A March Madness under play and backing the Baylor Bears: Best Bets for March 19

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Kennesaw State's Brandon Stroud (5) battles Xavier's Jerome Hunter (2) and Souley Boum (0) for a loose ball during the first half of a first-round college basketball game in the NCAA Tournament on Friday, March 17, 2023, in Greensboro, N.C. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Each day, one of our experts will offer up a best bet (or two or three) that mobile sportsbooks are offering. It might be a traditional spread bet, a player prop or one of the various odds boosts that books offer.

Here are our best bets for Sunday, March 19:

TOP PLAY

The play: NCAA Tournament, Xavier vs. Pitt UNDER 151.5 total points

The odds: -110

The book: FanDuel Sportsbook

Time/TV: 12:10 p.m. (CBS)

Our take: This line is going to drive statisticians nuts. Neither Xavier nor Pittsburgh ranks among the top on the NCAA’s total scoring defense charts. However, both are capable of playing sensational defense when put under pressure. There are few situations more stressful than the NCAA Tournament.

The Musketeers rendered Kennesaw State useless on offense down the stretch as they overturned a 13-point deficit to advance. Meanwhile, the Panthers held Iowa State to just 41 points on 14/60 (23.3%) from the field and 2/21 (9.5%) from deep. Why, taking all of those facts into account, is the over/under total set at a whopping 151.5? It seems too good to be true.

The under had a record of 27-9 through the first round (and the first four). I’m going to ride the wave and err on the side of caution with this game. No winner picks, no spread plays, just rooting against the points.

BAYLOR BEARS ADVANCE IN BIG DANCE

The play: NCAA Men’s Tournament, Baylor -1.5 vs. Creighton

The odds: +100

The book: FanDuel Sportsbook

Time/TV: 7:10 p.m. (TBS)

Our take: When spreads are this slim, you’re essentially just picking a winner, especially with the lack of buzzer-beaters thus far in the tournament. There are many reasons to like the Baylor Bears in this Sunday night showdown.

Baylor is more battle-tested in basketball’s toughest conference this season, the Big 12. The Bears have also been a lot more consistent than Creighton over the course of the season. Lastly, Baylor looked a lot more impressive in its win than the Bluejays did in theirs. Creighton left it late against NC State whereas the Bears held a steady lead over UC Santa Barbara for the entire second half.

Many sharps and March Madness lovers are all over the Bluejays in this spot — not me. I’m fading the public and siding with the more experienced squad.

HOW WE’VE FARED

Saturday’s best bets

NCAA Tournament: Duke -3 over Tennessee (LOST)

NCAA Tournament: Auburn money line over Houston (LOST)

Saturday’s record: 0-2

Total for the week: 5-6, 1 pending

Total for March: 19-17, 1 pending

Total for 2023: 51-57, 1 pending

NOTE: If a line or odds are minus, it considers the juice one must lay to place the bet. Ex: Team A is -160 on the money line, one would have to bet $160 to win $100 (or $16 to win $10). OR Team B is a 5-point favorite at -110, one would have to bet $110 to win $100 (or $11 to win $10.)

Conversely, on positive lines, if Team C is +140 on the money line, $100 would bring in $140 (or $10 to win $14).

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