March Madness Betting Guide: Second Round, Sunday
The NCAA Tournament's first weekend concludes on Sunday with a lot of storylines in play.
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.
Saint Mary's (5) vs. Connecticut (4)
Over 128.5 (-110)
Saint Mary's (CA) Gaels +3.5 (-110)
In their opening game, the Saint Mary's Gaels extended a one-point halftime lead over the Virginia Commonwealth Rams to win by 12 points (63-51).
They won the full-game rebounding battle 37-29, which helped them overcome shooting only 17.6% from three-point range. They're a 36.2% team from the arc on the full season, so that should bounce back up for this next game.
The Connecticut Huskies similarly put away their first-round opponent, the Iona Gaels, in the second half. Down 39-37 at the midway point, UConn reeled off a 50-24 second half to win 87-63.
The models do believe in the Huskies. They're fourth in numberFire's NCAAB power rankings as well as in KenPom's and BartTorvik's.
But not so fast. Saint Mary's is 11th, 12th, and 10th, respectively, across those power rankings.
Ultimately, numberFire's model likes the over and for the Gaels to keep it close. With three-point shooting regression incoming for Saint Mary's they're pretty lively for a 5-over-4 upset.
Creighton (6) vs. Baylor (3)
Over 144.5 (-110)
Another team that gained separation in the second half in their opening game, the Creighton Bluejays won the second half 44-37 after holding a 2-point halftime edge over the North Carolina State Wolfpack. Their win came in spite of shooting just 15.0% from three-point range on 20 attempts.
As for the Baylor Bears, they, too, dusted their opponent in the second half. The California-Santa Barbara Gauchos were up 36-35 at the halftime buzzer in the first round, yet Baylor nearly doubled them up (39-20) in the final 20 minutes to win by 18 points overall.
Notably, the Bears are just inside the top 100 in adjusted defensive efficiency, according to BartTorvik, but both offenses are top-30 there. The same can be said with KenPom's data.
As a result, the over certainly looks appealing.
numberFire's model projects a total of 149.5 points in this game. The over, then, is 61.3% likely to hit, per numberFire's algorithm.
TCU (6) vs. Gonzaga (3)
Under 156.5 (-110)
A late-night Gonzaga Bulldogs will close out the first weekend of the tournament, which always feels fitting.
Despite holding the top adjusted offense in the nation and the 82nd-ranked defense, via BartTorvik, Gonzaga is better suited for an under in this matchup against the Texas Christian Horned Frogs.
TCU is one of the worst three-point shooting teams in the nation (30.8%) offensively. Defensively, they can force turnovers at a high rate (22nd in the nation).
TCU's tendencies are to get shots up near and in the paint, and with a 49.5% effective field goal percentage (a worrisome 212th in the country) up against Gonzaga's 58.5% (1st), the Horned Frogs should be aiming to slow down the game and work to get looks in close.
The shooting is trending down for TCU overall, too, so this has more to do with the expected game plan from the Horned Frogs than it does with the Bulldogs' ability to score on a per-possession basis.
numberFire's model likes the under as a three-star play.