When you’re picking second-round spreads, there’s a different dynamic to consider here with the teams involved. Everyone here has won a game, but some teams are genuinely just happy to still be playing and others are starting to believe they can make a real run. Plus, some of the big names might be in position to get a real scare for the first time in this event.
Most of what you know from the season should still work, but it’s smart to take in motivation when trying to solve this equation and find the right games to bet. Here are my best spread picks for Day 3.
Creighton vs. Kansas
Pick: Kansas -11.5 (-110)
Creighton used up a lot of energy trying to come back against San Diego State, and the Bluejays might not have enough to deal with the Jayhawks and their stern defense. Kansas tends to lock down on its opponents, and the Jayhawks have held six straight teams in the 60s.
Not coincidentally, five of those games have been covers for Kansas, including a rout of Texas Southern. Given that Creighton had to go to overtime against San Diego State, the Bluejays probably don’t have enough left to hang with Kansas for 40 minutes.
Saint Mary’s vs. UCLA
Pick: Saint Mary’s +3.5 (-120)
The Gaels won easily against Indiana and played earlier than UCLA, giving them extra rest before this matchup. The Bruins had to stagger to the end against Akron, surviving in the game’s final two minutes. Saint Mary’s has proven itself a genuinely strong team that now comes in with nothing to lose, and unlike UCLA, it actually managed to beat Gonzaga earlier this year.
UCLA might have experience, but Saint Mary’s would love nothing more than to beat the power conference school from down the coast. This shapes up to be one of the tightest games of the second round and probably won’t be decided by more than one basket. I’ll take the free possession with the much more rested Gaels.
Memphis vs. Gonzaga
Pick: Gonzaga -10 (-110)
Memphis looked great in the first few minutes against Boise State, but there’s a big jump between the Broncos and the consensus favorite to win the title. Gonzaga showed just how good it can be in the second half when it zipped by Georgia State, and after that scare, the Bulldogs should be ready to roll.
The big concern with Memphis is that it doesn’t take care of the basketball and doesn’t have much in the way of depth. That’s terrible preparation for Gonzaga, which should punish the Tigers for their mistakes with the ball. Memphis turned it over 15 times against the Broncos; that won’t work against the Bulldogs.
Saint Peter’s vs. Murray State
Pick: Saint Peter’s +8.5 (-110)
This might not be the greatest matchup for Saint Peter’s, but Murray State has been allowing teams to hang around with it unless the opponent has been Belmont. The Racers are just 2-4 ATS in their past six games, and they needed overtime to land the cover against San Francisco.
There’s a big worry that Saint Peter’s will still be thinking about Kentucky and won’t deliver much in its second game, but they’ve got a better chance to produce a good game here because they’re not facing another big name. The Peacocks have no reason to fear Murray State and should play another strong game. Saint Peter’s has been the best ATS squad in the nation, and with Murray State’s lack of ATS wins in recent weeks, there’s value here.