The moment we’ve all been waiting for has arrived – sort of. The 2022-23 NCAAB Men’s Basketball Tournament tips off this Tuesday with the First-Four round in Dayton, Ohio; these games are more of a March Madness appetizer than a proper course, but the money you can win with your college basketball picks will be equally delicious.
These games have some tasty profit margins attached, too. Millions of people will be watching Tuesday’s First Four double-header, even if it’s on truTV, and the betting action will be hot and heavy, creating the softest lines we’ve seen all year on the NCAAB odds board.
The computers at OddsTrader certainly think so. They’ve projected a very interesting upset for Tuesday’s nightcap between the No. 11 Pittsburgh Panthers and No. 11 Mississippi State Bulldogs, but first, let’s see what the AI has in store for the 16-seeds.
- SEMO vs. TAMU-CC: Over 156 (-110) at Caesars
- Pittsburgh vs. MSU: Over 132.5 (-110) at Caesars
Tuesday, March 14, 2023 – 06:40 PM EDT at UD Arena
The NCAAB lines are actually pretty tight for this matchup between SE-Missouri State (15-16 SU, 15-13-1 ATS during the regular season) and TAMU-CC (21-10 SU, 15-12 ATS), at least with the Islanders laying 3.5 points at BetMGM as we go to press. The computers have them beating the Redhawks 81-78.
Should I Bet the Spread?
Maybe not at this price. The Islanders are clearly the better team on paper, having dominated the Southland Conference this year; the Redhawks come from the slightly stronger (but still very weak) Ohio Valley Conference, and though they were a surprise winner as the 5-seed in the OVC Tournament, they’re not far enough behind TAMU-CC to warrant anything but a recreational-size wager.
What About the Total?
The over/under is another matter. Even with that rather large 156-point total at Caesars, the computers are recommending a chunky over bet with a projected combined score of 159. This is a bet we can get behind. Both of these teams were highly profitable over picks during the regular season, with the Redhawks at 18-11 and the Islanders at 17-9-1.
Speed is the key here. SE-Missouri State runs the seventh-fastest pace in college hoops according to Ken Pomeroy’s Adjusted Tempo numbers, fitting in 72.5 possessions per game. TAMU-CC is no slowpokes themselves at 69.3 possessions (No. 80).
The Islanders also have that imbalance towards offense that over bettors crave. This team ranks No. 137 in offensive efficiency and No. 229 on defense; the Redhawks (No. 263 offense, No. 243 defense) are a more neutral commodity in this regard, but their pace makes up for it.
Generally speaking, the OddsTrader computers seem to be a bit generous with how many points they project teams to score, but there does appear to be enough wiggle room here for the standard single-unit wager on the over.
NCAAB Pick: Over 156 (-110) at Caesars
Tuesday, March 14, 2023 – 09:10 PM EDT at UD Arena
Now we get to the meaty portion of Tuesday’s menu. The Panthers (21-10 SU, 21-9-1 ATS) have been crushing the college basketball odds this year, and the computers like them to beat Mississippi State (20-11 SU, 16-14-1 ATS) 75-68, even though the Bulldogs are favored by 1.5 points at Caesars Sportsbook.
Should I Bet on Pitt?
This is a bit trickier than our first recommendation. At first blush, it looks like the computers are giving recent performances a lot of weight; Pittsburgh has indeed piled up a lot of points lately, including 89 against Georgia Tech in the first round of the ACC Tournament.
At the same time, Mississippi State has made the First Four by the skin of its teeth. In their SEC Tournament opener, the Bulldogs (-5) squeaked by Florida 69-68 in overtime before getting crushed by Alabama – the No. 1 overall seed for this year’s March Madness – in the second round.
But if you look at their larger body of work this season, which is generally recommended anytime you’re making NCAAB picks, the Panthers “deserve” to be the underdogs here on a neutral court. Ken Pomeroy has Pitt ranked No. 77 overall (No. 24 offense, No. 142 defense) on his efficiency charts, well behind Mississippi State at No. 49 (No. 164 offense, No. 6 defense).
The computers also love the over, projecting these teams to combine for 143 points despite the 132.5-point total at Caesars. That’s a tough target to reach given how slow both these teams are, but the threat of overtime might make it worth a recreational wager. Bet accordingly – the AI has spoken.
NCAAB Pick: Over 132.5 (-110) at Caesars