This article is part of our DFS College Basketball series.
DraftKings is covering all four games for the first day of the Sweet 16, which tips off at 6:30 p.m. EST. The test gets tougher both on the court and on the DFS side in the Sweet 16. Three of the four games have totals above 137, but only one of these sits above 140 (Gonzaga vs. UCLA). Seven of the eight teams in Thursday's slate also rank in the top 35 for adjusted defensive efficiency, including the nation's top defensive squads in Tennessee and UCLA, according to KenPom.
The Sweet 16 is a time for star and veteran players to step up and help carry their teams into the championship rounds of the Big Dance. Therefore, I want to build the top of our lineup with players who have experience playing on big stages combined with some strong boom-or-bust candidates in the lower tiers.
Drew Timme, F, Gonzaga ($8,900)
Timme is as veteran as they come in modern college basketball. The 6-foot-10 senior is also coming off a 28-point, eight-rebound outing against TCU in the Round of 32, which makes him just the seventh player to record nine 20-point games in the Big Dance. Despite common criticisms, Timme's career-best numbers this season (21.1 points, 7.3 rebounds and 3.2 assists) haven't just come against weaker competition in the WCC, as he's posted a true shooting percentage of 60.7 versus top-50 opponents during the 2022-23 campaign, per KenPom. The Bruins' best defender Jaylen Clark is out for the season and starting center Adem Bona is questionable to play with a lingering shoulder injury. Timme has hit at least 30 DKP in all but seven of his 35 starts this season, so he should be as close to a lock as there is in Thursday's slate.
Tyger Campbell, G, UCLA ($7,900)
Campbell is another longtime college basketball veteran known for his appearances in the NCAA Tournament. In 11 NCAA Tournament games over the past three seasons, the Bruins' point guard has averaged 11.5 points and 5.4 assists. He also logged 17 points and seven dimes on 6-of-11 shooting against Gonzaga in an all-time classic during the 2021 Final Four. Campbell could have an even easier go of things this time around given that the Bulldogs have allowed a 51.7 effective field-goal percentage this season (245th), per KenPom. After starting all 132 games in his collegiate career, Campbell will have a crucial role leading this Bruins squad alongside fellow four-year veteran Jaime Jaquez ($10,000).
Joey Hauser, F, Michigan State ($7,500)
Hauser's 14.3 points per game is just behind the Spartans' leading scorer Tyson Walker (14.8), and his 7.1 rebounds per contest is higher than Malik Hall (4.2) and center Mady Sissoko (6.2). Hauser isn't a high-volume three-point shooter, as his 1.85 three-pointers per game ranks sixth among players on Thursday's slate. But, his phenomenal 46.2 three-point percentage is far and away the best among this group of shooters. Hauser has hit between 27.5 and 34.3 DKP in each of his past six games, which provides a solid bedrock for our lineup.
Jordan Hawkins, G, Connecticut ($6,000)
Hawkins has the highest upside of any player on Thursday's slate. The Huskies' sharpshooter has averaged 7.6 three-point attempts on 12.1 field-goal attempts per game this season, and his 3.19 three-pointers per game are the highest on Thursday's slate. Hawkins faces some very tough competition in the Razorbacks' elite perimeter defender Davonte Davis, but his 26.1 percent usage rate over the past five games ranks second among Connecticut's starting rotation, so I wouldn't expect any possible frustrations from Arkansas' defense to get in the way of Hawkins' opportunities.
Jonas Aidoo, F, Tennessee ($5,000)
We'll turn to one of the tallest players on Thursday's slate for some rebounding upside. Tennessee has struck a balanced all-around effort on the boards this season, but the 6-foot-11 sophomore is still tied with Julian Phillips for the Volunteers' second-most rebounds per game (4.8). Despite coming off the bench over the last two games, Aidoo has also played more minutes (43) than Phillips (34) so far in the NCAA Tournament. Florida Atlantic ranks 329th nationally in average height at 76 inches. No matter how much Australian rugby Owls head coach Dusty May studies, this height advantage for Aidoo and the Vols will be significant.
Rasir Bolton, G, Gonzaga ($4,600)
This matchup has the highest projected total of Thursday's games, so let's try to get every bit of value here as possible. Bolton's potential for a stinker performance is real. He's been very hit-or-miss this season while recording career lows in points (10.5) and rebounds (1.9). Nonetheless, the fifth-year guard has still averaged 26.5 minutes and 1.39 three-pointers while starting all 35 games in his second season with the Bulldogs. The Iowa State transfer was also around for last season's run to the Sweet 16 with Gonzaga, so he fits well with the criteria for our lineup.