Handicapping The Most Valuable Underdog Bets In The NCAA Tournament

Ross Benjamin

Thursday, March 24, 2016 3:36 PM GMT

Our handicapping professional has some daily underdogs picks and is going 24-11-1 ATS (69%). Go inside to find out his top Thursday’s NCAA Tournament picks.

Thursday NCAA Tourney Underdogs: Pros and Cons
The “Sweet 16” gets underway on Thursday with four games on tap. I’m going to change up my customary college basketball underdog values of the day feature a bit during the next four days. I’m going to be discussing each of Thursday’s underdogs and evaluate their chances of an against the spread cover.

 

Miami vs. Villanova
The current NCAA basketball odds boards at Heritage indicates that Miami is a 4.0 point underdog in this contest. The Hurricanes are coming off a very impressive win over a battle tested and seasoned Wichita State team. However, the Shockers were playing their third contest in five days at two different locations, and also handed any early 12:10 PM ET start on Saturday, thus allowing them just 36 hours rest between games.

Rest won’t be an issue for Villanova today. The #2 seed Wildcats appear to be on a mission in atoning for last year’s NCAA Tournament early round exit, based on their decisive wins in each of the first two rounds.

I can certainly make a case for Miami as an underdog on Thursday, but it wouldn’t be a particularly strong one.

 

Texas A&M vs. Oklahoma
Texas A&M is extremely lucky to still be alive in this NCAA Tournament. They were able to overcome a 12 point deficit with just 44 seconds left to play to tie Northern Iowa, and ultimately win in double overtime last Sunday. It was the biggest meltdown in sports that I can recall since the Houston Oilers blew a 35-3 second half lead, and lost to the Buffalo Bills in an AFC Playoff game over 20 years ago. This was an extremely down year for the SEC, and that was evidenced by just three of its teams being in the NCAA Tournament. My point being, the overall level of competition A&M faced this season was average at best in regards to power conference teams.

The BIG-12 was one of the strongest conferences in the country this season. As a matter of fact, seven of their teams were invited to the tournament, and three are part of the “Sweet 16”. Star Oklahoma senior guard Buddy Hield is an absolute difference maker. Oklahoma is a very experienced team, and you can’t ignore that factor at this stage of the tournament.

There is no underdog betting value in mind to be had on Texas A&M. They won’t be one of my Thursday NCAA Tournament picks, and especially so at just a 2.5 point underdog.

 

Maryland vs. Kansas
It’s certainly difficult to bet against Kansas right now. The Jayhawks have won 16 games in a row, and are an extremely profitable 13-3 ATS in those contests, including being a favorite on all but one of those occasions.

Maryland has the athletes and diversity of personnel to stay with Kansas. Heck, they may even come away with an upset win tonight. However, the Terrapins have been inconsistent at times, and that leaves me a tad bit hesitant to use them against an opponent of this caliber. Maryland’s star guard Melo Trimble is fully capable of singlehandedly taking over a game. My concern with Trimble, he’s been enduring an erratic shooting stretch over the past month.

Out of all four NCAA Tournament underdogs on Thursday, I can make a case for Maryland possessing the most underdog betting value. Nonetheless, I wouldn’t consider them as a strong pick by any stretch.

 

Duke vs. Oregon
The only advantage I see Duke having in this game is a vastly superior NCAA Tournament history of success. I’ve long been concerned about Duke’s interior defense and rebounding this season. They’ve been on a short end of the rebounding department during nine of its last ten games.

The Blue Devils have played two good halves of basketball during their pair of NCAA Tournament wins. They trailed NC-Wilmington by 3 at the half before coming back to win by 8 in an opening round game. Duke nearly blew a 48-25 halftime lead against Yale, and staved off a furious Elis rally in order to hang for a 7 point second round victory.

Oregon was sternly tested and responded positively during a narrow 5 point win over vastly underrated St. Joe’s in round two. I believe that type of a challenge will pay huge dividends for the Ducks going forward.  With the exception of its PAC-12 Tourney win over Arizona. Oregon has been a superb rebounding team during their current win streak of ten consecutive games, and that’s not good news for Duke.

I have no inkling of thought for using Duke as an underdog pick in this contest. As a matter of fact, they look to me as being a biggest sucker play on Thursday’s card.