2024 First Four picks by proven model

The Virginia Cavaliers and Colorado State Rams meet in a 2024 First Four matchup on Tuesday in Dayton, Ohio. The Cavaliers (23-10), who placed third in the ACC at 13-7, are making their 26th overall appearance in the tournament, winning it all in 2019. The Rams (24-10), who are making their 12th NCAA Tournament appearance, are looking to advance for the first time since 2013, when they made it to the Round of 32. This will be the first time the teams have ever faced one another.

The game from the UD Arena tips off at 9:10 p.m. ET. Colorado State has a plus-8 point differential in 2023-24, 53rd-best in the nation, while Virginia has a plus-4 differential, 124th-best. The Rams are 2.5-point favorites in the latest Colorado State vs. Virginia odds from SportsLine consensus, while the over/under for total points scored is 121. Before making any Virginia vs. Colorado State picks, be sure to see the college basketball predictions and betting advice from SportsLine’s proven model.

The model simulates every Division I college basketball game 10,000 times. It enters the 2024 NCAA tournament on a 148-106 roll on all top-rated college basketball picks dating back to last season, returning more than $1,700 for $100 players. It also has a strong 29-19 (+810) record on top-rated spread picks this season. Anyone following has seen huge returns.

Now, the model has set its sights on UVA vs. Colorado State in the First Four 2024. You can head to SportsLine to see its picks. Here are several college basketball odds and trends for Colorado State vs. UVA:

Colorado State vs. Virginia spread: Colorado State -2.5
Colorado State vs. Virginia over/under: 121 points
Colorado State vs. Virginia money line: Virginia +121, Colorado State -144
CSU: The Rams are 16-16 against the spread, including 3-7 in the last 10 games
UVA: The Cavaliers are 17-15-1 ATS in 2023-24
Colorado State vs. Virginia picks: See picks at SportsLine
Why Colorado State can cover
Senior guard Nique Clifford is one of four Rams averaging double-digit scoring. In 34 games, all starts, he is averaging 12.2 points, 7.5 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 1.5 steals in 30.3 minutes. He is connecting on 52.3% of his field goals, including 38.2% from 3-point range, and 76.2% from the free-throw line. In the 85-78 Mountain West Championship quarterfinal win over Nevada on Thursday, he registered a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds. It was his eighth double-double of the season.

Also helping power the Rams is senior forward Patrick Cartier. He has scored 10 or more points in 19 games, including a season-high 21 points in a 76-68 win over New Mexico on Jan. 2. He had 15 points, six rebounds and five assists in a 70-62 win over Wyoming on March 2. In 33 games, including 32 starts, he is averaging 10.5 points, 2.6 rebounds and 1.9 assists in 23 minutes. See which team to pick at SportsLine.

Why Virginia can cover
Sophomore guard Ryan Dunn is a big part of the Cavaliers offense, and is connecting on 55.2% of his shots from the floor. He has reached double-digit scoring 11 times, including five double-doubles. He scored 19 points and grabbed 11 rebounds in a 69-52 win at Louisville on Jan. 27. In 33 games, all starts, Dunn is averaging 8.2 points, seven rebounds, 2.3 blocks and 1.3 steals in 27.5 minutes.

Also helping power Virginia is senior forward Jacob Groves, who registered a double-double with 15 points and 11 rebounds in the 66-60 overtime win over Boston College in the ACC quarterfinals on Thursday. It was his first double-double of the season. He has scored 10 or more points 11 times, including an 18-point effort in a 65-53 win against Notre Dame on Jan. 31. He has 15 starts in 33 games played, and is averaging 7.5 points and 2.8 rebounds. He is in his first season with the Cavaliers after two years at Eastern Washington and two years at Oklahoma. See which team to pick at SportsLine.

How to make Colorado State vs. Virginia picks
The model is leaning Over on the total, projecting the teams to combine for 134 points. It also says one side of the spread is the better value. You can only see the pick at SportsLine.

Jayhawks’ leading scorer out with bone bruise in knee

Kansas star Kevin McCullar Jr. will miss the 2024 NCAA Tournament due to a nagging knee injury, coach Bill Self announced Tuesday. The No. 4 seed in the Midwest Region will face No. 13 Samford on Thursday in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament without their star, hurting their chances at winning a second title in three seasons.

McCullar missed a handful of games in the regular season and the entire Big 12 Tournament due to the injury, described as a “bone bruise.” Kansas was also without star big man Hunter Dickinson during the Big 12 Tournament. The Jayhawks lost their opening game to Cincinnati and will look to rebound against a dangerous Samford team this week.

“Kevin is not going to play,” Self said. “He said his knee pain has not subsided any and it’s too bad for him to be able to contribute. Kevin will not play. … we are shutting him down for the tournament.”

McCullar averaged 18.3 points, 6 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game on 45.4% shooting this season. The fifth-year senior was enjoying the best season of his career after averaging 10.7 points per game a season ago.

“Like I’ve said all along … it’s a bone bruise,” Self told reporters in January about McCullar’s injury. “So, I’m anticipating him being able to go. But I don’t know to the extent or how much it’ll bother him or anything like that.”

With McCullar out, Kansas freshman Elmarko Jackson could be in line to start in his place. The former highly touted recruit is averaging 4.2 points and 1.7 assists on 39.7% shooting this season.

Why Samford’s style is problematic for Kansas
Kansas faced a tough matchup against Samford even if McCullar was healthy. The Bulldogs won the SoCon regular season and tournament titles by playing an up-tempo brand of basketball that presses full-court on every possession, which is going to test Kansas’ endurance and depth.Samford ranks No. 3 nationally in bench usage, getting 44.8% of its minutes from players outside the starting five, according to KenPom.com.

The Bulldogs frequently deploy 11 players as part of their regular rotation and try to wear down opponents over the course of the game. Kansas ranks No. 318 in bench minutes, getting just 23.7% of its minutes from the bench. That percentage is likely to be even lower without McCullar in a high-stakes game.

The pressure will be on veteran point guard Dajuan Harris to break the press on nearly every possession, and he may have to play all 40 minutes. With the game being played in the altitude of Salt Lake City, Utah, that could be a problem for the Jayhawks.

Dickinson must play big
While McCullar is out for the season, rest of Kansas — which played its one and only Big 12 Tournament game without both McCullar and Dickinson in the lineup — is expected to get Dickinson back in the lineup in the first round. That puts the pressure on the Michigan transfer to produce in a big way in the absence of KU’s other star. Dickinson is averaging 18.0 points and 10.8 rebounds per game on the season for the Jayhawks but hasn’t been as efficient in games without his fellow co-star. With no McCullar and a matchup against a small Samford frontline, a KU win may lie in how well he plays.

It’s felt like Hunter Dickinson hasn’t been as efficient without Kevin McCullar, so ran the numbers. Small sample size, but Dickinson shoots 57.4% from the field in games McCullar plays and 43.1% in games he misses.

KU needs an efficient and productive Dickinson this week.

— CJ Moore (@CJMooreHoops) March 19, 2024
Self has short bench going forward
Four Kansas players averaged north of 30 minutes per game this season but only one player outside that core four — Johnny Furphy — played more than 20 minutes per game on average this season. The Jayhawks’ top of the roster when healthy could match up well with any team but its notable shortfall was in its depth, or lack thereof, and Self’s options aren’t particularly appealing.

In the Big 12 Tournament, Self played Elmarko Jackson 34 minutes and Nick Timberlake 27 minutes in an effort to backfill the lost production of McCullar, while freshman Jamari McDowell played his second-most minutes (24) in the loss. Per Pivot Analysis data, KU has a negative net rating when McDowell has been in the lineup and Timberlake and Jackson rate second and third worst among regulars in the rotation. All three have at times flashed at various points this season but Self has mostly veered away from them save for having to do so due to injuries. He has no other levers to pull but the ones at his disposal suggest KU might struggle to get quality production from its backcourt for as long as it is still in the NCAAs.

Colorado State vs. Virginia prediction, best bets by proven expert

The 2024 First Four features a matchup between the Virginia Cavaliers (23-10) of the ACC and the Colorado State Rams (24-10) of the Mountain West in Dayton, Ohio. The Wahoos finished the regular season in third place in the ACC before losing to N.C. State in the ACC Tournament semifinal round. CSU finished the regular season in seventh place in the Mountain West and would go on to lose to eventual champion New Mexico in the conference tournament semifinals. UVA will be making its ninth appearance in the last 10 NCAA Tournaments. The Rams are making their second NCAA Tournament appearance in three years, and 12th all time.

Tipoff is 9:10 p.m. ET at UD Arena. The latest Colorado State vs. Virginia odds via SportsLine consensus list the Rams as 2.5-point favorites, while the over/under is 121. Before making any Virginia vs. Colorado State picks, be sure to see the college basketball predictions and betting advice from SportsLine expert Jimmie Kaylor.

Kaylor is a betting and DFS expert for SportsLine, who has covered college sports and the NFL for close to a decade as a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. His background as a former high level athlete — he was a Division-I All-American and professional athlete — gives him a unique perspective when building his fantasy lineups and locking in his betting picks. He has his finger on the pulse of the college basketball landscape and has been cashing in big for SportsLine members for the last two years.

Kaylor enters the 2024 NCAA Tournament on a 19-9 run on his college basketball picks for SportsLine. He is up 10.1 units, returning a profit of $1,010 for $100 bettors. Anyone who has followed his picks this season is way up.

Now, the Kaylor has his sights on Virginia vs. Colorado State in the First Four 2024 and just locked in his picks and predictions. You can head to SportsLine now to see his picks. Here are several college basketball odds and trends for Colorado State vs. UVA:

Colorado State vs. Virginia spread: Colorado State -2.5
Colorado State vs. Virginia over/under: 121 points
Colorado State vs. Virginia money line: Virginia +123, Colorado State -147
CSU: The Rams rank 12th in the country in strength of schedule.
UVA: The Cavaliers allow 59.6 points per game.
Colorado State vs. Virginia picks: See picks at SportsLine
Why Colorado State can cover
The Rams climbed as high as No. 13 in the national polls during the regular season. The Rams’ non-conference resume included wins over Creighton, Colorado, Washington and Boston College, and their overall strength of schedule ranked 12th in the country. Niko Medved’s team is experienced and ranks among the top teams in the country in efficiency on both ends of the floor.

Senior point guard Isaiah Stevens leads the charge for CSU. The program’s all-time leading scorer is averaging 16.9 points, 7.0 assists and 1.2 steals per game, and is a true floor general. The Rams have leaned on a trio of transfers in Nique Clifford (12.2 points, 7.5 rebounds, 2.9 assists), Joel Scott (12.9 points, 6.0 rebounds) and Patrick Cartier (10.5 points, 2.6 rebounds) to round out their core group of players. See which team to pick at SportsLine.

Why Virginia can cover
Virginia is one of the top defensive teams in college basketball. The Wahoos enter Tuesday allowing only 59.6 points per game. That figure ranks third in the country, and Tony Bennett is one of the most accomplished head coaches in the NCAA Tournament field.

Virginia is led by guards Reece Beekman (14.3 points, 6.3 assists, 3.7 rebounds, 2.1 steals), Isaac McKneely (12.5 points, 3.0 rebounds), and Ryan Dunn (8.0 points, 7.0 rebounds, 2.3 blocks). Dunn is an extremely athletic wing who is widely considered a likely first round pick in the 2024 NBA Draft. The Cavaliers have played in eight of the last nine NCAA Tournaments. See which team to pick at SportsLine.

How to make Colorado State vs. Virginia picks
Kaylor has analyzed Virginia vs. Colorado State from every angle and he’s leaning Over on the point total. He has also discovered a critical X-factor that has him jumping all over one side of the spread. He’s only sharing what it is, and which side to back, at SportsLine.