Vaughn Dalzell breaks down his favorite underdog bets in the Round of 32 featuring MSU vs Marquette, Saint Mary's against UConn and FDU vs FAU!
Michigan State vs. Marquette (-3.5): O/U 141.0
This could be the best game of the day between Tom Izzo's Spartans and Shaka Smart's Golden Eagles.
MSU ranks top 40 in both offensive and defensive efficiency, while Marquette is 6th in offense and 45th on defense. The Golden Eagles do not rebound well (248th, 313th), defend the three-ball (35.1%, 254th) and rank 211th in effective field goal defense (51.1%).
Marquette has won 10-straight games, which is the second-longest winning streak in the country. Michigan State has only played two games in the last 15 days, so they are fresh and hopefully, not rusty. MSU dominated the paint versus USC in the first round with 21-of-40 from two (52.5%).
The Golden Eagles defense is one of the slowest paced (357th) but they don't have great defensive percentages or rebounding numbers, which is concerning against an MSU team with experience and a Hall of Fame coach.
Looking over the betting splits, over 70% of bets are on Marquette and I believe that number will climb. Yesterday, Kansas and Duke received over 70% and 80% on some books and both lost outright.
The public is lining up on Marquette and while I love the Golden Eagles, this one does seem too easy.
I played Michigan State at +3.5 (-115) and would go down to +2. I sprinkled the ML at +130 odds.
Pick: Michigan State +3.5 (1u), Michigan State ML (0.25u)
SAINT MARY'S VS. UCONN (-4.5): O/U 127.5
Looking over the betting splits, DraftKings alone is getting 89% of the handle and 77% of the bets on UConn -4.5 and over 80% on the ML too, so everyone is lining up on UConn like Kansas and Duke yesterday.
I believe Saint Mary's defense will give UConn issues and if the Gaels can contain Adama Sanoga, then Saint Mary's is live to win outright. The Gaels are ranked No. 8 in defensive efficiency, 22nd in effective field goal percentage (46.6%), plus No. 2 in defensive rebounding percentage (22%).
The Saint Mary's offense ranks 361st in tempo, which is third-slowest and the overall tempo is the fifth-slowest in the nation. UConn's defense is ranked 51st-quickest in average possession length, so Saint Mary's should have an easier time scoring than UConn.
Considering UConn allows 23.7% of opponents points to come from the free-throw line (9th-most) and Saint Mary's went 20-of-27 from the line against VCU in the first round (74.1%), I see an avenue to keeping this game close.
I will take Saint Mary's in what should be a low-scoring rock fight between the two teams. I played Saint Mary's at +4.5 (-110) and sprinkled the ML at +155 odds.
Pick: Saint Mary's +4.5 (1u), Saint Mary's ML (0.25u)
Fairleigh Dickinson vs. Florida Atlantic (-14.5): O/U 149.5
We all want FDU to continue this historic run after knocking off Purdue, 63-58.
FDU went 7-of-23 from three (30.4%) against Purdue and went 17-of-39 from two (43.6%). The Knights averaged 0.98 points per possession and will have a much tougher test facing FAU with everyone betting FDU.
FAU holds opponents to 31.9% from three on the season (65th) and ranks 14th in two-point percentage with 45% allowed! The Owls are a top 100 offensive and defensive rebounding team, plus ranks 15th in effective field goal percentage (46%).
I expect FDU to struggle off its historic win versus Purdue and FAU has great size and a better defense than Purdue's. I grabbed FDU's Team Total Under 66.5 at -110 odds and would go down to 64.5.
DraftKings is taking 82 and 88% of the money and handle on FDU +14.5 and +15.5, plus books are taking over 60 and 70% of the ML bets on FDU (+750). This will likely be a massacre in favor of FAU if money keeps coming in at this rate.
Pick: FDU Team Total Under 66.5 (1u)
Other March Madness Picks:
Xavier vs. Pittsburgh
Saint Mary's vs. UConn
Michigan State vs. Marquette
Fairleigh Dickinson vs. Florida Atlantic
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