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The first round of the NCAA Tournament provided some incredible games and results we didn’t necessarily expect. Of course, that means that Saturday’s schedule includes matchups we didn’t necessarily expect to see. Nevertheless, the games figure to be good ones, especially with a trip to the Sweet 16 on the line. Let’s take a look at the heavyweight matchups on Saturday’s schedule, as well as the key betting trends.
But first, we have to mention that the BetQL college hoops model remains red-hot into the tournament. In the past 14 days, the model has gone 288-99 (75%) picking college basketball moneyline winners for a total return of $2,074 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
Neither of these teams had much trouble getting out of the first round, which should indicate a high-level game on Saturday with Baylor opening as 5.5-point favorites over the Tar Heels. There might have been some concern with the Bears after they got bounced from the Big 12 Tournament last week. But Baylor came out for the Big Dance completely focused and firing on all cylinders, at least outside of the free-throw line. While they are still without LJ Cryer and Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchou, the Bears have shown that they have enough depth to handle those absences, especially with freshman Jeremy Sochan coming on strong. After Thursday’s win, the Bears have won eight of their last 10, winning all but one of those games by at least seven points.
MORE: SEE THE BETQL STAFF’S BEST BETS FOR SATURDAY
Of course, the Tar Heels beat Marquette by 32 points on Thursday, so it’s safe to say that Hubert Davis has his team locked in. North Carolina looks strong inside with two players registering double-doubles on Thursday. Plus, R.J. Davis dished out 12 assists despite a dreadful shooting game. UNC has now won nine of its last 11 games and proved itself by beating Duke on the road, so it’s clear that the Tar Heels are capable of beating anyone. Based on what we’ve seen recently, they are playing a little better than an ordinary No. 8 seed.
Also note that BetQL has a 67% win rate projecting Baylor overs and 65% win rate projecting UNC overs this season, so be sure to check out the model's best bets for this game!
The Wolverines were probably the least surprising double-digit seed to win on Thursday. However, they surely didn’t make it easy on themselves, trailing by 15 in the first half before dominating the second 20 minutes. Of course, Michigan’s problems moving forward are twofold. First, they’ve only won back-to-back games once since the end of January. Second, the Wolverines will likely be without point guard DeVante’ Jones, who missed Thursday’s game while in concussion protocol. Jones leads the team in assists and is Michigan’s third-leading scorer. The Wolverines don’t exactly have a deep backcourt, which could be an issue against Tennessee's guards.
MORE: WATCH OUT FOR THESE UNDERDOGS
Meanwhile, the Volunteers have a deep backcourt and are early six-point favorites. Many believed that Tennessee was under-seeded on Selection Sunday and a 32-point win over No. 14 Longwood is further evidence of that. After the Vols won the SEC Tournament, they are now rocking an eight-game winning streak heading into the Round of 32. They now have 13 wins in their last 14 games thanks to their four outstanding guards, who all scored in double figures in Thursday’s game.
This should be a fascinating matchup between a West Coast powerhouse and a quality mid-major. UCLA is listed as an early 2.5-point favorite after needing a comeback win over Akron on Thursday. The Bruins didn’t look their best in that game, but they found a way to make plays late when the game was on the line. It was a similar performance to the five tournament wins that got them to the Final Four last season with mostly the same group of players. Even with a mere nine points from Johnny Juzang, the Bruins had enough to advance, although they will need more from their star player moving forward.
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Keep in mind that Saint Mary’s is only a couple of weeks removed from a win over Gonzaga. The Gaels believe that they can beat any team they face, which they proved with their blowout of Indiana on Thursday. That should have been a tricky game for Saint Mary’s, but the Gaels put their foot down early in the second half and ran away. They looked as sharp as can be and shouldn’t be bothered by being the underdog. Also, outside of their two losses to Gonzaga, the Gaels have lost just once since Jan. 8.
Even without point guard Ryan Nembhard, Creighton keeps finding ways to win, overcoming a deficit against San Diego State and winning in overtime. However, Ryan Kalkbrenner also went down with a left knee injury in overtime against San Diego State.
Kansas was also impressive on Thursday, extending their winning streak to six games. The Jayhawks are favored by 10.5 points on Saturday and are 9-8 ATS this season as double-digit favorites. Also, when BetQL has projected Kansas to cover this season, it has a 80% win rate, so be sure to check out the model's best bets for this game!
The Spiders proved that winning the Atlantic 10 Tournament was no fluke, knocking off Big Ten Tournament champs Iowa. They take their five-game winning streak to the Round of 32 against Providence, which is favored by three points.
Unlike Richmond, the Friars have a winning record ATS this season, although they are just 4-5 against the spread in their last nine games. BetQL has hit 62% of Richmond spread bets all-time (+$1,305 on $100 bets), and has a 75% win rate when projecting Providence to cover this season, so be sure to check out the model's best bets for this game!
Few could have predicted the Peacocks getting to the Round of 32 and playing the 31-2 Racers. While Murray State is favored by eight points and has a great overall record, Saint Peter’s has won eight in a row, covered eight in a row, and has covered 70% of the time this season.
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The Aggies continued the trend of No. 12 seeds winning in the first round. New Mexico State is now 27-6 overall. Naturally, Arkansas is favored by 6.5 points after surviving a scare from Vermont. But the Razorbacks are 2-4 ATS in their last four games and have only covered the spread once in their four wins during that stretch after failing to cover on Thursday.
It took a little while for Gonzaga to look like a Final Four contender on Thursday before eventually pulling away against Georgia State. The Bulldogs won’t have that luxury on Saturday, even as 10.5-point favorites over Memphis. The Tigers have been a tough team during the second half of the season, going 13-2 in their last 15 games and 11-3 against the spread in their last 14 games.
Also note that BetQL has a 75% win rate projecting Gonzaga unders this season, so be sure to check out the model's best bets for this game!
MORE: SUNDAY'S NCAA TOURNAMENT BETTING PLAYBOOK
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