Rutgers (-134) vs. Clemson (+114)
This is one of the few 2021 NCAA tournament match-ups where the lower seed is actually the betting favorite, so calling this an “underdog” pick is a stretch for betting. With that said, there is solid betting value on the Scarlet Knights here.
Rutgers comes in as a 10 seed after a 15-11 overall record in a stacked Big Ten conference. Their strength of schedule has been nearly unanimously ranked within the top 10 in the nation.
As for Clemson, it’s a similar story with a slightly better record. This is a solid program in what is more often than not the best conference in the nation, finishing middle of the pack in the ACC.
This is a very fun match-up and one I’m looking forward to. Stats wise, Rutgers struggles with free-throws, which is never good. But if we’re talking intangibles, this is a Rutgers team making their first NCAA tournament appearance in 30 years. I’m not laying a ton on this match-up, but ultimately I like a presumably fired up Rutgers squad to squeak out a victory.
Syracuse (+136) vs. San Diego State
This is one of my favorite underdog plays of the entire tournament. With plus odds, it’s really tough not to play Syracuse here.
This match-up is one where I’m not even looking at the seeding. San Diego State always has a solid basketball program, but their strength of schedule doesn’t stack up to that of Syracuse.
Plus, Syracuse is rolling in with solid form. They took a narrow loss in the ACC tournament, smoked the teams a good team should smoke and have Buddy Boheim in excellent form. Ultimately, I think Syracuse edges this one out based on pure pedigree and coaching acumen.
Prediction and play: Syracuse moneyline (+136)
Oregon State (+350) vs. Tennessee (-450)
My longshot underdog play for the day is Oregon State. Fresh off an improbable PAC-12 tournament victory in which they edged out Colorado in the final, this team is hit at the right time.
Oregon State is in a great scoring rhythm that they lacked earlier in the season. If they can keep pace, they definitely have a chance against a Tennessee squad that has been inconsistent at times. With that said, if Tennessee shows up, they should be able to squeak out a win. They played a tougher schedule with better results, but if they start slow, they could get outpaced by a hot team.
I’m not making a large bet on this, but at (+350), it’s tough not to take a small shot on the Beavers.
Prediction and play: Oregon State moneyline (+350)