Elite Eight picks for UConn-Gonzaga and FAU-Kansas State: Best Bets for March 25

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Florida Atlantic guard Bryan Greenlee (4) and guard Brandon Weatherspoon (23) react after the team defeated Tennessee 62-55 in a Sweet 16 college basketball game in the East Regional of the NCAA tournament at Madison Square Garden, Thursday, March 23, 2023, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

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 Saturday, March 25:

TOP PLAY

The play: NCAA tournament, UConn-Gonzaga UNDER 153½

The odds: -115

The book: FanDuel Sportsbook

Time/TV: 8:49 p.m. (TBS)

Our take: This is an unbelievable matchup, and while I lean UConn to win, it’s ever so slight and I won’t recommend making that play. The winner here is probably the favorite at the Final Four next week (though Texas might actually get a small nod over Gonzaga if that’s the matchup), so it’s no stretch to say this game is national championship caliber.

The temptation is to say that a game like that will feature big runs, back-and-forth scoring and heroics from stars like Gonzaga’s Drew Timme and UConn’s Adama Sanogo. And it may have a few things like that. But this number is just too high.

The Bulldogs’ elite offense has scored in bunches this year, it’s true, but if you limit to just games against KenPom top 50 opponents, they’ve actually only gone over this 153½ number in six of 12 games (and that includes the Sweet 16 win over UCLA, which only went over because of a late flurry of shots). Meanwhile, in 16 games against top 50 competition, the Huskies have gone over this number just five times.

Gonzaga prefers to play fast, UConn much slower. But even the Zags will slow things down a bit to figure out a tough defense, and this has a cagy feel to it early that will keep the final point total under 150.

HOOT-HOOT-HOOT’S GOING TO HOUSTON?

The play: NCAA tournament: Florida Atlantic money line over Kansas State

The odds: +102

The book: FanDuel Sportsbook

Time/TV: 6:09 p.m. (TBS)

Our take: All of the shock over Purdue’s loss to Fairleigh Dickinson, all of the angst over the refereeing late in Memphis’ loss to Florida Atlantic and all of the hand-wringing over Rick Barnes in the NCAA tournament as FAU bounced Tennessee kind of glossed over this point:

The Owls are pretty darn good.

This team’s ball movement is downright spectacular at times, and they are also solid defensively. In fact, FAU is one of just four teams that has 30 wins (they actually lead the nation with 34) and ranks in the top 30 in both offensive and defensive efficiency. The other three you might have heard of (though you won’t hear from them again): Alabama, Houston and UCLA.

On the other side, we have Kansas State, which has made some highlight-reel plays behind breakout star Markquis Nowell, a New York product who led the Wildcats to victory at Madison Square Garden on Thursday against Michigan State. Of course, Nowell also took a few really ill-advised shots in that game and is nursing a sore ankle.

Let’s ride with the Owls to make their first Final Four.

HOW WE’VE FARED

Friday’s best bets

NCAA tournament: San Diego State +7½ over Alabama (WON)

NCAA tournament: Houston -7½ over Miami (LOST)

Friday’s record: 1-1

Total for the week: 6-4

Total for March: 26-23

Total for 2023: 58-63

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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