NCAA Tournament Player Prop Picks
Sweet 16: Sunday, March 28
What a opening weekend! We waited two long years for March Madness, and it was a wild and wacky first two rounds, with upsets galore and all sorts of fun basketball.
Hey, you know what else is fun? Winning bets.
Last weekend, our Props Tool expanded to March Madness, and boy did it pay off! We went 31-12-1 on picks last weekend, hitting a whopping 72% of our picks. We’re up +15.8 units right now on March Madness props, an incredible 35.1% return on investment thus far.
That’s a heck of an opening weekend! Let’s keep the momentum going in the Sweet 16.
For those who are new to this article, we’ll be using the Action Labs Player Prop tool to compare our NCAAB projections to the props posted at a variety of sportsbooks. Each bet is then graded on a scale from 1-10, with 10 being the best possible grade.
Below, I have laid out three prop bets that I’m playing from Sunday afternoon’s NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 matchups, the case for each bet and the best books to find odds on those player props.
Note: All photos below are via Getty Images.
Christian Bishop, Creighton
(1) Gonzaga vs. (5) Creighton, 2:10 p.m. ET on CBS
Not many people expected Creighton to still be playing in the second weekend. The Bluejays stumbled into the tournament after getting blown out by Georgetown in the Big East tournament final. They were a popular upset pick as a 5-seed but survived UC Santa Barbara by a point and then took care of 13-seed Ohio, pulling away toward the end.
Creighton has had precious little margin for error against two low seeds, so the Bluejays are certainly up against it playing the undefeated Zags. Creighton has already leaned very heavily on its starting five, and that trend should continue against Gonzaga. In Creighton’s Round of 32 game, the starters played 175 of the 200 available minutes, averaging 35 minutes each. It was about the same ratio in round one. The Bluejays will give their starters every available minute.
Christian Bishop is Creighton’s biggest man available at 6-foot-7, and he’s played 32 minutes in each tournament game so far, up quite a ways from his 22.9 MPG from the regular season, and Bishop’s production has risen too. He’s up from 10.8 points and 5.9 rebounds per game in the regular season to 13.5 points and 13.0 rebounds per game in the tournament.
Look for Creighton to lean heavily on Bishop again here, and as long as he doesn’t get into foul trouble against Drew Timme, he should post big numbers in his newly increased minutes.
Our Props Tool likes both Bishop’s points and rebounding overs, projecting him at 13.2 points and 8.7 boards, so I’ll play the combo prop here and go for all around production. Bishop has nine games this season with at least 28 minutes played, and he’s averaged 23.3 PRA and gone over this line in seven of nine, hitting the over 78% of the time. If you can only play one, I prefer the points, but grab the triple combo if you can and play as high as -125.
Scottie Barnes, Florida State
(1) Michigan vs. (4) Florida State, 5 p.m. ET on CBS
If you haven’t discovered Florida State’s Scottie Barnes yet, you’re in for a treat. Barnes is a likely one-and-done freshman who should be a lottery pick in this year’s NBA Draft, and he’s a power forward playing point guard for the Seminoles.
Barnes is a monster defensively. He has a gigantic wingspan and lockdown ability one-on-one, and he’s always been a winner and a glue guy. He won’t be a point guard at the next level, and he’ll probably be more of an elite role player, but he brings the ball up and runs the offense for the Noles and has some serious vision and mustard on his passes. Just watch Barnes get downhill in transition and find the cutter, and you won’t believe what you’re seeing.
Michigan is going to try to slow this game down, and Barnes is not as valuable in the half court offense. He ends up off the screen half the time with FSU playing 4-on-5 because he can’t shoot to save his life right now. But get Barnes on the move and those passing lanes come alive.
Barnes averaged 4.1 assists per game this season, and he went over 2.5 in 18 of 23 games, hitting this over 78% of the time and making it more than fair to drink the steep juice. Oh, and don’t be caught off guard when Barnes comes off the bench to start the game. That’s been his role all season, but the Seminoles effectively play eight “starters” and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Barnes get even more minutes against a tough team like Michigan.
At 2.5 assists, this Barnes over is worth playing as high as -220.
M.J. Walker, Florida State
(1) Michigan vs. (4) Florida State, 5 p.m. ET on CBS
So you know all that stuff about Florida State having eight “starters” that we just talked about? Throw it out the window when it comes to M.J. Walker.
Walker is the one Seminole who always seems to be out there. He led Florida State in minutes played at 29.0 per game in the regular season and has played even more in two tournament games, with 31.5 MPG thus far, and that would probably be even higher if Colorado had stayed in the game late.
Walker is liable to play close to 35 minutes in this one, and that will give him plenty of time on the court to produce. He can run a bit hot and cold at times, though. Walker has eight games with at least a trio of threes, but he also has six games without one. He has five games with at least five made free throws, including one 12-of-12 game, but he’s got eight more games where he never even made it to the line.
Despite that variance, Walker’s scoring has actually been relatively steady. He’s hit double-digits in 15 of his 23 games, hitting this over 65% of the time, and he’s had at least seven points in all but four games. That effectively puts us within one bucket of an over in almost any scenario, so we just need to hope one of those threes falls or that he gets to the line a few extra times.
Walker was cold in Florida State’s first two tournament games, scoring just 11 points combined, but we should be encouraged by the fact that he played 31.5 MPG anyway. With those minutes up, the scoring should return. We project Walker at 11.9 points, and I’ll play the over to -125.