NCAA Tournament Odds, Player Props: Friday Picks for Ryan Kalkbrenner, Nijel Pack, Brandon Miller & More
Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images. Pictured: Creighton’s Ryan Kalkbrenner.
The last day of the Sweet 16 has arrived.
Friday’s slate features four more games with a spot in the Elite Eight on the line. That means plenty of college hoops stars will be ready to carry their teams to the finish line.
Our college basketball writers came through with four player props for Friday’s games, including picks for Alabama’s Brandon Miller, San Diego State’s Nathan Mensah, Miami’s Nijel Pack and Creighton’s Ryan Kalkbrenner.
Read on for all four picks below — and be sure to check back tomorrow for even more NCAA Tournament betting coverage.
NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 Player Props for Friday
In the table below, you’ll find each of our college basketball staff’s top player prop picks from Friday’s slate of Sweet 16 games. Click on any pick or team logo 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.|
San Diego State vs. Alabama
By Alex Hinton
Brandon Miller is averaging 20.2 points per game over his last 10 games despite being held scoreless in Alabama’s opening-round game against Texas A&M-CC.
As arguably the most talented player in college basketball this season, he draws a lot of attention from the opposition. As the season has progressed, the freshman forward has developed as a playmaker as well.
Miller did not have an assist against Maryland, however, he has recorded two assists in six of his last seven games. In four of those games, he dished out at least three. In fact, Miller is averaging 2.9 assists over his last seven games.
Alabama averages 82.3 points per game – which ranks fifth nationally – and also 28 field goals per game. Scoring could be a tad bit more difficult against a San Diego State team that ranks sixth in Adjusted Defensive Efficiency.
The Aztecs also may want to force Miller’s teammates to beat them and load up on stopping him.
If that is the case, Miller may be in line for another game with three assists or more. However, we only need two to cash this over.
Pick: Brandon Miller Over 1.5 Assists (-115) · Play to Over 2
San Diego State vs. Alabama
By Doug Ziefel
The San Diego State big man is coming off a great game on the glass against Furman in which he hauled in nine rebounds. However, that performance has inflated his line for this Sweet 16 matchup.
Furman is an undersized team, and Mensah has a significant edge standing at 6-foot-10. Tonight, his competition takes a massive step up against the Crimson Tide.
Mensah will have to contend with the likes of Noah Clowney and Brandon Miller. Not only are those two similar in size, but they’re better rebounders and a big reason why Alabama is 24th in the country in offensive rebounding.
In addition to the matchup, there’s value in the total as well. Mensah has gone over this number in just 12 of his 35 games this year.
That gives us an implied price of -192 that he will go under again in this matchup. With our Action Labs projections having him pegged for 5.4 boards, all signs point to a quiet night in the rebounding department for Mensah.
Pick: Nathan Mensah Under 6.5 Rebounds (-105) · Play to -125
Miami vs. Houston
By D.J. James
Nijel Pack is a great player, but going up against one of the best defenses in the country is going to be tough.
In the tournamen so far, he’s averaging 16.5 points per game in two games while shooting 33.3% from 3-point range. Houston may allow a 3-point attempt rate of 43.5%, but it’s holding teams to an eFG% of 42.1% (second in the country) and 27.4% from 3.
Pack loves to shoot off-the-dribble 3s, according to ShotQuality. However, the Cougars are holding opponents to 0.97 points per possession on these types of shots to rank 29th in the country. In addition, the Cougars rank 47th in Open-3 Rate defensively, so Pack should struggle to get open looks.
Pack mainly manufactures his points from deep, so this might be an issue for him even though he has had a solid tournament to this point. Indiana and Drake don’t have the defensive weapons or wherewithal to hold opponents in check, hence the reason Pack is averaging 16.5 PPG so far.
In addition, Houston ranks 342nd in the nation in Adjusted Tempo, occupying 19 seconds per possession offensively (324th) and 17.9 seconds per possession defensively. Pack won’t see as many shot opportunities for this reason alone.
Lastly, Pack has attempted only 45 free throws this season, so he won’t be sent to the line often, if at all — even if Houston ranks 288th in free-throw attempt percentage on defense.
Pick: Nijel Pack Under 12.5 Points (-110)
Princeton vs. Creighton
So, I’m all in on Creighton this game. The Bluejays match up perfectly with Princeton, so the Tigers won’t have any schematic edges to exploit and will likely be worn down by Creighton’s size and athleticism.
One of the big reasons I’m out on Princeton is its lateral quickness in ball-screen defensive sets. Arizona and Missouri don’t run much ball-screen stuff, preferring to play north-south, and Princeton can keep teams out of transition.
But Creighton wants to grind opponents down with pick-and-roll in the half-court. Princeton ranks 254th in pick-and-roll PPP allowed by ShotQuality’s metrics and is allowing 1.1 PPP to ball-screen roll men by Synergy’s metrics.
Enter Ryan Kalkbrenner.
As a ball-screen roll man, Kalk ranks in the 99th percentile in ShotQuality PPP and the 97th percentile in Synergy PPP. He averages over 1.4 PPP in those sets if you combine both numbers.
Ryan Kalkbrenner is nearly unstoppable at the rim:
– 100th %ILE as the P&R roll man: 1.57 PPP
– 98th %ILE as the cutter on drop-off passes: 1.31 PPP
An excellent screener surrounded by multiple ball handlers — a reason why Creighton's halfcourt offense is ranked in the top-10. pic.twitter.com/DM1FGNKFen
— ShotQuality (@Shot_Quality) January 5, 2023
To put all these numbers into simple terms: Kalkbrenner will feast rolling to the rim, and head coach Greg McDermott would be foolish not to run that set relentlessly against Mitch Henderson’s defense. It’s the most obvious matchup advantage on the court.
Additionally, Princeton is simply small. Tosan Evbuomwan runs 6-foot-8 at the five, but small-ball lineups are necessary to run the Princeton offense.
As a result, Princeton ranks 321st in post-up PPP allowed by ShotQuality’s metrics. It’ll be a daunting task to stare down 7-foot-1 Kalkbrenner on the right block.
So, when the dust settles, I expect a monster game from Kalkbrenner. He managed only 10 points against Baylor, but he cashed over 16.5 in five of his six games prior, so we can reasonably expect a 20-plus point game given the matchup.
I also love the plus-money price we’re catching at FanDuel.
Pick: Ryan Kalkbrenner Over 16.5 Points (+102)
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