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As if 16 games on Thursday weren’t enough, there are 16 more NCAA Tournament games on Friday. In fact, Friday might be one of the rare occasions where the appetizer is better than the main course because a few of the early games are some of the most intriguing matchups of the first round. Let’s take a closer look at some of the top matchups and important betting trends among the first eight games on Friday’s NCAA Tournament schedule.
But first, we have to mention that the BetQL college hoops model remains red-hot going into the tournament. In the past 14 days, the model has gone 375-128 (75%) picking college basketball moneyline winners for a total return of $2,325 on $100 bets! BetQL subscribers can see all of the tournament's best bets with star ratings for every game. Click below to sign up for a BetQL Day Pass!
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
The Trojans are listed as 1.5-point favorites in this game, although USC shouldn’t be bothered by playing a close game. In their last 10 games, only two have been decided by more than seven points, while five of those games have been decided by four points or less. The caveat is that the Trojans lost three of their last four games heading into the NCAA Tournament. To be fair, two of those losses were against UCLA and one was against Arizona. However, those losses dropped USC to 26-7 on the season and 2-4 against teams in the NCAA Tournament, leaving the Trojans somewhat unproven.
As for the Hurricanes, they enter the NCAA Tournament in a little better shape than USC. Miami has won seven of 10 and nearly beat Duke in the semifinals of the ACC Tournament. At 23-10, the Hurricanes didn’t have an overwhelming season, but six of those 10 losses were decided by six points or less, including three losses that came by a single point. If a few things had gone differently, Miami’s record could look a lot different, as would the team’s seed in the Big Dance. On the other hand, the ‘Canes went just 2-5 against teams that made the tournament. Even with wins over Duke and North Carolina on their resume, the Hurricanes struggled against quality opponents.
Momentum can mean a lot in March, which is why the Hokies are just one-point underdogs against Texas as the No. 11 seed in the East Region. Of course, Virginia Tech enters the NCAA Tournament fresh off winning four games in four days to win the ACC Tournament. Three of those wins came against teams in the Big Dance, including double-digit victories over both North Carolina and Duke. Going even further back, the Hokies have won 13 of their last 15 games, putting them at 23-12 overall. Virginia Tech certainly seems to have put everything together at the right time and is 19-16 against the spread this season. Also, the BetQL model has an 86% win rate projecting Virginia Tech unders this season, so be sure to check out our best bets for this game!
On the other side, the 21-11 Longhorns were just 12-19-1 against the spread, covering less than 39% of the time this season, worst among all tournament teams. Chris Beard’s team didn’t exactly finish the season on a high note, losing three in a row and five of seven to close out the season. For what it’s worth, two of those five losses came against Baylor, while the Longhorns also lost to Texas Tech and Kansas late in the season. However, Texas was also just 1-6-1 against the spread over the last eight games, indicating the Longhorns have fallen well short of expectations late in the year. The silver lining is that Texas does have a veteran team that’s strong defensively, so getting a clean slate with the start of the NCAA Tournament might be the best thing for the Longhorns.
This will be the first game of the day, and since betting odds are currently even, it should be a close contest. Even if the players are all different, Loyola Chicago made a Final Four run in 2018. Plus, they still have 102-year-old Sister Jean cheering them on. More importantly, the Ramblers were 25-7 this season. Two of those losses came against Michigan State and Auburn early in the season, while four of their five conference losses were avenged during the Missouri Valley Conference tournament. Loyola has some offensive talent, but the Ramblers are best on the defensive end. They’ve allowed 58 points or less in five of their last six games. That includes a game in which they held Northern Iowa, the MVC regular-season champs, more than 30 points under their season average.
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Loyola’s defensive prowess could be bad news for an Ohio State team that floundered down the stretch. The Buckeyes have lost four of their last five games, including three losses to teams that aren’t in the NCAA Tournament. In fairness, forwards Zed Key and Kyle Young have both been missing down the stretch because of injuries, but there is no guarantee the Buckeyes will have either player back by Friday. Ohio State hasn’t been the same without them and could find it difficult to integrate one or both back into the rotation, especially against a solid defensive team.
On paper, the Tigers should have no trouble advancing to the Round of 32 against an in-state foe. However, Jacksonville State should be up for the game after winning the Atlantic Sun regular-season title. It’s also possible that Auburn peaked too soon, going 3-3 late in the season. But the stat to know is that Auburn is 1-5 ATS in those last six games despite being 20-12 ATS on the season.
Is Texas Tech a great team or just great at home? The Red Raiders were 18-0 at home but 7-9 everywhere else. On the season, they covered 60% of the time, but they were also 1-5 ATS and 3-3 overall in their final six games. The Tech defense could also have its hands full with Montana State averaging 77 points per game.
Oddsmakers are confident in Purdue as 15.5-point favorites over the Ivy League champions. But the Boilermakers have been one of the worst bets in college basketball over the last month, going 0-9-1 against the spread in their last 10 games, dropping them to 13-20-1 on the season, covering less than 40% of the time. In fairness, Yale also has a losing record ATS this season, although the Bulldogs have won 11 of their last 13 games.
While not technically rivals, the Delaware and Villanova campuses are only separated by a little more than 40 miles. Of course, oddsmakers view the expected separation on Friday to be 15.5 points. The Blue Hens finished the regular season fourth in the Colonial and lost three in a row before winning three straight at the CAA Tournament. Meanwhile, the Big East Tournament champion Wildcats were just 6-7 against the spread when favored by at least 10 points this season.
Alabama is 11-21 ATS this season and has covered just four times in the last 18 games, so they are clearly not living up to their potential. Meanwhile, Notre Dame is 18-15 ATS (14-7 ATS vs. ACC) and brings momentum into this one after a thrilling, double-OT win as a slight underdog against Rutgers in the First Four. Also, the over went 21-10 (67.7%) in Crimson Tide games this season, the highest percentage among all NCAA Tournament teams, and the BetQL model had a 65% win rate projecting Alabama overs this season and an 80% win rate when projecting Notre Dame to cover, so be sure to check out our best bets for this game!
MORE NCAA BETTING PLAYBOOKS: FRIDAY EVENING | SATURDAY (ALL)
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