Everyone remembers Maryland-Baltimore County beating Virginia in the first No. 16 vs. No. 1 seed upset ever. No one remembers UMBC’s next game.
In the second round, UMBC lost, 50-43, in an ugly game against Kansas State. They covered a spread of 12 points.
It’s not much of a sample size, but there’s not much history about the No. 16 seed playing in the second round. Fairleigh Dickinson will be the second to do so, following a stunning upset of top seed Purdue. The Knights will draw No. 9 Florida Atlantic in the second round. FAU probably didn’t do much advance scouting of Fairleigh Dickinson.
Here are the picks for Sunday’s games, with odds from BetMGM:
Pitt (+5.5) over Xavier
Pitt could be a team that needed to get out of ACC play. The Panthers have looked good in their two tournament games. They can keep this game close.
Kansas State (+2.5) over Kentucky
Perhaps Kentucky is the rare team that underperforms all season and turns it on in the postseason. But it is quite rare. Usually, a mediocre team is mediocre for a good reason. It is not yet time to trust Britain.
Marquette (-2.5) over Michigan State
This line is a bit strange. Michigan State looked good in the first round, but it was against a mediocre USC team. Marquette has been one of the hottest teams in college basketball. Tom Izzo is a good tournament coach, but he doesn’t have the type of team to make a deep run. Marquette does.
UConn (-4.5) over St. Mary’s
St. Mary’s is good and this line is a bit high, but UConn is one of the top ranked teams in advanced metrics for a reason. The Huskies got off to a slow start in their first round, but came on strong and should continue that momentum.
Creighton (+1.5) over Baylor
This should be a great game. Creighton hasn’t lived up to the preseason hype, but it’s a good team with balance. Baylor’s defense can be a liability and that will be the difference.
Fairleigh Dickinson (+15.5) over Florida Atlantic
Not only was FDU the worst team in the NCAA Tournament field, the Knights were the worst by quite a large margin. Even after beating Purdue, they’re still only 275th in KenPom’s rankings. But momentum is a funny thing. And while Florida Atlantic is very good, it’s still surprising to see a No. 9 seed as a 15.5-point favorite. Might as well ride with FDU and all those points.
Miami (+1.5) over Indiana
The Big Ten hasn’t been bad this tournament, except for the entire No. 1 seed losing to a No. 16 seed. There is still some fear, and maybe Miami is a little underrated. The Hurricanes have a top-notch backcourt.
Gonzaga (-4.5) over TCU
Gonzaga has been playing at a very high level for many weeks. The Bulldogs have flown under the radar because they have set the bar high in recent years and took some losses early this season. Gonzaga could end up in a Final Four.
Saturday’s second round picks a record: 3-5
Tournament to date: 18-26