-- Chalk's college basketball experts are back with their best bets for all of Saturday's eight NCAA tournament matchups.
Tuley: I went 3-1 (75 percent) with my best bets in our NCAA tournament betting guide, thanks to winning my over/under plays with the Miami (FL)/Buffalo over and the Virginia-Hampton under while splitting my best spread plays with a win on UNC Wilmington +10.5 against Duke but losing Texas Tech +3 against Butler. Unfortunately, I didn't do as well with some other plays like Colorado and Fresno State that I gave out on our videos. We'll try to take what we learned from watching all the games on Thursday to attack the betting lines in Saturday's games.
ATS picks for every game
Note: Picks marked with an asterisk (*) are best bets.
Current total: 139
PickCenter consensus pick: 59 percent pick Kansas to cover
BPI: Kansas has 86.0 percent chance of winning
Lange: Kansas made easy work of Austin Peay on Thursday, winning 105-79 and getting the cover on the closing line of -24.5. We were able to cash our bet on the Jayhawks -15 for the first half. No Jayhawks player saw more than 27 minutes of action.
UConn didn't shoot the ball particularly well in its 74-67 win over Colorado, hitting less than 40 percent from the floor. The Huskies' saving grace was a stellar 22-of-23 effort from the charity stripe.
Kansas played only one game this season with a total that closed below 140 -- a 94-67 win over Oklahoma State. I think UConn will struggle to shoot and score while attempting to keep the pace moderate. It's tough, however, to control tempo for 40 minutes as a near double-digit underdog. I would prefer to play under, but the current price doesn't match.
Current total: 156
PickCenter consensus pick: 59 percent pick Kentucky to cover
BPI: Kentucky has 61.5 percent chance of winning
Both offenses have been in excellent form of late, with Indiana averaging 1.2 points per possession over its last seven games and Kentucky averaging 87.8 PPG over its last six. That level of efficiency has really inflated this total. The Wildcats went under the total in three of their four games lined at 155 or above this season, and under the same parameters, Indiana trended slightly under at 4-5 over/under.
Both teams can obviously score, but with the point spread projecting a competitive affair, there's a good chance it'll be a one- or two-possession game the last five minutes. I don't project more than 70 possessions, which means you'll need two really good offensive performances to top 156. I may try to play this one under in-game, following a media timeout and a flurry of points.
Current total: 146
PickCenter consensus pick
BPI: Iowa State has 81.2 percent chance of winning
Lange: When two teams go screaming over the total in the first round and then face off two days later, the betting markets will typically react. Little Rock's win over Purdue wasn't necessarily "fast" but was fueled by the Trojans' 13 steals and 18 forced turnovers that helped push the game to 70-70 at the end of regulation, with UALR ultimately prevailing in double overtime 85-83.
Minutes and fatigue are obvious concerns, especially with these games taking place at elevation. Little Rock had three players log 40 or more minutes, and Iowa State's core rotation logged big minutes as well in its high-octane 94-81 win over Iona. The Cyclones are probably better built to handle the short turnaround, but I would strongly suspect that Little Rock isn't going to tempt fate and try to trade blows.
Iowa State can be slowed down, as both meetings against Oklahoma State -- which due to a lack of depth and talent played most of the year at a snail's pace -- went way under the total (123 and 108). And keep in mind that UALR's total with Purdue closed 127.5, whereas Saturday's total is 146. I like the under here.
Current total: 139
PickCenter consensus pick: 52 percent pick Utah to cover
BPI: Utah has 58.1 percent chance of winning
Lange: The stars really aligned for Gonzaga in its easy 68-52 win over Seton Hall. The venue favored the Zags, and they were helped by poor game planning and execution from an ultra-young Seton Hall squad. They won't have those factors in their favor against Utah, which fended off a late Fresno State run en route to an 80-69 win.
This is another game that has the potential to be really slow-paced. Utah played zone a majority of the time against Fresno. It was a game that was well under the total for 35 minutes before a bevy of fouls and free throws helped it climb over the number.
We've already seen the market take a whack at the under, as the game opened 140.5 and now sits 139.5. I expect it to go even lower.
Current total: 146
PickCenter consensus pick
BPI: Duke has 80 percent chance of winning
Tuley: I'll just come right out and say this: I'd love to take the points and fade Duke like I did with UNC Wilmington, but this line is a little too short for my taste. We actually have a blueprint for this matchup, as these two teams played each other back in December. Duke led 38-36 at halftime but was outplayed for most of the half by its less-talented foe, just like Yale did Thursday when it led a more athletic Baylor team 39-34 at halftime behind an efficient offense and solid defense. It kept looking like Baylor would catch Yale (at least for the outright win if not covering the 6-point spread), but the Ivy Leaguers were the more poised team down the stretch, executing their offense while Baylor continued to turn the ball over and miss shots in the paint as Yale held on for the 79-75 upset.
I'm not as confident that Yale will be the beneficiary of those mistakes from Duke. Going back to that earlier meeting, the Blue Devils pulled away in the second half to romp 80-61. While I do believe Yale can stay closer for longer this time around, the best play looks like Yale +3 in the first half, so we don't have to worry about Duke wearing down Yale like it did UNC Wilmington (and we felt lucky to hold on to the cover).
ATS pick: Yale +3 in first half
Current total: 131
PickCenter consensus pick: 60 percent pick Miami (FL) to cover
BPI: Miami (FL) has 52.2 percent chance of winning
Tuley: When this matchup was determined, I was looking forward to taking Wichita State plus a few points, as our NCAA Vegas Rankings has the Shockers rated 1.5 points better than Miami. Then the line got posted and Wichita State was a 1-point favorite -- and then early betting has moved it to Shockers -2.5. Despite the seeding disparity, that makes sense, as Wichita State looked much more impressive in its 68-52 rout of No. 6 seed Arizona as a 1-point underdog than Miami (FL) did in its 79-72 win over Buffalo, coming nowhere close to cover as a 14.5-point favorite.
I did cash with the "over" in that game, but I prefer the "under" here based on the matchup. Wichita State is No. 1 in defensive efficiency and I expect the Shockers to minimize Miami's running game (even though I mentioned in the NCAA tournament betting guide how much I like Hurricanes point guard Angel Rodriguez, I give the edge to the Shockers' Fred VanFleet) and turn this into a half-court battle.
ATS pick: Under 131.5* (lean on Wichita State)
Current total: 145
PickCenter consensus pick: 70 percent pick Virginia to cover
BPI: Virginia has 81.7 percent chance of winning
Tuley: My first inclination was to look at the under again, but the oddsmakers have set this pretty low. While both teams are among the best defensive teams in the nation, they also have plenty of players who can score. But a low-scoring game, with points at a premium, would also help my preferred play on Butler plus the points. My biggest mistake on Thursday's card was taking Texas Tech over Butler. While watching the game, I realized I had misjudged which was the better team and saw an experienced Butler team that can stay with No. 1 seed Virginia.
The Cavaliers will try to slow things down with their methodical offense, but Butler should be able to create its chances to run and Kellen Dunham is among the best at hitting 3-pointers in transition, while the Bulldogs as a whole take care of the ball. It was also encouraging to see Kelan Martin take over in crunch time. Virginia is a very good team and capable of grinding out the win, but Butler is more capable of putting up points in bunches. I believe the Bulldogs will be able to keep this game close and have a shot at the outright upset.
ATS pick: Butler*
Current total: 151
PickCenter consensus pick: 62 percent pick UNC to cover
BPI: UNC has 83.8 percent chance of winning
Tuley: I wish I had used Florida Gulf Coast as a best bet on Thursday (instead, I just listed it as a lean and made a smaller wager), as North Carolina won 83-67 but didn't cover as a 23-point favorite. My initial reaction when this matchup was set was to fade the Tar Heels again, but oddsmakers set the line at 9.5, and a check of our NCAA Vegas Rankings has UNC as 11 points better than Providence. After studying the game more, the under looks like the stronger play. Providence grinded out a 70-69 win over Southern Cal on Thursday night (staying well short of the over/under 151) and it was also the type of close game that can wear a team down.
I do like Providence's inside/outside combo of guard Kris Dunn and forward Ben Bentil, but the Friars aren't much of a 3-point shooting team and I really think it's going to take that for a team to threaten to knock off North Carolina, which also is better scoring two points at a time. That combination should be enough for this to stay under the lofty total.
ATS pick: Under 151*