College Basketball Daily Fantasy Helper: Thursday 3/11/21
College basketball's conference tournament week is here, and we have a seven-game slate today.
March Madness is only a week away, but you can get in all the college hoops hype by playing daily contests at FanDuel today. If you've played NBA DFS before, it's quite simple: pick a total of eight players -- four guards, three forwards, and one utility spot you can use for either position. Stay within the $50,000 salary cap and field the team you think will score the most fantasy points.
Where scoring differs from NBA is in the blocks and steals categories, with each worth two FanDuel points apiece rather than the three you get in NBA contests.
Now that you're in the know, we can attack today's slate, which locks at 6:30 p.m. EST.
Which players should you be targeting, and why?
Relevant injury situation to monitor: Indiana Hoosiers guard Armaan Franklin is likely out while forward Race Thompson is questionable. Kansas Jayhawks forward David McCormack is out. North Carolina Tar Heels forward Garrison Brooks is questionable after missing last night's game. Texas Tech Red Raiders guard Jamarius Burton is also questionable.
All stats come from KenPom unless otherwise noted.
Austin Reaves, Oklahoma ($8,000) - The matchup with Kansas (seventh in defense nationally) is far more difficult than the matchup the Oklahoma Sooners had last night. However, if you're investing in a top-end guard on Thursday night, Reaves should be your guy. The junior leads the Sooners with a 27.5% usage rate and a 27.3% assist rate. He's also a willing rebounder, as he's posting a 15.4% defensive rebounding rate. I will also note that Kansas will be missing their primary rim protector (David McCormack). That should open up some lanes for Reaves, the point guard, to get some buckets around the rim.
Dru Smith, Missouri ($6,400) - Smith will likely be the most popular play on Thursday night. He's in a dream matchup with the fast-paced and defensive-deficient Georgia Bulldogs. The Bulldogs rank 13th in tempo nationally and 117th in defense. Meanwhile, Smith does a little of everything as the Missouri Tigers floor general. He is posting a 22.0% usage rate, 10.0% defensive rebounding rate, 23.4% assist rate, and 3.3% steal rate. Finally, the senior is averaging 31.4 FanDuel points over his last four games. I also like his backcourt mate, Xavier Pinson ($5,200), who leads Missouri with an eye popping 30.8% usage rate.
Ochai Agbaji, Kansas ($5,900) - Agbaji is one of the safer plays on this slate. He's a good bet to play nearly the entire game with David McCormack out. The matchup with Oklahoma fits his skill set. The Sooners struggle defending the three-point line and Agbaji is the Jayhawks' top marksman from beyond the arc (converting 37.3% of his three-point field goal attempts). Additionally, his 19.5% usage rate should rise with David McCormack sidelined (leads team with a 28.7% usage rate).
Christian Braun, Kansas ($5,000) - The versatile Braun has significant upside due to his ability to contribute in every major statistical category. Removing David McCormack from the equation should prop up Braun's usage rate at least slightly (16.5%). He's also an effective rebounder, willing passer, and solid defender. The sophomore has a 14.5% defensive rebounding rate, 11.5% assist rate, and 2.3% steal rate. As noted above, Oklahoma struggles defending the three-point line. Braun is connecting on 34.3% of his deep balls (second-best on the team). Finally, Braun leads Kansas with a 111.1 offensive rating and is averaging 35.5 minutes per game over the last four games.
Elijah Harkless, Oklahoma ($4,900) - It seems like Harkless' salary hasn't budged all season. The freshman is averaging .68 FanDuel points per minute. At that production rate, he should pay off his salary in 28.8 minutes of action (assuming value is 4x of player's salary). Harkless has logged 30-plus minutes in 10 consecutive games. Missouri's Mark Smith ($4,100) is also a viable source of salary.
Other players to consider for salary relief ($5,000 or less): Geo Baker, Rob Phinisee, Umoja Gibson, Caleb Love, Aljami Durham, Mark Smith, and Bryce Thompson (only if he starts).
Traycie Jackson-Davis ($8,100) - The Hoosiers will have to ride their star sophomore on Thursday night. They may be without two starters as noted above. Jackson-Davis will likely play as minutes as he can handle. That is extremely appealing considering his seasonal rates. Jackson-Davis has a 29.9% usage rate, 10.9% offensive rebounding rate, 20.0% defensive rebounding rate, 10.9% assist rate, and 4.7% block rate. While the matchup with Rutgers is not ideal (17th-ranked defense nationally), he should have little trouble paying off his salary due to volume alone.
Jeremiah Tilmon, Missouri ($6,200) - Tilmon patrols the paint for the Tigers. He's an exceptional rebounder and an elite rim protector. The senior is posting a 12.3% offensive rebounding rate, 18.2% defensive rebounding rate, and 5.2% block rate. His usage rate is also solid (23.0%). Throw in a juicy matchup with Georgia (as noted above) and Tilmon makes for a fantastic play.
Armando Bacot, North Carolina ($5,600) - When Bacot gets significant playing time, he usually posts a massive box score. It appears, based on the last three games, Bacot will push for 24-plus minutes (barring foul trouble). The Tar Heels center is averaging an impressive 1.06 FanDuel points per minute. At that production level, he should pay off his salary in 21.1 minutes of action (assuming value is 4x of a player's salary). He's a great play with or without Garrison Brooks active.
Jalen Wilson, Kansas ($5,600) - Wilson should be locked into a massive amount of playing time despite only logging 17 minutes in the Kansas Jayhawks' regular season finale. His size will be needed on the floor with David McCormack sidelined. The freshman should also be in prime position to absorb some of the usage rate vacated by McCormack. An increased usage rate, strong playing time, and excellent rebounding rates (8.9% offensive rebounding rate and 22.1% defensive rebounding rate) stand out here. Wilson is heavily under-salaried. It'll be interesting to see how Kansas choses to replace McCormack. If they go big, Mitch Lightfoot ($3,700) would make for a solid source of salary relief. It's also possible that they play small and Bryce Thompson ($3,000) would be the beneficiary. Note: Thompson is a guard.
Walker Kessler, North Carolina ($4,300) - Kessler took advantage of Garrison Brooks' surprise scratch last night. The freshman exploded for 16 points, 12 rebounds, 8 blocks, and 2 steals in 21 minutes against Notre Dame. If Brooks is inactive, Kessler makes for a fantastic source of salary relief. Unfortunately, we may not know Brooks' status prior to lock. Mitchell Smith ($4,300) and Jerome Hunter ($4,300) are viable pivots in Kessler's salary range
Other players to consider for salary relief ($5,000 or less): Brady Manek, Jerome Hunter, Jericho Sims, Kobe Brown, Aleem Ford, Mitchell Smith, and Mitch Lightfoot (only if he starts).
Matthew Hiatt is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Matthew Hiatt also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username easternmh. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his/her personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in his articles are the author’s alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.