March Madness is already off to an amazing start. Between the comebacks of Western Kentucky and BYU, the excitement level is already through the roof. It’s about to get even crazier on Thursday, when 16 2nd round games are played.
To be completely honest, a lot of the opening matchups could be blowouts. The key with March Madness picks is finding those upsets, or at least great betting lines. It can be hard at times, but I’ve identified the four matchups I like the most and feel confident with compared to other March Madness picks.
#7 Gonzaga vs. #10 West Virginia
This game is listed on most websites with Gonzaga as a 1-point favorite. While both teams are pretty even, you have to consider the location. Gonzaga has to travel to from the Pacific Northwest to Pittsburgh. Meanwhile, the Mountaineers can jump in their car and get there in an hour. The game will feel like a home game for West Virginia, which should give them the edge. Expect West Virginia to win this game straight up.
Pick: West Virginia (+1)
#6 Murray State vs. #11 Colorado State
There was a time that I was not a believer of Murray State. However, I think they will come out motivated in the NCAA tournament to prove that they just weren’t benefactors of a soft schedule. Murray State, led by All-American candidate Isaiah Canaan, were ranked #12 in the country in the last AP poll. That should have put them as a #3 or #4 seed in the tournament. I think Murray State matches up well with Colorado State and should win by more than the 4-point spread would indicate.
Pick: Murray State (-4)
#8 Iowa State vs. #9 Connecticut
The defending champions have really struggled this season. If you asked me for my March Madness picks back in November, I would have picked Connecticut to make the Final Four. Andre Drummond and Jeremy Lamb are future lottery picks, and I just feel like there is no way they bow out in the second round. They know a matchup with Kentucky waits for them next if they can beat a solid Iowa State team. I expect Connecticut to win this game, even though it won’t be too easy. However, the -1.5 spread should be enough for them to cover.
Pick: Connecticut (-1.5)
#2 Ohio State vs. #15 Loyola (MD)
I tried to stay with close games with my March Madness picks, but I feel like this spread is a little too much. No, I don’t expect Loyola (MD) to beat Ohio State, but I think they can keep it closer than the 17.5 point spread. Loyola (MD) is a team that loves to get out and run. They can really score the ball. Their unique style of play could easily catch Ohio State off guard. The Buckeyes are good, but they have shown this season that they can hit rough spots. Expect Loyola (MD) to hang around for a while, and end up losing by 10-12 points or so.
Pick: Loyola (MD) (+17.5)