Hello, friends. *extremely Jim Nance voice* I am Blakey Locks and I will be your guide this March. Every round I am going to traverse you through the trials and tribulations of betting your mortgage on 18-year-olds playing basketball. From Duke to Seton Hall to Gardner Webb, I will give you the knowledge necessary to conquer your bookie and feed your children. We will win together, lose together and laugh together. Let’s ride.
NCAA Tournament Record- (21-15)
Second Round- Saturday 3/23
The first round is in the books. I don’t know if it’s just me but I feel like it’s the most disappointing first round in a while. We had zero buzzer beaters and the only “big” upset was UC-Irvine against Kansas State which was one of the more popular upset picks of the round. Either way, we had two full days of college basketball so I will not complain. Now we’re on to the second round and we are starting to get some monster matchups. Let’s dominate today.
12:10 PM on CBS- (6) Maryland vs. (3) LSU (-2.5) o/u 146.5
This is matchup should be really fun to start the day. There are a ton of freak athletes on the floor on both sides. Maryland’s big man Bruno Fernando and LSU’s big man Naz Reid are both projected to be Top 20 picks in the NBA draft this year. Maryland plays really hard defense and could frustrate LSU who wants to run up and down and score. Both of these teams were pretty doubted in their first-round matchups but here they are. I think it’ll come down to whether LSU’s athleticism is just too much or if having no coach hurts them in a closer game. I think the Tigers have a chip on their shoulder.
The Pick: LSU -2.5
2:40 PM on CBS- (7) Wofford vs. (2) Kentucky (-5) o/u 140
Well folks, even without PJ Washington the Cayts are feeling themselves. It was Abilene Christian, but Kentucky still dominated their first-round opponent. But my Wofford Terriers actually did the same exact thing. They proved they belong with the big boys by absolutely thrashing Seton Hall in their first-round matchup. This game is inevitably going to come down to two things: will Wofford hit their threes like they did against Seton Hall and will they be able to stop Kentucky in the paint. I’m scared Kentucky may run away with this thing if Wofford gets cold. Cayts by 90.
The Pick: Kentucky -5
5:15 PM on CBS- (10) Florida vs. (2) Michigan (-6) o/u 123
Florida and Michigan are basically conference opponents at this point. They have faced on the tournament before and Florida whooped Michigan’s ass in the Peach Bowl this year. I’m not yet all in on this Michigan team. I know Beilein in March is untouchable but I think the Gators have enough to cover here. They’ve been playing great basketball the past few weeks.
The Pick: Florida +6
6:10 PM on TNT- (12) Murray State vs. (4) Florida State (-4.5) o/u 148
For people that hadn’t seen him play before, Ja Morant solidified why he should be the #2 pick in the draft this year. And even for people that knew what he could do, he put on an unbelievable show in the first round. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a player singularly dominate an entire game on single-digit shot attempts like Ja did. Florida State is going to have a ton of size inside and can score the ball really efficiently. Everything in my mind is telling me the Noles should win and cover but I think Ja might be on a magical run here.
The Pick: Murray State +4.5
7:10 PM on TBS- (9) Baylor vs. (1) Gonzaga (-14) o/u 147.5
Not a big enough sample size to really mean anything but still an interesting stat here. Baylor shot a ridiculous 47% from three against Syracuse to get to this game, while Gonzaga had the biggest margin of victory of the entire first round against FDU. There’s no way Baylor is going to be able to replicate that type of shooting performance again, especially against the Zags tough man defense. Kind of boring but I think the Zags cruise again and cover this 14.
The Pick: Gonzaga -14
7:45 PM on CBS- (10) Minnesota vs. (2) Michigan State (-10.5) o/u 141.5
Due to a new rule, conference opponents can meet in the second round if they only played once during the regular season. That’s why we are having our first conference matchup of the tournament here. Tom Izzo is embroiled in a mini-scandal for berating one of his players (for the record- who cares?) and his team seems to be worn down from that run to the B1G tournament championship. I think the familiarity and revenge factor will help Minnesota in this one. Sparty probably escapes but I think the Gophers can keep it close.
The Pick: Minnesota +10.5
8:40 PM on TNT- (6) Villanova vs. (3) Purdue (-3) o/u 138
Francesa has this in his must-watch category for today which means it will probably be a blowout or the final score will be like 19-26 or something like that. But despite Da Pope Curse, I am excited about this game. Purdue is always reliable and is the most under the radar really good team in this tournament. Nova is obviously the best March team of the past few years, but they just don’t have the magic this year. They didn’t cover (some numbers) against St. Mary’s and I think Purdue will be able to dominate the paint.
The Pick: Purdue -3
9:40 PM on TBS- (5) Auburn vs. (4) Kansas (+2.5) o/u 147.5
This sequence of events to end the game was wild. Auburn seemed to be in control most of the second half and then did everything in their power to blow that game. Kansas looked really impressive in an opening-round matchup against Northeastern where a lot of people, myself included, thought they would struggle. I think this might be the best game of the day to end the night. Bill Self and Bruce Pearl in a battle of red-faced coaches will be an epic battle. I think Auburn’s shooting luck may run out and the way they finished that game scares me. The fact that Kansas is catching points makes me like it even more. Rock Chalk.
The Pick: Kansas +2.5
It’s going to be another awesome day today. Hopefully we get some crazy upsets and buzzer beaters that we’ve been waiting for (as long as they don’t effect our money).