2021 NCAA Tournament Second Round Bets: Day 2

Mar 21, 2021
2021 NCAA Tournament Second Round Bets: Day 2

Closing out an exciting debut weekend of March Madness, the NCAA Tournament offers eight solid games on Monday. With highly competitive contests across the board, betting markets remain exploitable even at this time of year.

For house-keeping purposes, the NCAA uses quadrant wins to rank strength of schedule for these teams. A quadrant-one win is defined as home games against Rating Percentage Index (RPI) top-30 teams, neutral games against RPI top-50 teams, and away games against RPI top-75 teams. With that said, let’s dig into the top bets for the Saturday slate of the first round of the NCAA tournament.

2021 NCAA Tournament Second Round Bets: Day 2

Alabama (2) vs. Maryland (10)

Alabama -5.5 (-110 at FanDuel)

After running through Iona in round one, Alabama draws Maryland in the second round as 5.5-point favorites. Alabama took down the SEC regular season and SEC championship with a 25-6 record. On the other side, Maryland squeaked into the tournament after finishing 9-11 in conference play. However, after an upset victory over UConn, Maryland remains a trendy upset pick.

While both teams played competitive schedules this year, Alabama holds significant edges over Maryland. Alabama ranks 87th in offensive efficiency and 18th in defensive efficiency. Meanwhile, Maryland enters this contest ranked 117th on offense and 137th on defense.

Alabama often fields a smaller lineup, leading to a defensive weakness inside. However, this stylistic matchup suits Alabama. Maryland plays with a narrow rotation, but their tallest starter remains just 6-foot-7. Maryland’s biggest asset is their 36% three-point shooting. However, Alabama ranks 10th in the country in three-point defense, creating problems for the Terrapins here.

On the other side, Alabama plays with incredible pace with four elite weapons. Herbert Jones stands 6-foot-8 and possesses the skill to play every position on the floor. Jahvon Quinerly shoots 45% from three, while John Petty and Jaden Shackelford lead the team in overall scoring.

With Alabama holding talent and efficiency advantages, the Crimson Tide remain a solid bet against the spread.

Risk: 1.1 units on Alabama -5.5 points on FanDuel to win 1 unit.

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Michigan (1) vs. LSU (8)

LSU/Michigan Game Total Over 149 Points (-110 at FanDuel)

Both LSU and Michigan enter this second-round matchup after steamrolling their first-round opponents. With Isaiah Livers out indefinitely due to a foot injury, the 5.5-point spread in Michigan’s favor looks dicey. Rather than hit the spread, the 149-point total remains depressed with two high-octane offenses in this game.

LSU in particular plays with incredible pace. The Tigers average 74.4 possessions per game with their hyper-efficient 14th-ranked offense. Michigan plays with an average pace, but they also possess one of the most efficient offenses in the country. The Wolverines rank 17th overall in offensive efficiency.

Increasingly efficient down the stretch, LSU’s offense has scored at least 70 points in every game since February 3rd. This stretch of games also includes a few elite defenses in Alabama, Arkansas and Tennessee. Michigan ranks 58th in overall defensive efficiency, but Livers’s absence likely reduces this number. Likewise, they only rank 151st against three-point shots, where LSU’s Javonte Smart shoots over 40%.

As for Michigan’s offense, LSU holds major defensive weaknesses. The Tigers rank 225th in overall defensive efficiency and 240th in interior defense. Michigan’s strength remains their frontcourt with Hunter Dickinson and Franz Wagner. One of the most efficient big men in the conference, Dickinson averages 14.3 points and 7.4 rebounds per game.

With both teams playing elite offense and displaying defensive weaknesses, the over looks like the top bet in this contest between LSU and Michigan.

Risk: 1.1 units on LSU/Michigan game total over 149 points on FanDuel to win 1 unit.

Kansas (3) vs. USC (6)

USC -1 (-110 at FanDuel)

After an absolute dismantling of Drake in the first round, USC draws Kansas in the second round. After keeping the game close, Kansas eventually pulled away from Eastern Washington in the second half to win by nine points. USC possesses numerous advantages in this spot, despite remaining just a slight favorite.

Importantly, Kansas continues to battle COVID-19 issues. Both David McCormack and Jalen Wilson return for Kansas, but neither is expected to play a full allotment of minutes. Wilson in particular will be playing in his first game back after spending over a week in quarantine.

This uncertainty in the frontcourt created specific problems against a USC team with stud center Evan Moble, who has been averaging 16.8 points and 8.7 rebounds per game. Even McCormack and Wilson will each cede two and four inches of height, respectively, to Mobley. Behind Mobley, USC also possesses strong depth in the frontcourt with Isaiah Mobley and Drew Peterson both standing at least 6-foot-8.

For Kansas’ offensive matchup, USC ranks 196th in three-point defense. Kansas remains an average shooting team, hitting 35% per game. Ochai Agbaji shoots 38.5% from three, but both Marcus Garrett and Christian Braun have struggled beyond the arc this year. With neither shooting even 35% individually, Kansas may dedicate added attention in Agbaji’s direction.

Either way, USC’s strength in the frontcourt matches up well against a Kansas team still reeling from a COVID-19 outbreak during the conference tournament.

Risk: 1.1 units on USC -1 point on FanDuel to win 1 unit.

*All lines accurate at the time of publication.

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