Since March Madness seems to always be rife with upsets, knowing which teams are the smart bets to beat the spread can be a huge leg up for those betting on the NCAA tournament.
While some teams are big favorites and can’t offer much to prospective bettors, oddsmakers devalue plenty of others simply because of their low seeds.
Read on to get the full schedule and odds for the second day of the round of 32, with a spotlight on some matchups that are particularly attractive bets.
|Game||Time (ET)||TV Info||Odds|
|(10) Stanford vs. (2) Kansas||12:15||CBS||KAN -6|
|(8) Kentucky vs. (1) Wichita State||2:45||CBS||WSU -4|
|(6) North Carolina vs. (3) Iowa State||5:15||CBS||IAST -1.5|
|(14) Mercer vs. (11) Tennessee||6:10||TNT||TENN -7.5|
|(12) Stephen F. Austin vs. (4) UCLA||7:10||TBS||UCLA -9|
|(6) Baylor vs. (3) Creigton||7:45||truTV||CREIGH -3.5|
|(8) Memphis vs. (1) Virginia||8:40||TNT||UVA -6|
|(8) Gonzaga vs. (1) Arizona||9:40||TBS||ARI -6.5|
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(12) Stephen F. Austin vs. (4) UCLA
The Bruins deserve to be favored over the little-known Lumberjacks, but Stephen F. Austin has real potential to surprise people in this one.
The Bruins are favored by nine, which makes sense given the difference in seeds between the two teams, but the Jacks won’t go down easily.
Instead, the underdogs have a real chance to either cover the spread or win outright in this one.
But the Lumberjacks love to play a slow, grind-it-out style that can neutralize offenses like UCLA’s. The Jacks play at a devastatingly slow pace—coming in at No. 267 in the country with 66.9 possessions per game—and that could be a real problem for the Bruins, as Yannis Koutroupis of Basketball Insiders notes:
After failing to get out of the opening weekend since 2008, optimism is high in Bruins country, especially since VCU was upset by Stephen F. Austin. However, the Lumberjacks are one of the most confident teams in the tournament right now and they rightfully feel like they can compete with anybody. The Bruins have to make sure to box out at every position and be patient defensively as the Lumberjacks are methodical and very accustomed to operating late in the shot clock.
The Jacks won’t be afraid of the Bruins and will do their best to slow things down at every possible opportunity.
That means that points will be at a premium, making it unlikely that UCLA will be able to get out to a big lead.
Even if Stephen F. Austin’s upset bid comes up short, it should get close enough to make betting against the Bruins’ big spread a smart call.
(8) Memphis vs. (1) Virginia
The Tigers had to struggle to get past the George Washington Colonials in their first game of the tournament, but that doesn’t mean that they pose no threat to the Cavaliers.
No. 1 seed Virginia is favored by six points in the matchup, but Memphis’ fast tempo might make the Cavs uncomfortable. After all, it’s not as if the Cavaliers looked particularly dominant as they struggled to overcome No. 16 Coastal Carolina.
Josh Pastner likes playing at a quick pace, so he’ll likely urge his Tigers to get things moving quickly. Tony Bennett will try and do the opposite, attempting to bring the game down a notch.
Clearly, this is a clash of two different styles—the two squads are separated by 312 spots in the rankings for possessions per game—and the outcome will be decided by which one can get the other to bend to its will.
Memphis has had some success doing so before. The Tigers beat the impressive Louisville Cardinals twice by forcing the normally slow Cards to speed up the tempo. Memphis scored 73 and 72 against them in their two games.
Given that the Tigers also nearly knocked off the Florida Gators early in the year, it’s clear that they have no problem taking on big names.
"As long as we think big and we play hard, the sky's the limit," Memphis guard Joe Jackson told The Associated Press via ESPN.com. "We've just got to continue to think that we can get there. We've got to know we can get there."
If the Tigers can get Virginia to pick up the pace, they can make this a close one.
Should they get hot from three-point range, they can even win it and really bust some brackets.
However, at the very least, they have to be considered good bets to cover the spread.
Memphis and Stephen F. Austin can make this tournament even crazier than it already is, and the odds for them to do so are ready to be exploited.