Everyone remembers Maryland-Baltimore County beating Virginia in the first No. 16 vs. No. 1 seed upset ever. Nobody remembers UMBC’s next game.
In the second round, UMBC lost 50-43 in an ugly game against Kansas State. They covered a 12-point spread.
That’s not much of a sample size, but there isn’t much history of No. 16 seeds playing in the second round. Fairleigh Dickinson will be the second to do so, after a stunning upset of top seed Purdue. They draw No. 9 seed Florida Atlantic in the second round. FAU probably didn’t do much advance scouting of Fairleigh Dickinson.
Here are the picks for Sunday’s games, with the odds from BetMGM:
Pitt (+5.5) over Xavier
Pitt might be a team that needed to get out of ACC play. The Panthers have looked good in their two tournament games. They can keep this game close.
Kansas State (+2.5) over Kentucky
Maybe Kentucky is the rare team that underachieves all season and turns it on in the postseason. But that’s pretty rare. Usually a mediocre team is mediocre for a good reason. It’s not time to trust UK yet.
Marquette (-2.5) over Michigan State
This line is a bit strange. Michigan State looked good in the first round but it was against a mediocre USC team. Marquette has been one of the hottest teams in college basketball. Tom Izzo is a great tournament coach, but he doesn’t have the type of team to make a deep run. Marquette does.
UConn (-4.5) over St. Mary’s
St. Mary’s is good and this line is a little high, but UConn is one of the top-rated teams in the advanced metrics for a reason. The Huskies started slow in their first round matchup but came on strong, and they should continue that momentum.
Creighton (+1.5) over Baylor
This should be a great game. Creighton hasn’t lived up to the preseason hype, but it’s a good team with balance. Baylor’s defense can be a liability, and that will be the difference.
Fairleigh Dickinson (+15.5) over Florida Atlantic
FDU wasn’t just the worst team in the NCAA tournament field, the Knights were the worst by a fairly large margin. Even after beating Purdue they’re still just 275th in KenPom’s rankings. But momentum is a funny thing. And even though Florida Atlantic is very good, it’s still surprising to see a No. 9 seed as a 15.5-point favorite. Might as well ride with FDU and all those points.
Miami (+1.5) over Indiana
The Big Ten hasn’t been bad this tournament, aside from that whole No. 1 seed losing to a No. 16 thing. There is still some trepidation, and maybe Miami is a touch underrated. The Hurricanes have a top-notch backcourt.
Gonzaga (-4.5) over TCU
Gonzaga has been playing at a very high level for many weeks. The Bulldogs have flown under the radar because they’ve set the bar high in recent years and took some losses early this season. Gonzaga could end up in a Final Four.
Saturday second round picks record: 3-5
Tournament to date: 18-26
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