March Madness Betting Guide: Second Round, Saturday
The NCAA tournament rolls on with the second round getting underway at 12:10 pm ET on Saturday.
Filling out a bracket is the main attraction for most sports fans this time of year, but the fun doesn't have to stop there. It's also the perfect opportunity to place some bets at NCAAB odds.
Which games should draw our attention? Let's find out.
Please note that lines are subject to change throughout the day after this article is published. Please check here to make sure you're seeing the most updated information.
Creighton Bluejays (9) vs. Kansas Jayhawks (1)
The Kansas Jayhawks looked the part of a 1 seed on Thursday, breezing by Texas Southern in a 27-point first-round victory. On the other hand, the Creighton Bluejays needed overtime to sneak by San Diego State to advance.
Perhaps it isn't surprising, then, that the Jayhawks are 11.5-point favorites over the Bluejays. However, Creighton should be able to put up a far better fight than a 16 seed and stay within this high spread.
While Texas Southern was one of the worst teams in the tournament, Creighton is roughly a top-50 college basketball team, per nERD and KenPom.
Specifically, the Bluejays excel on defense, ranking top 20 in adjusted defensive efficiency, according to BartTorvik. This includes ranking 12th in defensive effective field goal percentage (eFG%) while also allowing the 4th-lowest free throw rate.
Creighton is less effective at scoring, though, just barely cracking the top 150 in adjusted offense.
Even so, they should be able to keep this one to single digits if they can make things difficult for Kansas' offense. numberFire's model gives Creighton a 60.65% chance of covering, so there's value in taking the Bluejays and the points.
Saint Peter's Peacocks (15) vs. Murray State Racers (7)
Not many predicted this second-round matchup to transpire. San Francisco was a trendy pick to upset the Murray State Racers, while not even the most blindly optimistic Saint Peter's Peacocks fans could have predicted a victory over a Final Four contender like Kentucky.
But here we are!
FanDuel Sportsbook thinks the Peacocks' Cinderella run will be short-lived, as the Racers are favored by 9.0 points. After all, Murray State only lost twice this season and has now won 21 in a row.
That doesn't bode well for Saint Peter's, but there's evidence that this 'dog still might be able to make some noise again on Saturday.
Although the Peacocks aren't known for their offense, they rank 34th in adjusted defensive efficiency, which includes being 6th in defensive eFG%. They've gone 9-1 over their last 10 games, and over that span, they've actually boasted the 12-best adjusted defense in the nation while ranking 1st in defensive eFG%.
And while Saint Peter's isn't a scoring machine, they're competent from beyond the arc, ranking 73rd in three-point percentage. The Peacocks went 9-17 (52.9%) from long range against Kentucky, showing this offense is capable of occasional big games via the three-ball.
Additionally, both teams play at a slower pace, which could help Saint Peter's from getting down big. The Racers are 240th in adjusted tempo while the Peacocks are 250th.
numberFire's model still sees Murray State winning this one most of the time, but there's betting value in backing Saint Peter's against the spread. The Peacocks are pegged for a 52.44% probability of covering.
Memphis Tigers (9) vs. Gonzaga Bulldogs (1)
The Memphis Tigers have really upped their play lately, and they showed no mercy in the first half against Boise State, racing out to a 19-point lead by halftime. Although Memphis would let Boise State crawl back into it following a shaky start to the second half, the Tigers still showed how dangerous they can be when they're clicking.
Meanwhile, the Gonzaga Bulldogs did the opposite in their first-round matchup, leading Georgia State by just two points at the half before turning on the jets and cruising to a 93-72 win.
Gonzaga is favored by 10.5 points over Memphis, which is to be expected for the top overall seed. But if the Tigers can put together a full 40 minutes of their best basketball, they should be able to keep this one competitive.
After losing three straight games in January, Memphis has gone 13-2 the rest of the way, ranking top 20 in both adjusted offense and adjusted defense over that span, per BartTorvik. In fact, they've effectively performed like a top-10 team over their last 15 games.
And it's not like they didn't play anyone down the stretch, either, as they went 2-1 against Houston, a top-five overall team according to both nERD and KenPom.
The main concern for Memphis is turnovers. Even with their improved play, they rank 340th in turnover rate over their last 15 games. Second-half turnovers were one of the reasons Memphis let Boise State back into the game on Thursday.
However, if Memphis can play relatively clean basketball, they might give Gonzaga a run for their money. Our model grants the Tigers a 65.30% likelihood of covering the double-digit spread.