If you’ve enjoyed the opening round NCAA contests then get ready for March Madness action because Sunday’s slate of nationally-televised NCAA March Madness matchups all look quite intriguing. Each of the ensuing four games will air on the TNT family of stations.
2014 March Madness Round of 32 Picks
#4 UCLA Bruins Over #12 Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks 7:10 PM TBS
It’s nice and all that Stephen F. Austin got a huge upset win over VCU in the second round, but the buck stops here for the overachieving Lumberjacks.
UCLA will not be caught off guard after seeing this team pull off a huge upset, which is why I like the vastly more talented, deeper and bigger Bruins to win this one narrowly.
If there’s one thing the Bruins can do it’s score the ball and I believe they’re going to do just that in a high-scoring affair that is a lot more entertaining than most people expect it to be.
UCLA seems to play better against better competition and has gone 5-0 ATS in their last five games against a team with a winning SU record.
I know the Lumberjacks are 5-1 ATS in their last 6 non-conference games and have won an amazing 29 straight games, but the Bruins have gone 4-0 ATS in their last four neutral site games and I believe they are ready for the underrated Lumberjacks.
#3 Creighton Bluejays -3 Over #6 Baylor Bears 7:45 PM truTV
This contest will be a contrast in styles with Creighton being a cerebral team and Baylor relying mostly on flat-out athleticism.
Baylor pounded the snout out of overmatched Nebraska in their 74-60 second round win and I think they could very well give Creighton problems in this matchup.
However, when I look at the teams that Creighton has beaten this season…many of them far more athletic…and I can’t get away from the fact that this team plays so smart on every possession.
In the end, I think the Bluejays are going to hand the Bears a heartbreaking loss much like Iowa State did in the Big Ten Tournament last weekend. Besides, the Bluejays clearly have the best player on the floor in sweet-shooting forward Doug McDermott.
Baylor has gone 9-3-1 ATS in their last 13 games overall, but Creighton has been even better in going 5-0 ATS in their last five games against Big 12 ballclubs and 5-1 ATS in their last 6 non-conference games.
#1 Virginia Cavaliers Over #8 Memphis Tigers 8:40 PM TNT
The Memphis Tigers got a very nice win over George Washington to advance to this contest, but the party ends for the Tigers in this contest.
Virginia doesn’t seem to be very impressive – until you look up at the final score that is. The Cavaliers don’t have a big-name scorer and they don’t have a bunch of ‘high-flyers’ but what they do have is arguably the nation’s best ‘lock-down’ defense, which is why they’ll win and advance over a Memphis team that has had a fine season up to this point.
The Tigers are 0-4 ATS in their last 4 games following an SU or ATS win while Virginia has gone 5-0-1 ATS in their last 6 games following an ATS loss and a scorching 15-5-2 ATS in their last 22 games overall. Besides, when you allow just 55.4 points per game, it’s kind of hard to lose.
#1 Arizona Wildcats -6 Over #8 Gonzaga Bulldogs 9:40 PM TBS
If I had to describe Gonzaga’s opening round win over Oklahoma State, I would say ‘surprising’. However, looking back, I don’t think anyone really is. Sure, Marcus Smart is arguably the nation’s best point guard, let’s be honest about it…Oklahoma State isn’t the smartest team around. Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, they won’t find beating top-seeded Arizona quite so easy.
The Wildcats are loaded with NBA-talent and can beat teams both inside and out. I also believe Arizona is on a bit of a mission to prove they are really as good as any other elite title contender which is why I like them to win this one and cover the spread with just a tiny bit of room to spare.
While Gonzaga has gone 5-1 ATS in their last 6 games overall, the Bulldogs are also a dismal 4-9-1 ATS in their last 14 non-conference games and a disturbing 1-5-1 ATS in their last seven games against teams from the Pac-12.
Arizona is 6-1 ATS in their last seven NCAA Tournament games and a blistering 19-7 ATS in their last 26 non-conference games overall, not to mention the fact that Gonzaga doesn’t have an answer from either Aaron Gordon or Nick Johnson.