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Let the madness begin! There are 16 games Thursday and just about all of them have a chance to be interesting contests that can go either way. Let’s take a look at the most compelling matchups and key betting trends from Thursday's evening slate of games.
One major trend to note is that BetQL entered Tuesday's First Four games scorching hot, going 99-59 (63%) on all college basketball picks in the previous three days. That included an astounding 19-7 (73%) on spread picks for a total return of $1,027 on $100 bets!
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Odds in this article are subject to change. Check the latest college basketball betting lines here: Latest College Basketball Odds | Latest Over/Under | Expert picks
In the last three NCAA Tournaments, No. 13 seeds are 5-7 against No. 4 seeds. This has become a matchup to look at for a potential upset. Plus, Vermont is a legitimate tournament team and only five-point underdogs against Arkansas. The Catamounts made a mockery of the America East this season, They were 17-1 with only one of those wins coming by less than 10 points, routinely blowing out opponents. Vermont can light up the scoreboard and isn’t afraid of a shootout, as both Ryan Davis and Ben Shungu average over 16 points per game to lead an experienced team.
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The Catamounts haven’t faced an SEC team like Arkansas, though. The Razorbacks were 25-8 this season, winning 15 of 18 games to close out the year despite losing two of three at the end. For what it’s worth, the Hogs did have a little bit of trouble in road and neutral-site games this season while being close to unbeatable at home. Arkansas has also been vulnerable when it comes to shooting the ball, which is a potential matchup issue with the Catamounts. However, there is no denying that the Razorbacks have a huge edge athletically, which they hope will be enough to advance.
We don’t often get mid-major vs. mid-major matchups in the first round, which is why this matchup is fascinating with Murray State favored by just 1.5 points. The Racers were amazing during the regular season, going 30-2, losing only to ETSU and Auburn with wins over Memphis and Chattanooga. Of their 20 wins against Ohio Valley opponents, nine came by at least 20 points, as the Racers were consistently dominant within their conference and rarely had a let-down, so there is no doubt Murray State will bring its best effort to the NCAA Tournament. However, it’s fair to question how much they’ve been challenged since December with Belmont and Morehead State being the only OVC teams that could give the Racers a fair fight.
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The Dons have similar questions when it comes to the quality of their wins while going 24-9. Obviously, San Francisco was challenged against the likes of Gonzaga and Saint Mary’s inside the West Coast Conference, but the Dons were a combined 0-5 against those teams. In fact, San Francisco was 2-6 this season against teams in the tournament, beating Davidson and UAB. Nevertheless, the Dons pass the eye test, especially a backcourt that’s led by Jamaree Bouyea and Khalil Shabazz, helping them go 6-2 against the spread in their final eight games despite a losing record ATS overall.
UConn (23-9) comes into this game as a 6.5-point favorite against New Mexico State (26-6), but the Huskies have struggled to cover lately, going just 3-11 ATS in the last 14 games. Meanwhile, the Aggies were 4-1 ATS at neutral sites and 4-0 as underdogs this season.
MORE: SEE THE BETQL STAFF'S FINAL FOUR PICKS
The Wildcats are a safe bet to advance, but they also have 18 points to cover in this game. Saint Peter’s was 20-9 against the spread this season, covering 69% of the time, which was fourth-best in the country. Not only did the Peacocks win seven in a row to close out the season, but they also covered in all seven games.
Saint Mary's comes into this game with a 18-11 ATS record on the season, but failed to cover in either of their two WCC tournament games. Meanwhile, Indiana was 20-14 ATS and has covered in five straight (and seven of the last eight), including the play-in game against Wyoming. Indiana is also 5-0 ATS at neutral sites this season, while Saint Mary's was just 2-3.
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This might be one of the most overlooked games of the first round with the Aztecs favored by 2.5 points after winning 11 of 13 to finish the season. But the Bluejays also finished strong, reaching the Big East Tournament finals. They were 7-2-2 ATS in their last 11 games and adjusted surprisingly well after losing point guard Ryan Nembhard to a season-ending wrist injury. Also, the BetQL model has a perfect 100% win rate projecting San Diego State unders this season and an 86% win rate projecting Creighton unders, so be sure to check out our best bets for this game!
UCLA went 25–7 this season, while Akron went 24-9. One trend to note is that Joe Moorhead is 7-0 ATS versus up-tempo teams averaging 62 or more shots per game while coaching Akron, which has covered seven of it last eight games. Plus, the Zips went 9-2 ATS as underdogs this season.
Also, the BetQL model has an 86% win rate projecting Akron unders this season, so be sure to check out our best bets for this game!
Kansas (28-6) is the massive favorite in this matchup against Texas Southern (19-12). About the only thing going for Texas Southern, which won the First Four matchup, is that they were 6-2 ATS as underdogs and 3-0-1 at neutral sites this season. The BetQL model has a 78% win rate when projecting Kansas to cover this season, so be sure to check out our best bets for this game!
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