Best NCAA Tournament Prop Bets to Target for Thursday's First Round Action

The best player props available for Thursday to cash in on while celebrating the beginning of March Madness.

Mar 20, 2024; Omaha, NE, USA; Morehead State Eagles guard Riley Minix (22) warms up.
Mar 20, 2024; Omaha, NE, USA; Morehead State Eagles guard Riley Minix (22) warms up. / Dylan Widger-USA TODAY Sports

It is officially NCAA Tournament gameday. We have finally made it to the bracket and some of the most scintillating days in all of sports. There are 16 games on tap for today and a bunch of different ways to play the board from the opening midday tips to the last game of the day.

Who’s going to carry their team to victory? What underdogs will play inspired? Here are some of the best player props to target on Thursday, sorted by tip times.

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Best Prop Bets for NCAA Tournament Games on Thursday

  • Oumar Ballo OVER 10.5 Rebounds
  • RJ Davis UNDER 19.5 Points
  • Riley Minix OVER 18.5 Points

Oumar Ballo (Arizona) OVER 10.5 Rebounds

Looking for an opportunistic run through the bracket this time around, the Arizona Wildcats open their tournament against Long Beach State. This team is dangerous and is one of the highest-scoring offenses in the nation, averaging 87.9 points per game. That unit revolves around 7-foot center Oumar Ballo.

When at full strength, it is fair to say that Ballo is one of the greatest centers in college basketball. He consistently elevates the level of this Arizona team, averaging a double-double on the season (13.1 PPG, 10.1 rebounds per game) and this is a great opportunity to take advantage of his prop line. 

In 11 of the Wildcats' previous 13 games, he has cleared the 10.5 rebound mark. This line is likely a bit lowered since Arizona is expected to handily win this contest. For a team that is 6th in defensive rebounds, I will take the chance on this over cashing. Long Beach State likes to play with tempo as they are 25th in team possessions per game (74.4). This will provide more opportunities for Ballo to assert his physicality through the interior and grab boards. I’ll side with the trends and back his over in this spot.

RJ Davis (North Carolina) UNDER 19.5 Points

North Carolina enters the NCAA tournament as a No. 1 seed for the sixth time since the 2000s and is out for more following their 2022 runner-up finish against Kansas. Some of the key contributors in that offensive core still remains with the team two years later, Armando Bacot and RJ Davis.

Davis is an elite scorer who attacks the rim consistently, averaging 21.1 points per game. His points total is set at 19.5 for this game, but what holds me back is his inability to reach that mark in three of 6 games this March. He also has other weapons around him in Bacot, along with transfers Cormac Ryan and Harrison Ingram, which can limit his scoring on any given day. Bacot averages north of 10 rebounds a game, so many second-chance points would likely go through him in the paint. Despite being a smaller team, this is still a Wagner program that ranks 44th in defensive efficiency and they will be prioritizing Davis.

For someone who can score quickly, I can’t picture it in the game plan today. The Tar Heels will be attacking Wagner from the start by penetrating to the rim and getting them into foul trouble, much like Howard attempted to do Tuesday in the First Four. This game should get lopsided and the Heels will be bringing in more of the bench as we get deeper into the game. Expect Davis to take on a lighter workload in an opening-round contest and go under.

Riley Minix (Morehead State) OVER 18.5 Points

Morehead State seeks to play spoiler against Illinois in the first round today. There’s one player that can step it up for the Eagles and I look to Riley Minix, the Ohio Valley conference player of the year. Being the team’s leading scorer and rebounder, he is certainly the most efficient player on this offense.

Minix is hovering around the top 25 in the nation in both points (20.8 PPG) and rebounds (9.8 RPG) across all of Division I. He is a pure scorer who isn’t afraid to shoot the ball from anywhere on the floor. Coming off the OVC tournament last week, he averaged 24 points and 8 rebounds in three games to help power the Eagles to the NCAA Tournament.

This is a fantastic number to get his over at right now. Minix is red hot coming in and has failed to go over this mark of 18.5 points only four times since the calendar flipped to 2024. He shouldn’t be bothered by an average Illinois defense that surrenders 72.7 points per game and allows opponents to shoot 43.2 percent from the field. Minix can exploit open shooting lanes and can fire it from deep when he gets open space. 

The line could tick up leading to tip-off, but if you’re getting odds that mark an entire two points below his season average, I’ll gladly take it. Minix has shown the ability to take control of any game. This is certainly my best value play of the day. Back the player who is the nucleus of Morehead State’s offense to show up in the biggest game of his career.

Odds refresh periodically and are subject to change.