This article is part of our DFS College Basketball series.
The first few days of the NCAA tournament, it feels like there is so much basketball. It is wall-to-wall coverage from 11:30 a.m. to the wee hours. Yet that happens pretty much every Saturday in January and February, it's just that fewer people are paying attention.
Hopefully, the opening day of the Big Dance treated you well and your bracket is intact. Oh, mine? Thanks for asking. I filled out so many that I pretty much got every game right (and wrong). There's something to be said for being a multiplicity. Anyway, Friday has the three of the 1-16 games and some plodders (see below), but there are some intriguing games such as Cincinnati-Iowa and UCF-VCU. Let's dissect some of the top and value players before looking at some gets to target and avoid.
Zion Williamson, Duke ($11,100 DK, $10,100 FD): You may be worried that coach Mike Krzyzewski will not want to use up Williamson in his first round matchup against North Dakota State. Fear not because Zion will get his minutes and get plenty of opportunities to show off his massive skills before he heads to the NBA next season.
R.J. Barrett, Duke ($10,600 DK, $9,500 FD): Barrett is the team's leading scorer, not Zion, and is plenty able to dominate smaller competition. The 6-foot-8 point forward may be better with the ball in his hands than Williamson, and is a great driver to the rim. He will pad his point total with free throws and is adept at putting up rebounds and assists.
Sam Merrill, Utah State ($9,100 DK, $8,500 FD): The Washington Husky defense could be worrisome for owners of the 6-5 junior, but he has showed the ability to score against almost any defense. He scored at least 19 points in his last seven games and scored 29 points or more three times. When his treys aren't falling, he'll attack the basket and get to the line.
Jarrett Culver, Texas Tech ($9,000 DK, $8,400 FD): The loss against West Virginia in the Big 12 tournament was not Culver's fault. He put up a massive line of 26 points, 10 rebounds, five steals and four assists. Per Draft Kings, he has not been held below 36.0 points in his last six contests. He should have a big edge against the Norse defenders.
Jarron Cumberland, Cincinnati ($8,700 DK, $8,200 FD): Many defensive-leaning teams have one player that they designate as the scorer. For the Bearcats, Cumberland is that player. He has scored at least 20 points in four of his last six games and had 33 points against the tough defense of Houston in the AAC tournament final.
Ty Jerome, Virginia ($7,800 DK, $7,900 FD): The last two games for Jerome have been worrisome. He had just 12 points in the ACC tournament against NC State and Florida State and was just 2-of-15 on three-pointers. The 6-5 junior should find more openings against Gardner-Webb, which is one of the worst defensive teams in the bracket.
Kerry Blackshear Jr., Virginia Tech ($8,100 DK, $7,900 FD): It will be interesting to see how the return of Justin Robinson affects the Hokies. His return may cause some ripples in the guard rotation, but should not trouble Blackshear. The team's de facto frontcourt averaged 18.0 points and 9.5 rebounds in the two ACC tournament games. He added 3.5 assists to outplay his salary.
Reggie Perry, Mississippi State ($6,400 DK, $6,000 FD): Liberty has some size in the frontcourt with Scottie James and Caleb Homesley, but they will not match up physically with the Bulldogs. Perry is coming off a game with 15 points and 12 rebounds against the brutish forwards of Tennessee. He has been getting consistent minutes and could put a sweet line.
Luka Garza, Iowa ($5,400 DK, $5,700 FD): Call this a gut play because Garza has been as inconstant as the Hawkeyes down the stretch. He could pull Bearcat defenders away from the basket by hitting some three-pointers. The sophomore forward had 25 points on March 10 against Nebraska and could provide decent value with points and boards.
DeJon Jarreau, Houston ($5,500 DK, $5,000 FD): Corey Davis Jr. may be somewhat limited by a hip injury. Jarreau just needs a few more minutes and offensive opportunities to put up a massive line. The Massachusetts transfer has not averaged just 18.6 minutes, but he is not afraid to put shots up. Jarreau has taken at least 10 shots in his last four games.
Braxton Key, Virginia ($4,800 DK, $4,900 FD): There is a chance that Virginia wants to make a point about last year and decided to blow out poor Gardner-Webb. The Cavaliers are just that good. Key is capable of good things. He can offer a handful of points to go with rebounds, steals and blocks.
Mamadi Diakite, Virginia ($4,600 DK, $4,800 FD): One of Virginia's many advantages is size. Diakite is a 6-9 junior who has seen his playing time shrink. If the Cavaliers go on an early run and have a huge edge, they could look down the bench to get players like Diakite in the game. He has eight double-digit scoring performances.
Makol Mawien, Kansas State ($4,400 DK, $4,500 FD): I have been waiting all season for Mawien to show what he did at the end of last year with Dean Wade out. He has not broken out, but did have two 10-point games with a pair of blocks in the Big 12 tournament. The 6-9 junior should get as many minutes as he can handle, and will try to force the ball through the UCI defense.
Malik Crowfield, VCU ($3,300 DK, $3,600 FD): If Marcus Evans (knee) is unable to play, then Crowfield could inherit minutes. The 6-4 junior from Louisiana has averaged 8.0 points over his last four games and had 14 points in the win over Richmond on March 2. UCF won't give him many opportunities within the arc, but Crowfield has hit eight three-pointers in his last four games.
Mike'L Simms, VCU ($3,500 DK, $3,600 FD): Simms is another option to come in for Evans. He had eight points in the A10 tournament loss to Rhode Island. He struggled from downtown in March and hit just 1-of-11 on three-pointers. The 6-5 junior is willing to take shots from long range and could provide a bonus against the Knights.
GAMES/TEAMS TO TARGET
North Carolina (-24.5) vs. Iona, o/u 164, 9:20 p.m. EDT
If you've been reading this column this season, then you know that targeting North Carolina goes without saying. The Tar Heels play big games and they play fast, which is somewhat unusual for the top teams. Iona is also top 50 in pace, per KenPom, so they may try to run with the Tar Heels. This would likely be a mistake, but it might lead to inflated production for both teams. For North Carolina, we will point to the usual suspects: Luke Maye ($8,800 DK, $8,400 FD), Cameron Johnson ($8,300 DK, $8,100 FD), and Coby White ($8,000 DK, $7,900 FD). Of the three, I like White the most. He has the highest ceiling and will also have the ball in his hands a great deal. The freshman has four games of at least 32.7 FanDuel points in his last six contests. Maye has been a solid force on the boards and has claimed at least nine rebounds in his last eight games. Johnson has missed practice this week due to a shin injury. He still should play, but he may not be the best play with your big money. The Gaels have made the last four Big Dances and Rickey McGill ($8,500 DK, $8,200 FD) has played in all four of them. Iona has not won a game in any of those appearances, but McGill will not be cowed by the big stage. He scored at least 18 points in three of his last five games. Tajuan Agee ($7,700 DK, $7,300 FD) will do battle with the Tar Heels bigs. He averaged 16.7 points and 8.7 rebounds in the MAAC tournament.
Buffalo (-5.5) vs. Arizona State, o/u 155.5, 4:00 p.m. EDT
Ooh, the storylines in this game are delicious. Sun Devil coach Bobby Hurley used to coach Buffalo. It appears that coach Nate Oats has taken the Bulls to the next level. This past season, Oats' fourth on the Buffalo bench, was perhaps the team's best as they dominated MAC play and had some nice non-con wins. Both teams are dominated by guards and they should be able to push the pace against one another. If you watched the First Four win over St. John's, then you might not be all that confident about the Sun Devils. The team built a huge lead and nearly blew it. Remy Martin ($7,200 DK, $7,100 FD) has been hampered by a groin injury, so he is not quite as quick as usually is. He can still drive the offense and has averaged 5.1 assists. Luguentz Dort ($7,500 DK, $7,400 FD) has a pro body and sometimes plays like an NBA player. It appears he is still learning the finer points of the game, but did provide 21 points in the win over the Red Storm. It was his ninth 20-point game. Perhaps the most well-rounded player on the Sun Devil roster is Zylan Cheatham ($8,400 DK, $8,000 FD). He is a double-double machine who can facilitate the offense. Cheatham should be effective against the Bulls. While CJ Massinburg ($8,900 DK, $8,300 FD) and Jeremy Harris ($7,600 DK, $7,300 FD) lead Buffalo, the focus of the Bulls may be on Nick Perkins ($6,800 DK, $6,700 FD). The team's sixth man brings size to the court. The 6-8 senior was held to five points in the win over Bowling Green to end a seven double-digit scoring games. Harris closed the season by scoring 31 points in the win over the Falcons and has scored at least 12 points in five games. Massinburg can score via the perimeter or attacks of the basket.
Tennessee (-18) vs. Colgate, o/u 151, 2:45 p.m. EDT
Perhaps the over/under of this 2-15 matchup indicates that the Vegas thinks this is going to be a Volunteer blowout. It may well be, but it should be noted that both teams are offensive leaning. Per KenPom, Tennessee has the third best offense with a defense in the 30s. The Raiders has the 63rd best offense (pretty good for the Patriot League) and the 204th best defense. There may be a lot of Volunteer scoring, so you may want to stack the players in orange. Grant Williams ($9,500 DK, $9,000 FD) and Admiral Schofield ($7,900 DK, $7,800 FD) may be more expensive that you would like, but they may be worth the extra dollars. Williams only three assists in his last three games, but provided 15.7 points and 6.3 rebounds in that span. Schofield had 41 points in the first two games of the SEC tournament, but was held to four points in the loss to Auburn in the final. In the backcourt, Jordan Bone ($7,300 DK, $7,000 FD) hit 44.4 percent of his three-pointers in the SEC tournament and scored at least 11 points. He has been a bit more productive that Jordan Bowden ($5,400 DK, $5,100 FD) and Lamonte Turner ($5,600 DK, $5,900 FD), although Turner had 24 points in the loss to the Tigers. If the game becomes a track meet, then Raiders such as Rapolas Ivanauskas ($7,900 DK, $7,900 FD) and Jordan Burns ($8,000 DK, $7,700 FD) could be worth a look. The 6-10 Ivanauskas averaged 16.0 points and 6.0 rebounds in the Patriot League tournament, while the game's third Jordan B. had 35 points to knock out Bucknell in the tournament final.
GAMES/TEAMS TO FADE
Wisconsin (-2) vs. Oregon, o/u 116, 4:30 p.m. EDT
The Ducks have been a chic 12-seed to pull an upset in the first round. Oregon has won eight straight games and came through to earn a ticket to the Big Dance by winning the Pac-12 tournament. Allow me to remind you of two facts: 1) they were playing in the Pac-12 and 2) the Pac-12 is terrible. Maybe my Badger roots are coming out and this game should be slow and feisty, but Oregon is not that great. That said, Payton Pritchard ($7,800 DK, $7,500 FD) is an intriguing player who averaged 19.3 points and 6.7 assists in the Pac-12 tournament. He has put up at least 30 points on FanDuel in eight of his last nine games and will have the ball in his hand. Louis King ($7,000 DK, $6,000 FD) is dealing with an ankle injury and has been a limited participant in practice. He has a relatively high ceiling, but a low floor. I'd be afraid to use Kenny Wooten ($5,300 DK, $4,800 FD) because I think Ethan Happ ($10,800 DK, $9,400 FD) is going to foul him out. Despite the excellence of the Oregon defense (albeit against the Pac-12), Happ should be productive. He only has one game of fewer than 33.5 points on FanDuel in his last seven games and has topped 40 points four times in that span. Happ will need some help and it could come from D'Mitrik Trice ($5,300 DK, $5,400 FD) and/or Brad Davison ($5,200 DK, $5,100 FD). Trice has been held to single-digit scoring in five straight games and has hit just 23.1 percent of his three-pointers. In that same span, Davison has converted 22.7 percent of his three-pointers. He adds handfuls of rebounds and assists and could come up big against the Ducks.
Kansas State (-5.5) vs. UC-Irvine, o/u 118, 2 p.m. EDT
Let's remember that the Wildcats made a run to the Elite Eight last season without Dean Wade, who is doubtful for the entire tournament with a foot injury. It feels like Kansas State has relied on Wade more in his senior season and they may really miss him, starting on Friday against the Anteaters. UCI has an excellent defense and is number one in the country in two-point defense, per KenPom. Since Kansas State is a below average three-point shooting team, they could be in trouble. To add illness to insult, the Wildcats may be without Xavier Sneed ($6,500 DK, $6,200 FD) who is battling an illness. The team will lean on Barry Brown ($7,700 DK, $7,400 FD) and Kamau Stokes ($6,100 DK, $5,900 FD). Brown has not topped 16 points and has not hit better than 46.7 percent of his field goals in his last six contests. Stokes might be the better player per the cost. He has scored in double digits and hit multiple three-pointers in seven straight games. The upset-minded Anteaters do not have a player providing more than 12.5 points, so the DFS upside is limited. Jonathan Galloway ($5,400 DK, $5,500 FD) brings value via rebounding. The 6-10 senior has 14 double-digit rebounding games, but only one in his last five. Max Hazzard ($5,900 DK, $5,400 FD) averaged 16.7 points in the Big West tournament. Evan Leonard ($5,600 DK, $5,300 FD) is a high-floor, low-ceiling player who has scored in double digits in six straight games.
UCF (pick) vs. VCU, o/u 124.5, 9:40 p.m. EDT
This is a fascinating game in which the winner gets to play Duke. Both teams play excellent defense, which is why this is a game to avoid, but they get to their defensive efficiency rankings via different methods. VCU uses pressure and UCF uses size. B.J. Taylor ($6,400 DK, $6,400 FD) and Marcus Evans ($5,700 DK, $6,500 FD) may be the key figures in this game. Evans injured his knee and may be hampered, despite being the motor behind the team's rise up the A10 standings. He missed last year with a torn Achilles' tendon, but will try to play. Taylor is the Knights' senior point guard, who is capable of putting up points and assists. He was held to a combined 17 points on 25.0 percent from the field in his last two games. Aubrey Dawkins ($6,700 DK, $6,200 FD) is a streaky shooter who had 36 points in the regular season finale against Temple. He sandwiched that game with seven and five-point performances. Each team also has a big of note. Tacko Fall ($6,700 DK, $6,800 FD) is hard to miss since he stands 7-6. He single-handedly slows the pace of the game. He is prone to foul and will likely not play more than 25 minutes. Fall is quite fun to watch, particularly against the smaller Rams. Keep an eye on Marcus Santos-Silva ($6,600 DK, $6,400 FD) who had 26 points and 22 rebounds in the A10 tournament against Rhode Island. He only had five double-doubles previously in the season.