March Madness 2011: Picks and Predictions Against the Spread for the Round of 32
March Madness is underway and the second round did not disappoint, as it was filled with buzzer-beaters, thrilling shots and upsets galore.
The next round should be just as exciting, as the field gets smaller and the teams vie to advance to the next round and the right to play next week.
My March Madness Picks against the spread for the previous round were successful, so I am back to try it again in this third round.
To clarify, if any picks are labeled as "Upset Alert," I predict they will win the game outright as an underdog.
Here are the picks against the spread for every game in the round of 32.
No. 5 West Virginia vs. No. 4 Kentucky
J. Meric/Getty Images
This will be one of the better games on tap in the round of 32, as West Virginia and Kentucky have some history, dating back to last year, when the Mountaineers knocked the Wildcats out of the tournament.
In fact, head coach Bob Huggins seems to have the number of the Kentucky Wildcats, most notably Jon Calipari. Huggins is 8-1 against Calipari-coached teams, including a 73-66 win last year as the Mountaineers advanced to the Final Four.
Although West Virginia plays well against the Wildcats, the latest March Madness odds have Kentucky listed as four-point favorites.
West Virginia uses a 1-3-1 zone that gives the Wildcats fits and forces the guards to make outside jumpers as they try and break it down. This will put extreme pressure on young guard Brandon Wright, and he struggled in his first outing against Princeton.
West Virginia’s Joe Mazzulla gives the Mountaineers experience, and the Mountaineers have some sports betting trends that favor them in this contest.
The Mountaineers are an amazing 13-3-1 against the spread in their last 17 NCAA Tournament games and the Wildcats are 2-5 ATS in their last seven neutral-site games as a favorite. The Wildcats lose again to Bob Huggins as the Mountaineers advance.
March Madness Pick: Upset Alert - West Virginia (+4)
No. 7 UCLA vs. No. 2 Florida
J. Meric/Getty Images
The UCLA Bruins busted a few brackets when they eliminated Tom Izzo and the Michigan State Spartans in the second round of the tournament. Now they will try to slay a bigger dragon when they go up against the Florida Gators.
The latest odds have the Gators listed as a five-point favorite for this game. The Gators easily won the first round, but will have a bigger challenge in the round of 32. In fact, they will have a very big challenge.
That challenge is Bruins center Josh Smith. Smith is a huge presence down low and a game changer. He cleans the glass and blocks shots, while daring opposing guards to drive the lane.
If the Bruins want to win this game, they will need to make more free throws. They squandered a big lead to the Spartans by missing nine of 12 free throws in the final 1:31 of the game. If they do that again against the Gators, they won’t have a shot.
The Gators have plenty of size on their team to counter with. With four players 6-foot-9 or taller in their eight-player rotation, the Gators can take advantage of moving the ball and scoring from all over the floor.
UCLA is banged up entering this game and just does not have the talent to take down Florida.
The Bruins are 8-20-1 against the spread in their last 29 games following a win against the number, and they are 4-10 against the spread in the last 14 games on a neutral court.
The Gators are 6-1-1 ATS in their last eight games overall, and they will beat UCLA and move on in the tournament.
March Madness Pick: Florida (-5)
No. 13 Morehead State vs. No. 12 Richmond
Justin Edmonds/Getty Images
The Richmond Spiders beat No. 5 Vanderbilt in the first round, but that is not a huge shocker, considering the Spiders have plenty of talent and were the A-10 Conference Tournament Champions. While this upset was impressive, it did not compare to the one that Morehead State pulled off.
Morehead State pulled off the unthinkable by beating the Louisville Cardinals on a three-pointer as time was expiring.
These Cinderella teams meet to see who can advance to the next round. The latest March Madness Odds have the Spiders as 3.5-point favorites in this game.
Kevin Anderson is the player to watch on the Spiders and he will be able to roam around the perimeter with little challenge, but the player to watch in the game will be Morehead State’s Kenneth Faried.
Faried is a rebounding machine and will change the game in the post. He had an off-game in the matchup against Louisville and still played a significant role. Eagles coach Donnie Tyndall uses Faried as a centerpiece, as Faried demands double teams, leaving the perimeter available for open shots.
The Eagles are 10-2 against the spread (ATS) in their last 12 neutral site games and 4-1 ATS in the last five games as an underdog.
Faried will be the difference in this game and the improbable run for the Eagles continues, as Morehead state advances to the Sweet 16.
March Madness Picks: Upset Alert - Morehead State Eagles (+4)
No. 7 Temple vs. No. 2 San Diego State
Ethan Miller/Getty Images
Betting on a team the public likes is usually a bad move, but in this case it is the only move.
The public loves the San Diego State Aztecs, as they are just 5.5-point favorites against Temple.
The Temple Owls beat Penn State on a last-minute shot and are known for their scrappy defensive play. Juan Fernandez leads the Owls and can make things happen, but this game is San Diego State’s to lose.
The Aztecs have the edge on size, are more athletic, and will have a home-court atmosphere. Kawhi Leonard and Billy White both had double-doubles in the first game and should be able to control the paint against the Owls. The Aztecs should control the boards and the game.
The Owls are 1-4 against the spread in their last five games against a team with a winning record and 1-4 against the spread in the last five games overall.
The Aztecs are 16-5-1 ATS in their last 22 games against a team with a winning record and should dominate in this game against the Owls.
March Madness Picks: San Diego State (-5.5)
No. 6 Cincinnati Bearcats vs. No. 3 UConn Huskies
Nick Laham/Getty Images
The UConn Huskies had one of the most impressive victories in the second round, as they crushed Bucknell wire-to-wire. Kemba Walker and Co. had their way with Bucknell and cruised to the round of 32, where they will take on the Cincinnati Bearcats.
The latest line for this game is a bit stunning as the Huskies should be a much bigger favorite, but in March, anything can happen.
The Bearcats beat Missouri to advance to this game and will play a familiar Big East foe in the round of 32. I predicted an early exit for the Huskies in a previous article, and this is the game that could knock the Huskies out of the tournament.
The Bearcats have not beaten UConn, but they did have some regular season success against Walker. Walker made 5-of-11 field goal attempts and just 1-of-4 three-point tries against the Bearcats in their meeting this year.
The Bearcats defense is underrated as they force 14 turnovers per game and could play a major role in this game. They have five players that can drain the three and make this game much closer than people think.
The Huskies are 2-6 against the spread in their last eight games as a favorite of 0.5-6.5 and Bearcats are 6-1 ATS in their last seven neutral-site games. The Bearcats pull off the biggest upset of the round of 32, by bouncing the Huskies.
March Madness Picks: Upset Alert - Bearcats (+3.5)
No. 1 Pittsburgh vs. No. 8 Butler
Chris Trotman/Getty Images
The No. 1-seeded Pittsburgh Panthers do not seem to be getting any respect. While many of the experts are touting Duke, Ohio State, and Kansas to go to the Final Four, not many are choosing the Panthers.
Now they will have to face off against upset-minded Butler.
The Panthers are eight-point chalk over Butler for this game.
Both teams are defensive minded, and Butler is led down low by Matt Howard, who hit the game winner in the first round game.
In this game, Howard will have some trouble getting loose as he will be guarded by Nasir Robinson, who can defend the post and the perimeter.
Ashton Gibbs and Brad Wanamaker are great guards who can run various types of offenses, and the Panthers use a physical game to wear down their opponent.
The Panthers are 4-1 against the spread in their last five games as a favorite and take down Butler in blowout fashion.
March Madness Picks: Pittsburgh (-8)
No. 11 Gonzaga vs. No. 3 BYU
Ethan Miller/Getty Images
This game tips off in Denver, which means both fan bases should be represented when Gonzaga battles BYU.
Gonzaga upset St. John's in the second round and will face off against Jimmer Fredette and the BYU Cougars. In a previous article, I wrote that using the Vegas Odds as a tool to fill out your bracket is a smart move. This game is a perfect example of that.
The latest March Madness Odds have Gonzaga listed as 1.5-point favorites over the Cougars, and that should raise some eyebrows.
Gonzaga is an 11-seed and they are favored over a 3-seed? How can that be? Well simply put, its because the Zags are the better team.
Elias Harris and 7-foot center Robert Sacre give the Zags an edge down low that will allow them to control the boards and the tempo of the game.
The Cougars are 1-5 against the spread in their last six NCAA Tournament games as an underdog, and 2-8 ATS in their last 10 neutral-site games.
Fredette will get his points, but it won’t be enough to beat Gonzaga.
March Madness Picks: Gonzaga (-1.5)
No. 5 Kansas State vs. No. 4 Wisconsin
Chris Chambers/Getty Images
The Kansas State Wildcats and the Wisconsin Badgers were two teams on upset alert in the second round, but they emerged with easy victories in their games.
Frank Martin’s Wildcat team executed flawlessly against Utah State, and they looked like they could easily make a run to the Final Four. The Badgers performed similarly against Belmont, and this game has the potential to be one of the best of the day.
The latest odds have the Badgers listed as 3.5-point favorites.
Kansas State senior point guard Jacob Pullen controls the offense and is a floor general in the true sense of the term. He runs a quick-paced offense that preys on the opposition with a herky-jerky style that works for Kansas State.
The Badgers are the opposite and like to use a slow-style, half-court set that allows for control of the game clock. Point guard Jordan Taylor leads the team, and any player on the roster can sink the three ball.
The Taylor vs. Pullen matchup will be fun to watch, but the Badgers' size will be too much for the Wildcats to handle.
The Wildcats are 3-7 against the spread in their last 10 games as an underdog, and the Badgers are 4-1 against the spread in their last five non-conference games. The Badgers eliminate the Wildcats in a closely contested game.
March Madness Pick: Wisconsin (-3.5)
No. 11 VCU vs. No. 3 Purdue
Jamie Squire/Getty Images
You have to hand it to VCU. No one gave this team a chance to win one game in the tournament, and they have already won two. They crushed Georgetown and now have the attention of the nation as they engage in battle with No. 3 Purdue.
As expected, Purdue is a nine-point favorite over the Rams, but VCU still believes they have a shot.
VCU’s 3-point shooters went 12-of-25 from three-point range against Georgetown, and that will be hard to duplicate in back-to-back games. While VCU has been a great story, the run will end against Purdue.
E’Twaun Moore and JaJuan Johnson will be difficult to stop, and Purdue will wear down VCU early and run away with this game.
The Boilermakers are 12-5 against the spread in their last 17 games as a favorite and 5-2 ATS in their last seven non-conference games. Midnight strikes for this Cinderella, and Purdue wins big.
March Madness Picks: Purdue (-9)
No. 9 Illinois vs. No. 1 Kansas
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
The Kansas Jayhawks struggled in their first game of the tournament against Boston University before pulling away in the second half of the game. Illinois had their way with UNLV, winning easily from wire-to-wire.
Kansas is an 8.5-point favorite in this game as they are expected to beat Illinois.
Kansas coach Bill Self will be motivated to win this game as he goes up against his former school. Illinois fans would love to see Self lose, after he bolted the team to take the Kansas job.
Guard Demetri McCarney is the best player on Illinois and Self will need to find a way to slow him down.
Marcus and Markieff Morris will do their best to make sure that they run away with this game early, but Illinois has plenty of senior talent that won’t wilt under the spotlight.
The Fighting Illini are 8-2 against the spread in their last 10 games as an underdog of 7.0-12.5 and will not go down without a fight.
The Jayhawks are 0-4 ATS in their last four NCAA Tournament games and this game is closer than most people think.
March Madness Pick: Illinois (+8.5)
No. 10 Florida State vs. No. 2 Notre Dame
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
The Florida State Seminoles eliminated Texas A&M in the second round with great defense and the super play of Chris Singleton.
Notre Dame easily won their first game and will get the first challenge of the tournament when they take on the Seminoles.
The Irish are listed as five-point favorites over Florida State.
Ben Hansbrough is a tremendous player, but he will get a test against one of the stingiest defenses in the country.
Florida State leads the nation in field goal percentage defense and will be able to hold the Irish to a low percentage, making this game very winnable.
Derwin Kitchen is the X-factor in this game, and if he drains the outside shot and the Noles find a steady offensive production, they will upset the Irish.
March Madness Picks: Upset Special - Florida State (+5)
No. 8 Michigan vs. No. 1 Duke
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
No. 8 Michigan looked unstoppable in the victory over Tennessee and if they can play like that again, they do have a shot of beating the No. 1-seeded Duke Blue Devils.
As expected, the Blue Devils are 11.5-point favorites over Michigan.
The Duke Blue Devils are the defending champions and in the first game against Hampton, they saw the return of Kyrie Irving to the lineup.
Although he showed a bit of rust, Irving was the high scorer in the first game and provides yet another weapon for Coach K.
The Wolverines are 4-12 against the spread in their last 16 games after allowing fewer than 50 points in their previous game, and the Blue Devils are 6-1 ATS in their last seven NCAA Tournament games.
Laying double-digit chalk is never advised in the NCAA Tournament, but the Blue Devils will win big in this matchup.
March Madness Pick: Duke (-11.5)
No. 7 Washington vs. No. 2 North Carolina
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
The Tar Heels easily extinguished LIU in the second round, while Washington had some difficulty in eliminating Georgia.
The latest March Madness Odds are surprising for this game, as North Carolina could have been listed as a much bigger favorite. The odds are low for a reason, and it’s because Washington is a very difficult matchup for the Heels.
Isaiah Thomas is an electric leader on the court and he can run the fast-paced offense better than nearly anyone in the country.
Senior Matthew Bryan-Amaning is the Pac-10’s most improved player and is making great strides this season. He will be a big factor in this game against North Carolina and one of the reasons the Huskies will win this game.
The Tar Heels won the first game, but looked sloppy with unneeded turnovers. The Tar Heels are 2-8 against the spread in their last 10 after scoring 100 points or more in their previous game and 1-5-1 ATS in their last seven neutral site games as a favorite.
The Huskies are 5-1-1 ATS in their last seven non-conference games and pull off the huge upset.
March Madness Picks: Upset Alert - Washington (+3)
No. 8 George Mason vs. No. 1 Ohio State
Andy Lyons/Getty Images
If George Mason wants to duplicate their previous Final Four run, they will need to take down the No. 1-seeded Ohio State Buckeyes.
The Buckeyes are expected to defeat George Mason easily, as they are labeled as 11 point favorites in this game.
Jared Sullinger is a tough matchup for George Mason, but this is just the start of things. The Patriots have no answer for the backcourt of William Buford and David Lighty and will struggle to keep this game close.
The Buckeyes are well rested thanks to the blowout over UTSA, and they will knock out George Mason with ease.
The Patriots are 2-6 against the spread in their last eight neutral site games as an underdog and the Buckeyes are 4-0 ATS in their last four non-conference games.
March Madness Pick: Ohio State (-11)
No. 11 Marquette vs. No. 3 Syracuse
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
In a Big East battle, the Syracuse Orange will take on the Marquette Golden Eagles for the second time this year.
Syracuse is a five-point favorite in this game and Syracuse comes in looking for some revenge. The Golden Eagles beat Syracuse in the first meeting and they tore apart the famous zone that the Orange uses.
The team has improved defensively, but it won’t change the problems that the Golden Eagles present. Darius Johnson-Odom and Jimmy Butler don’t mind the zone, because they can shoot and pass over the top and penetrate when necessary.
The Golden Eagles are 13-5 against the spread in their last 18 games as an underdog and are putting Syracuse on upset alert.
March Madness Picks: Upset Alert - Marquette (+5)
No. 5 Arizona vs. No. 4 Texas
Jeff Gross/Getty Images
The best game for Sunday afternoon could easily be the battle between the Texas Longhorns and the Arizona Wildcats.
The Longhorns enter this game as six-point favorites over the Wildcats. Arizona narrowly escaped a run by Memphis to get the win in the second round and now will fight Texas for the right to advance.
Derrick Williams is the best player on Arizona, and easily one of the top players in the country. He can shoot the three, distribute the ball, and he gets to the line often in clutch moments.
Jordan Hamilton is a talented guard that will create shots for other players and drive to the hoop, but this game will be decided down low. Tristan Thompson will have to defend and perform if they have any hopes of knocking out Arizona.
The Longhorns are 2-8 ATS in their last 10 NCAA Tournament games as a favorite of 0.5-6.5, and the Wildcats are 10-1 ATS in their last 11 against the Big 12. This game will come down to the wire, and Arizona could easily pull off the upset.
March Madness Picks: Upset Special - Arizona +6
Enjoy March Madness as the field dwindles down to the Sweet Sixteen.
Matt Regaw is a B/R Featured Columnist and the founder of BookieBlitz.com, your one-stop shop for sports articles, previews and predictions. Feel free to contact Matt at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Other March Madness Articles