NCAA Tournament Player Props: Saturday’s Early Evening Picks, Including Iowa’s Luka Garza & Ohio’s Jason Preston
Frank Jansky/Getty Images. Pictured: Jason Preston of Ohio.
- There's still plenty if action to be had as the NCAA Tournament moves to the early evening window on Saturday during the first round.
- Brandon Anderson has three more players props to target in games with Iowa, Connecticut and Ohio.
- See which props he likes before preparing for the evening slate of games below.
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 evening 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.
Luka Garza, Iowa
(2) Iowa vs. (15) Grand Canyon, 6:25 p.m. ET on TBS
Luka Garza might be the best player in college basketball.
The All-American filled up the box score for a second-consecutive monster season. Garza averaged 23.7 points and 8.8 rebounds a game and showed up night after night for the Hawkeyes in one of the nation’s most lethal offenses.
Garza had 13 double-doubles this season, nearly half his games. He had at least 14 points in all but one game and at least 20 points in more than two-thirds of his outings. He scored at least 30, seven times and even topped the 40 mark against Southern early this season.
No one in college hoops has been able to stop or even slow down Garza, and the Grand Canyon Antelopes sure aren’t about to start in their first-ever tournament berth. It’s not that the Lopes don’t have any size. Their top-two scorers, Asbjorn Midtgaard and Alessandro Lever, are 7-foot and 6-foot-10, and those two led Grand Canyon to strong defensive metrics this season… in the WAC. Iowa is battle-tested against the Big Ten, and Garza will be unlike anything Midtgaard or Lever have seen before.
Garza was at his best against non-conference foes at the start of the season, racking up 29.3 points per game in eight contests, and that includes 30 against Gonzaga. The man is simply unstoppable, and this line is too low. Garza has gone over it in 18 of 29 games, hitting this over 62% of the time. GCU would love to slow this game and Garza down, but I just don’t see it happening.
I love the over at plus juice and would play to -120. We project Garza at over 25 points!
Tyrese Martin, Connecticut
(7) Connecticut vs. (10) Maryland, 7:10 p.m. ET on CBS
Connecticut is the James Bouknight show, but Bouknight can’t do everything himself, especially against a tough defense like Maryland. Luckily, R.J. Cole and Tyrese Martin have been big all season, keeping this team afloat when Bouknight was out, and now the Huskies are at full strength and look like a trendy sleeper that could make a run.
Martin is UConn’s leading rebounder at 7.3 boards per game, and the Huskies will need him to bring his physicality and muscle against a tough Terps team. But Maryland is a big, physical team, and they love to slow the game way down, which could be a tough matchup for Bouknight and the aggressive Huskies. It could also limit scoring, shots and rebounding opportunities.
Martin may be the leading rebounder, but he’s gone under 7.5 rebounds in 13 of 21 games for the Huskies, hitting this under 62% of the time. His minutes crept up earlier in the season when UConn was shorthanded, but with his more regular load back lately, he’s gone under 7.5 boards in four of the last six.
We project Martin at 6.4 rebounds, coming up just short of this line, and unless Martin hits the offensive glass hard and comes up with some 50/50 balls, he should fall short. I’ll play the under here to -140.
Jason Preston, Ohio
(13) Ohio vs. (4) Virginia, 7:15 p.m. ET on truTV
If you don’t know Jason Preston yet, you’re about to get to know him really well. Preston is Ohio’s everything. He scored 16.6 points a game and added 6.8 rebounds and 7.2 assists, and he did all that in fewer than 34 minutes a game for the Bobcats.
Preston looks like a future pro and might have an NBA future, so this is a big opportunity for him to ball out against the (technically) defending national champions.
Expect Preston to play nearly every second of this game. Though his minutes were “down” this year, he averaged more than 38 per game a season ago, and Ohio will take every second of Preston they can get against the Hoos. Preston averages 8.1 rebounds per 40 minutes, so if he plays nearly the full 40, he has a pretty nice rebounding ceiling.
Preston has at least five rebounds in all but two games, so that gives us quite a floor, one from which we only need one more rebound to grab the over. He’s gone over 5.5 boards in 12 of 18 games, 67% of the time.
Some books are offering this line at 6.5 rebounds instead for plus juice, and that’s certainly tempting, especially since we project him at 7.2 rebounds. I almost always take the more certain win in this sort of case, so I’ll play the 5.5, but our tool likes both — but likes the over 5.5 more. I’ll play over 5.5 to -170 and otherwise try over 6.5 at any plus number.