4 NCAA Tournament Prop Bets for Thursday’s First-Round Games

Riley Thomas
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4 NCAA Tournament Prop Bets for Thursday’s First-Round Games

College basketball season is in full swing, and via the college basketball odds at FanDuel Sportsbook, we can get into the action by checking out prop bets for key games.

For bettors, numberFire's Matchup Heat Map helps identify favorable game environments, while KenPom and Sports-Reference offer a wide range of team-level statistics. We can also turn to Bart Torvik and RealGM for advanced player stats and splits.

Let's check out FanDuel Sportsbook's college basketball odds and dive into our wealth of statistical data to find today's best prop bets.

Please note lines are subject to change throughout the day after this article is published.

College Basketball Prop Bets

Michigan State Spartans vs. Mississippi State Bulldogs, 12:15 p.m. ET

Josh Hubbard To Make 4+ Threes (+152)

Few players across the nation shoot the three-ball like Mississippi State's Josh Hubbard. In fact, the freshman guard ranks second in the tournament with 293 three-point attempts for the season. After averaging 20.7 points per game (PPG) in the SEC Tournament, Hubbard could be poised to make his name known in NCAA Tournament play.

According to FanDuel's NCAA Tournament odds, Michigan State is a 1.5-point favorite over the Bulldogs. The Spartans have a flaw that Mississippi State can expose, and it starts and ends with Hubbard. The Spartans rank in the bottom 22% in three-point makes and attempts allowed per contest. Opponents take 41.3% of their shots from three against Michigan State (bottom 15% for defense).

I'm not worried about Hubbard getting his looks from deep. The 5-foot-10 guard often jacks it up from beyond the three-point line, totaling 8.6 three-point attempts on the season. This number has only increased over his previous eight games at 11.4 attempts per contest.

Against a team that gives up plenty of three-point shots, Hubbard could go off from deep. Over his final five regular-season games, he made at least four threes in every game. I like the star guard's chances of erupting on his biggest stage yet.

Duquesne Dukes vs. BYU Cougars, 12:40 p.m. ET

Jaxson Robinson Under 12.5 Points (-114)

The Duquesne Dukes were the surprise automatic bid from the A10 after winning the conference's tournament as the 6 seed. The Dukes are making their first NCAA Tournament since 1977 and are searching for their first win in the field since 1969.

As 9.5-point underdogs against BYU, Duquesne has a tall task ahead. Thanks to their ability to defend the three, the Dukes could keep this one closer than expected.

They rank in the 77th percentile in three-point makes allowed per game and in the 82nd percentile of opponent three-point percentage. Over Duquesne's last three games, opponents have shot a measly 24.3% from beyond the arc.

Why does this matter for Thursday's matchup? BYU leads the field of 68 by taking 50.7% of their shots from three. Plus, they attempt the second-most three-balls per game in the nation.

How can we turn this valuable information into a winning prop? Jaxson Robinson (13.8 PPG) is one of the Cougars' top shooters, logging a team-high 218 three-point shots on the season. Robinson has failed to reach 12 points in three of his last four games; I expect this trend to continue due to the Dukes' strong perimeter defense.

Morehead State Eagles vs. Illinois Fighting Illini, 3:10 p.m. ET

Marcus Domask Over 16.5 Points (-104)

After winning the Big Ten Tournament, Illinois is seeking a deep run into March. The Fighting Illini face Morehead State in Thursday's first round of games. The Eagles rank in the 98th percentile in PPG allowed and opponent field goal percentage (FG%). However, Morehead State still has a potential weakness that one of the nation's top offenses can expose.

The Illini feature Bart Torvik's third-best adjusted offensive efficiency while shooting 65.0% on close twos (94th percentile). Marcus Domask (16.0 PPG) spearheads this attack as 70.4% of his field goals are two-point looks.

Domask comes off a 26-point outburst in the championship game of the Big Ten Tournament. I expect this success to at least continue into the first round of the tournament. The Eagles sit in the bottom 25% in two-point shots allowed per contest.

Morehead State's Jordan Lathon (0.45) and Kalil Thomas (-0.42) will likely be tasked with guarding Domask, and both players hold weak Defensive Bayesian Performance Ratings (DBPR), per EvanMiya. Give me Illinois' star forward to go over 16.5 points.

Drake Bulldogs vs. Washington State Cougars, 10:05 p.m. ET

Isaac Jones Over 14.5 Points (-104)

Drake against Washington State looks to be one of the most intriguing first-round games. It features a narrow spread with the higher seed -- 10-seeded Drake -- favored by 1.5 points. The public also seems to agree as ESPN's People's Bracket has the Bulldogs winning in about 53% of brackets.

The 7-seeded Cougars shouldn't be completely counted out of this one, though. Drake has a concerning defense, ranking 82nd in Bart Torvik's adjusted defensive efficiency. Opponents tend to have a lot of success around rim when given looks against the Bulldogs, shooting 51.9% on two-pointers (bottom 24% for defense). The defense is also among the bottom 13% nationally with opponents converting 62.1% of their close two-point shots.

This plays right into Washington State's claws, for they rank in the 82nd percentile in two-point makes and shots per contest. Isaac Jones (15.4 PPG) leads the team with 61.9% of his field goal attempts taking place at the rim.

Jones has reached 16 points in two of his last three outings and totaled at least 15 points in six of the past nine contests. Considering Drake's vulnerable two-point defense, this looks like a game for Jones to feast.

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The above author is a FanDuel employee and is not eligible to compete in public daily fantasy contests or place sports betting wagers on FanDuel. The advice provided by the author does not necessarily represent the views of FanDuel. Taking the author's advice will not guarantee a successful outcome. You should use your own judgment when participating in daily fantasy contests or placing sports wagers.