College Basketball Betting Guide for Thursday 3/10/22: 3 Conference Tournament Games to Target
March Madness is on its way, and conference tournaments are starting up all across the country.
Today, we see tournament action across quite a few conferences, including the ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12, and SEC.
Which games should draw our attention? Let's find out.
Please note that lines are subject to change throughout the day after this article is published. Please check here to make sure you're seeing the most updated information. You can also look at our oddsFire tool to get a feel for what the betting public is doing.
Virginia Tech Hokies vs. Notre Dame Fighting Irish
It feels a little odd to see the lower-seeded team as slight favorites in this ACC matchup, but numberFire's model gives the Virginia Tech Hokies (7 seed) a 51.2% chance to beat the Notre Dame Fighting Irish (2 seed). Perhaps the Hokies deserve to be 1.5-point favorites, per NCAAB odds.
But that pretty much boils down to a toss-up, so from a betting perspective, wagering on over 130.5 points may be the more inviting play.
Both teams rate well offensively, per BartTorvic.com, ranking top 30 in adjusted offense, top 40 in effective field goal percentage, and top 20 in three-point percentage. Virginia Tech is particularly lethal from beyond the arc as the fourth-best team in three-point percentage.
On the flip side, it's worth noting that both teams are inside the top 70 in adjusted defense, so they play some solid D, too. The other potential hurdle for hitting the over is that both squads fall outside the top 250 in both free throw rate and adjusted tempo.
Still, we're not talking about an especially high over/under here, and when these two teams met earlier this season, they combined for 152 points, blowing today's total out of the water. If both offenses play up to their usual standards, they shouldn't have trouble exceeding 130.
Washington State Cougars vs. UCLA Bruins
This Pac-12 quarterfinal sees the UCLA Bruins (2 seed) favored by 9.0 points over the Washington State Cougars (7 seed). Our model thinks the Cougars should keep things closer than that.
UCLA rates as one of the best teams in the country, cracking the top 10 in both our power rankings and KenPom's rankings, so Washington State will clearly have their hands full. UCLA is a top-20 team in both adjusted offense and adjusted defense, so they're a tough out all around.
However, the Cougars are roughly a top-50 team, sitting at 46th and 55th in the aforementioned rankings. The Cougars check in 79th in adjusted offense and 33rd in adjusted defense, showing that they're also a well-rounded squad.
Neither team is elite at shooting threes, as UCLA ranks 80th in the category and Washington State is slightly above average at 140th.
That suggests that the Bruins' 20-point regular-season victory over the Cougars was a bit of an outlier. The Bruins were lights out from deep in that one, hitting a crazy 50% of their threes, whereas Washington State went 7-30 (23.3%) from beyond the arc. That was also a road game for the visiting Cougars.
This rematch projects to be a far closer game. numberFire's algorithm projects a 57.8% likelihood that Washington State covers tonight, rating the bet as a two-star play.
Fresno State Bulldogs vs. San Diego State Aztecs
If you plan on staying up for tonight's late games, the Fresno State Bulldogs are another intriguing, ahem, 'dog tonight.
The San Diego State Aztecs are 6.0-point favorites in this Mountain West quarterfinal, but numberFire's model shows Fresno State covering 58.38% of the time.
Digging in further, this will be a battle of top-25 adjusted defenses. In fact, San Diego State boasts the top defense, per BartTorvic.
On the other hand, the Aztecs and Bulldogs both fall outside the top 120 in adjusted offense and outside the top 250 in adjusted tempo. Scoring may be tough to come by between these two teams.
An area where Fresno will have an advantage is rebounding on defense, too. They rank eighth in defensive rebounding rate, so they should limit the Aztecs' second-chance points.
Although San Diego State wrecked Fresno State in their first game this season in a 17-point victory, they barely eked out a 1-point win in overtime the second time around.
numberFire's model likes taking Fresno and the points as a two-star bet.