LSU vs. Yale Betting Guide: Can Bulldogs’ Offense Spark NCAA Tournament Upset?

LSU vs. Yale Betting Guide: Can Bulldogs’ Offense Spark NCAA Tournament Upset? article feature image

USA Today. Pictured: Louisiana State Tigers guard Tremont Waters (3) and Yale Bulldogs guard Miye Oni (25)

#4 LSU vs. # 13 Yale, NCAA Tournament Betting Odds

  • Odds: LSU -7.5
  • Over/Under: 157
  • Location: Jacksonville, Fla.
  • Date: Thursday, March 21
  • Time: 12:40 p.m. ET
  • TV: truTV

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

Yale (22-7) won the Ivy League Tournament at home against Harvard but struggled down the stretch of the regular season, losing three of its last four games, including home losses to Harvard and Columbia.

LSU (26-6) won the SEC championship and is the only school that can claim a victory over both Kentucky and Tennessee. The Tigers ended the season on a five-game winning streak before being upset by Florida in the first round of the SEC Tournament. LSU is an impressive 17-11-1 against the spread on the year, including 9-2-1 on the road.

Yale Has Truly Elite Offense

Yale can score with anyone. It ranks in the top 50 in both Adjusted Offensive Efficiency (111.7, per KenPom) and 3-point percentage (37.4%). The Bulldogs also own the 11th-best effective field goal percentage (56.1%) and 14th-best 2-point percentage (56.1%) in the nation.

Yale’s leading scorer, 6-foot-6 junior guard Miye Oni (17.6 ppg), has scored in double-digits in 28 of Yale’s 29 games and has unsurprisingly drawn significant interest as an NBA prospect.

The Bulldogs were the most dominant offensive team in the Ivy League, ranking first in league play in offensive efficiency (108.3), effective field goal percentage (55.3%), offensive turnover percentage (17.1%), 2-point percentage (54.9%), free throw percentage (74.7%), and block percentage allowed (7.4%).

Reserve guard Azar Swain (7.7 ppg) has been blistering hot from 3-point range, shooting 8-of-10 from deep over his last three games.

LSU is surprisingly poor on the defensive boards, ranking 268th in offensive rebounding percentage allowed (30.4%). Yale, however, only ranks 240th nationally in offensive rebounding percentage (26.3%) itself, so it remains to be seen whether or not the Bulldogs can take advantage.

LSU Can Exploit Yale’s Defense

Yale may be good offensively, but this is a bad defensive team.

The Bulldogs struggle to pressure wings, ranking 338th in opposing turnover percentage (15.2%). They allowed more than 80 points at home to both Columbia and Princeton, each of which ranks outside the top 200 in the nation in Adjusted Offensive Efficiency.

LSU will be able to take advantage. The Tigers feature four players with double-digit scoring averages: guards Tremont Waters (15.1 ppg),  Naz Reid (13.7 ppg), and Ja’vonte Smart (11.5 ppg), as well as forward Skylar Mays (13.4 ppg).

The Tigers are also one of the most dominant offensive rebounding teams in the country, ranking ninth nationally with an average of 13.5 per game.

Led by Waters, who also averages 5.9 assists per game, LSU boasts a top-10 offense in adjusted efficiency (118.6). Reid, a 6-foot-10 freshman also chipping in with 7.2 rebounds per game, is a versatile scorer who shoots 74% from the foul line and 37% from 3.

Also featured in LSU’s offensive attack is 6-foot-11 senior Kavell Bigby-Williams (7.9 ppg, 6.6 rpg), who will be extremely tough for Yale to match up with down low.

The Achilles’ Heel for LSU is 3-point shooting. The Tigers rank 276th in the country at only 32.3%. However, freshman guard Darius Days shot 7-of-12 (54%) from downtown over his last five regular season games and could give the Tigers a major lift if he can continue his efficiency from deep.

Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Darius Days and Emmitt Williams

Where’s the Value?

Yale is one of the trendiest upset picks of the tournament. As of this writing, the Bulldogs are drawing 63% of the bets and 55% of dollars wagered (view live odds here).

That said, an Ivy League team with inferior offensive talent that plays poor defense is not the recipe for an upset of LSU.

LSU has suffered under the cloud of uncertainty regarding the status of suspended head coach Will Wade, but it will be laser-focused coming off an SEC Tournament loss.

Count on the Tigers to avoid the upset and cover the single-digit spread.

THE PICK:  LSU -7.5 (up to -9.5)

Action Network Projected Odds

Get point spreads for this game and every possible tournament matchup with our bracket simulator built by Sean Koerner, our Director of Predictive Analytics, a former oddsmaker and FantasyPros’ most accurate in-season fantasy football ranker from 2015-2017.

  • Spread: LSU -10.5
  • Total: 151.5
  • Proj Score: LSU 81 | Yale 70.5
  • Win Probability: LSU 85.7% | Yale 14.3%

Editor’s note: The opinions on this game is from the individual writer and are based on his research, analysis and perspective. They are independent of, and may not always match with, the algorithm-driven Best Bets from Sports Insights.

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