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2023 NCAA Tournament: Round 2 Picks & Predictions (Sunday)

by March 19, 2023
2023 NCAA Tournament: Round 2 Picks & Predictions (Sunday)

The Madness returns Sunday for even more jam-packed college basketball action! Before things tip off this afternoon be sure to get all of your betting picks placed. To help, here are our top picks for Sunday’s Round 2 action.

Also, take a look at our other best bets for Sunday:

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2023 NCAA Tournament Guide (March Madness)

Round 2 Picks & Predictions for the Round of 32

Xavier vs. Pittsburgh

The Xavier Musketeers are one of the best offenses in the nation. They’ve hit over 39% from downtown this season and have scored 54% from inside the arc.

The team is missing Zach Freemantle, who has been injured and is out for the remainder of the season. His absence has hurt, but the Musketeers still were able to roll past Kennesaw State to begin the NCAA Tournament.

However, Xavier made just two threes in that game, despite shooting over 39% from three throughout the season. That’s likely going to change against Pittsburgh.

Xavier’s too good of an offense to continue to miss wide-open looks from downtown.

On the other hand, Pittsburgh has already won two games in the NCAA Tournament. They’ve allowed a combined 100 points, or an average of 50 points per game in those two contests. The defense has stepped up but will struggle against a Xavier team that is ranked 8th in KenPom this year.

Let’s grab the Over 152 in this matchup. Pittsburgh’s defense won’t be nearly as effective against Xavier and the Panthers are still a top-30 offense according to KenPom. Xavier has allowed teams to shoot over 35% from downtown throughout the season.

Pick: Over 152 (-110)

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UConn vs. Saint Mary’s

This is a strength vs. strength matchup as UConn’s fourth-ranked adjusted offensive efficiency (per KenPom) meets Saint Mary’s eight-ranked defense. VCU was a trendy upset pick over Saint Mary’s as the Gaels had not seen much press in the West Coast Conference, and many figured the Rams’ unique style of play would give the Gaels fits. However, Saint Mary’s won the turnover battle 14-12, out-rebounded VCU 37-29, and won by 12 despite shooting just 3-of-17 (17.6%) from 3-point range.

UConn does have a distinct homecourt advantage playing more locally in Albany. Still, oddsmakers likely factored that into this point spread, which means Saint Mary’s is getting a lot of respect in this matchup. UConn’s big men tandem of Adama Sanogo and Donovan Clingan was too much to handle for a smaller Iona team, as they combined for 40 points and 22 rebounds. However, Saint Mary’s has the size necessary to compete with those two and has had plenty of experience guarding skilled big men, having seen Gonzaga’s Drew Timme three times.

No one seems to be picking the Gaels to win outright, but we are more than comfortable backing them on the point spread as a contrarian play.

Pick: Saint Mary’s +3.5 (-110)

Gonzaga vs. TCU

It is uncommon for Gonzaga not to be a No. 1 seed after being the No. 1 overall seed in each of the last two NCAA Tournaments. In addition, in the Mark Few era, the Bulldogs have been a No. 1 seed five times, more than they have been anything else.

Gonzaga’s “struggles” this year relative to their usual lofty preseason aspirations is largely because of struggles in the non-conference. The Bulldogs lost to Texas and Purdue by 18+ points each and Baylor by one point on a neutral court. If there is one thing Gonzaga has struggled with over the years, it is quick and athletic guards, which TCU has in droves. Losing Lampkin hurts TCU frontcourt depth, but the Horned Frogs used a blistering top-two Big 12 tempo to overcome the worst 3-point shooting percentage in league play (29.9%) and average 75.1 points per game.

TCU is a respectable 6-6 ATS as underdogs and covered six of 13 games against ranked opponents. Meanwhile, Gonzaga was awful in non-conference games, going just 4-10-1 ATS. That has not stopped 71% of early wagers from backing the Bulldogs, which has us comfortable on the other side as a contrarian play.

Pick: TCU +4.5 (-110)

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