The 2015 NCAA Tournament officially got underway on Tuesday, but March Madness truly begins on Thursday with the Round of 64. Over two days, 32 games will be played as teams begin their quest to win college basketball’s national championship.
Kentucky is the No.1 overall seed, and they are the biggest favorites in what is technically the second round. They are giving No.16 Hampton 34.5 points in their Thursday night contest. While it won’t be easy for the Wildcats to cover the spread, 10 of their 34 victories have come by 30 points or more.
While a No.16 seed has never beaten a No.1 seed, teams are getting closer to doing so. In 2014, three of the four No.1 vs No.16 matchups were decided by 12 points or less.
The most difficult Thursday game to predict seems to be the matchup between No.8-seeded Cincinnati and No.9-seeded Purdue. The Boilermakers had opened the week as favorites, but the betting line has since moved to a pick’em. Historically, the No.9 seed has a slight edge over the No.8 seed.
Cincinnati isn’t the only underdog with a higher seed than their opponent. No.11-seeded Texas was almost left out of the field, but they are giving No.6-seeded Butler 1.5 points. No.10-seeded Ohio State is a comfortable four-point favorite over No.7-seeded VCU, who was upset as a No.5 seed in last year’s tournament.
Below are the Las Vegas point spreads and over/unders for Thursday’s second round games, as well as picks against the spread for each contest.
No.3 Notre Dame (-12) vs. No.14 Northeastern, 141
Prediction ATS: Notre Dame
No.3 Iowa State (-14) vs. No.14 UAB, 144.5
Prediction ATS: Iowa State
No.3 Baylor (-9) vs. No.14 Georgia State, 127.5
Prediction ATS: Baylor
No.2 Arizona (-23.5) vs. No.15 Texas Southern, 134
Prediction ATS: Arizona
No.6 Butler (+1.5) vs. No.11 Texas, 124
Prediction ATS: Texas
No.6 SMU (-4) vs. No.11 UCLA, 133
Prediction ATS: SMU
No.6 Xavier (-3) vs. No.11 Ole Miss, 145
Prediction ATS: Xavier
No.7 VCU (+4) vs. No.10 Ohio State, 137
Prediction ATS: Ohio State
No.1 Villanova (-23) vs. No.16 Lafayette, 145
Prediction ATS: Lafayette
No.8 Cincinnati (PK) vs. No.9 Purdue, 117.5
Prediction ATS: Purdue
No.4 North Carolina (-10.5) vs. No.13 Harvard, 133
Prediction ATS: Harvard
No.5 Utah (-6.5) vs. No.12 Stephen F. Austin, 131
Prediction ATS: Stephen F. Austin
No.8 N.C. State (-2) vs. No.9 LSU, 139.5
Prediction ATS: N.C. State
No.1 Kentucky (-34.5) vs. No.16 Hampton, 134.5
Prediction ATS: Hampton
No.5 Arkansas (-7.5) vs. No.12 Wofford, 137
Prediction ATS: Arkansas
No.4 Georgetown (-8) vs. No.13 Eastern Washington, 146.5
Prediction ATS: Eastern Washington