With their recent late season surge, a countless number of basketball pundits all over the country are suddenly picking ‘sweetheart’ title contender and No. 4 seed Michigan State to win the 2014 March Madness national championship.
While that may or may not come to pass, the Spartans will undoubtedly have some legitimate competition to win this region and advance out of this bracket no matter what some hoops analysts would have you believe.
Keep abreast of each and every NCAA Championship Tournament matchup with our informative 2014 March Madness tip times TV schedule .
Now, let’s get started.
2014 March Madness Second Round East Region Free Picks
Analysis: With five players that average double figures in scoring and another that chips in 9.3 points per contest, there’s no doubt that the Harvard Crimson (26-4 SU, 16-8 ATS, 10-14 O/U) can certainly score the ball (73.6 ppg). However, it is Harvard’s 13th-ranked defense (60.5 ppg) that has routinely shut down opponents all season long and could give the more athletic Cincinnati Bearcats (27-6 SU, 13-14 ATS, 7-20 O/U) a scare in this matchup.
Cincinnati is jus t 3-3 SU and a dismal 0-3 ATS over its last three games, but they do play much stiffer competition and this is the same ballclub that took down tourney sweetheart pick Louisville on the road before falling to their American Athletic Conference counterparts by one point at home on Feb. 22.
While I really like the Crimson and believe that they’ll have a chance to surprise in this one, I can’t bring myself to advise collegiate hoops gamblers to bet against the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde-like Bearcats.
Cincinnati has compiled a solid 5-2 ATS mark in their L/7 non-conference games and I believe their superior athleticism – and smothering, sixth-ranked defense (58.3 ppg) will be enough to get them the SU and narrow ATS wins in this second round matchup.
The Pick: Cincinnati Bearcats -2.5 Points
Analysis: I think it’s nice that No. 15 seed Wisconsin-Milwaukee (21-13 SU, 20-12 ATS, 16-15 O/U) have won five straight games including their 69-63 win over Wright State in the Horizon League Conference Tournament Championship last week, but unfortunately, this is where the buck stops for the Panthers.
Not only are the Villanova Wildcats (28-4 SU, 21-9 ATS, 18-11-1 O/U) the superior team at both ends of the floor, but the athletic and underrated ballclub enter the 2014 NCAA Tournament with something of a chip on their collective shoulders after suffering a heartbreaking 64-63 buzzer-beater of a home loss to Seton Hall in the quarterfinals of the annual Big East Tournament just over a month removed from a 70-53 pounding they laid on the Pirates on Feb. 2 no less.
Prior to losing their last contest, Villanova beat Georgetown by 16 points, Xavier by 7, Marquette by 17 and Butler by 19. I think it’s more than reasonable to expect the Wildcats to cover the spread even as a 17-point favorite.
Wisconsin-Milwaukee is just 2-6-1 ATS in its last nine games against Big East opponents while Villanova has gone 8-1 ATS in its L/9 non-conference games.
While I am picking Villanova to win and cash in here, college basketball bettors should know that Villanova has compiled a winless 0-5 ATS mark in its last five NCAA Tournament games.
The Pick: Villanova -16 Points/Under 140 Total Points
Analysis: You may not know it, but the North Carolina Central Eagles (28-5 SU, 2-1-1 ATS, 1-2-1 O/U) have won an insane 20 consecutive games, including their MEAC conference championship win over Morgan State . Unfortunately, the Eagles haven’t fared well against opponents in Iowa State ‘s (26-7 SU, 16-15 ATS, 17-13-1 O/U) class of contender.
NC Central lost to Maryland 70-56, Wichita State 77-66 and Cincinnati 74- 61 in matchups against D-I schools though they did manage to beat NC State 82- 72 in overtime on the road in November.
Nevertheless, the Cyclones enter March Madness riding an impressive four-game winning streak that includes ‘payback’ wins over Big 12 Conference rivals and NCAA tourney participants, Kansas , Kansas State and Baylor.
Not only has Iowa State also gone 8-2 SU over their last 10 games, but more importantly, they’ve cashed in for their betting backers in each of their last four games and five times in their L/7 overall.
The Cyclones have four players that average double figures in scoring and two true star players in forward Melvin Ejim (18.1 ppg) and guard DeAndre Kane (17.0 ppg). Iowa State averages approximately 11.0 rebounds per game more than the Eagles and they’re simply in a different class of caliber than what NC Central is used to playing against. Ejim and the Cyclones will win this one easily to cover the spread.