NCAA Tournament Betting Cheat Sheet: Odds, Picks, Trends for 2 Saturday Elite Eight Games

NCAA Tournament Betting Cheat Sheet: Odds, Picks, Trends for 2 Saturday Elite Eight Games article feature image

James Snook-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Gonzaga guard Geno Crandall

Time to cram for Saturday’s NCAA Tournament games.

Below we’ve compiled snippets from all our Elite Eight betting breakdowns, including deep dives on each game, our staff’s favorite bets and profitable historical trends.

Links to the full version of each story are below, as well.

#1 Virginia vs. #3 Purdue Betting Breakdown

  • Spread: Virginia -4.5
  • Over/Under: 126
  • Date: Saturday, March 30
  • Time: 8:49 p.m. ET
  • TV: TBS
  • Location: Louisville, Ky.

>> All odds as of Friday night. Download The Action Network App to get real-time odds and live win probabilities on your bets.

All I can say is that I think this number’s pretty dead-on. It might seem really fun and easy to anoint Purdue as a worthy contender now, and of course you should always have a certain amount of healthy skepticism about Virginia in the tournament, but really what has happened here?

Purdue beat Old Dominion, worth basically nothing, beat a Villanova team that was INSANELY overrated given its metrics (we were on Purdue there of course), and then beat a good Tennessee team in overtime (on Purdue there too).

The Boilers’ 3-point volatility and ability to get white-hot for portions of the game may lead me to take a little bit of their moneyline rather than try to hold on with +4, but barring that type of effort, I have Virginia as about this much better on a neutral court, and nothing really significant has changed with either team to make me change that opinion. — Ken Barkley

#1 Gonzaga vs. #3 Texas Tech Breakdown

  • Spread: Gonzaga -4
  • Over/Under: 137.5
  • Date: Saturday, March 30
  • Time: 6:09 p.m. ET
  • TV: TBS
  • Location: Anaheim, Calif.

Not only is Gonzaga so much more prolific offensively, but it has four guys who shoot at least 36%. The balance this offers Gonzaga is one that Michigan could never present (and neither could Buffalo, which struggles from outside), and that’s why (unsurprisingly) this will be so much of a bigger test.

The biggest thing for me, though, is that Gonzaga’s moneyline in the lookahead in one market was -290, and now is hovering at about -180, seemingly just because of that Michigan game. I would argue that the Buffalo and Michigan wins, while impressive, are not at all predictive of how Texas Tech will play in THIS game, against THIS opponent, because the opponents are so different.

The Red Raiders are being given a lot of credit, some of it deserving, but to me Gonzaga is still clearly the better team here and has ways to attack. — Ken Barkley

Our Staff’s Favorite Saturday Bets

Gonzaga-Texas Tech Over 137

I think this total is too short based on what we saw on Thursday night — a little recency bias at play. Texas Tech played in a game where many didn’t know if either team would get to 40 for a long stretch, while the Zags played pretty slow in the second half in a game that easily went under.

But let’s not forget that this Zags team is the highest-scoring team in the country at more than 88 points per game, and they love to push the tempo. And it’s not like Texas Tech has an incompetent offense. Before its game against Michigan, the Red Raiders averaged just shy of 80 per game over their previous 10 games.

This is the lowest total of the year for Gonzaga — even lower than the WCC tourney final against St. Mary’s, which was 139. And the Gaels are true snails, ranking 348th in the country in Adjusted Tempo, per KenPom.

Texas Tech doesn’t play fast, but it isn’t molasses at 235 in that same category. I make this 140, which means I will definitely be hitting the over. — Stuckey

NCAA Tournament Betting Trends

Fade Teams Off Big Offensive Games

Since 2005, teams that scored 80 or more points in their previous tourney game went 124-154-8 (44.6%) ATS per our Bet Labs data. Underdogs off an offensive explosion (80 or more points scored) underperform even more going 43-80-4 (35.0%) ATS since 2005.

As the tournament progresses, remember to be leery of teams after they looked unstoppable on offense. For the Elite Eight, I’ll be fading Purdue, Auburn and Michigan State. — John Ewing

Slow-Paced Underdogs Are Underrated

Underdogs with a pace of 70 or less have gone 163-124-11 (57%) ATS since 2010. Teams with a slow and methodical offense can shorten the game by milking the shot clock, which allows these underdogs to stay competitive and cover the spread.

Saturday, it applies to both Texas Tech and Purdue. — John Ewing

Good Defense is Underrated

Underdogs off a strong defensive game have gone 168-123-6 (57.7%) ATS since 2005. With defense often being undervalued by casual bettors, oddsmakers are less likely to inflate the lines making it easier for defensive teams to cover.

Texas Tech fits this system on Saturday. — John Ewing

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