This article is part of our DFS College Basketball series.
DraftKings is giving us three slates filled with 31 different matchups Saturday. And don't look now, but FanDuel has decided to join the party with a nine-game slate that spans the entire day. After a reasonably successful column last Saturday, I stayed pretty hot during the week. So, I don't see this column being mediocre. We're either going to the moon, or crashing and burning. Let's hope for the former!
12-games are included here, tipping between noon at 2:30 p.m. EST. There are huge disparities across point totals within these matchups, so strategy is going to be interesting. There are three clear games in Connecticut-Georgetown, Notre Dame-Wake Forest and Illinois-Iowa we want shares of. Stack them, take the stars there and build out elsewhere, or perhaps look at secondary options in these games while taking surer things in the less obvious matchups?
Kris Murray, F, Iowa ($9,200 DK, $8,700 FD)
I always prefer building around a solid frontcourt, and with the slate's top-three priced options all being forwards, I can take my pick. Murray lands here simply because of the game's massive 155-point total and narrow 2.5-point spread. We just know there's going to be ample scoring potential from Murray. I also find it difficult to target secondary options within the Hawkeye's lineup. The downside here is it's a very obvious pick, whereas Jalen Wilson ($9,700 DK, $8,300 FD) and Johni Broome ($8,800 DK, $8,200 FD) are going to be ignored in their lower-scoring matchups. I also probably prefer Adama Sanogo ($8,500 DK), but will target Connecticut from a different angle. Not a ringing endorsement on Murray, but he's still a very fine play with massive upside.
Tyler Kolek, G, Marquette ($8,200 DK)
What's gotten into Kolek lately? An 11.2 ppg guy on the year, he's suddenly scored 20+ in two straight and three of five, averaging 19.0 points, 7.0 assists, 5.4 rebounds and 1.8 steals in that stretch. He's always been an appealing option in the right spots thanks to his triple-double potential, but this is certainly playing the hot hand rather than fully believing his new shooting volume is here to stay. Marquette is so effecient offensively, continuing to rank first per KenPom and the floor for Kolek remains elevated as well thanks to consistent peripherals. He'll get no pace boost against Butler, but the Bulldogs are struggling, so Marquette should flirt with 80 points.
Tristen Newton, G, Connecticut ($6,600 DK)
Newton comes in in nice form, having scored 21 and 23 points in his last two games, leading to a 33.25 DKP average. It could be fool's gold banking on that scoring to carry him, but the matchup, as noted above, is very favorable. Georgetown is just woeful defensively, ranking 249th in effeciency. They're allowing 50.6 percent of the 2-point shots taken against them to fall, helping boost Newton, who isn't the best 3-point shooter out there. He went for a solid 32 DKP in an earlier meeting, and I look for Newton to get into the lane here, score and get some dimes to boost his potential.
Shahada Wells, G, TCU ($6,300 DK)
Wells landed in this column during the week thanks to his bottom-tier price and opportunity to replace Mike Miles ($7,800 DK), who remains out indefinitely. He's now seen a surge in cost, up $2,200 from his last outing, and with just rationale. He's proving to be a very good scorer for the Horned Frogs, which has resulted in a 4x return in three of his last four outings, one of which came with Miles healthy. Perhaps the surge in price will yield low roster percentages, and the matchup isn't favorable, at all. Oklahoma State checks in seventh in defensive efficiency and 162nd in tempo. And it's also possible he's playing above his ability, or maybe he's coming into his own with an elevated role. I struggle to find much greater potential in this pricing tier.
JJ Starling, G, Notre Dame ($5,600 DK)
Truthfully, I wanted to target column mainstay Cormac Ryan ($6,400 DK) here, but it's time to differentiate. I do still like Ryan, but Starling is another surging guard on this slate, but this one comes at a discount. He's put up 40 points across the Irish's last two games, amounting to a 30.88 DKP average. He's pulled down 13 rebounds in that stretch, more than his previous seven games combined, so there's clearly some volatility, but that's priced in. He should continue to score at a high level with this 155-point total and even point spread, and just a few peripheral numbers gets us to 3x. And if form holds, we know there's room for more.
Mawot Mag, F, Rutgers ($5,600 DK)
Mag lands here as a further reminder of how quickly things fall off in our forward choices. He's averaging a rather undesireable 7.9 points, 5.4 rebounds and just over an assist nightly. But he's scored in double-digits in two straight and three of five, and perhaps more importantly has played 28+ minutes in four of five, the lone outlier being a 35-point win where the starters weren't needed. He's failed to return 3x just once in his last seven, hitting that number on the dot aginst Michigan State on January 19. It's not pretty, but it's the kind of stability needed at the back end of builds.
We're cooking on this afternoon contest, as scoring is going to be much more plentiful. Led by Xavier-St. John's massive 161 point total, 10 of the 11 games have totals of 137.5 or greater, with Washington State-UCLA being the outlier. It's another shockingly forward-heavy slate, with the five-highest priced options all playing in the frontcourt. That plays perfectly into my strategy. Get your sure things there, and balance it out with some value backcourt options.
We've also got a few marquee matchups, led by North Carolina at Duke, and a battle of elite bigs in Zach Edey ($10,900 DK, 9,000 FD) and Trayce Jackson-Davis ($11,200 DK, 9,200 FD), making for fantastic watching.
The afternoon slate tips between 3:00 p.m. and 7:30 EST.
Brandon Miller, F, Alabama ($9,400 DK)
LSU checks in at a middling 116th defensively, and with Alabama playing at the nation's fastest tempo, that should offset the Tigers slow 270th ranking. Miller is coming off a dominant showing against Vanderbilt, posting his third 40+ DKP outing in six games. The Tide are expected to score 80 points and Miller was good for 46.75 DKP against LSU previously, so the appeal should be obvious. The question we have to ask is if the potential is high enough at a $1,800 or less discount from the slate's four higher-priced forwards. Its a difficult question to answer. The upside answer is yes, the floor is likely a no. Can we turn that savings into greater returns throughout the rest of our builds?
Hunter Tyson, F, Clemson ($8,500 DK, $8,100 FD)
Tyson seems likely to be overlooked amongst much bigger names on this slate. He's gone for 39 DKP or more in three of the Tigers last five, and looks to be a matchup problem for Miami. I'm assuming Norchad Omier ($8,800 DK, $8,000 FD) draws PJ Hall ($8,100 DK, $6,200 FD) exclusively, which leaves the Hurricanes' guard-heavy lineup to contend with Tyson. He'll likely have 20+ pounds on Jordan Miller ($7,300 DK, $7,000 FD), which should allow him to bully his way to easier baskets while also grabbing a stable count of boards. Stars will shine here with a nearly pick 'em spread, putting a double-double well within Tyson's sights.
Makai Ashton-Langford, G, Boston College ($6,500 DK)
I think BC's Quinten Post ($8,000 DK) is a terrific play as well as a high-post, 3-point shooting big against the 'Cuse's 2-3 zone, but Ashton-Langford looks to be in a nice spot as well. He's not a terrific long range shooter, something we don't normally highlight against the Orange. But he's a volume shooter that should find space to knock down shots. He's also capable of splitting the zone and setting up teammates. He had a solid 30.5 DKP against Syracuse previously, and while I wouldn't bank on four steals again, he's a multi-category contributor who can find ways to produce against a 130th ranked defense. He's in fine form to boot, averaging 31.7 DKP across the Eagles' last four.
Makhel Mitchell, F, Arkansas ($6,300)
The price here has soared to levels where Mitchell likely won't be considered by most. He earned a start in Arkansas' last game and responded with a massive 41.25 DKP outing, forcing his cost up by a whopping $2,300. I have no idea how these two teams are going to match up defensively; the Razorbacks have the length to neutralize GG Jackson without Mitchell or his brother, while the Gamecocks only other big outside of Jackson rarely plays 15+ minutes. Both Mitchell brothers should feast on the glass, and swat a handful of shots. South Carolina also ranks 298th in offensive rebound percentage allowed, putting Mitchell in line for some easy stick backs. The Gamecocks' 308th ranked defense doesn't hurt either. It's an upside play for sure that could bottom out, but there's immense potential.
Tyrese Proctor, G, Duke ($5,600 DK, $4,400 FD)
Pick your poison on Duke's secondary options, as they're all priced at $6,000 or less and in a favorable spot where we expect both sides to get up and down. Proctor seems like he'll be less popular for casual players over Jeremy Roach ($6,000 DK, $5,100 FD), with both being in fine form. Proctor has started seven straight, seeing no fewer than 27 minutes, while scoring in double-digits in five of his last six. UNC has had issues keeping guards out of the lane, which should aid both Proctor and Roach alike in their ability to get close range shots, potentially get to the foul line and/or drop off passes to Blue Devil bigs for easy assist opportunities.
Jerome Hunter, F, Xavier ($5,400 DK)
We teased Hunter in Xavier's last outing, their first without Zach Freemantle ($8,300 DK), and he didn't disappoint. Moving into the starting lineup, he gave us a solid nine points and eight boards, resulting in 22 DKP. The price rose only $500, and with the expected pace boost from St. John's second-ranked tempo, Hunter sets up as a borderline free square as a cheap forward option more than capable of a 4x return thanks to new found minutes.
Eight games provide our nightcap, with tips between 8:00 and 10:30 p.m. Five of those eight feature totals of at least 140, and while there's no massive slate-breaking total, we should see pretty solid balance and differentiation with no must-target players or games.
Azuolas Tubelis, F, Arizona ($9,700)
Tubelis offers the right blend of upside and high floor to anchor here. Oregon State plays slow, but Arizona was able to force tempo in their previous matchup in rout to 86 points, where Tubelis posted 42.0 DKP. The Beavers have no size to contend with this front court, to where I'd love to take stab at stacking Tubelis and Oumar Ballo ($9,200), though he's far too volatile as a stand alone option. Gonzaga's Drew Timme ($9,600) is also appealing with potential low usage. All fine choices, but Tubelis is the right play for stability and potential.
Keion Brooks, F, Washington ($8,300)
Brooks seems priced down from the slates other forwards. He posted an impressive 40.75 DKP against the Trojans in an earlier meeting despite going 6-of-21 from the floor; dare we say there's room to grow? USC is a tad undersized, and will be missing their top big man (more on this below), which should give confidence in a 30 DKP outing even if the Huskies aren't competitive. Brooks has seen a big 30 percent usage rate over his last five, with no other Husky topping 20.7 percent. It's his show in a game with a solid 142.5 point total.
Tre Mitchell, F, West Virginia ($6,800)
Mitchell looks like a nice contrarian play here. I'd expect most to target teammate Erik Stevenson ($6,800) given his recent surge that has seen him with a 31.7 percent usage rate over the last five, resulting in a 29.0 DKP average. But Mitchell posted 35.25 DKP against Oklahoma earlier this season, and the Sooners' front court doesn't have the athleticsm to match up with him. WVU was able to force pace against the nation's 311st ranked team in tempo earlier, and with a home spot here, there should be some upside in Mitchell, albeit with an incredibly low floor. GPPs only please.
Jordan Pope, G, Oregon State ($6,500)
Usage rates over the Beavers' last five games are spread pretty evenly, but this is a game where the opponents pace (see Tubelis above) should benefit Pope, and he may not even need it. He's taken a massive 55 shots across Oregon State's last four games. It's netted only two games with a 4x return or better, but the opportunity is clearly present. He went for 30.25 DKP in a previous meeting, so there is wiggle room for a down performance to still be productive.
Kario Oquendo, G, Georgia ($5,500)
Oquendo is shooting a low 40.3 percent and is averaging 2.3 points and 1.0 rebounds less than a season ago. He'l face a Texas A&M defense that ranks a solid 66th defensively and 214th in tempo, leaving the Bulldogs with an anticipated point total of just 65 points. So, what's the appeal? It's all about price for me. Oquendo was priced as high as $9,100 in November, and while we know he's clearly not worth that, we're almost at half that price. He needs 22 DKP to return a 4x value, something he's been at or near in four of UGA's last five games. He's had a 26.8 percent usage rate in that span, hopefully keeping the floor stable as a result.
Vince Iwuchukwu, F, USC ($4,300)
This should be a chalk play given the price and opportunity, but that just further minimizes risk if everyone else uses him. Iwuchukwu will likely start with Josh Morgan ($5,900) not expected to play due to an ankle issue. The 7-foot-1 freshman could get into foul trouble if matched up with the aforementioned veteran Brooks above, or he could get ample run with the Trojans expected to win by double-digits. He's not shown much, but has been worth double-digit DKP in three straight, which is all we need at this low price. I have a hunch on Tre White ($4,400) if you're looking to fade Iwuchukwu as the popular target.