Wow, what a day of college basketball. Maybe as good as we have ever seen for drama. I hope you followed all of my 16 picks in yesterday’s games, because I went a smooth 5-10-1 against the spread. But since I told you right there in the beginning of the post to do the exact opposite of what I said, then I really think I actually gave you good advice. Like any good gambling site like https://www.boomtownbingo.com/ will tell you, there is always more to bet on, and when that is the first 2 days of the NCAA Tournament, that means 16 more chances. So without further ado, here are my 16 picks against the spread for today:
2. Kansas (-10.5) vs. 15. New Mexico State (12:15, Omaha)
PICK: KANSAS -10.5
Why: Kansas has a history of struggling in 1st round games but the matchup suits them in this one. Kansas has a huge advantage on the glass and despite the fact that NMSU holds opponents to low scoring games, I predict the Jayhawks to get a bunch of 2nd-chance points. This game might be close for a half, but I think Kansas is going to be quite focused to get to a potential second round game against Wichita State.
7. Michigan State (-5.5) vs. 10. Georgia (12:40, Charlotte)
PICK: GEORGIA +5.5
Why: I’m not sure that Georgia is going to win this game, but I do know that Michigan State is ALWAYS overvalued in the tournament. They no longer have the talent of many of their Final Four teams. I would argue the talent gap between these 2 teams is small. Doesn’t mean that Georgia will win the game but simply means that giving them 5.5 points is way too much in my book. Feel good about this one.
5. Northern Iowa (-6) vs. 12. Wyoming (1:40, Seattle)
PICK: NORTHERN IOWA -6
Why: Keep in mind this game is being played at 10:40am local time, so my only worry is the Panthers come out sleepy. If they don’t though, they have more than enough to win this game by double digits. They have one of the best players in the country in Seth Tuttle and showed a lot of heart in their comeback in the Missouri Valley Championship. Wyoming was a bubble buster team is a down Mountain West and the Cowboys just can’t score. Look for this game to be played in the 50’s or 60’s, which scares me a little, but I think UNI has that look of a surprise Final Four team.
4. West Virginia (-4.5) vs. 13. Buffalo (2:10, Columbus)
PICK: BUFFALO +4.5
Why: Kentucky fans know Buffalo can play. The Bulls have the athleticism to play with the big boys. And they are catching a WVU team that is slumping, losers of 3 of 4. Buffalo, on the other hand, has won 8 in a row. They score in bunches and the question will be can they defend enough. Either way, if you are giving me 4.5 points, I’ll take them. I think the Bulls actually win outright.
7. Wichita St (-5.5) vs. 10. Indiana (2:45, Omaha)
PICK: INDIANA +5.5
Why: I know the Hoosiers are trendy to pick on right now but their strengths and Wichita’s strengths are the same, and that is in the guards. And frankly, I like Indiana’s guards better. Add in the fact that Wichita has additional pressure to win so they can face Kansas, and I think the Hoosiers play loose and cover this spread. Now, with that said, with Tom Crean out the door Indiana could implode and lose by 25, but I just think IU is going to show up and challenge the Shockers.
2. Virginia (-17) vs. 15. Belmont (3:10, Charlotte)
PICK: VIRGNIA -17
Why: Belmont does one thing that makes them dangerous and that is shooting the 3. They haven’t faced anybody that plays defense like Virginia. It would be the same thing against Kentucky. Belmont will struggle to get off good outside shots and then they have no second option. Add on to that Belmont doesn’t play defense well, and I think this is actually a mismatch.
4. Louisville (-8) vs. 13. UC-Irvine (4:10, Seattle)
PICK: UC-IRVINE +8
Why: I’m not saying Louisville is losing this game but I am simply saying that this team has not been impressive without Chris Jones. Quintin Snider may become a very good player for UL, but the amount of time the ball is in his hands now is a negative for the Cards. And where is UL weakest? At the center spot. And where is UC-Irvine strongest? At the center spot. I wouldn’t pick the anteaters to win this game, but it wouldn’t stun me. And it would really stun me if the Cards rolled.
4. Maryland (-4.5) vs. 13. Valparaiso (4:40, Columbus)
PICK: VALPARAISO +4.5
Why: I think Valpo wins this game outright, so if you are going to give me points, I am jumping all over that. Dez Wells will be the best player on the floor, but if Valpo can somewhat limit him, I think you are looking at an equal matchup. Valpo is an experienced team and if you haven’t watched them play, they pass the ball extremely well. I think they can score a lot on the Terps.
8. Oregon (-1.5) vs. 9. Oklahoma State (6:50, Omaha)
PICK: OREGON -1.5
Why: Actually surprised this spread is so low. Oregon seems to be peaking at just the right time making the Pac-12 title game. Oklahoma State hasn’t played well in a month it seems. And if the first day taught us anything, it was the Big 12 was overrated this year. Plus Dana Altman has a history of being a great tournament coach, and Travis Ford just hasn’t. I like the Ducks comfortably.
1. Duke (-22) vs. Robert Morris (7:10, Charlotte)
PICK: DUKE -22
Why: Yes Duke has suffered some huge upsets over the last few years but none of those was as a 1-seed. As a 1-seed, Duke has won their first round games by margins of 42, 29, 16, 35, 47, 43. Point being, playing a 16-seed is a different animal than some of their other losses. Blue Devils will be motivated to not suffer another embarrassment so I expect them to roll handily.
7. Iowa (-2) vs. 10. Davidson (7:20, Seattle)
PICK: IOWA -2
Why: This is a rare occasion I am going against my gut. I think Davidson would win and recent results would say Iowa is on the decline. So why is the spread in Iowa’s favor? Sometimes you have to think Vegas knows something and this is one of those times.
3. Oklahoma (-13) vs. 14. Albany (7:27, Columbus)
PICK: OKLAHOMA -13
Why: Albany can’t score. They were the least athletic team that I saw in the conference championship games. On the other side of the coin, Oklahoma is very athletic. They have been up and down most of the year, but I just don’t think they will allow Albany to dictate pace of play. I can’t imagine another 3-14 upset here.
1. Wisconsin (-19.5) vs. 16. Coastal Carolina (9:20, Omaha)
PICK: COASTAL CAROLINA +19.5
Why: Wisconsin plays the kind of style that an underdog can stay in a little while. And CCU is strong on both ends of the floor, ranking inside the Top 75 in the country in scoring and scoring defense. They won’t win but this will be the most competitive 1-16 game by far.
8. San Diego State (-4) vs. 9. St. Johns (9:40, Charlotte)
PICK: SAN DIEGO STATE -4
Why: Outside of UK and Virginia, the Aztecs have the best defense in the tournament. Add to that they are playing one of the most slumping teams in the field and you can see why this is a fairly even pick. Looking down the line, don’t be surprised to see SDTU put a scare into Duke.
2. Gonzaga (-18) vs. 15. North Dakota State (9:50, Seattle)
PICK: NORTH DAKOTA STATE +18
Why: Yes, Gonzaga is basically playing at home. But they are facing a seasoned squad making their 2nd straight tournament. Plus NDSU is going to try and slow the game down to a crawl and since Gonzaga doesn’t force a ton of turnovers, I think they will be successful enough to beat the spread. Not one of my most confident picks, but I’ll bet it nonetheless.
6. Providence (-3.5) vs. 11. Dayton (9:57, Columbus)
PICK: DAYTON +3.5
Why: This pick is based entirely on the fact that past history shows us that play-in game winners have a lot of success in the Round of 64 and Dayton is a returning Elite 8 team. They were impressive in their comeback on Wednesday and Providence has been so inconsistent, especially in big games. The Friars could very well be in the Elite 8 or bounced in this round. I say Dayton gets the win.