HomeCollege BasketballMarch Madness Second-Round Predictions and Best Bets

    March Madness Second-Round Predictions and Best Bets

    Best best from VSiN experts for the second round of the 2024 NCAA Tournament.


    March Madness Second-Round Predictions

    A list of best bets from VSiN experts for the second-round action.

    For more picks from VSiN hosts and guests, check out our college basketball best bets at a glance.


    Note: Lines available at time of publish.

    Sunday Games

    Greg Peterson

    James Madison +7 vs. Duke

    James Madison ranks in the top 23 in the country in both points scored and points allowed on a per possession basis, while ranking second in the nation in opponent 3-point shooting percentage. James Madison also enters Sunday with a nation’s-best 14-game winning streak.

    Colorado +4 vs. Marquette

    The Buffaloes have Marquette outgunned on the glass, as Colorado is 11th in the country in rebound rate, while Marquette is 286th in this category. The Buffaloes also have a superior 3-point shooting percentage, ranking 55th in opponent 3-point shooting percentage while Marquette is 156th in opponent 3-point shooting percentage. The Buffaloes pair this with ranking sixth in the nation in 3-point shooting percentage and 29th in points scored per possession, while Marquette is 38th in points scored on a per possession basis.

    Tim Murray

    James Madison +7.5 vs Duke

    The Dukes were a trendy underdog play in the First Round and the public rejoiced as the Dukes dominated Wisconsin, 72-61. This was not a fluky victory by James Madison. Wisconsin committed a season-high 19 turnovers on Friday night. Similar to Wisconsin, Duke does not typically turn the ball over – the Blue Devils rank 31st in the country in turnover rate. Duke F Kyle Filipowski only had two points on one shot attempt against Vermont in the first round. If Filipowski gets going, that could be a concern for backing the Dukes. However, James Madison will not be blown off the court from an athleticism standpoint and if the Dukes can turn the Blue Devils over like Wisconsin, James Madison could be a live underdog on Sunday evening in Brooklyn.

    Aaron Moore

    Texas A&M +10.5 vs. Houston

    This handicap is less about numbers and more about the action on the court during the first round. I am backing Texas A&M here with the points (+10.5) based off of the Aggies 98-83 blitzing of Nebraska on Friday.  

    While Houston has the No.1 defense in the country and plenty of people supporting their Final Four run, if the Texas A&M team that beat Nebraska makes another appearance, the trip for the Cougars won’t be as easy as expected. 

    Besides scoring nearly triple digits, which won’t happen against Kelvin Sampson’s defense, the Aggies showed impressive off-the-ball speed, both offensively and defensively, that stunned Nebraska in every way. 

    The Texas A&M backcourt of Wade Taylor IV, Tyrece Radford and Manny Obaseki all reached the 20 point total because every time they touched the ball, it was a race to the other end. The Aggies have that gear and can use it to stay close to Houston. 

    Give Buzz Williams credit for making a zig during the postseason when they normally zag to a much slower pace on offense. That surprised Nebraska to a certain degree and now gives Sampson some uncertainty to what the Cougars will face. 

    Texas A&M has now played three consecutive games scoring at least 90 points. 

    Allowing 83 points doesn’t sound like they played much defense, however, that was more a result of playing at a frenetic pace for 40 minutes. 

    What Texas A&M did well defensively against Nebraska and what it can hopefully duplicate after a day’s rest is a physical helping style that gassed the Nebraska scorers.  

    Tiring an opponent is an important aspect here since Houston’s biggest weakness is a lack of depth. 

    The Cougars had an easy first round game against Longwood (86-46), still only two players came off the bench to play close to meaningful minutes. Houston doesn’t have a legitimate backup big man behind J’Wan Roberts. If he gets in foul trouble or tired when the Aggies speed up play, Houston becomes vulnerable.

    A fast paced Texas A&M style will force Houston’s talented backcourt of Jamal Shead and L.J. Cryer to perform well in double duty – as in produce the bulk of the Cougars’ scoring and running around trying to stop Taylor. 

    Back in mid-December, these two teams played and Taylor dropped an impressive 34 points in the Cougars 70-66 win.

    It’s doubtful Taylor (17.5 points player prop at DraftKings) scores that much again but from what I saw from Texas A&M in the first round, the Aggies can once again make it a close game.

    Saturday Games

    Matt Youmans

    See Matt’s top second-round picks here.

    Tim Murray

    Oregon +5 vs Creighton

    Saturday in Pittsburgh will be the Dana Altman Bowl. Altman was the head coach at Creighton from 1994-2010 before departing for Oregon. Since arriving in Eugene, Altman has compiled a 16-6-1 record against the spread in the NCAA Tournament. 

    The Ducks seem to be peaking at the right time after winning the Pac-12 Tournament and knocking off South Carolina by 13 in the First Round. Creighton is a very dangerous offensive team, but the Blue Jays shot out of their minds in their First-Round game. Creighton’s starting lineup combined to shoot 10-16 from beyond the arc. The Blue Jays beat Akron 77-60 but Shot Quality’s final box score projected a 67-67 game. 

    Oregon’s Jermaine Couisnard had a career performance against South Carolina pouring in 40 points. Regression could be coming for Bluejays, as well as Couisnard, but Oregon will be more than a formidable foe on Saturday. Oregon C N’Faly Dante against Creighton C Ryan Kalkbrenner should be a great battle.

    Zachary Cohen

    Gonzaga -3.5 vs. Kansas

    Kansas was extremely fortunate to make it out of the first round. The Jayhawks barely held on to a massive lead, and they might have lost if not for an atrocious call late in the game. On top of that, it took 19 points from Nicolas Timberlake for Kansas’ offense to look right. But Timberlake averaged only 5.1 points per game during the season, and he shot terribly all year. So, it doesn’t feel like that is sustainable moving forward. Now, the Jayhawks face a Zags team that could present some real problems for them.

    Gonzaga has some size on the interior, so Hunter Dickinson won’t be able to bully the Bulldogs around the basket. And the Zags have a lot more firepower in the backcourt. They’re a top-10 team when it comes to adjusted offensive efficiency, and the Jayhawks are nowhere close. That could ultimately make the difference here, as the absence of Kevin McCullar Jr. will let an average Gonzaga defense off the hook.

    Texas +6.5 vs. Tennessee

    Tennessee has been better offensively with Dalton Knecht leading the charge this season. However, this offense still stalls out a little too often. With that in mind, I think the Vols are laying too many points here. The Longhorns had a bit of a disappointing season, but they’re still the 19th-ranked team in Bart Torvik’s adjusted efficiency rankings. And Texas can go toe to toe with Tennessee when it comes to overall talent.

    I also like that the Vols have a big, athletic wing in Dillon Mitchell to throw on Knecht. He should be able to disrupt him quite a bit. And an argument can also be made that Max Abmas and Dylan Disu will be the best players on the court at their respective positions — and those are two important ones. I just don’t think Texas will fear Tennessee at all. And it’s never a bad idea fading Rick Barnes in March.

    Aaron Moore

    Washington State vs. Iowa State Over 128.5

    A number of bettors expected Drake to be in the position to square off against Iowa State in the second round, not Washington State.  

    That didn’t happen after Kyle Smith’s Cougars pulled off the mild upset by bottling up Tucker DeVries and making a late comeback enroute to a 66-61 win over the Bulldogs.

    Now it is a game between two defensive-minded squads that rely on a similar style of physical halfcourt play and long grinding possessions to see who moves on to the Sweet 16.

    The initial reaction is probably to look towards playing the under in a contest between KenPom’s 2nd rated defense against the 23rd one in his rankings. 

    The 128.5 listed total certainly doesn’t signify a lot of points being scored. The final very likely won’t be a lot, but it could reach 129.

    In order for the over to hit, Washington State will once again need to score in the 60s like it did in the win against Drake, an above average KenPom defense. 

    While WSU is known as a low-scoring squad, it’s a top-100 KenPom efficient offense and has exceeded the 60 point threshold in 32 of their 34 games this season. The Cougars tend to keep their games in the 60s by design with a methodical offense that values ticks on the shot clock. 

    For the most part this season, Iowa State was doing likewise content to keep the scores in the 60s. Towards the end of the regular season that changed and ISU increased its scoring. Coincidental or not, that started when the criticism about the Cyclones’ offense limiting its tournament potential started to gain attention. 

    Since losing to Kansas State 65-58 to end the regular season, the Cyclones have shown more offensive punch during tournament play. They averaged 73 points for their three Big 12 games, including 69 in a championship game blowout win against the vaunted Houston defense. If the game was closer, ISU would have scored more.

    The Cyclones opened NCAA Tournament play with 82 points against South Dakota State, showing more transition play compared to what they did against the Big 12 squads. 

    With ISU scoring more recently, this 128.5 total is more reflective of how it played in February. 

    What can get this total to 129 is the fact WSU has to alter its tempo somewhat since the Cougars are facing a team that plays the slower game better than they do. 

    I expect WSU to run a little more than it did against Drake since doing so against DeVries would have given that gunner the opportunity for more shots. On average WSU shoots 58 2-pt FGs per game. Against Drake it was 55. The Cougars normally shoot 18 3-pt FG per game but against Drake it was just 14.

    The Cougars should increase their scoring potential by just going back to their average attempts. 

    Also, WSU might not be as flustered by the ISU defense like other teams have been since Smith has them face it everyday in practice. 

    This doesn’t mean the Cougars are going to play run-n-gun. Rather they should play at a pace that brings them to over 60 points while the Cyclones push 70. 

    The issue preventing this from happening shouldn’t be the pace, the problem is more likely the subpar free throw shooting percentage of both teams (ISU: 69.9, WSU: 70.3). 

    Still, the total is worth a play since both teams will be more familiar with the layout and court of the CHI Health Center in Omaha. 

    WSU did well limiting DeVries’ scoring but it led to Drake’s other options Atin Wright and Darnell Brodie exceeding their average scoring numbers. A similar scenario could benefit Lipsey if WSU focuses more on Keshon Gilbert and Milan Momcilovic.

    I like Over 128.5 and ISU’s Tamin Lipsey over 10.5 points.

    Greg Peterson

    North Carolina -4 vs. Michigan State

    North Carolina is one of the most balanced teams in the country, ranking in the top 28 in the country in both points scored and points allowed on a per possession basis. The duo of Armando Bacot and Harrison Ingram are combining for 19.2 rebounds per game for a North Carolina team that is 13th in the nation in rebound rate, while Michigan State is 145th in rebound rate with nobody averaging more than 5.6 rebounds per game.

    NC State -6.5 vs. Oakland

    The Grizzlies are scoring 16.8 fewer points per 100 possessions in games played in a road or neutral court setting then at home. NC State enters ranked 11th in fewest turnovers per possession on offense and is allowing opponents to make 27.3% of their 3-pointers the past five games. They will stop this Cinderella run. 

    VSiN Staff
    VSiN Staffhttps://vsin.com
    We are the VSiN Staff, a team of seasoned sports media professionals from VSiN. Our expertise ranges from award-winning broadcasting to legendary oddsmaking, all dedicated to providing top-notch news, analysis, and data in the world of sports betting. Broadcasting from the heart of Las Vegas and major gaming venues nationwide, we offer engaging content across various platforms, including YouTubeTV, Rogers’ Sportsnet, and our own VSiN.com. Join us for the latest in sports wagering, where we blend entertainment with insightful betting information.

    Must Read

    white sox

    Should You Bet Against the Chicago White Sox in Every Game?

    Betting against the White Sox this season Update: The White Sox were shut out by the Twins 7-0 Monday to drop to 3-19. The record for...