NCAAB

NCAA Tournament Betting: Western Kentucky vs. Marquette Picks, Prop Bets and Odds

Skyler Carlin
Skyler Carlin@skyler_carlin

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.

In the Round of 64, one of the first games scheduled for Friday pits the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers and the Marquette Golden Eagles against each other. Which bets are enticing in the First-Round matchup between Western Kentucky and Marquette?

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

NCAA Tournament Betting Picks

Western Kentucky vs. Marquette Betting Odds

Date and Time: Friday, March 22nd at 2 p.m. ET

Spread: Marquette -14.5 (-106)

Total: 157.5

Moneyline:

  • Western Kentucky: +800
  • Marquette: -1400

Western Kentucky vs. Marquette Statistical Breakdown

Advanced stats from KenPom, Bart Torvik and numberFire.

Western Kentucky Hilltoppers

  • numberFire Ranking: 132nd
  • Bart Torvik Ranking: 132nd
  • KenPom Ranking: 132nd
    • Adjusted Defensive Efficiency Ranking: 103rd
    • Adjusted Offensive Efficiency Ranking: 191st
    • Adjusted Tempo Ranking: 1st

Marquette Golden Eagles

  • numberFire Ranking: 13th
  • Bart Torvik Ranking: 8th
  • KenPom Ranking: 12th
    • Adjusted Defensive Efficiency Ranking: 19th
    • Adjusted Offensive Efficiency Ranking: 21st
    • Adjusted Tempo Ranking: 91st

Western Kentucky vs. Marquette Best Bet

Marquette -14.5 (-106)

The Hilltoppers secured an automatic spot in the NCAA Tournament by winning the CUSA Tournament. Despite Western Kentucky winning three straight games en route to a conference tourney victory, they are a team that hasn't been very battle-tested ahead of the big dance.

During the regular season and postseason play, the Hilltoppers never faced a top-25 team. Outside of playing at the fastest adjusted tempo, Western Kentucky is a so-so squad that was on a four-game losing streak before winning the CUSA Tournament.

On the other side of the court, Marquette is expected to have standout guard Tyler Kolek (15.0 PPG, 7.6 APG) and forward Oso Ighodaro (14.0 PPG, 6.9 RPG) available when Friday's matchup tips off. The Golden Eagles don't turn the ball over much with the 27th-best offensive turnover rate (14.3%) while forcing teams to make mistakes with the 20th-best defensive turnover rate (21.1%).

The fact that Marquette excels at forcing turnovers isn't ideal for a Western Kentucky team that is 269th in offensive turnover rate (18.3%).

Head coach Shaka Smart is always going to have his team play aggressively on the defensive end of the floor, which leads to easy points on offense for his squad. Marquette averages the 39th-most fastbreak points per game (13.06), due in large part to the Golden Eagles forcing their opponents to make errors.

Unless the Hilltoppers can use their fast pace to break through the pressure defense of the Golden Eagles, this game between a 2 seed and 15 seed could get out of hand early.

Entering the NCAA Tournament, Marquette is 8-5 against the spread (ATS) when favored by 10-plus points this season. I like them to win by at least 15 points in this one.

Western Kentucky vs. Marquette Prop Bet

Tyler Kolek Under 14.5 Points (-128)

While Kolek is expected to suit up for the Golden Eagles on Friday, the productive guard hasn't played since February 28. With Kolek seeing his first action in March, I expect him to be more of a facilitator than scorer for Marquette.

Despite averaging 15 points per game entering the NCAA Tournament, Kolek has failed to record 15-plus points in each of his last four games. Kolek logged 27-plus minutes in three of those four contests, including in the February 21 win over the DePaul Blue Demons where he scored only three points and dished out 18 assists.

This seems like more of a game where Kameron Jones (16.8 PPG), David Joplin (10.9 PPG), and Ighodaro carry the scoring load for the Golden Eagles. Besides the injury factor for Kolek, Marquette could win this game handily, which could result in fewer minutes for the Golden Eagles' star player.


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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.