After a first round filled with some crazy finishes and big upsets, the big boys are starting to emerge and get some separation from the pack, while a few potential Cinderellas are still sticking around into the weekend. You don't have your traditional 5-12 upsets to pick and teams become a little bit harder to delineate. We've got some matchups that seem fairly cut and dried, but it's not going to be easy to win money this round. All your odds are available at Odds Shark.
No. 4 Kentucky vs. No. 5 West Virginia - The Wildcats are a 3 ½-point favorite after narrowly escaping Princeton's upset bid. West Virginia had a battle early with Clemson but pulled away late with relative ease. Kentucky brings one of the best offenses in the nation into this game, along with an extremely solid defense. Their problem has been consistency. However, they're on a role right now and I think the Princeton game will shake off the cobwebs. I'm going with the Wildcats to cover.
No. 2 Florida vs. No. UCLA - The Florida Gators currently sit as five point favorites against a UCLA squad that was rolling on Thursday before narrowly averting disaster late against Michigan State. Although Florida's blowout win on Thursday was only against a 15 seed, this line seems a little low to me. UCLA isn't a bad team but I think Florida is going to have their way with them and cover fairly easily.
No. 12 Richmond vs. No. 13 Morehead State - Richmond is a 3 ½-point favorite in a battle of the potential Cinderellas. The Spiders have several advantages, but Morehead State has a huge advantage on the boards thanks to Kenneth Faried. If they can take full advantage of the rebounding disparity, MSU could spring a second upset. However, I'm going to have to take Richmond to cover on this one.
No. 2 San Diego State vs. No. 7 Temple - The Aztecs are a six-point favorite and as previously mentioned remain my pick to win the whole thing. Temple escaped with a buzzer beater over Penn State. Statistically, KenPom.com indicates the two teams actually match up decently well. SDSU comes across as the better team, but not so much that they should blow this one out. The Aztecs had little trouble with Northern Colorado in getting their first ever NCAA tournament win. If Temple wants to spring the upset, an early lead could test SDSU's mettle given its lack of postseason success. I think SDSU wins and covers, but this could be a tough one for them.
No. 1 Pittsburgh vs. No. 8 Butler - The Pitt Panthers are an eight point favorite against the darling of last year's NCAA Tournament, the Butler Bulldogs. Butler did manage to buzzer-beating victory over Old Dominion, but it will be interesting to see what they can do when the level of competition is ratcheted up a notch. My heart sees a close loss for Butler, my head says go with Pitt to roll last year's Cinderella. If this was UNLV I'd bet my heart, but it's not so we're going with Pitt to cover.
No. 3 BYU vs. No. 11 Gonzaga - Although BYU opened as a one point favorite, the line has swung to Gonzaga, with the Bulldogs now a two point favorite. I'm a little surprised by this given the amount of Jimmer love in America, but I actually think Gonzaga takes this one. While Jimmer can be a one-man show, losing Brandon Davies has hurt BYU against teams with a strong inside presence. While Gonzaga doesn't have the inside presence of some teams, Robert Sacre, Elias Harris, Kelly Olynyk, and Sam Dower all bring some serious inside physicality. All four measure at over 6'7 and I just don't know if BYU has the inside depth to match up with that. I'm taking Gonzaga to cover.
No. 4 Wisconsin vs. No. 5 Kansas State - Wisconsin is a three-point favorite in this matchup. The Badgers might be one of the more undervalued teams in this tournament. They rate eighth overall in Ken Pomeroy's ratings, while K-State is 28th. The Badgers had little trouble with Belmont in the first round while KSU had to battle late to shake Utah State. Wisconsin brings an efficient offense to the table, although they closed the Big Ten season and tournament with some fairly abysmal performances. I think Wisconsin wins a close one but covers thanks to late free throws.
No. 3 Connecticut vs. No. 6 Cincinnati - UConn is a 3 ½-point favorite against the Bearcats. I was a little concerned about UConn's legs after winning five games in five days in the Big East Tournament. However, they had little trouble dispatching Bucknell. Cincinnati struggled early but eventually rolled Missouri with relative ease. These two teams are fairly evenly matched. Connecticut has the slight edge overall, and Kemba Walker is quite the difference-maker. If this line was a little larger I'd be concerned, but I think UConn can cover this.