NCAA Tournament 2021: Tips for Odds, Over-Under Scores on Updated BracketMarch 21, 2021
NCAA Tournament 2021: Tips for Odds, Over-Under Scores on Updated Bracket
Ohio State (No. 2 seed), Texas (No. 3) and Virginia (No. 4) were all strong teams that some predicted to make deep runs in the 2021 NCAA men's basketball tournament. Instead, all three were upset in the first round.
That's the unpredictability of March Madness, during which upsets always occur and Cinderella teams frequently rise up and make surprisingly deep runs through the tournament. This year, No. 13-seeded Ohio, No. 14-seeded Abilene Christian and No. 15-seeded Oral Roberts were the biggest surprise winners of the opening round.
Some things went as expected, though. Gonzaga, Illinois and Baylor (all of which are No. 1 seeds) won convincingly to open the tourney and appear poised to have strong showings.
It's time to start looking toward the second round, which begins with eight matchups Sunday. The winners of those games will secure spots in the Sweet 16.
Here's a look at Sunday's schedule, along with odds and picks for those eight second-round matchups.
Sunday Schedule, Odds, Picks
No. 1 Illinois (-7) vs. No. 8 Loyola-Chicago; Over/Under 133.5 points (12:10 p.m. ET, CBS)
No. 1 Baylor (-6) vs. No. 9 Wisconsin; O/U 137 (2:40 p.m. ET, CBS)
No. 3 West Virginia (-3.5) vs. No. 11 Syracuse; O/U 147.5 (5:15 p.m. ET, CBS)
No. 3 Arkansas vs. No. 6 Texas Tech (pk); O/U 140.5 (6:10 p.m. ET, TNT)
No. 2 Houston vs. No. 10 Rutgers (no line) (7:10 p.m. ET, TBS)
No. 7 Florida (-8) vs. No. 15 Oral Roberts; O/U 148 (7:45 p.m. ET, truTV)
No. 5 Villanova (-5.5) vs. No. 13 North Texas; O/U 127 (8:45 p.m. ET, TNT)
No. 4 Oklahoma State (-6) vs. No. 12 Oregon State; O/U 141 (9:40 p.m. ET, TBS)
Picks in bold against the spread. Odds via DraftKings Sportsbook.
Illinois, Baylor Should Win Handily Again
Illinois and Baylor had no trouble taking down No. 16 seeds in the opening round. The Fighting Illini cruised past Drexel 78-49, while the Bears defeated Hartford 79-55. But the competition will get tougher Sunday, when each of these teams will play a second-round matchup.
Illinois is facing No. 8-seeded Loyola-Chicago, a program that knows what it takes to become a Cinderella team. The Ramblers made a surprise run to the Final Four as a No. 11 seed in 2018. They opened this year's tournament with a 71-60 victory over No. 9-seeded Georgia Tech.
Baylor is taking on No. 9-seeded Wisconsin, which opened the tournament in impressive fashion. The Badgers beat No. 8-seeded North Carolina 85-62, becoming the first team to defeat the Tar Heels in the first round of the men's NCAA tourney since Roy Williams became UNC's coach before the 2003-04 season. Williams was 29-0 in first-round March Madness games in his illustrious coaching career entering this year.
While Illinois and Baylor could be tested more in the second round, there's no reason to think both teams won't win, cover the spread and advance to the Sweet 16. The Fighting Illini (seven-point favorites) and the Bears (six-point favorites) are two of the top teams in the country. They are going to overmatch their second-round opponents and won't face trouble until a later round.
Bet the Over on Oklahoma State-Oregon State
In the first round, No. 4-seeded Oklahoma State defeated No. 13-seeded Liberty 69-60. And that was in a game in which the Cowboys shot only 20 percent from three-point range and star point guard Cade Cunningham was held to 15 points on 3-of-14 shooting (including going 2-of-8 from behind the arc).
It's unlikely either of those things happens again in the second round, which should mean more offense from Oklahoma State. It will be facing No. 12-seeded Oregon State, which opened the tournament with a 70-56 victory over No. 5-seeded Tennessee. But the Beavers are also capable of putting up more offense than that.
Oklahoma State ranks third in the Big 12 in points per game (76.8) and second in field-goal percentage (46.6). Cunningham is averaging 20 points per game, but he's capable of even bigger totals when he gets hot, such as in the Big 12 tournament championship game, when he tallied 29 points in a loss to Texas.
Oregon State will have to keep up offensively if Cunningham plays at a high level and Oklahoma State starts knocking down three-pointers. And with an over-under points total of 141, it would be wise to bet the over for this matchup.
Oral Roberts Should at Least Cover Spread
Since the men's NCAA tournament expanded to a 64-team field in 1985, there had been only eight No. 15 seeds to upset a No. 2 seed in the opening round. On Friday, Oral Roberts became the ninth, doing so in impressive fashion by outlasting Ohio State in overtime for a 75-72 victory that few saw coming.
Can the Golden Eagles score another upset win and surprise the nation once again? They will be looking to beat No. 7-seeded Florida and become only the second No. 15 seed in March Madness history to reach the Sweet 16 (the first was Florida Gulf Coast in 2013).
Oral Roberts is the underdog again, with Florida being an eight-point favorite. But it's possible that even if the Golden Eagles are unsuccessful in notching another upset, they lose by seven or fewer points.
The duo of junior forward Kevin Obanor (30 points and 11 rebounds) and sophomore guard Max Abmas (29 points) were instrumental in Oral Roberts' first-round victory, and they both have the scoring ability to keep things close with the Gators. So don't be surprised if the Golden Eagles hang in this one until the end, making them an intriguing option to bet on covering the spread.
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