NCAAB

First Four Betting: Grambling State vs. Montana State Picks, Prop Bets and Odds

Aidan McGrath
Aidan McGrath@ffaidanmcgrath
First Four Betting: Grambling State vs. Montana State Picks, Prop Bets and Odds

Very few things on the sports calendar can match the excitement and unpredictability of the NCAA Tournament. So why not add betting to the mix via the college basketball odds at FanDuel Sportsbook?

The 2024 edition of the big dance has arrived, and here at FanDuel Research, we'll have you covered with a betting guide for each game.

Today we'll be covering two 16 seeds that have earned their spots by winning their respective conference championship tournaments. The Grambling State Tigers are red hot after putting together an impressive run since January, while the Montana State Bobcats just won a tough championship against a conference rival in the Big Sky Conference.

All college basketball odds come from FanDuel Sportsbook, and lines may change after this article is published.

NCAA Tournament Betting Picks

Grambling State vs. Montana State Betting Odds

Date and Time: Wednesday March 20th, 6:40 p.m. ET

Spread: Montana State -3.5 (-115)

Total: 134.5

Moneyline:

  • Grambling: +146
  • Montana State: -178

Grambling vs. Montana State Statistical Breakdown

Advanced stats from KenPom, Bart Torvik and numberFire.

Grambling State Tigers

  • numberFire Ranking: 273rd
  • Bart Torvik Ranking: 273rd
  • KenPom Ranking: 267th
    • Adjusted Defensive Efficiency Ranking: 197th
    • Adjusted Offensive Efficiency Ranking: 297th
    • Adjusted Tempo Ranking: 315th

Montana State Bobcats

  • numberFire Ranking: 221nd
  • Bart Torvik Ranking: 200th
  • KenPom Ranking: 213th
    • Adjusted Defensive Efficiency Ranking: 198th
    • Adjusted Offensive Efficiency Ranking: 234th
    • Adjusted Tempo Ranking: 96th

Grambling State vs. Montana State Best Bet

Montana State -3.5 (-115)

Not all 16 seeds are created equally, and the Bobcats seem to have a pretty distinct edge over the Tigers as they prepare for their First Four matchup.

While both teams have played remarkably similar defense -- ranking 197th and 198th in adjusted defensive rating -- the Bobcats averaged 7.5 more points per game and ranked 234th in adjusted offensive rating compared to Grambling's 297th-ranked O.

Montana State likes to play fast and score points. They ranked 96th in adjusted tempo and 130th in points per game.

They also like to shoot from three-point range, something Grambling's defense should allow them to do. The Bobcats attempted 24.5 threes per game this year, the 73rd-most in the nation. By comparison, Grambling State attempted just 15.4 per game and allowed their foes to attempt 19.1 per game (the 49th-most).

In other words, it doesn't seem like Montana State will have trouble lining up the shots they want, and the shots they want are worth a full point more than the ones Grambling prefers. Montana State shot .367 from three-point range (32nd in the NCAA), meaning they've been pretty good at what they like to do, too.

To their credit, Grambling has looked like a brand new team after the new year. Despite starting the season off 2-10, they bounced back in January and have gone 17-4 in 2024. That's an impressive run, but it's worth pointing out that they rank as the nation's eighth-luckiest team, according to KenPom.com's Luck Rating. If Montana State's three-point attempts fall in at their usual rates, this one could slip away from the Tigers quickly.

It is also worth noting that of all of this year's tournament teams, Grambling faced the sixth-easiest strength of schedule and the third-worst slate of opposing offenses, per KenPom's metrics. They did not record a win against any team ranked better than 265th and lost by double digits each time they did face a team that ranked better than 265th.

Anything can happen in March, but these Tigers look like a team that could be overmatched in the tournament.

Grambling State vs. Montana State Prop Bet

Montana State Over 69.5 Points (-110)

The Bobcats' offense should have an edge over the Tigers' defense in this one and has averaged a solid 75.1 points per game this season -- quite a few more than this 69.5-point line.

In fact, since January Montana State has gone under 69.5 points in just 4 of 21 total games, so it's a little surprising to see their team total set where it is. Even against the Tigers' slow pace, the Bobcats' efficient shooting should help them get over that mark on Wednesday.

It helps to have Robert Ford shooting .426 from three-point range this season. The senior guard is having a strong season as the Bobcats' top scorer and top rebounder.


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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.