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NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 Player Props: Keshad Johnson Among Expert Picks

NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 Player Props: Keshad Johnson Among Expert Picks article feature image
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Tom Hauck/Getty Images. Pictured: Keshad Johnson #0 of the San Diego State Aztecs.

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NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 Player Props

Markquis Nowell (Michigan State vs. Kansas State — 6:30 p.m. ET, Thursday)
Under 18.5 Points (-125; DraftKings)

Nowell is coming off a huge 27-point game that helped lead Kansas State to victory over Kentucky, but he’s only cleared this line of 18.5 in five of his last 14 games. The Wildcats averaged 72.3 points per game over that stretch, but their team total is set at 68 against Michigan State, so points will likely be harder to come by.

The matchup is also an unfavorable one for Nowell as he tends to rely on getting to the charity stripe. The Spartans send their opposition to the free-throw line 3.4% less often than league average, which spells bad news for Nowell despite the fact that he’s an 89% free-throw shooter.

In the five games Nowell cleared 18.5 points, he averaged 9.2 free-throw attempts per contest. He only averaged 3.6 FTA per game in the nine games he was held under.

I’m projecting Nowell closer to 16 points against Michigan State, with a 65% chance of him finishing under 18.5.

Tristen Newton (Arkansas vs. UConn — 7:15 p.m. ET, Thursday)
Under 4.5 Assists (-120; DraftKings)

Newton has cleared 4.5 assists in four straight games, but since conference play started, he’s only gone over this number 50% of the time.

Arkansas presents a terrible matchup for him to rack up assists, as it sends opponents to the free-throw line at one of the highest rates in the country. The Razorbacks are also adept at generating turnovers and are one of the best teams in the country at preventing threes. That’s a big reason why their assist rate allowed is around 7% lower than the D1 average.

I’m projecting Newton closer to 4.1 assists with a 61% chance of staying under 4.5.

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Keshad Johnson (SDSU vs. Alabama — 6:30 p.m. ET, Friday)
Under 5.5 Rebounds (-120; DraftKings)

San Diego State likes to rotate players in and out of the game like a hockey team – nine players play between 15-25 minutes per contest. Johnson has only averaged 18 minutes per game in the tournament as a result, thus it’s going to be tough for him to clear this number if the trend continues against Alabama.

Beyond substitution patterns, it’s not a good matchup for Johnson in regards to extra rebounding opportunities. Alabama shoots the ball well and gets to the line at a high rate. The Crimson Tide rank in the top 25 in offensive rebound rate; their own shots also get blocked at a top-25 rate. To top it off, Alabama turns the ball over at a higher rate than league average.

All these factors could lead to fewer rebounding chances for Johnson. I project him closer to five rebounds (his season average) with a 62% chance of going under 5.5.

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