Since Baylor and Gonzaga play tonight, Top sportsbooks have released many creative betting opportunities that look enticing because of the value that they offer.
So in addition to considering the game as a whole, I will explain why it’s worth betting on team totals and Bovada‘s player props.
Baylor Bears vs. Gonzaga Bulldogs
Monday, April 5, 2021 at 9:20 PM ET at Lucas Oil Stadium
Finding value in sports betting often involves going against recent results. Recency bias is a psychological phenomenon that will induce bettors to lay excessive emphasis on recent results. Oddsmakers are aware of this phenomenon and plenty of examples exist of this awareness.
For example, as oddsmakers were looking ahead to tonight’s match-up, they lined Gonzaga as 5.5-point favorites. But after Gonzaga almost lost and Baylor blew out Houston, betting sites opened the Zags as a full-point lower, at -4.5. So if you like the Zags, then you are perceiving value as a result of Saturday’s Final Four results.
Drew Timme Player Prop
Value isn’t necessarily everything, though. There are also match-up factors to consider. Bovada is offering a variety of player props, one of which is Drew Timme at over/under 21.5 points.
I think Timme is getting massive respect at 21.5 points. On the season, he averages 2.3 fewer points per game and he’s going against arguably the top defense in the nation. Oddsmakers are according Timme so much respect probably as a result of his recent string of strong performances. However, Baylor has a lot of experience against top-caliber centers.
Early in the season, the Bears faced Illinois, whose center is averaging 17.7 points per game. But against Baylor, Kofi Cockburn only managed seven points. Likewise, Baylor turned Texas’ Jericho Sims and West Virginia’s Derek Culver into non-factors. Sims mustered 10 points, Culver nine, although both share strong reputations for their scoring inside. So whether it’s a physical monster like Cockburn or an athletic stud like Sims, Baylor’s interior defense is secure.
Timme is a guy who wants to post-up or serve as the roll man in ball-screen actions in order to score at the basket. But he runs into a terrible match-up tonight against a Bear defense that allows the nation’s 18th-lowest percentage of field goal attempts at the rim. Baylor is stout inside with strong on-ball defending in a switch-heavy scheme that makes entry passes difficult for opposing ball-handlers to execute.
Bear post-up defenders will be physical inside, preventing otherwise dominant bigs from gaining propitious position under the basket. Even smaller guys, like Mark Vital who will sometimes play the five in Baylor’s small lineup, are well-known for their physicality. They will also sometimes front the opposing big in order to help deny the entry pass.
As part of its no-middle defense, Baylor will ice ball screens. With this kind of ball-screen coverage, the Bears keep opposing bigs away from the basket, instead compelling them to catch the ball away from the basket. So a pick-and-pop guy might be effective. But not Timme, who statistically is reliant on scoring at the rim.
Andrew Nembhard Player Prop
Because Gonzaga’s offense is predicated on good spacing and ball movement, it likes to keep two point guards on the floor at the same time. Those two point guards are typically Jalen Suggs and Andrew Nembhard.
Gonzaga’s offense is very assist-heavy. Suggs and Nembhard will get the bulk of those assists. In their last game against UCLA, for example, they combined for 14 assists. Oftentimes, however, one player will get fewer assists. Tonight, I worry about Suggs because he should attract Davion Mitchell as an on-ball defender because Suggs is considered to be a future lottery pick in the NBA.
Mitchell is tenacious defensively -- oftentimes stealing the ball out of his opponent’s hand as if he were taking candy from a baby — which is why he was named Naismith Defensive Player of the Year. Suggs’ strong reputation creates more value in an investment in Nembhard. Mitchell's attachment to Suggs will mean that he isn’t guarding Nembhard. So Nembard will be more easily able to operate as a facilitator. Gonzaga Head Coach Mark Few labeled Nembhard as the top decision-maker in ball-screen actions that he’s ever coached.
Nembhard excels at processing ball-screen coverages, manipulating the help defense, using his patience to allow plays to develop, and locating open teammates. He accrues 4.4 assists per game and, with more attention being devoted to Suggs, he’ll exceed that number tonight against Baylor’s mix of switching and icing.
NCAAB Pick: Nembhard Over 4.5 assists at -135 with Bovada
Corey Kispert and Gonzaga
With Baylor paying more attention to Timme, Kispert will become more available. Kispert pairs well with Timme in the pick-and-roll game as Timme will roll to the basket while Kispert pops behind the arc.
The pick-and-pop is a typical weapon against ice coverage, which Gonzaga will employ with Kispert. Against Baylor’s switch-heavy defense, Gonzaga will also slip ball screens.
At 5:10 in the following video, you see Kispert slip the screen in order to procure an easy look inside:
Here, Kansas gets caught switching as both defenders get stuck on the ball.
I also like Kispert tonight because, at 6-7, he can shoot and otherwise finish over Baylor’s typically smaller defenders. Kispert is tough to defend because he is also lethal behind the arc, where he is one of the best spotting up.
Given his varied skill set and the way Gonzaga’s well-spaced offense employs it, Kispert ranks top-100 nationally in both two-point and three-point efficiency. He averages 18.8 points per game, but we won’t need quite that many if Gonzaga wins. Again, recent results affect the betting odds and how the public bets.
Gonzaga played in a close game — even though, based on shot quality and expected shots made, Gonzaga was expected to have beaten UCLA by 22 points.
Since Baylor also won in a blowout, the Zags are priced relatively cheaply.
For this particular bet, we just need the Zags, which have been the best team all year, since their respectable non-conference schedule. They have too much offense, too many ways to beat the different ball-screen coverages that Baylor will employ, and they repeatedly force opposing defenses — even ones that rank top-15 in efficiency like USC and Kansas — to allow their highest scoring output.
Building off of this this last line of reasoning. I also want to note that Gonzaga has exceeded 82 points in every NCAA Tournament game so far, even despite some blowouts and also teams like USC trying to slow things down with a zone defense, which Baylor may also try.
So expect at least 83 points tonight from the Zags for your best bets.
*The pick reflects the line at the moment the writer made the play, the odds at the beginning of this article show the live line movement. Since the lines might vary, don’t forget to refer back to our live odds.