12:10 PM EST
Notre Dame +3 over West Virginia (2u)
This is a great matchup for Notre Dame because the way you beat West Virginia is by limiting turnovers and making your free throws. Notre Dame is one of the top free throw shooting teams in the nation and are ranked #1 in the nation allowing the fewest turnovers per game. West Virginia forced 15 turnovers against Bucknell but they also gave up a ton of easy buckets when the Bison broke their press. This Notre Dame team is even more talented than Bucknell so they should really be able to punish West Virginia on the press. The Fighting Irish is a veteran team who showed they can handle adversity in their close win over Princeton and I like them to advance today but we will take the points here because it’s Madness and you take every point you can get. Take Notre Dame.
8:40 PM EST
Virginia +1.5 over Florida (2u)
There is no question the offense of Virginia is brutal but they finally got it going during the second half of their first round game and ended up scoring 76 points. I just love this matchup with them being tested playing against a very competitive ACC while Florida struggled against a weak SEC schedule. Florida is going to really will miss their center in this game and they aren’t used to seeing the suffocating defense the Cavaliers play. Vaughn really struggled last game and if that happens again, Florida will be sent packing. This total is really low which tells me Vegas thinks Virginia dictates this pace, and with the better coaching that makes a difference on these short turn around games. This game is going to be a nail biter but I like Virginia to win this by a bucket or two. Take Virginia.
7:10 PM EST
Butler -2.5 over Middle Tennessee State (2u) Butler/Middle Tennessee State Under 140.5 (1u)
Middle Tennessee State seems like the sexy pick here, but there is just no value in this line. If you are asking me who I’m taking between a Big East school and one from C-USA you can bet it will be the Big East School if I am not getting at least 8 points. Yes, the Blue Raiders are red hot, have some great athletes and a great program but Butler is the far better team and have a resume you can’t ignore. We are talking about a team who played a very difficult schedule this year and have big wins over Arizona, Villanova, Xavier, Indiana, Northwestern, Cincy, Bucknell and Vandy (all post season teams). Butler will eventually lose because of their lack of rebounding, but today their smarts and coaching ability should get them by. Both of these teams also have great defenses but have been scoring a lot themselves so this total is really inflated so I like the under as well. Take Butler & the under.
7:45 PM EST
Purdue -1 over Iowa State (3u)
Iowa State is the kind of team that I love to fade in the tournament because teams that are so heavily reliant on the three ball never advance very far. Purdue has the best player on the floor in Swanigan and has a huge edge in rebounding, especially on the defensive glass. Iowa State is going to have to shoot lights out to win this game and I just don’t see that happening against this defense. The Big 10 was really criticized for being a joke conference but has been very impressive in the opening rounds and I like Purdue to make a big statement in this game that they are for real. They have the huge edge with Swanigan and also have the luxory of replacing him with 7-2 Isaac Haas off the bench. Unless they really fail to get back on defense and give up lots of points in transition against this quicker Iowa State team Purdue should win this game by close to double digits. Take Purdue.
7:45 PM EST
St. Mary’s +5 over Arizona (3u)
St Mary’s is not a college team. They are playing on a college level, but they are essentially an Australian International Team who shoots the ball extremely well and does not make mistakes. This is not good news for a young Arizona team that strives off of teams turning the ball over. Athletically this St. Mary’s team is really underrated. This team has size, can rebound and has great guard play. I know they were destroyed by Gonzaga three times in a row but playing them got them practice against top tier teams. This is also not well known but for three consecutive years, the Wildcats held a closed scrimmage with the Gaels in place of a second exhibition game before the season. These teams are very familiar with each other and in the most recent exhibition game, St. Mary’s killed them in a game where they made 17 threes. The Gaels aren’t going to be intimidated in this spot. Saint Mary’s plays elite defense and if they can protect the ball, the tempo in this game won’t be fast enough for either team to take a huge lead. This game should go right down to the wire. Take St. Mary’s