Freedman’s Favorite NCAA Tournament Player Prop Bets for Michigan State-LSU & More
Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: LSU guard Skylar Mays
- Matthew Freedman continues his series featuring one of his favorite prop bets for each day of 2019.
- He runs through Friday's NCAA Tournament slate to highlight player props he likes in Michigan State-LSU and more.
Each day, I publish at least one quick-n’-dirty piece highlighting a favorite prop of mine. See my master list of 2019 prop bets for more information.
In this piece I’m highlighting my favorite NCAA Tournament player props for Friday’s Sweet 16 games. Note that I will be updating this piece throughout the day.
For March Madness, I am 54-42-1 (+5.66) on player props. If you want more information, check out the piece on my March Madness prop-betting strategy.
You also should look at our live betting odds page for up-to-the-minute lines.
For daily player props outside of college basketball, follow me in The Action Network app.
2019 Year-to-Date Record
393-319-16, +50.48 Units
- NFL: 21-13-0, +11.72 Units
- NBA: 218-162-4, +34.96 Units
- NHL: 66-80-7, -7.57 Units
- MLB: 2-3-1, -0.88 Units
- Golf: 4-7-1, -2.35 Units
- NASCAR: 5-8-0, -1.70 Units
- NCAAB: 54-43-3, +4.67 Units
- NCAAF: 0-1-0, -1.00 Units
- Exotic: 23-2-0, +12.64 Units
#2 Michigan State vs. #3 LSU
- Spread: Michigan State -6.0
- Over/Under: 147.0
- Location: Washington D.C.
- Time: 7:09 p.m. ET
- TV: CBS
Michigan State G Cassius Winston: Under 3.5 Rebounds (-114)
Winston leads the Spartans with 18.9 points and 33.0 minutes per game, but the junior guard isn’t especially strong on the glass, ranking sixth on the team with 3.2 rebounds per game.
Winston has had fewer than four rebounds in 23 of his 36 games (63.9%) this season.
Michigan State F Kenny Goins: Over 8.5 Rebounds (-114)
Goins easily leads Sparty with 8.9 rebounds per game. The senior forward has enjoyed a significant boost in playing time in his five postseason games, averaging 35.8 minutes per game, compared to 29.1 in the regular season.
He’s played 30-plus minutes in every game this postseason, and in his 21 games with at least 30 minutes this season, he’s averaged 9.5 rebounds.
LSU G Skylar Mays: Under 14.0 Points (-149)
Mays is one of the primary scorers for the Fighting Tigers with 13.6 points per game. But LSU has a tough matchup against a Michigan State defense that has held opponents to 65.1 points per game.
Although LSU has averaged 80.9 points per game, it is implied for just 70.5 points tonight. We should expect to see fewer points all around for the LSU offense.
Mays also hasn’t seen a significant postseason increase in playing time. In his three postseason games, he’s averaged 33.3 minutes, compared to 33.0 in the regular season.
With fewer points to go around and no increase in playing time, I have Mays projected for 12.0 points.
LSU G Javonte Smart: Under 12.5 Points (-156)
Smart is a key contributor to the Fighting Tigers: He’s third on the team with 30.0 minutes per game and fourth with 11.4 points.
But for the postseason he’s been playing off the bench, and his per-game starter/reserve splits for the year are notable.
- Starter (17 games): 31.2 minutes, 11.1 field-goal attempts, 12.5 points
- Reserve (17 games): 28.8 minutes, 9.9 field-goal attempts, 10.2 points
This postseason, he’s averaged just 10.3 points on 27.7 minutes per game. And with fewer points expected for the LSU offense, I have him projected for just 9.1 points.
#1 North Carolina vs. #5 Auburn
- Spread: North Carolina -5.5
- Over/Under: 165.0
- Location: Kansas City, Mo.
- Time: 7:29 p.m. ET
- TV: TBS
UNC G Coby White: Over 16.0 Points (+110), Over 4.0 Assists (-114)
Coby White is first on the Tar Heels with 4.1 assists per game and second with 16.1 points, and there’s reason to think he could improve upon those numbers against the Tigers.
In his four postseason games, the freshman guard has averaged 35.0 minutes, compared to the 27.6 minutes he saw in the regular season. In each of his postseason games he’s played at least 31 minutes.
In his 12 games this year with 31-plus minutes, White has averaged 19.6 minutes and 4.5 assists.
Auburn G Jared Harper: Over 5.0 Assists (-114)
Jared Harper is easily first on the Tigers with 5.7 assists per game: The players tied for second on the team have just 1.9 assists per game. The Auburn offense runs through him.
There’s little reason to think he shouldn’t be significantly projected for the over. His playing time is steady: He’s averaged 33.0 minutes per game in the NCAA Tournament, which matches his seasonal mark.
Additionally, the Tigers are implied for 79.75 points, which is almost identical to their season-long mark of 79.78 points per game.
In terms of playing time and offensive success, we should expect Harper and the Tigers to be their usual selves.
This year, Harper has had fewer than five assists in just nine of 37 games (24.3%).
Auburn F Chuma Okeke: Over 6.0 Rebounds (-114)
Chuma Okeke is first on the team with 6.7 rebounds, and I like his chances to hit the over.
UNC is an excellent rebounding team with its 56.8 total rebound rate, the fourth-highest mark in the nation, whereas Auburn has a mediocre rate of 49.3%. There should be fewer rebounds overall for the Tigers.
But Okeke has averaged 32.5 minutes per game in the NCAA Tournament compared to 29.0 minutes beforehand. With the additional playing time, I’m projecting him for 7.2 rebounds against the Tar Heels.
#1 Duke vs. #4 Virginia Tech
- Spread: Duke -7.0
- Over/Under: 142.5
- Location: Washington D.C.
- Time: 9:39 p.m. ET
- TV: CBS
Duke F Zion Williamson: Over 24.5 Points (-114)
The ACC Player of the Year is averaging 27.6 points on 36.2 minutes per game in the postseason, seeing 35-plus minutes of action in four of those five games.
Zion Williamson’s one game with fewer than 35 minutes was a 23-point victory over North Dakota State in Round 1 of the NCAA Tournament. In all of the non-blowout affairs, he’s been on the court for almost the entire game.
And he’s hit the over in four of his past five games.
This isn’t the most +EV bet on the board, but there’s no way I’m not betting on the Blue Devil I’ve affectionately dubbed “Milk & Honey.”
Duke F R.J. Barrett: Under 8.5 Rebounds (-115)
R.J. Barrett is averaging an absurd 37.4 minutes per game in the postseason, but that’s significantly more than his seasonal average of 35.1. And on the year he’s averaging 7.7 rebounds per game.
On the season, the Blue Devils have averaged 41.5 team rebounds per game, but we’re projecting fewer overall rebounds tonight for Duke — just 36.1 — based on the Vegas total and matchup.
As a result, there should be fewer rebounding opportunities for Barrett. Even with the small boost in playing time, I’m projecting him for 7.2 rebounds.
Duke G Tre Jones: Over 4.5 Assists (-114)
Tre Jones has been incredibly dynamic this year, leading the Blue Devils with 5.3 assists per game and ranking second with 33.8 minutes, a number he’s pushed up to 37.8 in the postseason.
In fact, he’s played 39-plus minutes in each postseason game except for the team’s 23-point victory over North Dakota State in Round 1, when he played 30 minutes.
In his 28 games with 30-plus minutes, he’s averaged 5.4 assists.
Duke is implied for just 74.75 points, which trails its seasonal average of 83.36 points per game, so there should be fewer team assists than usual.
But with his enhanced playing time, I have Jones projected for 5.3 assists.
Virginia Tech F Kerry Blackshear: Over 15.5 Points (+110), Over 7.5 Rebounds (-130)
Kerry Blackshear is top-two for the Hokies with 14.9 points and 7.3 rebounds on 29.9 minutes per game, and in the postseason he’s gotten that number up to 36.3.
With his massive increase in playing time, I have Blackshear projected for 16.5 points and 9.0 rebounds vs. Duke.
#2 Kentucky vs. #3 Houston
- Spread: Kentucky -2.5
- Over/Under: 133.5
- Location: Kansas City, Mo.
- Time: 9:57 p.m. ET
- TV: TBS
Note: No player props for Kentucky have been posted as of 5:30 p.m. ET due to the uncertain injury status of forward P.J. Washington.
Houston G Corey Davis: Under 3.5 Made 3-Pointers (-115)
Corey Davis leads the Cougars with 17.1 points per game, and he’s a voluminous shooter from behind the arc with 8.0 3-point attempts per game.
And during the postseason he’s been even more aggressive, averaging 11.0 attempts from downtown per game. Shooter’s shoot.
But Houston is implied for just 65.5 points, which is significantly short of its seasonal average of 75.8 points per game. With fewer points to go around for the entire offense, there will likely be fewer made 3-pointers.
Even though I’m expecting Davis to play in excess of 35 minutes, I’m still projecting him for just 2.9 made 3-pointers. He’s had fewer than four 3s in 24 of his 36 games (66.7%).
Houston G Armoni Brooks: Over 2.0 Made 3-Pointers (-130)
Davis’ mark of 3.5 is too high, but Armoni Brooks’ line of just 2.0 is far too low. Brooks leads Houston with 8.3 3-point attempts and 3.2 conversions per game for the year.
In his four postseason games without foul trouble — he had five fouls in Round 1 against Georgia State and played just 17 minutes — he’s averaged 33.0 minutes, up from the 30.7 minutes he saw in the regular season.
Even with fewer points to go around for the Houston offense, Brooks’ increased playing time and natural inclination to launch 3s whenever he touches the ball should give him a good shot at least to push.
I have him projected for 3.0 3s: He’s had fewer than two in just 10 of 36 games (27.8%).
Houston G Nate Hinton: Under 6.5 Points (-130), Under 11.5 Points, Rebounds & Assists (-115)
I’m hitting Nate Hinton with the unders because I think he’s not going to see much playing time. In his five postseason games, the bench player has played 11, 28, 15, 16 and 29 minutes.
That averages out to a respectable 19.8 minutes per game, but his postseason splits are telling.
- Houston win of 20-plus points (2 games, +34 margin): 28.5 minutes, 9.5 points, 5.5 rebounds, 1.5 assists
- All other outcomes (3 games, +2 margin): 14.0 minutes, 3.7 points, 3.0 rebounds, 0.3 assists
Hinton has gotten the bulk of his postseason playing time and production in lopsided Houston victories.
Given that Houston is an underdog, I doubt he’ll approach his average postseason playing time.