NCAA tournament best bets: Picks against the spread for Monday’s games

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The second round of the 2021 NCAA tournament continues Monday with an eight-game slate that will determine the field for the Sweet 16 this weekend.

VSiN betting experts Greg Peterson, Tim Murray and Matt Youmans offer their best bets for the second day of the Round of 32.

No. 13 Ohio vs. No. 5 Creighton (-5.5, 150)

Peterson: Creighton was fortunate to survive against UC Santa Barbara, despite its massive weakness: The Bluejays rank dead last in the country in free-throw shooting percentage in road and neutral court games. Ohio (17th) scores more points per possession than Creighton (32nd) and the Bluejays do not give themselves many second chances, ranking 269th in the country in offensive rebound rate, grabbing a rebound on 22.1% of their misses.

Pick: Ohio +5.5

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No. 6 USC (-1, 135) vs. No. 3 Kansas

Peterson: Kansas will have starting forward Jalen Wilson back after missing the team’s victory over Eastern Washington per COVID protocols, but I don’t think it will be enough against a USC team that is 22nd in the country in offensive rebound rate, getting a second chance on 33.2% of their missed shots. The Trojans are also second in the country in opponents’ two-point shooting percentage and guard Tahj Eaddy entered into the NCAA tournament in a big run, averaging 15.3 points per game while making 43.5% of his three-pointers in the last 12 games before the tourney.

Pick: USC -1

Murray: Kansas was able to survive a first-round scare, defeating Eastern Washington 93-84. More good news for the Jayhawks is that Wilson, who led Kansas in rebounding and was third on the team in scoring, is returning. After dominating Drake, USC should be able to use its size to contain Kansas. Freshman forward Evan Mobley had 17 points and 11 rebounds against Drake. Mobley averaged three blocks per game this season and will make life quite challenging for Kansas forward David McCormack, who had 22 points and nine rebounds against Eastern Washington.

The Trojans are 10th in the country in defensive efficiency and will attack the offensive glass all night. If McCormack gets into foul trouble, it could be a long night for Kansas.

Lastly, how can you fade USC head coach Andy Enfield? He is 8-0 ATS all-time in the NCAA tournament.

Pick: USC ML (-120)

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Evan Mobley had 17 points and 11 rebounds, and USC opened the gap in the second half to beat Drake 72-56 in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

No. 7 Oregon vs. No. 2 Iowa (-4, 144)

Peterson: Iowa is 221st in the country in opponent three-point shooting percentage defense and has to face a well-rested Oregon team that has five different players averaging over 10 points per game and shoot over 35.5% from three-point range. Oregon has also been consistent on defense, giving up more than 75 points just once in their past 25 games while Iowa is third in the country in points scored on a per possessions basis and the fewest turnovers per possession of any team in the country. Iowa is 5-8-1 against the spread away from Iowa City and allows opponents to rebound 27.4% of their misses.

Pick: Oregon +5.5

No. 8 LSU vs. No. 1 Michigan (-5, 148.5)

Youmans: It’s obvious the Big Ten’s strength has been overhyped by the media. I do not think Michigan is an overrated team. The Wolverines truly had NCAA title potential, but that was before senior guard Isaiah Livers was sidelined by injury. Livers, the team’s No. 2 scorer, was especially important on the offensive end because his presence spread the floor and created better scoring opportunities for others. Seven-foot freshman Hunter Dickinson will be a matchup problem for the Tigers, who are a little soft inside. The Wolverines are not a deep team, though, and Livers’ absence will begin to become a problem. LSU excels in fast-paced games, and Michigan wants to slow the tempo and win with defense. Freshman guard Cameron Thomas scored 27 points in the Tigers’ 76-61 victory over St. Bonaventure in the first round. Thomas is a star who gives LSU a legit shot to win this game.

Pick: LSU +5.5

No. 5 Colorado vs. No. 4 Florida State (-1.5, 138.5)

Youmans: My worst bet of the tournament was on Georgetown in its 23-point loss to Colorado. The Hoyas failed to defend the three-point line and paid for it. I typically fade a team after a red-hot shooting outing — the Buffaloes shot 16 for 25 on threes and 60.7% from the field for the game — and expect Colorado to return to reality against the Seminoles. On the flip side, Florida State’s first-round performance was less than inspiring. M.J. Walker and Scottie Barnes, two of the Seminoles’ top three scorers, combined for just eight points. This is a buy-low spot on Florida State, a team with the talent to reach the Final Four. The Buffaloes have a lower ceiling.

Pick: FSU -1.5

No. 14 Abilene Christian vs. No. 11 UCLA (-4.5, 134)

Peterson: Abilene Christian was able to get past Texas by forcing 23 turnovers to overcome shooting 29.9 percent from the floor. UCLA point guard Tyger Campbell should be more mindful with the ball with an assist-to-turnover ratio of 2.9 and is able to dish it to a pair of guys that are shooting over 40% from three-point range in Jaime Jaquez and Jules Bernard. Abilene Christian does not have a single player averaging more than 5.5 rebounds per game and UCLA allows opponents to rebound just 22.3 percent of their missed shots.

Pick: UCLA -4.5

Coming off its victory over BYU in the first round of the NCAA tournament, UCLA is eager to reach the Sweet 16 with a win over Abilene Christian.

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No. 10 Maryland vs. No. 2 Alabama (-6, 137.5)

Peterson: The Crimson Tide rely upon outside shooting to get their offense going, as 46.6 percent of their field goal attempts come from three-point range and 39.7 percent of their points, both rank in the top 20 among DI teams.

Maryland has had a tough time defending the three-point arc, ranking 197th in opponent three-point shooting percentage and rank 132nd in points allowed on a per possession basis.

There should be plenty of clean possessions in this game as Maryland ranks 281st in the country in turnovers forced on a per possession basis and the 11 times per game they turn it over is 32nd.

Pick: Over 137.5

No. 8 Oklahoma vs. No. 1 Gonzaga (-14, 154)

Peterson: While Gonzaga is scoring the most points on a per possession basis in the country, the Bulldogs are also a solid defensive team, giving up 71 points or fewer in 12 of their last 15 games and rank 11th in the country in points given up in a per possession basis. Oklahoma will be without their second-leading scorer De’Vion Harmon, who contributes 12.9 points per game and the Sooners are not generating a lot of extra opportunities as it is, ranking 180th in the country in percentage of their missed shots that result in an offensive rebound and are 12th in the lowest percentage of field goal attempts faced on defense that result in free throw opportunities.

Pick: Under 154.5

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