Stuckey: My Favorite NCAA Tournament Bets on Friday’s Card

Stuckey: My Favorite NCAA Tournament Bets on Friday’s Card article feature image

Photo credit: Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Ahmed Hill

  • Stuckey analyzes his three favorite bets on Friday's NCAA Tournament slate below.
  • The games include: Kansas State vs. UC Irvine, Wisconsin vs. Oregon and Saint Louis vs. Virginia Tech.

After a down-then-up first day of the NCAA Tournament for yours truly — what the hell was that showing Northeastern?! — we’re back for more fun on Day 2.

Let’s get right to it and break down by three favorite bets on Friday’s card.

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

#4 Kansas State vs. #13 UC Irvine NCAA Tournament Betting Odds, Pick

  • Spread: Kansas State -4.5
  • Over/Under: 118.5
  • Date: Friday, March 22
  • Time: 2 p.m. ET
  • TV: TBS
  • Location: San Jose, California

Dean Wade, Kansas State’s best player, will miss Friday’s game. And without Wade on the floor, Irvine’s defense should absolutely suffocate Kansas State’s offense.

Wade means so much to the Wildcat offense. He’s a matchup nightmare who can space the floor and find the open man with his plus passing skills.

Wade was not only K-State’s best shooter, but the attention he demanded opened up so much for the offense.

Wade’s jump shot will be especially missed since the Anteaters give up zilch at the rim. Irvine always has a ton of size under head coach Russell Turner, who emphasizes protecting the interior.

Just take a look at Irvine’s national ranks in 2-point shooting defense over the past seven seasons.

Kansas State just doesn’t have the shooters to exploit a UCI defense that makes a living on forcing bad shots (No. 5 in effective field goal percentage).

With this game being played in California and the Anteaters having the necessary size and experience to hang with K-State, I like UC Irvine to pull off the upset.

THE PICK: UC Irvine +4.5

#5 Wisconsin vs. #12 Oregon NCAA Tournament Betting Odds, Pick

  • Spread: Wisconsin -2
  • Over/Under: 116.5
  • Location: San Jose, CA
  • Date: Friday, Mar. 22
  • Time: 4:30 p.m. ET
  • TV: TBS

This line is a complete over-reaction to Oregon’s recent success. I drove the Ducks’ bandwagon to end the season, picking them to win the Pac-12 tournament (which they did), but this spread would’ve been six a few weeks ago. I grabbed Wisconsin at a PK earlier in the week and would still jump on it at -2.

While the Ducks’ defense should present some problems, the one area where they struggle is against teams that utilize cutting motion, an area where Wisconsin excels. They are also vulnerable in the interior, which would make sense after losing a towering force like 7-foot-2 Bol Bol (21.0 ppg, 9.6 rpg) for the season in December.

Wisconsin is poised to exploit both areas, as the Badgers are an excellent cutting team and boast one of the best post-up offenses in the country — thanks to the craftiness of Ethan Happ. No single player on the Ducks can contain Happ on the block.

The Badgers also don’t turn it over, which will help against the Oregon pressure.

I also like the way Wisconsin’s defense, which ranks 10th in the country in points per possession, matches up against a Ducks offense that occasionally goes through severe droughts.

THE PICK: Wisconsin -2

#4 Virginia Tech vs. #13 Saint Louis NCAA Tournament Betting Odds, Pick

  • Spread: Virginia Tech -10
  • Over/Under: 126
  • Date: Friday, March 22
  • Time: 9:57 p.m. ET
  • Location: San Jose, Calif.
  • TV: truTV

This is a great matchup for Virginia Tech, especially on defense, where the Hokies force you to beat them from deep. In fact, opponents on the year have attempted more 3s than 2s against the Hokies. Their 50.1% opponent 3-point rate is the third-highest in the country.

That’s bad news for Saint Louis, which ranks 322nd in the country in Effective FG%, per KenPom. And even more telling is that the Billikens shoot just 30.8% from 3, which is the third-worst rate in the tourney field.

Another reason to back Virginia Tech? If the Hokies are up late, you can count on them to their free throws. They shot 75.8% from the line during the season (24th in the country) and were a league-leading, pristine 78.2% during ACC play. They are also deadly from 3 at 39.4% for the season, ranking eighth-best nationally.

Justin Robinson, Virginia Tech’s star senior point guard who has missed most of the last two months, is expected to make his long-awaited return for the Hokies. Even if he’s a bit rusty, VaTech has too many matchup advantages to ignore.

THE PICK: Virginia Tech -10

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