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Best College Basketball Bets Today | NCAAB Picks March 23

Best College Basketball Bets Today January 26

The Round of 32 has arrived, and we will get an abundance of enthralling games, including a powerhouse matchup between two of the biggest heavyweights in college basketball: Michigan State and North Carolina. Both the Spartans and Tar Heels are among the greatest programs in college basketball history and will have to face each other early on in the NCAA Tournament due to Michigan State’s mediocre regular season.

However, the Spartans’ regular-season struggles hardly indicate their overall capabilities, as they returned almost every key player from their Sweet 16 team last year. Tom Izzo-led teams also seem to find their groove in March, the perfect time to get hot for a deep run in the NCAA Tournament. 

Additionally, we will cover the No. 5 Gonzaga Bulldogs versus the No. 4 Kansas Jayhawks and the No. 14 Oakland Golden Grizzlies versus the No. 11 N.C. State Wolfpack. Check out our analysis and breakdown for these three Round of 32 battles below!

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No. 9 Michigan State @ No. 1 North Carolina

All odds are available via DraftKings Sportsbook but are subject to change.

PICK: Michigan State +4 (-115)

If any No. 9 seed could upset a No. 1 seed in the Round of 32, it would be the Michigan State Spartans. This team always seems to play its best basketball in March. In the past 25 seasons, the Spartans have made roughly one-third of the NCAA Tournament Final Fours. 

Michigan State just destroyed the Mississippi State Bulldogs by 18 points behind a very balanced offensive attack. Tyson Walker led the way with 19 points, but the Spartans didn’t have to lean on any one player for offense, which is a positive sign for a team that has struggled at times on that end of the floor this season.

Michigan State ranks just 49th in adjusted offensive efficiency, but it shot a 50/44/83 shooting split as a team against the Bulldogs, who rank 21st in adjusted defensive efficiency this season. Additionally, the Spartans crushed Mississippi State (23rd in total rebounding rate) on the glass, pulling down seven more rebounds than the Bulldogs.

This could be a great sign for a Michigan State team that has not put all the pieces of the puzzle together but looked like the preseason No. 4 team in the nation that they were supposed to be.

Meanwhile, North Carolina didn’t leave much doubt in its first game of the 2024 NCAA Tournament, pummeling No. 16 seed Wagner by 28 points. The Tar Heels got 20-point outings from All-Americans R.J. Davis and Armando Bacot, the two upperclassmen who were a part of that No. 8 seed squad that made the championship game a few seasons ago. 

UNC also got a 16-point, 10-rebound effort from bench forward Jae’Lyn Withers, who played merely 22 minutes in the game. The Heels are a deep squad that can get monstrous performances from Bacot, Davis, Cormac Ryan, or another unexpected player, which was Withers, in this case.

Expect the Spartans to keep this game close. Michigan State’s offense has come around with Tyson Walker leading the way, and its recent improvement on the glass can keep it in close proximity to the Heels.

No. 5 Gonzaga @ No. 4 Kansas

All odds are available via DraftKings Sportsbook but are subject to change.

PICK: Gonzaga ML -192

Many people thought that the No. 4 Kansas Jayhawks would be one of the early-exit teams after it was announced that Kevin McCullar Jr. would be out for the remainder of the NCAA Tournament (and after Hunter Dickinson’s passive-aggressive comment about that announcement). 

However, the Jayhawks held on against a pesky Samford team that nearly made a massive 20-point comeback; a questionable foul call on a fast-break awarded Kansas free throws late in the second half.

Despite the win, Kansas looked suspect as a team. For one, the Jayhawks allowed a Samford team that ranks 59th in adjusted offensive efficiency to post 89 points on them on 43.2% (16-for-37) shooting from behind the arc. Additionally, they committed 18 turnovers, which is nearly seven higher than their season average. 

The Jayhawks will now be tasked with beating a Gonzaga team that just handed a 30-win McNeese State a 21-point loss. The Cowboys were one of the more efficient offensive teams in the country (15th in unadjusted offensive efficiency), and the ‘Zags hardly blinked, holding them to 33% shooting from the field and 23% from deep. 

Gonzaga had a slow start to the 2023-24 regular season, dropping games to Purdue, Washington, UConn, San Diego State, and Santa Clara before rattling off 15 wins in its next 17 games. The only two losses in that stretch were against the No. 5 seed Saint Mary’s Gaels, a formidable opponent that plays a contrasting style (358th in adjusted tempo) to Gonzaga (79th in adjusted tempo). 

The Bulldogs have been a much improved defensive team in that span, but their offense has absolutely skyrocketed. In fact, they have shot an unfathomably high 54% from the floor and 40% from deep in their past 17 games. While the competition in the WCC as a whole isn’t nearly as tough as all of the teams in the NCAA Tournament field, those are still remarkable shooting percentages in a large sample size.

We can’t back the Jayhawks after Samford diced up their defense for 89 points. Gonzaga has the offense to do the same thing, except its defense (41st in adjusted defensive efficiency) will put up a better effort against Kansas.

No. 14 Oakland @ No. 11 N.C. State

All odds are available via DraftKings Sportsbook but are subject to change.

PICK: N.C. State -6 (-110)

Madness! The North Carolina State Wolfpack have logged six consecutive wins, including five in five days to secure the ACC Tournament championship and book their ticket into the “Big Dance.” Now, the Wolfpack will take on the Oakland Golden Grizzlies, who knocked off the No. 3 seeded Kentucky Wildcats, for a shot at a spot in the Sweet 16!

It was evident that N.C. State was red-hot heading into the NCAA Tournament, but after playing five games in five days the week before, the possibility of running out of steam ahead of its Round of 64 matchup was quite high. However, the Wolfpack picked up right where they left off, beating No. 6 Texas Tech by a score of 80-67. 

The game was won inside the arc, with Ben Middlebrooks, Mohamed Diarra, and D.J. Burns Jr. decimating the Red Raiders’ frontcourt; they combined for 54 points and 17 rebounds. 

During the Wolfpacks’ six-game winning streak, they have done a marvelous job on the defensive end of the floor, holding opponents to just 42.8% shooting from the field and 30.8% from behind the arc. N.C. State’s attention to detail, especially on the outside of the arc, has allowed it to create separation in perimeter points. Additionally, the Wolfpack have shot close to 49% overall in that span.

Meanwhile, Oakland pulled off the tournament’s biggest upset so far, sending the Kentucky Wildcats, the best three-point shooting team, home in the Round of 64. The Golden Grizzlies got an impossibly impressive performance from senior guard Jack Gohlke; he posted 32 points on 10-for-20 shooting from three-point land.

As a team, Oakland shot 15-for-31 from the perimeter, which is substantially higher than its season average in percentage (36.0%) and attempts (23.8). The Golden Grizzlies rank 124th in adjusted offensive efficiency on the season, but between their aptitude for three-point shooting and their ball protection (11.1 turnovers per game), they can keep up with any opponent. 

Unfortunately, this game favors the Wolfpack. They have defended the three-point line well during their winning streak, which could give Oakland problems. The Golden Grizzlies knocking down 15 three-pointers again is extremely unlikely. 

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