March Madness Picks Against The Spread – Saturday March 19th

After a sizzling hot 5-2 record yesterday, I’ve decided to push it a little further and pick all eight games today against the spread. Before the picks, a few quick awards from Round One (The Round of 64, not the dopey “play-in” games).

Best Conference Performance – A case could certainly be made for the Colonial, with VCU winning two games including last night’s blowout over Georgetown and George Mason’s thrilling win over Villanova. Even in their lone loss, Old Dominion played fantastic before losing to Butler on a put-back at the buzzer. A 3-1 record for a mid-major conference with no team seeded higher than #8 is impressive.

However, the conference award has to go to the Big Ten. Posting a combined 5-2 record was impressive, but the manner in which they won sealed the deal. Ohio State, Purdue, Wisconsin, Illinois and Michigan all blew-out their opponents, while their two “losers;” Michigan State and Penn State both fell by two points. In fact, the 21.2 point average margin is the third best conference performance in the history of the NCAA Tourney.

The “When We Said Goodbye, We Meant it Twice” Award – Goes to Bruce Pearl and Tennessee. The 75-45 loss to Michigan was humiliating; the largest #8 vs #9 point differential in NCAA history send the Vols packing, but it appears to have also done the same for embattled coach, Bruce Pearl. So let me get this straight… after serving an eight-game suspension, humiliating the university by lying to the NCAA; an action that has resulted in the coach being fired in more than 90% of documented cases, it is a LOSS in a “pick-em” game in the NCAA Tourney that is going to lead to the Coach being fired?? Let’s hope that if Pearl is sent packing, the co-culprit and hirer and boss of both Pearl and Lane Kiffen, Athletic Director Mike Hamilton is sent packing as well.

OK, I feel better now… on to today’s picks!

Crazy betting system went 3-1 last night… 4 more picks today… click here to get ’em 8)

Today’s March Madness Picks:

#5 West Virginia v. #4 Kentucky -4

Kentucky looked pretty shaky slipping past Princeton, while West Virginia played flawlessly beating Clemson. This is going to be a great game to kick off Round Two. Kentucky might end up winning the game, but I can’t lay four in a game that feels a lot more like a pick-em. Gimme West Virginia.

FREE PICK: West Virginia +4

#7 UCLA v. #2 Florida -6

UCLA played an amazing 36 minutes Thursday night. The four terrible minutes were the last four, as a 23 point lead turned into a daring 2-point escape. Florida is playing another de facto home game, and even though I have been critical of their overly-high seed, they are the better team in this game. However, as a rule, I try to avoid wide point spreads in neutral floor tournament games against teams with similar talent levels from major conferences. I like Florida to win, but will take UCLA with the points.

FREE PICK: UCLA +6

#13 Morehead State v. #12 Richmond -4

In only the ninth #12 vs #13 matchup in NCAA Tourney history, the two highest remaining seeds left in the draw square off. Morehead State pulled the shocker of the Opening Round, ousting the Louisville Cardinals. However, for Kenneth Farried and Morehead, the run ends today at the hands of a very, very good Richmond team. Keep in mind, this is a Richmond team that made the tourney last year, and owns wins over Temple, Purdue and three other Top 50 teams.

FREE PICK: Richmond -4

#7 Temple v. #2 San Diego State -5.5

San Diego State cleared one major hurdle already; winning their first NCAA Tournament game in their school’s history. Now, they take on another new role – trying to avoid an upset against a quality opponent in Round Two. I think this is going to be a tightly contested game, but I like SDSU to advance, and pull away late to get the slim cover. At the end of the day, forget the name on the jersey, SDSU has a pro-talent in Kawhi Leonard, a NCAA Tourney winning coach in Steve Fischer, and an athletic roster than defends like maniacs.

FREE PICK: San Diego State -5.5

#9 Butler v. #1Pittsburgh -7.5

Does anyone else beside me just NOT trust Pitt in the NCAA Tournament?? I am not sure they LOSE today, but Butler, despite some physical disadvantages, simply knows how to win in March. Don’t underestimate Butler’s backcourt of Shelvin Mack and Ronald Nored either; the pair is every bit as good as Pitt’s backcourt. Matt Howard HAS to stay out of foul trouble, or Gary McGhee will eat them raw in the paint, and it is goin to be a challenge to defend Ashton Gibbs.

In spite of all that, I really like Butler to do no worse than cover.

FREE PICK: Butler +7.5

#11 Gonzaga -1.5 v. #3 BYU

You aren’t reading it wrong; #11 Gonzaga is a one and a half point favorite of the BYU Jimmer Fredettes. It makes sense; after the suspension of Brandon Davies, Gonzaga is certainly a more athletic ballclub and has more size, including x-factor Robert Sacre.

However, is BYU being up against a more-athletic team with more size really a new phenomenon?? They’ve gone through it, successfully, many times before, and I think Jimmer goes bananas today and they do it again. Though, if Noah Hartzog gets in early foul trouble again, things are going to be difficult… This might be the one of the eight I’d most likely NOT bet – but I’m picking all eight games today…

FREE PICK: BYU Cougars +1.5

#5 Kansas State v. #4 Wisconsin -3.5

There are some incredible matchups in this game; Jacob Pullen against Jordan Taylor, John Lueur against Curtis Kelly; and the two team’s styles couldn’t be any more different. In this clash of tempos and size, I like Kansas State to prevail. Jacob Pullen is one of the best closers in the college game, and if it’s close, that’s the guy I want with the ball. Wisconsin looked good in Round One, but the last five times they have played a quality, athletic ball club away from the Kohl Center, they’ve lost. I think they lose today too. I like KSU straight-up, in addition to getting the 3.5

FREE PICK: Kansas State +3.5

#6 Cincinnati v. #3 Connecticut -3.5

At least neither team needs a scouting report today. UConn dispatched Cincinnati with relative ease in their last matchup and will be looking to do it again when it really counts. If you looked at just the first, and last months of the season, UConn is #1 in the country and Kemba Walker is the National Player of the Year without debate. However, it is the middle third of the season that keeps UConn from being viewed as elite; and also kept today’s line at a really low 3.5 points.

UConn is the hottest team in the country. They own 14 wins against teams that made the NCAA Tournament, and have beaten six teams seeded #4 or better in the regular season and Big East Tourney. UConn is really good, and playing their best basketball of the season. It’s a tough matchup for Cincinnati (who I admittedly missed on in the first round). UConn wins tonight and covers the 3.5 with comfort. This is my favorite game of the day – I feel confident in the Huskies covering, and expected the line to be more in the 6.5-7 range.

FREE PICK: UConn -3.5

Crazy betting system went 3-1 last night… 4 more picks today… click here to get ’em 8)

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Chris Scheeren / Author

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