2021 NCAA Tournament Betting Picks: The Action Network & Three Man Weave’s Friday Best Bets (March 19)
Peyton Williams/UNC/Getty Images. Pictured: Armando Bacot.
- We have a full slate of NCAA Tournament games lasting all day and night on this fine Friday, and out experts, along with Three Man Weave, have you covered from a betting perspective.
- The crew provides six bets based on their betting analysis below, straight from The Action Network podcast.
Collin Wilson, Mike Randle & Stuckey join forces with Jim Root, Ky McKeon & Matt Cox of Three Man Weave to deliver their College Basketball Six Pack of Picks via The Action Network Colleges Podcast for Friday night’s Round of 64 slate.
There is a lot of value to be found throughout March Madness with plenty of mid-major teams having an opportunity at pulling off a Cinderella Story. It all starts in the Round of 64, which begins early Friday afternoon.
Our six experts broke down each of their favorite bets on The Action Network Podcast.
NCAA Tournament Picks
Collin Wilson: Arkansas vs. Colgate
12:45 p.m. ET | TruTV
This is a game I project up to 10.
Arkansas gets a little bit more depth back with Jaylin Williams coming. That’ll give Justin Smith a little bit of a blow on the block, not having to play every single minute — a big upgrade with the addition of Williams who got hot in January.
More importantly, Colgate has played absolutely nobody. Its schedule is a joke. When you look at who it’s played and how it’s built this record, then look at Arkansas, there’s a drastic difference.
My wallet dictates more than my fandom, so I wanted to give this a true neutral perspective. The narrative is that Colgate is a 3-point bomb machine. But in point distribution rank, it’s just 153rd from 3s. It’s not near the rate of Oral Roberts at ninth or Alabama at 13th, both of whom Arkansas beat.
Even though Colgate runs a fast-paced offense, Arkansas’ defense has an opponent tempo rank of third. To say it won’t be ready for Colgate’s offense is wrong.
The Raiders are in for a shock to their system against a fast-paced Arkansas team that can slash to the rim, shoot from 3 and is hitting at a great clip from the free-throw line over the last two months. Give me the Hogs.
The pick: Arkansas -8.5.
Jim Root: Arkansas vs. Colgate
12:45 p.m. ET | TruTV
This game is going to be a shootout. Both teams run up and down the floor, are better offensively than they are defensively and have serious mismatches.
Arkansas is just going to overwhelm Colgate inside, and its athleticism is going to tear apart the Raiders’ defense.
On the other end, Colgate is a prolific 3-point shooting team. It basically has four knockdown shooters on the court at all times and it’s got a quick little maestro in Jordan Burns that sets everything else up.
Both teams can score. I’m going with the over.
The pick: Over 161.5.
Ky McKeon: Texas Tech vs. Utah State
1:45 p.m. ET | TNT
I am taking the underdog Utah State catching four points against Texas Tech. This is going to be a low-scoring game between two defensive-minded teams that rank inside the top 25 in adjusted defensive efficiency.
The Aggies are led by 7-footer Neemias Queta, who has dominated the paint on both sides of the floor. He’s a large reason behind Utah State’s fourth-ranked 2-point defense, blocking over three shots per game. Queta is a double-double machine and a beast on the offensive glass.
Utah State is catching a Texas Tech team that has lost five of its last eight, two of those wins coming against Iowa State and TCU. You’ve got to pay some respect to Chris Beard and his defense here.
The Red Raiders are eighth in turnover percentage and are very athletic all around. I expect this game to be close throughout as both teams like to slow down the pace.
I like the Aggies here with the points.
The pick: Utah State +4.
Matt Cox: Baylor vs. Hartford
3:30 p.m. ET | TruTV
I’m laying the wood with a large favorite here.
We reportedly are in a headbutting battle with a lot of sharp money. Some folks like the Bears, others are trying to get cute and go with the Hartford Hawks here. I’m just not buying this story from Hartford.
They’re well-coached by John Gallagher but are slow-paced and everything revolves around Traci Carter, the former Marquette transfer. He’s the engine for that offense.
The problem is Baylor has two of the best lockdown defenders in college basketball, specifically Davion Mitchell. He shuts down at the point of attack.
There’s just no way Hartford eclipses 55 points here. Baylor’s defense has gotten some slack the last few games. I just think it’s a cumulation of fatigue and complacency. Oh, and the fact that it played Oklahoma State and Cade Cunningham.
Cade ain’t walking through that door for Hartford this weekend. I like Baylor.
The pick: Baylor -26.
Stuckey: Oklahoma State vs. Liberty
6:25 p.m. ET | TBS
This is my Friday stab.
I think this is a very bad matchup for Oklahoma State. What does Liberty do? It runs a pack-line defense, doesn’t allow you to get offensive rebounds, doesn’t let you get out in transition or get to the rim and runs one of the slowest offenses in the country.
The Cowboys have a top-20 rim rate on offense in the country while Liberty is top-20 defensively.
Oklahoma State is one of the highest transition teams in the tournament, Liberty doesn’t let you get out at all. Everything I look at, Liberty is going to make Oklahoma State beat them with jump shots.
Other than Oklahoma State’s turnover problems at times — which Liberty won’t exploit — everything else is in the Flames’ favor.
One of the reasons I think Oklahoma State has been so good is Mike Boynton is an underrated coach. He’ll throw out a lot of different looks, they’ll press, run a 2-3 zone. You don’t want to press Liberty — it’s got unlimited ball handlers — and you don’t want to run a zone, trust me. The Flames have seven guys shooting over 36% from 3, five of which are over 40.
It’s going to be a low-scoring, high variance game. I think the Flames and Ritchie McKay are live here. I love them.
The pick: Liberty +7.5.
Mike Randle: North Carolina vs. Wisconsin
7:10 p.m. ET | CBS
It’s UNC for me.
What is the argument for Wisconsin? OK, it hasn’t played well all year. OK, there seems to be internal issues. OK, Nate Reuvers is a total pillow.
We’re banking on it coming together, hanging in there.
The focus of their offense will be if big man Micah Potter can step out and shoot from 3. Both him and Reuvers combined for no rebounds against Michigan.
I like Roy Williams. He doesn’t get upset early and does a great job. The Tar Heels will pound it inside. They’ll make some 3s. Kerwin Walton and Walker Kessler will make some shots and can get hot. And just their depth on the front line is going to wear Wisconsin down — Armando Bacot, Day’Ron Sharpe and Garrison Brooks inside.
I have no reason why you would pick Wisconsin this game except that it’s a veteran team. It won’t magically get it together.
Give me old Roy over Greg Gard. Only 1.5, no problem. Looking forward to UNC-Baylor in the second round.
The pick: North Carolina -1.5.