total inability to handle the Aggies pressure (which was a great second-half adjustment by Utah State).

Once David Crisp fouled out it got even worse. Carolina is unlikely to be as successful with that strategy, or even to implement it.

How I’m Betting Washington-UNC

The raw metrics, as well as the very specific unit-vs.-unit differences, all lead to a commanding UNC victory. The bad news is the market absolutely reflects that, and I see no value in the side at the current numbers. There isn’t meaningful injury or fatigue information that would be unaccounted for — or inaccurately accounted for, either.

The good news is that as far as the total, I think what the Utah State game showed us is that Washington can be sped up to play an up-and-down game.

However Utah State wanted to play that game speed-wise, Washington just kind of came along for the ride.

Against Carolina, the frenetic pace may be contagious, as well, which could lead to a lot of run-out opportunities for both teams. Carolina’s offensive possessions should lead to a LOT of close-range shots and offensive rebounds. Washington should be able to get decent looks despite some of their deficiencies.

If the pace cooperates, which I think it will, there is a little bit of value in this over at any number lower than 150.

The Bet: Washington-UNC over 148

Sean Koerner’s North Carolina-Washington Projections

Get point spreads for this game and every possible tournament matchup with our bracket simulator built by Sean Koerner, our Director of Predictive Analytics, a former oddsmaker and FantasyPros’ most accurate in-season fantasy football ranker from 2015-2017.

  • Spread: North Carolina -12
  • Total: 141.5
  • Proj Score: North Carolina 77 | Washington 65
  • Win Probability: North Carolina 88.2% | Washington 11.8%

#1 Duke vs. #9 UCF

  • Spread: Duke -13
  • Over/Under: 143.5
  • Date: Sunday, March 24
  • Time: 5:15 p.m. ET
  • TV: CBS
  • Location: Columbia, S.C.

Duke (18-17 against the spread) has the seventh-youngest team in the nation. Some food for thought: Eight of the past 12 national champions own a top-190 ranking in KenPom‘s experience factor.

Will the Blue Devils be tested in the Round of 32 by the 21st-most experienced team in UCF (19-12-1 ATS)? Let’s breakdown the matchup’s biggest factors.

Excelling with Double-Digit Spreads

According to our Bet Labs data, Duke is 12-6 (66.7%) ATS when favored by at least 12 points this season. Its success stems from the Blue Devils’ elite defense (88.4 opponents’ Adjusted Defensive Efficiency), guided by the 6-foot-7 Zion Williamson’s prowess for sparking their transition offense with his elite on-ball defense.

But UCF’s 32nd-ranked AdjD (95.6 opponents’ points per 100 possessions) won’t be a cakewalk for Mike Krzyzewski. Don’t forget about Knights coach Johnny Dawkins getting a crack at his alma mater and former employer.

Hard-Shell Tacko

Led by 7-foot-6 Tacko Fall and his 11.5% block rate (14th-highest in Division I), UCF has yielded the 13th-lowest 2-point clip (44.4%) in the country. On the flip side, Duke has thrived off scoring inside the arc, generating the 21st-highest 2-point scoring rate (55.7%) in the country.

This Duke team doesn’t shoot from deep.

Even though much of that comes in transition, it’s also a product of tallying the 21st-lowest 3-point clip (30.5%) in the country, aiming to have R.J. Barrett attack off the dribble drive and Williamson operate from the post. But the Knights have the length to protect the rim — with Fall and the 6-foot-11 Collin Smith up front.

The 6-foot-6 Aubrey Dawkins also has the frame to bother Barrett (23.0 points per game), especially as he aims to probe through the lane.

In order for their defense to be effective, though, the Knights will need to execute in half-court sets to limit Duke’s fastbreak opportunities.

Blue Devils’ Struggling Interior Defense

Although Duke has thrived at keeping its opponents off the line, which is one of UCF’s strengths, Krzyzewski’s squad has allowed the 14th-highest 2-point scoring rate (55.1%) in the nation.

The Knights have run 46.1% of their action through Fall (11.0 ppg) and Smith (8.1 ppg), as well as using Dawkins (15.1 ppg) and B.J. Taylor (16.0 ppg) off the dribble. Williamson and Blue Devils point guard Tre Jones are always lurking around to turn the opposition over, but Taylor’s senior experience as their floor general should pay dividends against an aggressive defense.

UCF presents similar length to Duke, too, and it’ll be in position to take advantage of Williamson & Co.’s below-average defensive rebounding rate (29.3%). That’ll serve as another tool to stymie the Blue Devils from breaking away at the other end.

THE PICK: UCF +13, but I wouldn’t bet it past +12

Our Projected Odds: Duke vs. UCF

Get point spreads for this game and every possible tournament matchup with our bracket simulator built by Sean Koerner, our Director of Predictive Analytics, a former oddsmaker and FantasyPros’ most accurate in-season fantasy football ranker from 2015-2017.

  • Spread: Duke -15
  • Over/Under: 141
  • Score: Duke 78 | UCF 63
  • Win Probability: Duke 94.9% | UCF 5.1%

#3 Texas Tech vs. #6 Buffalo

  • Spread: Texas Tech -3.5
  • Over/Under: 146
  • Date: Sunday, March 24
  • Time: 6:10 p.m. ET
  • TV: TNT
  • Location: Tulsa, Okla.

The Red Raiders (16-16-1 against-the-spread) have covered nine of their last 11 games, including their win over Northern Kentucky (-13) on Friday. On the other side, the Bulls (19-14-1 ATS) have won three of their last four affairs ATS, highlighted by their 17-point win over Arizona State (-6) in the Round of 64.

Where’s the value in this West Region matchup? Let’s break it down.

Success with Single-Digit Spreads

Chris Beard’s bunch has been dominant when laying at most 9.5 points this season, going 9-3-1 ATS (75.0%), per our Bet Labs data. The Red Raiders have been profitable in a tighter range as well, collecting a 3-1 ATS (75.0%) mark when favored by 1 to 3.5 points.

That’s a credit to Texas Tech’s No. 1 Adjusted Defensive Rating (85.7 opponent points per possession), as the Red Raiders limit teams to the second-lowest eFG% (42.8%) in the process.

Buffalo’s Perimeter Offense

Nate Oats’ crew wants to push the pace via the 10th-highest adjusted tempo (73.5 possessions per 40 minutes) in college basketball. The Bulls have attempted the 50th-most 3-pointers in the process, but they’ve racked up a below-average 33.6% clip from behind the arc.

Texas Tech’s ball pressure creates plenty of havoc around that vicinity; the Red Raiders have allowed the 16th-lowest 3-point clip (29.9%) in the country.

Depending on whether Beard shifts to a smaller lineup at times to match up with Buffalo, look for 6-foot-5 Jarrett Culver — TTU’s premier on-ball defender — to square off against both CJ Massinburg (18.3 points per game) and Jeremy Harris (14.2 ppg). Culver’s size and ball pressure gives him an advantage.

Buffalo 6-foot-8 forward Nick Perkins (14.6 ppg), who comes off the bench, will also be in for a tough evening against the Red Raiders frontcourt of Tariq Owens and Norense Odiase. The 6-foot-10 Owens notched the ninth-highest block rate (12.5%) in the country, while Odiase’s physical nature limits ball penetration in the post.

Texas Tech’s Interior Attack

With Beard’s defense in position to control the pace, Texas Tech should be able to utilize its below-average adjusted tempo (66.8 possessions per 40 minutes) to keep this one a halfcourt affair.

The Red Raiders offense is at its best while getting to the rim, racking up the 95th-highest 2-point scoring rate (52.0%) in the country. Culver (18.5 ppg) is a load to handle off the dribble drive, and Owens’ athleticism around the basket causes problems.

Given Buffalo has yielded the 30th-highest 2-point scoring rate (53.8%) — a product of its small-ball lineups — Culver & Co. shouldn’t have an issue finding their offense. Plus, the Bulls allow the fourth-highest free throw rate (33.5%) in MAC play — an area where Beard’s squad excelled during its Big 12 run (33.2%).

Eli’s Pick: Texas Tech -3.5, but I wouldn’t bet it past -4.5

Our Projected Odds: Texas Tech vs. Buffalo

Get point spreads for this game and every possible tournament matchup with our bracket simulator built by Sean Koerner, our Director of Predictive Analytics, a former oddsmaker and FantasyPros’ most accurate in-season fantasy football ranker from 2015-2017.

  • Spread: Texas Tech -6.5
  • Over/Under: 137
  • Score: Texas Tech 72 | Buffalo 65.5
  • Win Probability: Texas Tech 73.3% | Buffalo 26.7%

#4 Virginia Tech vs. #12 Liberty

  • Spread: Virginia Tech -8.5
  • Over/Under: 124.5
  • Date: Sunday, March 24
  • Time: 7:10 p.m. ET
  • Location: San Jose, Calif.
  • TV: TBS

We are two results away from the one Sweet 16 matchup I wanted more than any heading into the tournament: Duke vs. Virginia Tech. I truly think the Hokies can beat the Blue Devils, especially now that Justin Robinson back.

However, it’s certainly not a lock that Buzz Williams’ squad will advance today. Let’s take a look at the matchup, which I think provides some value on the side and over/under.

Key Matchup in Virginia Tech-Liberty

If you recall, I bet Virginia Tech in the first round against Saint Louis since the Billikens simply can’t shoot. They ranked 322nd in the country in Effective FG% and 30.8% from deep, which is the third-worst rate in the tourney field.

And that just spelled disaster against a Virginia Tech defense that goes under screens.

Virginia Tech’s 50.1% opponent 3-point rate is the third highest in the country. It forces you to shoot a bunch of outside shots. That was a nightmare for Saint Louis, but Liberty is not Saint Louis.

The Flames rank 10th nationally in Effective FG% (56.1) and 51st in the country in 3P% (37.0). They have the shooters that Saint Louis lacked. Just ask Mississippi State.

Other Factors to Consider

We have a snail race on our hands in San Jose. The Hokies are in no rush, ranking 337th in Adjusted Tempo, per KenPom. And the Flames are even slower at 349th in that same category.

Both teams are excellent from the free throw line, so Virginia Tech won’t enjoy the edge it had against the Billikens.

The Pick

Liberty is simply getting too many points in a game that should be an absolute grinder. The Flames also have the personnel to succeed against Virginia Tech’s defense.

And looking ahead, the ideal situation would be a Virginia Tech one-point win and a Duke blowout to potentially give us even more value with the Hokies against Duke next Friday night. Just like Saint Louis, Duke can’t shoot the three.

But this experienced Liberty team can. VT better be careful.

Stuckey’s Pick: Liberty +8.5/Under 124.5

Sean Koerner’s VT-Liberty Projections

Get point spreads for this game and every possible tournament matchup with our bracket simulator built by Sean Koerner, our Director of Predictive Analytics, a former oddsmaker and FantasyPros’ most accurate in-season fantasy football ranker from 2015-2017.

  • Spread: Virginia Tech -9
  • Total: 132.5
  • Proj Score: Virginia Tech 71 | Liberty 62
  • Win Probability: Virginia Tech 82.8% | Liberty 17.2%

#1 Virginia vs. #9 Oklahoma

  • Spread: Virginia -11
  • Over/Under: 126.5
  • Date: Sunday, March 24
  • Time: 7:45 p.m. ET
  • TV: truTV
  • Location: Columbia, S.C.

The jitters were expected for Virginia (23-10 against the spread) after getting upset by 16-seed UMBC in 2018. But Gardner-Webb came ready to shoot the long ball and maximize its possessions, and the Cavaliers had their backs pinned to the wall early with a hostile crowd.

Virginia rallied after halftime and came close to covering the closing number (-22.5).

Meanwhile, Oklahoma jumped out to a 12-0 lead on Ole Miss in the first round and never looked back. The 95-72 final score highlights the havoc the Sooners unleashed with a steal ratio of 10-to-1. Ole Miss committed 24 fouls, resulting in a 26-to-4 discrepancy in free-throw attempts.

Will the Havoc Continue for the Sooners?

Ole Miss players were harassed for more than two hours against the Sooners, as Oklahoma snagged eight steals in the first half. The Rebels had 11 total turnovers, which begs the question of whether this was an aberration: The Sooners defense was 243rd in turnover percentage, ranking 190th in steals, this season. They hadn’t reached double-digit steals since a Jan. 26 game against Vanderbilt.

Virginia is one of the premier teams in the country at ball protection.

The Cavaliers offense ranks 14th in turnover percentage. While the No. 1 seed is not known for creating havoc itself, ranking 119th in steals, Oklahoma will have a tough route in creating turnovers.

Virginia Overcame a 16-Seed, Smooth Sailing Ahead?

There was nothing in the advanced stats that said Gardner-Webb would upset Virginia over a 40-minute game. After trailing by six at the half, the Cavs more than doubled the Runnin’ Bulldogs’ score in the second.

With the UMBC nightmare behind the program, Virginia sets its sights on an Oklahoma team playing with house money.

The Sooners like to force their opponents to shoot the deep ball, with an opponent 3-point distribution rank of 29th in the country. That’s great news for a Virginia team that’s fourth in 3-point percentage. Oklahoma ranks outside the top 100 in defending the 3, but rank top 25 in opponent 2-point percentage.

Finding Value

This isn’t a good matchup for Oklahoma, which isn’t equipped to handle a Virginia team that’s top-20 in ball protection and top-five in 3-point percentage.

Another area of focus will be rebounding, where the Oklahoma offense is 247th compared to 63rd for the Virginia defense. Don’t expect the Sooners to press, as they rank 326th in defensive average possession length. That will play into the Cavs, who are one of the slowest teams in the nation.

Oklahoma’s style of play could feed right into what Virginia does best, and that should be good enough for a cover from the top seed in the region.

THE PICK: Virginia -11 or better

Our Projected Odds: Virginia vs. Oklahoma

Get point spreads for this game and every possible tournament matchup with our bracket simulator built by Sean Koerner, our Director of Predictive Analytics, a former oddsmaker and FantasyPros’ most accurate in-season fantasy football ranker from 2015-2017.

  • Spread: Virginia -12
  • Over/Under: 126.5
  • Score: Virginia 69.5 | Oklahoma 57.5
  • Win Probability: Virginia 88.2% | Oklahoma 11.8%

#3 Houston vs. #11 Ohio State

  • Spread: Houston -5.5
  • Over/Under: 132.5
  • Date: Sunday, March 24
  • Time: 8:40 p.m. ET
  • TV: TNT
  • Location: Tulsa, Okla.

The Cougars (21-12-2 against the spread) snapped a two-game losing skid ATS with a 29-point thrashing of Georgia State in the Round of 64. On the flip side, the Buckeyes (15-19 ATS) have covered in three straight contests — the last one resulting in an outright upset victory over 3-seeded Iowa State.

Where’s the value in this Round of 32 duel, and can Ohio State deliver another surprising straight-up win? Let’s breakdown the matchup.

The Kaleb Wesson Factor

When the 6-foot-9, 270-pound Wesson (14.6 points per game) has scored at least 17 points in conference and postseason play, the Buckeyes boast 5-2 mark — outright and ATS. He wrecked the Iowa State’s frontcourt to the tune of a 21-point, 12-rebound effort on Friday.

Wesson has the offensive prowess to take over games, but he can also pull Ohio State right out of them.

In the Big Ten tournament quarterfinals against Michigan State, Wesson was tagged for a flagrant foul with the score tied at 40. The Spartans then ballooned their lead to double figures before Wesson tacked on two silly fouls that sent him to the bench for good.

Houston’s Stifling Defense

Not only will the Cougars’ front line of Breaon Brady and Fabian White present a more physical matchup for Wesson than Iowa State, but their 12th-rated Adjusted Defensive Efficiency (91.5 opponents’ points per 100 possessions) should generate enough issues for OSU’s inconsistent offense (69.4 points per game — No. 248 in the country).

Chris Holtmann’s scoring is well-distributed across the board, but it accumulated the third-highest perimeter scoring rate (33.2%) in league play — despite shooting 32.1% from that vicinity.

Kelvin Sampson’s unit has allowed the second-lowest 3-point clip (27.5%) in the nation, along with a below-average 30.7% scoring rate. Houston doesn’t force a bulk of turnovers, which Ohio State struggles with (18.7% clip), but its ball pressure via trapping Wesson should disrupt the Buckeyes’ flow.

Keep in mind, the Cougars have allowed the fifth-lowest 2-point clip (42.7%) in the country, too.

Matching Up on the Perimeter

Despite Houston tallying a below-average Adjusted Tempo (66.2 possessions per 40 minutes), it’ll aim to push and gun it from the perimeter at times, as well.

Sampson’s troops have accrued the 69th-highest defensive rebounding rate (25.8%) in the sport. Expect them to own the glass against the Buckeyes’ below-average offensive rebounding rate while generating mismatches in the open floor.

The Cougars have accrued the 70th-highest 3-point scoring rate (36.3%), led by Armoni Brooks (38.8%), Dejon Jarreau (38.7%) and Corey Davis Jr. (38.2%) — their three leading scorers. They’ve also amassed the 18th-highest offensive rebounding rate (34.8%), many of which are tallied via their long perimeter misses. Houston was plus-24 on the glass in its 39-point win over Georgia State on Friday.

Ohio State allowed the sixth-highest 3-point clip (33.6%) in conference play, as its defense got exposed once it began facing legitimate perimeter shooting threats.

Iowa State’s poor 3-point shooting (27.3%) was a product of its inability to control the pace. Houston won’t deal with the same issues in the Round of 32, as it’ll enact revenge after losing to Michigan in the same spot last season.

Eli’s Pick: Houston -5.5, but I wouldn’t bet it past Houston -6.5

Our Projected Odds: Houston vs. Ohio State

Get point spreads for this game and every possible tournament matchup with our bracket simulator built by Sean Koerner, our Director of Predictive Analytics, a former oddsmaker and FantasyPros’ most accurate in-season fantasy football ranker from 2015-2017.

  • Spread: Houston -4
  • Over/Under: 128.5
  • Score: Houston 66.5 | Ohio State 62.5
  • Win Probability: Houston 64% | Ohio State 36%

#12 Oregon vs. #13 UC-Irvine: NCAA Tournament Betting Odds

  • Spread: Oregon -5
  • Over/Under: 124
  • Location: San Jose, CA
  • Date: Sunday, March 24
  • Time: 9:40 p.m. ET
  • TV: TBS

Oregon was one overtime loss away from having its season end when it pulled one out vs. Arizona State in the Pac-12 tournament. Now, the Ducks are favored to make the second weekend of the NCAA tournament.

And after UC-Irvine came up short in the Big West final last year, the Anteaters got the job done this year and knocked off No. 4 seed Kansas State in the first round to set up this 12-13 matchup to close out the first weekend.

Let’s take a closer look at this matchup to see which double digit seed will move on to the Sweet 16.

Morphing Ducks

Dana Altman-coached teams are always tough in a tournament setting because of how often he switches up his defenses. Oregon is one of the eight tourney teams that runs zone on more than 30% of its possessions.

The Ducks are also one of only three tourney teams that have pressed over 25% of of the time, per Synergy. (Florida State and VCU are the other two.) What makes Altman’s defense even more difficult to face is his strategy to press and then drop into a zone before morphing into man — all on the same possession.

Regardless of the scheme, Oregon’s defense has succeeded this season. Just look at these Points Per Possession national ranks heading into the tourney:

  • Man: 91st percentile
  • Zone: 92nd percentile
  • Press: 85th percentile

While Irvine does see some zones on the West coast and has had success against the press, this is a different animal with one day in between games to prepare for all of the looks Altman will throw at it even within the same possession.

The quick turnaround favors the Ducks but this is a veteran Irvine team that has won 31 games this season. Experience is where the ‘Eaters will have the edge. I don’t see much value in the side but do think the brilliance of Altman will show as the game goes on, so I’ll be Duck hunting for a nice live line.

Oregon has been blitzing teams in the second half recently. It was tied with Wisconsin at the half before outscoring the Badgers by 18 in the second half. It also outscored Washington by 18 in the second half of the Pac-12 title game. Oh, and Utah by 18 in the second half earlier in that tournament.

In regards to the total, the under is certainly worth a look in another matchup of slow-tempo teams in the South region. These are two spectacular defenses that should make life difficult for each respective offense.

Stuckey’s Pick: Oregon Live Underdog

Our Projected Odds: Oregon vs. UC Irvine

Get point spreads for this game and every possible tournament matchup with our bracket simulator built by Sean Koerner, our Director of Predictive Analytics, a former oddsmaker and FantasyPros’ most accurate in-season fantasy football ranker from 2015-2017.

  • Spread: Oregon -5.5
  • Total: 124.5
  • Proj Score: Oregon 65 | UC Irvine 59.5
  • Win Probability: Oregon 70% | UC Irvine 30%

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

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