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March Madness CBB DFS Advice: Round 1 of the NCAA Tournament (March 16)

Matt Gajewski



In our March Madness DFS value column, the NCAA Tournament Round 1 DFS scene is littered with picks players must...

With March Madness fully underway, the tournament begins with a full 16 game slate on Thursday, March 16. This column will dive into each game and highlight the top CBB DFS value plays to target with the help of Stokastic’s CBB DFS projections.

March Madness CBB DFS Value & Advice | March 16

Illinois vs. Arkansas

Arkansas is a 2.5-point favorite in a game with a 144 total. Illinois ranks 101st on offense and 33rd of defense, which looks quite similar to Arkansas on the other side. The Illini rely on Terrence Shannon ($8,100) as their usage leader and primary ball handler. Recently injured, he comes in a bit underpriced, which is the exact opposite of Matthew Mayer ($7,700). The beneficiary of Shannon’s prior absence, Mayer is a bit more expensive than normal in the opening round of the tournament. Ultimately, both have similar usage rates and can be used for tournaments. The ultimate tournament play in the Illini offense has been Coleman Hawkins ($7,200). Hawkins doesn’t dominate any particular usage category, but he has a 15% shot rate, 15.7% rebound rate and 32.4% assist rate in the last three games. Involved everywhere, he offers leverage in this game environment. The return of Jayden Epps ($4,300) clouds the potential viability of the cheaper options like R.J. Melendez ($4,300) and Ty Rodgers ($4,800).

Arkansas returned Nick Smith ($7,300) towards the end of the year clouding their guard rotation. The top scorer on the team, Smith has a 31.6% shot rate and 30% assist rate in the last three games. Davonte Davis ($5,600) is also too cheap after playing 37, 40 and 20 minutes in the last three games. That 20 minute game is a concern, but that is a common theme of Arkansas and the whimsical decision making of their head coach. In their second most recent game, Smith played just 27 minutes. In their most recent game, Ricky Council ($6,000) played 19 after hitting 33 and 34 in the two prior games. Even Anthony Black ($7,400) could become a victim. Ultimately, one of these guards probably gets hit with a minute reduction, but your guess is as good as mine. The least likely to hit the bench are Black and Smith. As for the frontcourt, the minute merry-go-round is even worse. Makhi Mitchell ($5,700) and Makhel Mitchell ($4,000) will rotate and minutes will depend on which one of them keeps their hands to themselves.

Auburn vs. Iowa

Auburn is a 1-point favorite over Iowa in a game with a 152 total. An intriguing clash of styles, the horrific 133rd-ranked Auburn offense will take on the 252nd-ranked Iowa defense. Auburn does play a somewhat tight rotation, but Johni Broome ($8,600) seldom eclipses 30 minutes. He still has an 18.5% shot rate and 22.4% rebound rate, but a few extra minutes wouldn’t hurt. Dwarf Wendell Green ($7,500) will run point and play 30 to 34 minutes. He has a solid 18.4% shot rate and a 29.3% assist rate, which should pay off in this matchup. Jaylin Williams ($6,400) and Allen Flanigan ($5,700) are better left for GPPs with their lack of usage. Williams is consistent across the board, but he does not stand out in any particular statistical category. Flanigan has a 19.3% shot rate in the last three games, but a long career of mediocrity points to negative regression. K.D. Johnson ($5,000) is interesting as a value, but he has played 29, 16 and 36 minutes in the last three games. That volatility is enough to give anyone a heart attack.

The Iowa side is far more straight forward with three players in consideration. Kris Murray ($9,400) stands out as one of the top studs on the entire board. Not only does he play every minute and dominate usage, but this is one of the more competitive games for the studs on this slate. Murray has a 30% shot rate, 19.6% rebound rate and 25% assist rate in the last three games. For those unable to grab Murray, Filip Rebraca ($7,300) and Tony Perkins ($7,400) offer solid consolidation prizes. Both play in the mid-30’s in terms of minutes. Rebraca has double-double ability behind an 18.5% shot rate and 21.6% rebound rate in the last three games. Perkins has a 16.3% shot rate, 19.6% rebound rate and 27.1% assist rate in the last three games, giving him a little more consistency.

Oral Roberts vs. Duke

This game is sneaky for CBB DFS. Oral Roberts sits as a 6.5-point underdog in a game with a 146 total. The Golden Eagles are led by veteran shooter Max Abmas ($9,900) Abmas plays every single minute and leads the team with a 23.9% shot rate, 11.6% rebound rate and 26.2% assist rate. While expensive Abmas has a clear ceiling that can be exploited in tournaments. Behind him, Arkansas transfer Connor Vanover ($8,200) occupies the paint. While he has the most double-double ability, he must contend with the elite Duke frontcourt. Kareem Thompson ($5,800), Isaac McBride ($6,300) and Carlos Jurgens ($5,300) play plenty of minutes. However, so much of the usage flows through Abmas and Vanover that none of the three project particularly well. Thompson looks like the most involved of this trio.

On the Duke side, Kyle Filipowski ($9,000) looks like one of the top price-adjusted options on the board. Filipowski has played 35 and 31 minutes in the last two games. He also has a 23% shot and rebound rate, giving him elite double-double equity. Jeremy Roach ($6,500) and Tyrese Proctor ($5,400) man the guard spots and play maximum minutes as well. Proctor relies on his peripherals, while Roach is a little more balanced in terms of his CBB DFS scoring. Both are going to need to run hot in terms of shot making to reach a ceiling with their styles of play. Aside from these three, Mark Mitchell ($5,600) and Dereck Lively ($6,300) are sneaky GPP plays. Both have been playing more minutes in competitive games for Duke. Lively offers elite block upside, standing seven feet tall. Mitchell has also seen increases in his shot rate and rebound rate. In such an elite game environment, both deserve consideration here.

Colgate vs. Texas

Texas is a 13.5-point favorite over Colgate in a game with a 147 total. Colgate ranks sixth in offensive efficiency this year and first in 3-point percentage. Their alpha is Tucker Richardson ($8,200). Playing every minute, Richardson accounts for a 19.8% shot rate, 27.4% rebound rate and 46.6% assist rate in the last three games. Texas does rank 23rd in defensive efficiency, making this a difficult matchup for Richardson. Overall, he looks like more of a GPP play. Behind him, Keegan Records ($6,900), Braeden Smith ($7,100), Ryan Moffatt ($6,200) and Oliver Lynch-Daniels ($4,900) all play 30+ minutes. Lynch-Daniels may seem like a value, but he is a pure wind sprinter. Smith is the second-most involved, with a 14.5% shot rate, 16.8% rebound rate and 19.2% assist rate in the last three. Records and Moffatt are also involved enough to take shots on in tournaments. Ultimately, the tight rotation makes this a decent spot to take a shot on for GPPs.

Texas played the entire Big12 Tournament without Timmy Allen ($6,500). Allen will play here and previously played around 30 minutes per game before injury. Unfortunately, Allen’s injury drove up the prices on Sir’Jabari Rice ($6,900) and Dylan Disu ($6,800), making them significantly overpriced here. The only player unaffected was Marcus Carr ($7,600). Carr plays every single minute and accounts for a 21.2% shot rate and 25.2% assist rate this season. Overall, Carr easily comes in as the top price-duadjusted value on the team. Allen isn’t’ far behind him, assuming he jumps back into full minutes. Lastly, Tyrese Hunter ($4,700) is still viable as a punt option. Hovering around 30 minutes, the average usage creates a decent floor/ceiling combination in this game environment.

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Boise State vs. Northwestern

The worst game on the opening slate, Boise state is a 2-point underdog to Northwestern in a game with a 128 total. The only redeeming quality to this game is the tight rotation that both teams play with. With that said, this is probably a maximum one player from each side, if not the entire game. Marcus Shaver ($7,300) leads Boise State with a 20.1% shot rate, 25.8% rebound rate and 36.1% assist rate in the last three games while playing maximum minutes. From there, Chibuzo Agbo ($4,800) is the next most interesting player, based on a cheap price tag. He still has a 19% shot rate in the last three, which could pay off this price tag even in an awful game. Tyson Degenhart ($6,100) 0ffers contrarian double-double ability, while Max Rice ($6,200) and Naje Smith ($6,100) could both pop for a ceiling if they hit their shots. Be careful here, but Shaver, Agbo and Degenhart look like the top plays in that order.

Northwestern also plays a tight rotation, led by Boo Buie ($8,000) and Chase Audige ($7,000). Both play every single minute, with Buie holding a slight 22.4% usage edge over Audige at 18.5%. This is reflected in an efficient pricing gap. Brooks Barnhizer ($6,100) and Ty Berry ($4,800) have both routinely eclipsed 30 minutes of late behind Buie and Audige. Both have solid rates, but Barnhizer’s 19.9% shot rate and 25.7% rebound rate look particularly intriguing. Like Boise State above, be careful here. This game environment is truly putrid.

Northern Kentucky vs. Houston

If there is a game to cross out on the slate, this is the one. Northern Kentucky is a 19.5-point underdog to Houston in a game with a 123 total. Northern Kentucky has a 51.75 implied team total and will face the top defense in the country. Cross out this team so they do not accidentally end up in the player pool.

This is also a spot where full Houston minutes are unlikely . Marcus Sasser ($8,900) is questionable and Houston may even opt to hold him out. In that case, a value Terrance Arceneaux ($3,400) could potentially be in play. Otherwise, this game is a complete disaster.

Louisiana vs. Tennessee

Louisiana enters this game as a 10.5-point underdog in a game with a 136 total. The Ragin Cajuns will battle the elite Tennessee defense behind their alpha Jordan Brown ($8,400). In max minutes, his 21.9% shot rate and 22.8% rebound rate look intriguing, but the second-ranked Tennessee defense is enough to put him in the GPP only category. Themus Fulks ($5,700) is the second most interesting behind a monster assist rate. However, the Tennessee defense severely caps the upside of all Louisiana players

Tennessee will play without Zakai Zeigler. This will put more weight on the shoulders of Santiago Vescovi ($7,800), who comes in with a decent projection. Playing every minute, Vescovi should lead the team in usage from here on out. Tennessee also projects to rely increasingly on Josiah-Jordan James ($6,100), who has struggled to stay healthy this year. Even recently, he has minute counts of 22, 31 and 26, making him a risk. Tennessee runs an extended rotation, but Jahmai Mashack ($4,100) and Tyreke Key ($4,100) stand out as potential values. The pair played 31 and 27 minutes over Tennessee’s last two games. With Zeigler out and Louisiana ranked 169th in defensive efficiency, either could pop as a value play. Julian Phillips ($5,300) should also be mentioned but Mashack and Key are better price-adjusted plays.

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Penn State vs. Texas A&M

Penn State is a 3-point underdog to Texas A&M in a game with a 134.5 total. The entire Penn State team starts with Jalen Pickett ($10,200), who plays every minute and accounts for 23.1% of the usage. He will always make sense as a contrarian spend with slate breaking ability. Seth Lundy ($7,300), Andrew Funk ($4,900) and Camren Wynter ($4,600) have all worked in 30 minutes or more per game. Lundy looks live for a double-double, but Funk and Wynter offer superior price-adjusted projections as potential values. This is not a great game environment, so it makes sense to be careful here.

Following the same mentality, Texas A&M is probably a team to limit exposure to. The team plays through three strong guards in Wade Taylor ($8,700), Tyrece Radford ($7,600) and Dexter Dennis ($6,000). All three are appropriately priced, with Taylor bringing the highest ceiling of the bunch. In the frontcourt, Henry Coleman ($5,700) is a major rush due to volatile minutes.

North Carolina Asheville vs. UCLA

North Carolina Asheville is a 17.5-point underdog to UCLA in a game with a 134.5 total. While the total is brutally low, North Carolina Asheville plays a tight rotation, led by Tennessee transfer Drew Pember ($8,000). Pember has an elite 23.6% shot rate, 26.6% rebound and 18.1% assist rate in Asheville’s last three games. Taijon Jones ($7,200) is also somewhat interesting behind a 19.1% shot rate and 14.7% rebound rate. Perhaps Fletcher Abee ($3,600) is a potential value, but there are no points for cardio.

UCLA lost Jaylen Clark for the year and Adem Bona ($5,600) is questionable for this game. It probably does not even matter if Bona plays, and he is not targetable on a potential minute restriction. With that said, all of the UCLA starters will likely play limited minutes if this play to the spread. Jaime Jaquez ($9,500), Tyger Campbell ($7,900), Amari Bailey ($6,800) and David Singleton ($4,800) are the most involved in that order, but all of them present plenty of risk.

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Matt Gajewski graduated from the University of Wisconsin with a degree in Economics. Matt has worked in the fantasy industry for the past four years, focusing on DFS and Sports Betting. Matt specializes in NFL, College Football, College Basketball, XFL, and MMA. With GPP victories across the major sports, Matt also qualified for the DraftKings 2020 Sports Betting Championship and won a seat to the College Basketball Tourney Mania final.