This article is part of our DFS College Basketball series.
It's officially tournament time, with Tuesday's DraftKings DFS slate featuring the two NCAA Tournament play-in games in addition to three select NIT competitions. Xavier and Texas A&M clearly have the two highest projected point totals on the slate, two teams we don't want to overlook.
Jack Nunge, F, Xavier ($8,400 DK)
Per KenPom's projections and the betting odds, the Musketeers have the highest projected point total on the slate, a great starting point for filling out your lineup. This lofty total is largely due to Cleveland State's defense, which ranks No. 247 in the country in adjusted efficiency, easily the lowest-ranked defense on the slate. Compounding matters for the Vikings, Xavier's offense ranks No. 41 in adjusted efficiency, the second-highest offensive ranking on the slate. Additionally, Xavier also has a notable offensive rebounding advantage, as Cleveland State struggled to secure defensive rebounds this season, effectively ranking in the bottom 10 percent of all D1 teams with its defensive rebound rate. Jack Nunge leads Xavier in scoring and overall rebounding. During conference play, Nunge recorded the eighth-highest offensive efficiency rating among all Big East players, as well as the eighth-highest offensive rebounding rate.
Quenton Jackson, G/F, Texas A&M ($7,000 DK)
Projected to score nearly 80 points, Texas A&M is another enticing option for DFS selections. Alcorn State has the overall worst adjusted efficiency rating on the slate, the ideal team to fade. One key area where Texas A&M should have its way is on the defensive end, where the Aggies posted the third-highest steal rate among all D1 teams. This is bad news for the Braves, who were particularly vulnerable to having their pockets picked, ranking No. 244 in offensive steal rate allowed. Quenton Jackson leads the team in points and steals, giving us a natural target in this particular match-up. Jackson is notably consistent, recently recording a 16-game streak of scoring in double figures, which was snapped with a nine-point performance against Tennessee in the SEC Championship game. Jackson is also riding an eight-game streak with at least one steal, so we can count on Jackson to have plenty of production in what should be a blowout.
Isaac Mushila, F, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi ($6,600 DK, $6,000 FD)
Isaac Mushila nearly averaged a double-double this season, and yet he's available at a mid-range salary -- hard to pass on such an opportunity. Mushila led the Islanders in both scoring and rebounding this season, averaging 13-plus points and 9.5 rebounds along the way. Thanks in large part to Muschila's production, Texas A&M Corpus Christi posted the 16th-best offensive rebounding rate among all D1 teams, and with Texas Southern's defense only performing adequately at rebounding, Mushila should have another strong performance in what figures to be a close game.
Umoja Gibson, G, Oklahoma ($6,000 DK, $5,200 FD)
Umoja Gibson has been locked-in lately, scoring nearly 20 points per game over his last three, facing two of the best defenses in the country in that span in Texas Tech and Baylor. Gibson is one of the best all-around offensive players in the Big 12, ranking in the top 10 in several categories among all Big 12 players during conference play: minutes, offensive efficiency rating, effective field goal percentage, free throw percentage, two-point field goal percentage, and three-point field goal percentage. Missouri State's defense isn't as awful, ranking close to the average D1 basketball team, but if the Bears played in the Big 12 their defensive adjusted efficiency rating would rank at the bottom of the conference, by an extremely wide margin. Add it all up and there's little doubt Gibson will put up a significant amount of points in this game.
PJ Henry, G, Texas Southern ($4,100 DK, $6,100 FD)
The Tigers' starting point guard saw inconsistent playing time in the middle of the season but has recently re-established his full-time role, helping guide the team to a SWAC tournament championship. In the three conference tournament games, Henry averaged 14 points, 4 rebounds, and one steal, giving us a stat line that will surely net some value at his current salary, assuming of course recent trends continue. Texas Southern has an opportunity to advance and play Kansas in the Round of 64, so one would expect Henry's level of involvement to continue given that he played extensively in the conference tournament, and now the stakes are even higher than before.
Deante Johnson, F, Cleveland St. ($4,000 DK)
Deante Johnson's current salary is apparently based on his most recent game, one in which he played a season-low 16 minutes. Johnson actually registered the most minutes on the team this season, so that doesn't seem likely to happen again. Cleveland State fell behind early against Wright State and Johnson doesn't shoot three-pointers, which would explain why the coach opted for different personnel. Either way, we should expect Johnson to rebound in a big way. He averaged over 21 points fantasy points (DK) over the last 10 games, and over the full season for good measure. And over his last three games prior to the game against Wright State, Johnson averaged nearly 30 fantasy points (DK) per game, so he's still playing great basketball. Xavier had the fourth-worst defensive efficiency rating in the Big East during conference play, likely giving Johnson and the Vikings plenty of scoring opportunities.