March Madness tipped off by definition as the play-in games have been decided (Arizona State hit another three as I print this), but the traditional start and most recognized holiday tips off on Thursday with 16 games of action in staggered chaos. Let’s take a look at some tiers to build your March Madness 2023 DFS!
March Madness 2023 DFS: Thursday, March 16
Jalen Pickett, G Penn State $10,100
There’s one thing that Jalen Pickett won’t do, and it is hit threes. The positive is that he brings the ball up for a team averaging 27 three-point attempts per game. The Nittany Lions lack size down low. Expect the college equivalent of a prime Russell Westbrook. As close to a triple-double threat as you can get in a college game.
He will post some steals and blocks to pad those points. Pickett has scored a high of 41 in a game, has a game with 17 rebounds, and multiple games with 11 assists. Fills. It. Up. This game might be the best matchup on paper on Thursday, and a blowout, either way, would be surprising.
Max Abmas, G Oral Roberts $9,900
The fourth-year guard has made noise in the tournament before with the Sweet 16 run that Oral Roberts made in 2021. Now with a more veteran team and more experience than he had his sophomore year, Abmas will match up with Duke in a game in that Duke is favored by 6.5 points, depending on where you look.
MAX ABMAS WINS IT AT THE BUZZER FOR @ORUMBB FROM HALF COURT 🔥
— NCAA March Madness (@MarchMadnessMBB) January 8, 2023
Duke is just 6-12 when favored by 6.5 or more, proving that Duke isn’t the blue blood we are used to despite their monster recruiting class. We’ve seen Miami blitz this Duke team with quick guards. Abmas can score from inside or out and be the primary facilitator on an offense that ranked 22nd nationally and seventh ineffective FG%.
Jamal Shead, G Houston $8,400
The absence of Marcus Sasser is what we are expecting, at least in the matchup vs. a 16 seed to start, as Houston should win regardless. Stepping into that primary distributor role and getting to Northern Kentucky early will be on the shoulders of Jamal Shead. He took 10 shots when Sasser when out vs. ECU in the conference tournament and followed with 11 and 14 shots in the two full games following them. Even shooting poorly percentage-wise vs. Memphis, he was still able to put 16 points up on the back of 8/10 from the line. Be wary of the blowout potential here, although this should be a reasonable bet for 25 FPPG.
Drew Pember, F UNC-Asheville $8,00
Not your high-profile name on a 15 seed vs. UCLA. However, the price tells you what he’s valued at. Drew Pember played his first two years at Tennessee before transferring to UNC-Asheville. Now in his second year with the team, he’s established himself as a veteran go-to big man. Jaylen Clark of UCLA will miss the rest of the season with an injury after winning PAC 12 Defensive Player of the Year. Not only are we looking at the double-double bonus here with rebounds, but UNC-Asheville has also been leaning on the big man through their clinching tournament win. He has scored 29 points, 31, and 29 in his last three games. He shoots double-digit free throws and will toss in a couple of blocks as the primary rim protector.
Steven Ashworth, G Utah State $7,500
Maybe the most disrespectful price on the board due to the lack of a household name and the team he plays for. Utah State made a run in the MWC tournament, falling short of San Diego State. In that run, Ashworth put up two games with 40 or more FPPG. Missouri plays fast and doesn’t rebound well. Combined, these two teams average over 158 ppg. Expect a run-and-gun game featuring quick buckets and cheap rebounds. He is capable of scoring FPPG like Jalen Pickett without the hefty price tag. Double Digit shot attempts mostly from three-point land. Quick hands defensively and is the primary passer.
Nick Smith Jr., G Arkansas $7,300
Nick Smith Jr. seems to like the rims here at Wells Fargo Arena pic.twitter.com/BBtnd355XM
— Curtis Wilkerson (@CurtWilkerson_) March 15, 2023
This is strictly a scorer which is why he’s down here. Shoot or bust. Smith has missed all but 12 games for an Arkansas team looking to repeat their success in March. Now healthy at the right time, Smith has scored 24 or more in three of his last six games. Looking at a spread that indicates this game will be close. If you’re taking a mid-level guy, then look for a guy capable of 25+ points.
Dan Akin, F Utah State $6,000
We’re down the list here looking for guys who can fill up the bucket but give you a little bit more. A guy that has a couple of double-doubles this season to his name in a fast-paced game, as the matchup calls for vs. Missouri. We’ve hit on how bad Missouri is at rebounding. The outside double-double chance can catapult a pedestrian performance into a 35 FPPG.
Filip Rebreca, F Iowa $7,300
Amari Bailey, G UCLA $6,800
Dereck Lively, F Duke $6,300
Tyson Degenhart, F Boise State