The first round of March Madness 2017 didn’t feature much madness at all, considering there were only a handful of upsets and the top four seeds in each region advanced. That means college basketball’s best teams are still alive in the NCAA Tournament, and making predictions against the spread in the second round could be even more difficult.
Many brackets are largely unblemished heading into the Round of 32, but that won’t be the case by the end of the weekend. The 16 games slated for Saturday and Sunday include three No.4 vs. No.5 matchups, and two other games feature double-digit point spreads.
Below are picks against the spread for every second-round game in the 2017 NCAA Tournament, as well as updated betting odds at Las Vegas and online sportsbooks. Betting lines and trends are courtesy of OddsShark.
Saturday, March 18
No.5 Notre Dame (+2.5) vs. No.4 West Virginia
West Virginia is known for their press, but they’ll have a hard time rattling Notre Dame’s sure-handed backcourt. The Fighting Irish are the only team that reached the Elite Eight in each of the last two seasons, and they are playing well enough to make it back. Since the end of January, Notre Dame’s only losses have come at the hands of teams that are a No.1 or No.2 seed.
Prediction ATS: Notre Dame
No.8 Wisconsin vs. (+6) No.1 Villanova
The Badgers will be a tough out in March Madness. They were under-seeded at No.8 after finishing second in the Big Ten and reaching the finals of the conference tournament. Their NCAA Tournament experience should come in handy, and Bronson Koenig will give them a chance to pull off the upset if he can make eight threes like he did in the first round.
Prediction ATS: Wisconsin
No.8 Northwestern (+11) vs. No.1 Gonzaga
The Wildcats probably won’t win this game, but they’ll put up a fight. Prior to their loss to Wisconsin in the Big Ten Tournament, Northwestern had just one loss by more than 10 points. Look for the underdogs to hang around until Gonzaga finally pulls away in the final minutes.
Prediction ATS: Northwestern
No.11 Xavier (+6.5) vs. No.3 Florida State
Xavier looked like they have Cinderella potential in their first-round win over Maryland. They had little trouble with the No.6 seed as Trevon Bluiett scored 18 points in the second half. He might be on his way to becoming one of the stars of March Madness, and Florida State could have trouble finding an answer for him.
Prediction ATS: Xavier
No.12 Middle Tennessee (+3.5) vs. No.4 Butler
It’s easy to see why Middle Tennessee has become a popular pick to reach the Sweet 16. They easily handled Minnesota, looking like they should have been the No.5 seed. Butler, however, finished second in the nation’s second-best conference, and they are 9-0 since 2007 against lower seeded teams.
Prediction ATS: Butler
No.7 St. Mary’s (+5) vs. No.2 Arizona
Gonzaga is the only ranked team that St. Mary’s has faced this season, and the Bulldogs beat the No.7 seed by double-digits on all three occasions that they met. Arizona might be headed to the Final Four, and they shouldn’t have much trouble in the Round of 32.
Prediction ATS: Arizona
No.5 Virginia (+2) vs. No.4 Florida
With two of the country’s elite defenses, this won’t exactly be the most exciting game on the schedule. Virginia will likely be without forward Isaiah Wilkins, who leads the team in rebounds, blocks and steals. That could give the Gators an edge inside, helping them advance.
Prediction ATS: Florida
No.5 Iowa State (+1) vs. No.4 Purdue
Iowa State is one of the best shooting teams in the country, ranking in the top 13 in both three-pointers made and three-point percentage. Purdue has a tough frontcourt with the nation’s top big man in Caleb Swanigan. However, with 10 wins in their last 11 games and plenty of senior leadership, the Cyclones might be the best bet to advance.
Prediction ATS: Iowa State
Sunday, March 19
No.8 Arkansas (+10.5) at No.1 North Carolina
The Tar Heels entered the tournament as the favorites to win it all, and they looked like the nation’s best team with a 39-point victory in the first round. Justin Jackson and Co. will be too much for the Razorbacks, and North Carolina might not play a close game until the regional final.
Prediction ATS: North Carolina
No.11 Rhode Island (-5) vs. No.3 Oregon
Rhode Island is rounding into form just in time, and Oregon is susceptible to a second-round upset because of the injury to Chris Boucher. The Rams have now won nine in a row, and they haven’t given up more than 75 points in two months. Even if Rhode Island doesn’t win, this game should come down to the wire.
Prediction ATS: Rhode Island
No.7 Michigan (+2.5) vs. No.2 Louisville
The Wolverines’ hot streak might finally come to an end against Louisville. Michigan’s offense continues to play at a high level, but their defense has struggled against teams that can score. The Cardinals have a defense that can slow down the Wolverines, and they’ll take advantage of a Michigan team that allowed Oklahoma State to shoot 54.7 percent from the field and nearly double their rebound total in the first round.
Prediction ATS: Louisville
No.11 USC (+6.5) vs. No.3 Baylor
With two big comeback wins in the tournament, it’s hard to pick against the Trojans when they are getting nearly seven points. The Trojans might have built some momentum by winning in the opening round, and they’ve got a real chance to reach the Sweet 16.
Prediction ATS: USC
No.10 Wichita State (+4.5) vs. No.2 Kentucky
It’s quite clear that Wichita State shouldn’t have been a No.10 seed, and this game will be much closer than the seeds would indicate. The Shockers have won 16 games in a row, and they beat Dayton Friday despite having one of their worst offensive games of the season. Wichita State has the defense to keep Kentucky out of transition, which could result in a second-round upset.
Prediction ATS: Wichita State
No.9 Michigan State (+8) vs. No.1 Kansas
How can you bet against Michigan State when they are getting so many points? Tom Izzo continues to work his magic in March, leading the Spartans to an easy first-round win in a season that saw them lose 14 games. With almost a full year of experience under their belts, freshmen Miles Bridges and Nick Ward are looking like veterans, and they should help Michigan State stay in this one until the end.
Prediction ATS: Michigan State
No.7 South Carolina (+7.5) vs. No.2 Duke
There are certainly reasons to pick South Carolina. It will essentially be a home game for the Gamecocks since it’s being played in Greenville, South Carolina. Duke, however, remains the much better team. The Blue Devils won by 22 points Friday with leading-scorer Luke Kennard putting up just eight points, and Jayson Tatum continues to get better each night.
Prediction ATS: Duke
No.6 Cincinnati (+4) vs. No.3 UCLA
Cincinnati has a very good defense, but UCLA might have the best offense in the country. The Bruins have failed to score 75 points just once this season, and the Bearcats don’t have the offensive firepower to keep up.
Prediction ATS: UCLA