NCAA Tournament Player Props: Saturday’s Early Afternoon Picks, Including Georgetown, Kansas & LSU (March 20)
Wesley Hitt/Getty Images. Pictured: Trendon Watford.
NCAA Tournament Player Prop Picks
First Round: Saturday, March 20
March Madness is back! We’ve waited two years for this weekend, and we’ve got big news at Action Network: Our handy dandy Props Tool is expanding!
The Props Tool has been racking up NBA wins all season, with a hit rate over 60% and a 20% return on investment. Now we’re releasing it for college hoops, just in time for the 2021 NCAA Tournament.
For those who are new to this article, we’ll be using the Action Labs Player Prop tool to compare our NCAAB projections to the props posted at a variety of sportsbooks. Each bet is then graded on a scale from 1-10, with 10 being the best possible grade.
Below, I have laid out three prop bets that I’m playing from Saturday’s NCAA Tournament early afternoon matchups, the case for each bet and the best books to find odds on those player props.
Note: All photos below are via Getty Images.
Jahvon Blair, Georgetown
(12) Georgetown vs. (5) Colorado, 12:15 p.m. ET on CBS
Jahvon Blair enjoyed a very nice start to the new season. Blair opened the season with double-digit points in each of his first 11 games. He played more than 37 minutes a game and hoisted eight-and-a-half threes a game as the Hoyas’ leading scorer at 18.0 points per game.
The problem is that Georgetown was losing, and a lot. Sure, any team can lose to Villanova or West Virginia, but losses to Navy, Marquette, Butler and St. John’s stung for a proud program. Georgetown was 3-8.
Blair scored only nine points in the next game, but Georgetown won, and it won again the next night. Over the second half of the season, the Hoyas finished 9-4. Blair still played a lot but dropped to 33 minutes a game, and his scoring dipped to 13.9 PPG with only seven 3-point attempts; still a huge part of the team, but much more of a team effort. A winning team effort.
Blair’s minutes started to dip late in the year, down to 28.3 MPG over the final six games, and his shots fell again too. Hot shooting kept Blair’s scoring afloat, but the overall trend is clear: More manageable minutes and shots are better for the team, even if that means less scoring for Blair.
Blair has gone under 15 points in six of his final 10 games, and don’t forget that Colorado plays a turgid pace and stingy defense, so that will limit scoring even further, along with a tough matchup against Buffs senior guard McKinley Wright IV. We project Blair at 11.9 points, and I’ll play the under to -145.
David McCormack, Kansas
(3) Kansas vs. (14) Eastern Washington, 1:15 p.m. ET on TBS
Kansas did not get to compete for the Big 12 Tournament championship. The Jayhawks followed a handful of teams around the country by withdrawing from their conference tournament for health and safety protocols. Luckily, they withdrew soon enough to go through the protocols in time for the tournament and are expected to play at close to full strength.
“Close” is the key word there, because the Jayhawks will not have starting forward Jalen Wilson for this one, and that is a real blow. Wilson played 29 minutes a game for the Jayhawks this season and he’s the team’s leading rebounder at 8.2 boards per game.
Kansas leans heavily on its starting five, and the Jayhawks are surprisingly thin in the front court, so they’re going to need a big game from starting center David McCormack. McCormack has only played 23.0 minutes per game this season, by far the fewest of any starter, but you can be sure those minutes will be as high as he can go with Wilson out, since senior Mitch Lightfoot is really the only other reliable big man on the roster.
McCormack is the team’s second-leading rebounder at 6.1 per game, and he’s going to get a chance to soak up a bunch of the 29 minutes and 8.2 rebounds left behind in Wilson’s place. Kansas needs a big game from its big man against the Eagles.
McCormack was already seeing an uptick in his numbers down the stretch, with 7.3 RPG over the final 10 Kansas games, and he was over 6.5 rebounds in six of those 10. In games with at least 28 minutes played. McCormack averages 8.8 RPG and has gone over this number in seven of eight tries, hitting the over 88% of the time.
It’s time for McCormack to step up. We project him at 8.2 rebounds, and I’ll play to -175.
Note that McCormack is still a slight question mark himself for health protocols, but if he’s scratched, you should get a refund here, so it’s a good opportunity either way.
Trendon Watford, LSU
(8) LSU vs. (9) St. Bonaventure, 1:45 p.m. ET on TNT
It’s easy to look at LSU and think the Tigers are Cameron Thomas’ team. The freshman is one of the nation’s leading scorers at 22.6 points per game and can go supernova at any time, so he certainly attracts a lot of attention.
The truth, thought, is that this is Trendon Watford’s team . Watford is the heart and soul of the team, and LSU is at its best when the ball moves through Watford on offense and when he’s helping the team play at least a little defense.
Watford is the biggest regular contributor on the Tigers’ roster, and he’s second on the team in rebounding at 7.4 rebounds per game, adding 16.7 points and 3.0 assists as he builds a case for NBA scouts as an intriguing combo forward.
Scouts are bound to be impressed with Watford’s more physical play lately. Watford had at least seven rebounds in each of his final eight games this season, putting us within one board of an over with a robust floor. He averaged 8.9 RPG over that stretch and hit the over in five of the eight games.
For the season, Watford has at least seven boards in 20 of 26 games, and he’s hit the over in 14 of them, a little more than half the time. But with the season on the line, we can count on the heart and soul of this team to show up in what should be a dogfight against the Bonnies. We project Watford at 8.4 boards, near his late season average, and I’ll play the over to -130.