Was your bracket busted after the first round of the 2023 NCAA Tournament? Stupid question, right? Good news, though — even if you’ve already lost half of your Sweet 16 and a couple of Final Four teams, you can still make some money during March Madness by betting on individual games. That starts with Saturday’s second-round matchups.
It’s important to remember that no matter how a team looked in the first round, it’s just one game. Houston struggled, Penn State dominated, Furman and Princeton surprised (and got a little lucky) — that’s all well and good, but none of it matters much as we head into the second round. Each game brings a new set of variables, matchups, and numbers to crunch.
Below, we sort through the stats to break down Saturday’s eight games and offer up our picks on the moneyline, against-the-spread, and for the over/under.
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March Madness picks, predictions for Saturday’s Round 2 Matchups
Odds courtesy of Sports Interaction
No. 5 San Diego State (-6) vs. No. 13 Furman (South)
San Diego State is the better overall team by far, and it couples defense with a much more uptempo and effective offense than Virginia did against Furman in Round 1. Furman will not keep its glorious run rolling through the Sweet 16, simply because it does not stack up well against SDSU’s main rotational pieces. The Cavaliers played into the Paladins’ hands on Thursday, but the Aztecs won’t be nearly as accommodating Saturday night.
Prediction: San Diego State 69, Furman 61. San Diego State (-6) covers the spread with the game going UNDER the total (138). — Sloan Piva
MORE ANALYSIS: SDSU-Furman full betting preview
No. 5 Duke (-3.5) vs. No. 4 Tennessee (East)
Duke is on a whole different stratosphere than Tennessee offensively, and we’ve already seen the Blue Devils take down a defensive powerhouse (Virginia) on the big stage recently (the ACC title game doesn’t measure up to March Madness, but it sure comes close). Considering Tennessee struggled to get past the Ragin’ Cajuns in the first round, we think Jon Scheyer’s squad will handle the Volunteers in convincing fashion this weekend.
Prediction: Duke 69, Tennessee 63. Duke (-3.5) covers the spread with the game going OVER the total (128). — Piva
MORE ANALYSIS: Duke-Tennessee full betting preview
No. 1 Kansas (-3.5) vs. No. 8 Arkansas (West)
Both offenses want to live in transition, setting this game up for a potential high-possession track meet. The Razorbacks match up well with the Jayhawks and are long enough to make Kansas uncomfortable, but ultimately, Kansas’ consistency on the offensive end is enough to take care of the stingy Razorbacks. Arkansas keeps things competitive for the first 30 minutes, but Kansas pulls away down the stretch en route to a Sweet 16 appearance.
Prediction: Kansas 74, Arkansas 68. Kansas (-3.5) covers the spread with the game going UNDER the total (144). — Nick Musial
MORE ANALYSIS: Kansas-Arkansas full betting preview
No. 7 Missouri (-6.5) vs. No. 15 Princeton (South)
Missouri’s ability to push the pace on offense and space the floor with its plethora of shooters should be enough to notch a multi-possession win over Princeton. Princeton’s come-from-behind victory over Arizona showcased that it can knock off anyone in the country, but Missouri’s a tough team to play on a quick turnaround, and their ninth-rated offense hits enough shots to advance to the second weekend.
Prediction: Missouri 78, Princeton 68. Missouri (-6.5) covers the spread with the game going UNDER the total (150.5). — Musial
MORE ANALYSIS: Missouri-Princeton full betting preview
No. 1 Houston (-5.5) vs. No. 9 Auburn (Midwest)
Auburn has a very strong opportunity to mount the upset of the second round. the Tigers have a strong, athletic rotation and they’re basically playing in their backyard. Houston, who just struggled at times with a 16 seed, could be without star Marcus Sasser, and apparently Kelvin Sampson is “very concerned” about Jamal Shead’s knee. We might roll out a two-way teaser with Auburn’s spread and the OVER, but we’re more than likely just going to bet the Tigers’ spread on its own and hope for some more history.
Prediction: Auburn 72, Houston 69. Auburn (+5.5) wins straight up and the OVER hits with ease (131.5). — Piva
MORE ANALYSIS: Houston-Auburn full betting preview
No. 2 Texas (-5.5) vs. No. 10 Penn State (Midwest)
The Nittany Lions had a nice win over Texas A&M to open up the tournament, but the Longhorns are the better defensive team, which will help them to come away with the win. Marcus Carr and Tyrese Hunter will battle it out with Jalen Pickett and Seth Lundy. However, Dylan Disu will be the x-factor in this game, as Penn State doesn’t have a big that can match him offensively. The senior forward is averaging 14 points and eight rebounds per game in his past five games.
Prediction: Texas 75, Penn State 71. Penn State (+5.5) covers the spread, with the game going OVER the total (140). — Jovan Alford
MORE ANALYSIS: Texas-Penn State full betting preview
No. 2 UCLA (-7.5) vs. No. 7 Northwestern (West)
Both teams can play excellent defense and have guards who can take over games. However, we like UCLA to come away with the win and cover the spread. The Wildcats lost the battle on the glass in their first-round win, but this time it will hurt them, as the Bruins are averaging 35.8 rebounds per game. UCLA also shoots the three-ball better (34.6 percent), giving them a decisive advantage against Northwestern.
Prediction: UCLA 68, Northwestern 60. UCLA (-7.5) covers the spread, with the game going OVER the total (127). — Alford
MORE ANALYSIS: UCLA-Northwestern full betting preview
No. 1 Alabama (-8) vs. No. 8 Maryland (South)
You may want to buy a couple of points or throw Alabama’s spread into a teaser, but we’re confidently going with the Tide to keep rolling. Oats has his squad doing just about everything well, and they managed to win by 21 in the first round despite superstar freshman Brandon Miller failing to make one of his five field goal attempts. (Oats says Miller injured his groin in Alabama’s SEC Championship victory, but we don’t think he would risk playing him in the opening round if he was nursing a serious injury.) Don’t expect Alabama to pull an Arizona and fizzle into nothingness late in this game. This squad has what it takes to smash through the bracket on a collision course with history, and no Terrapin can slow that kind of momentum.
Prediction: Alabama 80, Maryland 68. Alabama (-8) covers the spread with the game going OVER the total (144). — Piva
MORE ANALYSIS: Alabama-Maryland full betting preview