The first day of the 2014 NCAA Tournament’s second round featured the most exciting slate of games in recent memory. Four of the 16 contests went into overtime, and two others came down to the last possession.
The second round continues on Friday with 16 more games. It will be hard for the schedule to feature as many competitive games as there were on Thursday. With three No.1 seeds in action, six games feature point spreads of more than 12 points. No.1 Virginia leads the way as a 21-point favorite over Coastal Carolina. No.1 Wichita State is giving No.16 Cal Poly 16.5 points. The Mustangs made it to the round of 64 by defeating Texas Southern in the first round. However, they tied a record by reaching the tournament with 19 losses.
Three lower seeds came out on the winning end on Thursday. On Day Two of the field of 64, two upsets are expected. The No.11 seed Tennessee is favored over No.6 UMass. The Volunteers enter the contest playing well, winning six of their last seven, including an overtime victory over Iowa in their play-in game. No.9 Oklahoma State is also a favorite against No.8 Gonzaga. Since Marcus Smart returned from his suspension, the Cowboys have won five of seven.
The matchup between No.3 Creighton vs. UL Lafayette is expected to be the highest-scoring game. The over/under has been set at 154.5. Doug McDermott enters the day as the nation’s leading scorer with 26.9 points per game.
Below are the complete betting lines for every game on Friday, March 21, including picks against the spread. These are the consensus point spreads and totals from multiple sportsbooks in Las Vegas.
(3) Duke-12.5 (14) Mercer, 140.5
Jabari Parker had a big freshman campaign, averaging 19.3 points and 8.8 rebounds per game. Still, the NCAA Tournament could see him take his game to a whole new level. Mercer won’t have an answer for the future top three pick.
Prediction ATS: Duke
(6) Baylor-3.5 vs. (11) Nebraska, 130.5
Baylor has come on extremely strong in the last five weeks, winning 10 of their last 12. They’re led by seniors Cory Jefferson and Brady Heslip, who bring a lot of experience to the table. Nebraska has overachieved in 2013-2014, and their run should end here.
Prediction ATS: Baylor
(7) New Mexico-3 vs. (10) Stanford, 137
The Lobos could have easily been a No.5 or a No.6 six seed, but the selection committee didn’t seem to think much of the Mountain West. Cameron Bairstow is one of the best players in the South region, and he should help New Mexico get the win, following a disappointing second-round exit last season.
Prediction ATS: New Mexico
(1) Arizona-20 vs. (16) Weber State, 127.5
The Wildcats are giving Weber State a lot of points, but it’s not without good reason. Arizona didn’t come out of nowhere this year, starting the season ranked No.6 in the country. Still, they managed to go 20-13 against the spread.
Prediction ATS: Arizona
(6) UMass+4.5 vs. (11) Tennessee, 137
The Volunteers have played well in March, but Massachusetts was the more consistent team throughout the season. Tennessee is just 2-8 against teams that were selected to the tournament. The Minutemen’s recent losses have come against quality opponents, and they should beat Tennessee, who has become overvalued.
Prediction ATS: UMass
(3) Creighton-14 vs. (14) UL Lafayette, 154.5
When the Blue Jays take care of business, it’s usually not a close affair. Only five of Creighton’s 26 victories have come by less than double-digits. That trend isn’t like to change against a No.14 seed.
Prediction ATS: Creighton
(2) Kansas-14 vs. (15) Eastern Kentucky, 151
Even without Joel Embiid, Kansas should have an easy time against Eastern Kentucky. As the clear star player, Andrew Wiggins is beginning to live up to expectations, and the Colonels will have no answer for him.
Prediction ATS: Kansas
(8) Gonzaga+3 vs. (9) Oklahoma State, 139
With a potential top five draft pick at point guard, Oklahoma State is favored over the higher seed. While Marcus Smart will be the most talented player on the floor, he barely got his team into the tournament. The Cowboys have played better since Smart returned from his suspension, but the team still lost nine times with him on the court, including two of their last three. Gonzaga and their efficient offensive attack has a good chance to move on to the third round.
Prediction ATS: Gonzaga
(8) Memphis-3 vs. (9) George Washington, 142
George Washington went 11-5 in a strong Atlantic 10 conference that has six teams in the tournament. All of their losses, except for one, have come to teams that were ranked at the time of the contest or clubs that are still alive in the Big Dance. The Tigers could be looking at an upset in their first game.
Prediction ATS: George Washington
(1)Wichita State-16 vs. (16) Cal Poly, 125.5
The Shockers have taken a lot of flak for not playing a difficult schedule this season. However, they've proven they can dominate inferior opponents. Cal Poly has 14 losses against teams that weren’t good enough to make the tournament, and Friday's game could get out of hand quickly.
Prediction ATS: Wichita State
(6) North Carolina-4 vs. (11) Providence, 143.5
The Friars might be seeded too low at No.11. Providence is 23-11 this year, but most of their defeats have come to quality opponents. They’re playing well, having won the Big East Tournament, and could beat UNC, outright. Bryce Cotton and his 21.4 points per game have the ability to carry Providence to a few wins this weekend.
Prediction ATS: Providence
(5) VCU-6.5 vs. (12) Stephen F. Austin, 136.5
Stephen F. Austin has a chance to be one of the biggest surprises of this year’s tournament. While the Lumberjacks played a very easy schedule, they enter the Big Dance with only two losses. They are an unselfish team, ranking eighth in the country in assists, and have a chance to upset VCU.
Prediction ATS: Stephen F. Austin
(1) Virginia-21 vs. (16) Coastal Carolina, 122.5
When Virginia plays sub-par competition, they win big. The Cavaliers have won 11 games by at least 19 points, including two against tournament teams. Coastal Carolina is one of the worst teams in the field of 64, and they don’t stand a chance.
Prediction ATS: Virginia
(8) Kentucky-6.5 vs. (9) Kansas State, 132.5
Kentucky has become a sleeper for some experts to make a run to the Final Four. The team is more talented than Kansas State, but has struggled to put it all together. Their inconsistencies throughout the season have made them a No.8 seed, and there’s little reason to believe that will change during March Madness. Kansas State is on a three-game losing streak, but all those losses came to tournament teams. Even if they don’t win, Kansas State should be able to cover the 6.5 points.
Prediction ATS: Kansas State
(3) Iowa State-8 vs. (14) North Carolina Central, 145
Iowa State has strong chance of winning the South region. All but one of their losses have come to tournament teams, and they’ve won four in a row, all against schools that made it to the field of 64. North Carolina Central won’t have an answer for the Cyclones’ high-powered offense, which features three players that average at least 16.5 points per game.
Prediction ATS: Iowa State
(4) UCLA-8.5 vs. (13) Tulsa, 146
Only five teams, including UCLA, have more than 20 wins against the spread this season. The Bruins have played well of late, beating three tournament teams, en route to winning the Pac-12 Tournament. Tulsa hasn’t lost since Feb. 6, but none of those victories came against teams that reached the field of 68. They could be in for a rude awakening on Friday.
Prediction ATS: UCLA