NCAA Tournament Picks: Trio Of O/U Plays For Friday's First Round Games

Mark Lathrop

Thursday, March 17, 2016 9:15 PM UTC

Thursday, Mar. 17, 2016 9:15 PM UTC

We are sure to see some ATS upsets, so let’s look at the three best totals values of the day as March Madness finally kicks off.

Weber State Wildcats vs. Xavier Musketeers
In this 15 vs 2 matchup, the Big Sky champion Weber State Wildcats (26-8) face off with the 9th ranked Xavier Musketeers (27-5). While Weber State is a heavy 13-point underdog across the board, it is the O/U total we are concerned with, which is currently sitting at 147.5 at multiple books.

I’m expecting the better Xavier squad here to set the pace, and with their 81.3 points per game average, it should lead to a higher scoring game. The Musketeers are 21-11 O-U this season, including going Over the consensus total in their last seven games coming into this matchup.

The thing is, Weber State shoots 48.5% from the floor, so more possessions for them should equal more points even after considering their average of 76.7 points per game this year. I expect they will keep it interesting for at least the first half, and I’m taking Over 147.5 at 5Dimes as one of my first round NCAAB Picks.

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NCAA Basketball Pick: Over 147.5
Best Line Offered: at Bookmaker


Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders vs. Michigan State Spartans
In the second 15 vs 2 matchup I am looking at, we have my Final Four pick in the 2nd ranked Michigan State Spartans (29-5) playing Middle Tennessee State (24-9). The Spartans are heavy favorites of course, coming it at -18 at Bovada. The O/U is the more interesting line to me though, and it can currently be found at 143.5 at 5Dimes.

This pick is all about Michigan State’s ability to score, as they lead the nation in 3-point shooting percentage at 43.5% and assists at 20.7 per game. The Spartans shoot even better from 3-point range away from their home floor at 46.4%. Their average score against opponents with an RPI between 51-100 is 80 – MTSU is ranked 78th in RPI. There is no reason to believe that the Spartans will not score in the 80’s or higher on Friday, which brings value to Over 143.5 as one of my NCAA Tournament picks.

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NCAA Basketball Pick: Over 143.5
Best Line Offered: at BetOnline


Pittsburgh Panthers vs. Wisconsin Badgers
Here we have a 10 vs 7 matchup that shouldn’t be close, as the Wisconsin Badgers (20-12) host the Pittsburgh Panthers (21-11). You can probably imply there that I don’t think the 2-point spread that Wisconsin is being asked to cover is big enough. However, I’m here to talk about the O/U line that currently sits at 131 on NCAA Tournament odds at Pinnacle.

The Badgers are an especially plodding team who are not easy to watch. They only score an average of 63.9 points per game while away from their home court on 39.9% shooting from the floor. In short, they are boring. But, we can profit from this as Wisconsin is 3-11 O-U away from home and the under has cashed in 10 of their last 12 games.

Pittsburgh also has some tendencies towards the under of note, going in that direction versus the line in 8 of their last 12 games. They are 13-16 O-U over the season as well. Pittsburgh goes 10-deep in their rotation, so they should be able to keep up some defensive intensity to match Wisconsin’s very deliberate defense.

This should be a defensive battle in which the losing team does not break 60 points. I’m not watching this game, but I’m taking Under 131 as one of my first round NCAAB Picks.

[/]{"component":"oddswidget", "eventId":2999610, "sportsbooksIds":[1096,93,19,92,238,169], "LineTypeId":3, "PeriodTypeId":1}[/]
NCAA Basketball Pick: Under 131
Best Line Offered: at Bodog

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