NCAA Tournament Betting Specials: What Will Be Thursday's Highest-Scoring Game?

Austan Kas
Austan Kas@AustanKas

Thursday -- the first day of the NCAA Tournament -- is one of the best days on the sports calendar, and there are a slew of ways to get in on the betting action via FanDuel Sportsbook's college basketball odds.

One of the NCAA Tournament daily specials markets offered by FanDuel is a market for which Thursday clash will be the highest-scoring game.

Let's dive into the market and see which bets make sense.

NCAA Tournament Betting

Thursday's Highest-Scoring Game

FanDuel Sportsbook Odds
Long Beach State vs Arizona+220
Oakland vs Kentucky+240
Samford vs Kansas+700
McNeese vs Gonzaga+1100
Morehead State vs Illinois+1200
NC State vs Texas Tech+1700
Colorado State vs Texas+1800
View Full Table

Oakland-Kentucky (+240)

There are two clear favorites in this market -- Oakland-Kentucky and Arizona-Long Beach State.

Between the two, there are a few reasons to opt for UK-Oakland.

For one, the total for Zona-LBSU (163.5) is just a point higher than the total for UK-Oakland (162.5), and there's -115 on the odds for the over for the UK-Grizzlies matchup. These games are about equal in terms of expected scoring, so why not take the +240 number instead of the +220?

Secondly, Kentucky's style is tailor-made for offensive fireworks. UK is fifth in adjusted offense, per KenPom, and ninth in adjusted tempo. They combine that with a meh defense, one that is ranked just 110th by KenPom. When you add all that together, it's the perfect mix for a high-scoring track meet.

Lastly, the spread for Kentucky-Oakland is 13.5 points -- a lot closer than the Arizona-Long Beach State spread, which is 19.5. If the Grizzlies can keep things competitive and force UK to play their stars the whole game, that only enhances the scoring upside.

No other game has a total above 152.5 points (as of Wednesday afternoon), so it's easy to see why UK-Oakland and Zona-LBSU are the frontrunners in this market. If you're choosing between the two favorites, I think the Oakland-Kentucky game is the one to side with.

Kansas-Samford (+700)

The Kansas-Samford (152.5-point total) matchup is in its own tier behind the two favorites, with the next shortest odds outside of this game checking in at +1100.

Both of these squads play at fast-enough tempos, with Samford ranking 14th and KU slotting in 93rd.

Kansas' scoring potential gets a shot in the arm due to the expected return of star big man Hunter Dickinson, but Kevin McCullar Jr. has been ruled out, which is a blow.

Samford has netted at least 70 points in every game this season except for its first two contests. While Kansas has a sturdy defense, one ranked 10th by KenPom, the Bulldogs should be able to hold up their end of things in terms of offense.

This game has 7.5-point spread, as well, so Kansas should have to keep its foot on the gas for 40 minutes. The 152.5-point over/under may be selling this game a bit short as Bart Torvik projects there to be 155 total points.

There are a few boxes checked here, and if you think Samford runs a short-handed Kansas team close on Thursday, betting on this game in this market makes sense as we just saw the Jayhawks give up 72 points to a Cincinnati team that ranks a mere 77th in adjusted offense.

Drake-Washington State (+3100)

Let's get weird.

To be clear -- this game is +3100 for a reason as it's unlikely to be Thursday's highest-scoring game (over/under is 138.5). But I think the number here should be a little shorter than +3100.

Drake is 41st in adjusted offense while Washington State is 65th, so while these two sides aren't elite on offense, they're pretty good.

Drake just played an 84-80 shootout versus Indiana State in the Missouri Valley title game, and the Bulldogs have averaged 84.7 points per game over their last eight outings, although that's skewed a bit by a 107-point effort in a triple-overtime game. Drake has scored at least 70 points in 22 straight games, so they can fill it up.

A big plus for this game's scoring upside is that the spread is only 1.5 points, and Drake -- the slight favorite -- is just -118 on the moneyline. It's nearly a pick'em. This game boasts +750 odds to have the smallest margin of victory among Thursday's games -- tied for the second-shortest odds in that market.

This should be a very tight contest, and if there were to be overtime -- it is listed at +1300 odds to go to overtime (7.1% implied odds) -- that would be an obvious game-changer in this market. But I'm not solely banking on OT. A close, back-and-forth affair should make for a good scoring environment where both teams stay in attack mode all game (as opposed to one team getting out front and becoming more conservative).

All in all, Drake-Wazzu is a longshot for a reason, but if you're looking for a viable dart throw in this market, this is the longshot I like.

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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.