HomeCollege BasketballTuley's Takes: March Madness Best Bets - Second Round

    Tuley’s Takes: March Madness Best Bets – Second Round

    VSiN Analyst Dave Tuley offers his best bets for the NCAA Tournament second round games.


    Second Round March Madness Best Bets

    The first round of the NCAA Tournament is “in the books,” and we couldn’t be much happier here in the Tuley’s Takes home office. Our brackets are alive and well. Sure, had Kentucky and Auburn winning a couple of games, but so did everyone else, so most of my brackets are in good shape with all of our Final Four teams and even Elite Eight teams still alive. More importantly (at least in the short term, right?) is that we went a very respectable 4-1 ATS with our March Madness best bets in our Tuley’s Takes” first-round column that was posted late Monday night.

    On Thursday, we felt it was a pretty chalk card (and was proven right as favorites went 11-5 SU and 9-6-1 ATS), but swept our only two plays with No. 11 seed Oregon +1 in an 87-73 win over No. 6 seed South Carolina and No. 14 Oakland +13.5 in the biggest upset of the opening round, 80-76 over No. 3 Kentucky.


    On Friday, we went 2-1 ATS, starting with No. 9 seed Texas A&M +1.5, easily beating No. 8 Nebraska 98-83. We lost on College of Charleston +9.5 in a 109-96 shootout vs. Alabama, but then No. 12 Grand Canyon +5.5 upset No. 5 Saint Mary’s 75-66 late Friday night as a +200 underdog.

    Let’s move on to the second round with my two best bets for Saturday’s games with the winners from Thursday, and then we’ll add our Sunday plays to this file by Saturday afternoon.

    Saturday Second Round Games

    Oakland +6.5 vs. North Carolina State

    When I picked Oakland vs. Kentucky, I didn’t expect them to pull the outright upset. I was mostly betting against UK’s lack of defense, but after watching both these teams play in Pittsburgh, I kept having the feeling that No. 14 seed Oakland can play with No. 11 NC State and has a decent chance to continue its Cinderella run. With a spread in this range, the Golden Grizzlies just need to keep this to a one- to two-possession game down the stretch. And while we often see these big upsetters come back to Earth in the second round, that’s mitigated quite a bit by playing another upsetter (as opposed to the fact a No. 14 seed would usually be facing a No. 6 seed). Besides, another criticism of these types of teams is that “the stage is too big for them,” but again that’s minimized by having already taken out blue-blood Kentucky.

    March Madness Best Bet: Oakland +6.5

    Oregon +5 vs. Creighton

    As we wrote in our Best Bets column in the first round, I saw Oregon win the Pac-12 Conference Tournament in person last Saturday night at T-Mobile Arena here in Las Vegas. And that was after knocking off top-seed Arizona in the semifinals. We didn’t feel Oregon got the credit it deserved as a No. 11 seed. We gave the Ducks out as 1.5-point underdogs vs. South Carolina as we actually thought the wrong team was favored and felt more confident as they were bet to 2.5-point favorites before rolling to the 87-73 victory. We’re emboldened to ride them again here, as “they were flattered” by the fact Pac-12 teams went 5-0 SU in the first round and an even more impressive (in our minds here in the Tuley’s Takes home office) at 4-0-1 ATS with the push on Arizona (closed -20) in the Wildcats’ 85-65 win over Long Beach State. The Ducks face a tougher task against Creighton, but I’ll take the team on a serious roll that’s getting points.   

    March Madness Best Bet: Oregon +5

    Sunday Second Round Games

    Utah State +11.5 vs. Purdue

    Full disclosure: I’ll be cheering for Purdue to win this game as the Boilermakers are the champion on about half of my 20 brackets (all of which have a shot in their respective pools as I didn’t have Kentucky or Auburn even making the Final Four on any of them). I actually upgraded their chances this year after becoming only the second-ever No. 1 seed to lose a first-round game last year, as I remember how Virginia was the first to suffer that fate in 2018 vs. No. 16 seed Baltimore-Maryland County and used that as the springboard to the 2019 national title.

    So, I don’t expect Purdue to overlook any opponent and keep advancing, but this is still too many points to pass up. While the Mountain West Conference has underachieved overall (as usual), Utah State stepped up in a dominant 88-72 win vs. TCU after being overlooked by oddsmakers and the betting markets as they closed as a 4-point underdog despite being the higher seed in the 8-9 matchup. Purdue’s Zach Edey is a beast, but Utah State can counter with Great Osobor and Isaac Johnson, so this doesn’t look to me like as much of a mismatch as the spread indicates. We have a lot of wiggle room to get our point-spread cover yet still stay alive in all our brackets.

    March Madness Best Bet: Utah State +11.5

    James Madison +7.5 vs. Duke

    We’ve been hearing all week about how James Madison was a darkhorse team to make the Sweet 16, and that’s only picked up after its 72-61 upset of Wisconsin on Friday. In fact, I was kinda leery of including this play as I’ve been hearing so many people touting JMU (as regular readers know how much I don’t like “public dogs,” as I much prefer to be contrarian to the masses with my picks. However, I’m sticking to my guys here as I feel we’re getting enough points to fade Duke (not to be confused with the Dukes of James Madison) as JMU is good at taking care of the basketball while forcing turnovers on D, plus can shoot and defend the 3-pointer, which makes them a very live dog.

    March Madness Best Bet: James Madison +7.5

    Grand Canyon +6 vs. Alabama

    No. 12 seed Grand Canyon came through for us with its 75-66 upset of No. 5 Saint Mary’s as a 5.5-point underdog in the last game of the first round on Friday night, and we hope for the same in Sunday night’s second-round finale. Alabama is certainly scary after breaking the century mark in its 109-96 win vs. College of Charleston in the early game in Spokane on Friday night, but don’t miss the fact the Crimson Tide also gave up 96 points. The Antelopes have shown they can run with anyone (and we saw them in action in the WAC title game last Saturday night at the Orleans Arena here in Las Vegas), and we can see them trading baskets with Bama throughout.  

    March Madness Best Bet: Grand Canyon +6

    Dave Tuley
    Dave Tuley
    Dave Tuley was VSiN.com senior reporter from 2017-2023 and is currently a contributing columnist and occasional on-air guest on the network. Tuley is also widely known as one of the foremost writers in the horse racing and sports betting industries from his previous jobs at Daily Racing Form (Las Vegas correspondent from 2000-2014) and ESPN Chalk (recurring writer from 2011 through 2017).

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