March Madness 2014 Bracket: Latest Picks and Odds Advice Before 3rd-Round Day 2

Shehan Peiris@@shehan_peiris_Correspondent IIIMarch 23, 2014

Stephen F. Austin forward Ben Brown-White, second from right, hugs teammate guard Thomas Walkup, right, after defeating Virginia Commonwealth 77-75 in overtime in a second-round game in the NCAA college basketball tournament Friday, March 21, 2014, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Denis Poroy)
Denis Poroy/Associated Press

Vegas might not get the money changing hands in office bracket pools across the country, but the casinos are doing just fine with all the betting on March Madness. Here are the odds and picks you should make for the second day of the round of 32.

All Your Bracket Essentials

Odds for Day 2 of Round 3
GameATS Pick
No. 2 Kansas vs. No. 10 StanfordKAN - 6
No. 1 Wichita State vs. No. 8 KentuckyWICH -4
No. 3 Iowa State vs. No. 6 North CarolinaUNC +1.5
No. 11 Tennessee vs. No. 14 MercerMER +7.5
No. 4 UCLA vs. No. 12 Stephen F. AustinSFA +9
No. 3 Creighton vs. No. 6 BaylorCRE -3.5
No. 1 Virginia vs. No. 8 MemphisVIR -6
No. 1 Arizona vs. No. 9 GonzagaARZ -6.5

Note: All odds courtesy of

Take North Carolina and the Points

David J. Phillip/Associated Press

The line on this game has shrunk in the wake of Georges Niang’s season-ending foot fracture, but if you’re quick, you’ll still get it while Iowa State is favored.

The Cyclones are one of the best teams in the country, and there is no doubt in my mind that they had as good a chance as anybody else of making it out of the East Region...until they lost one of their best players.

The duo of Melvin Ejim and DeAndre Kane can compete with anybody, but coach Fred Hoiberg’s team doesn’t have the depth to bounce back from the huge loss of Niang.

He is Iowa State's third-leading scorer, and a big chunk of the offense runs through the big man by exploiting his unique point-forward abilities.

North Carolina was hardly inspiring in its far-too-close-for-comfort win over Providence, but its depth—especially in the frontcourt—and the problem that James Michael McAdoo will now pose for the Niang-less Cyclones makes the Tar Heels a good pick here.

It’s a lot to ask of Iowa State to keep playing at a high level without such a critical member of the rotation.

The game will still be close, but you should roll with Roy Williams’ team.

Pick: North Carolina +1.5

Don’t Doubt the Might of the Underdog

Denis Poroy/Associated Press

Stephen F. Austin shocked the world by pulling off the upset of everybody’s favorite underdog VCU. But it’s easy (relatively speaking) to win one game against anybody, and that’s why America (and Vegas) are calling the UCLA Bruins nine-point favorites over the team that nobody had heard of before last week.

While everybody is underestimating the Lumberjacks, you should take advantage and make some money (or earn bragging rights) by picking Stephen F. Austin to cover the spread.

There are two reasons for this. The first is that the Lumberjacks are actually a good team.

They’ve won 29 straight games, and they’re ranked as the 33rd-best offense in the country, according to Ken Pomeroy’s advanced ratings.

That brings us to the second reason why you should pick Stephen F. Austin: UCLA does not play defense well. The Bruins gave up 70 points per game in the regular season, so what makes you think they’ll be able to stop an efficient Stephen F. Austin team with nothing to lose?

I’m not picking the Lumberjacks to pull off the upset, but they’ll play UCLA close and cover the spread.

Pick: Stephen F. Austin +9

Trust in "Doug McBuckets" and Pick the Bluejays

SAN ANTONIO, TX - MARCH 21: Doug McDermott #3 of the Creighton Bluejays reacts after a play in the first half against the Louisiana Lafayette Ragin Cajuns during the second round of the 2014 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at AT&T Center on March 21, 201
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Looking at the recent track record, it makes sense that Creighton is only favored by 3.5 points over the Baylor Bears.

Baylor has caught fire as of late, winning 10 of its last 12 games to enter the tournament as a No. 6 seed after it looked like it wouldn’t even be here in mid-January.

Based on talent, these two teams are fairly even, but two factors are working in Creighton’s favor.

The first is called Doug McDermott. The senior is regarded as a lock to win the Wooden Award, and he is the best scorer in the nation. When you can’t make up your mind about which team will win, always pick the team that has the best player on the court—and that’s Creighton.

But the Bluejays should be able to cover the spread comfortably because of their three-point shooting. Creighton led the nation in three-point percentage during the regular season, and that’s bad news for Baylor’s zone defense, which has been a big part of the team's recent success.

If the Bears make Creighton shoot from outside, the Bluejays will make them pay.

In McBuckets we trust.

Pick: Creighton -3.5


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