NCAA Tournament Betting Value: Hot Underdog Selections For Today

Ross Benjamin

Saturday, March 19, 2016 2:01 PM UTC

Saturday, Mar. 19, 2016 2:01 PM UTC

Our handicapping professional shares his top two NCAA Tournament underdog plays on Saturday’s card. He’s been a sizzling hot 24-10 (71%) with his NCAA basketball underdog picks.

Arkansas-Little Rock vs. Iowa State 6:10 PM ET
Little Rock showed a lot of character plus resiliency in overcoming a 14 point deficit with five minutes to play, and pulling off an upset against a very good Purdue team. If you’ve followed this team at all this season, coming from behind to win isn’t anything new. One thing for certain, Little Rock isn’t in awe of playing higher profile conference teams, and their resume this season confirms it. Besides Purdue, they own road wins over San Diego State, Tulsa, and DePaul.

Little Rock is an excellent defensive team that allows just 60.3 points per game, holds opponents to a meager 38.9% shooting, and permits them to make only 30.7% of its three point attempts. They’re also an adept three point shooting squad that connects on 38.6% of its long distance tries. Those two assets always bode well when assessing underdog value. If they have a flaw, their front line is undersized, and they’re a mediocre rebounding team. Then again, the same thing can be said about Iowa State.

Speaking of Iowa State, they’re an excellent perimeter shooting team, but very suspect defensively, and can be exposed on that end of the floor. This is a game I see going right down to the wire, and one in which the underdog has a realistic chance to win outright. One of my Saturday NCAA Tournament picks will concur with that personal perception.

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NCAA Basketball Pick: Arkansas-Little Rock +6.5 
Best Line Offered: at 5Dimes


Butler vs. Virginia 7:10 PM ET
Let me start by saying this. Virginia is an excellent team well deserving of a #1 seed. They may even win the whole enchilada when it’s all said and done. Here’s the thing, they’re laying a sizable number in this contest, against an opponent with a winning tradition. I believe it’s highly probable that the Cavaliers will advance to the “Sweet 16”, but it won’t be easy on Saturday, and will be a much closer game than many Cavaliers fans may anticipate. Teams that are fortunate enough to reach “The Final Four” usually encounter at least one nail biter during regional play. I truly believe that will occur on Saturday for Virginia.

Butler is coming off a solid performance during a 10 point first round win over Texas Tech. They covered that contest as a 4.0 point favorite. They’ll be in the role of a sizable underdog on Saturday against #1 seed Virginia, and one in which they’ll certainly relish.

One underlying factor to seriously consider regarding this game pertains to the culture surrounding Butler’s basketball program. They’ve won at least one game in nine of their last ten NCAA Tournament appearances. Since 2010, Butler has knocked off two #1 seeds. Those players have graduated or moved on, but they set the precedent of establishing a winning environment and tradition which has been carried on by this year’s team.

As a result of their win on Thursday, Butler has gone 8-3 over its last eleven games, and was a very profitable 9-2 ATS in doing so. Their only losses in that sequence have come versus Villanova, Xavier, and Providence. All three of those teams have advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. I’m taking the generous number being given to the underdog in this NCAA Tournament Midwest Region contest.

The current NCAA Tournament odds provide me with a best combination of number and price for this wager.

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NCAA Basketball Pick: Butler +8.5
Best Line Offered: at Bovada

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