With the 2014 NCAA Basketball Tournament set to get underway in earnest on Thursday, March 20, everyone is studying, calculating and praying for their March Madness bets and brackets.
With three of last year’s Final Four teams, the Midwest Region is shaping up to be the toughest region in the 2014 NCAA Tournament. Undefeated Wichita State, Duke, Michigan and defending national champion Louisville Cardinals are all strong contenders to go deep in this years bracket.
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Now, let’s get started with one of the very top contenders to come out of this bracket, although they’ve been given a surprising No.4 seed in the Midwest .
March Madness 2014 Second Round Midwest Region Expert Picks
Analysis: Not only have the Louisville Cardinals won an impressive five consecutive games, including the first-ever AAC Conference crown, but Rick Pitino’s blistering ballclub has actually won nine of ten with eight of those wins coming by double digits. The Cardinals have compiled an eye-opening average margin of victory of 27.4 points over the stretch with six of those wins coming by at least 22 points.
No. 13 Manhattan (29-5 SU, 19-13 ATS, 15-15 O/U) has also won five straight games and they’re probably feeling pretty good about themselves right now. Unfortunately, they don’t have the kind of talent a big name school like Louisville does and that’s where this game will be lost for them.
Back the Louisville Cardinals to win this one by at least 14 points to cover the spread and move to a perfect 6-0 ATS over their last half-dozen games.
The Pick: Louisville -13 Points
Analysis: With Arizona State (21-11 SU, 14-15-1 ATS, 11-17-1 O/U) dropping three straight coming into this contest and Texas (23-10 SU, 14-16 ATS, 14-15 O/U) losing two of its last three, I think the best bet for this second round contest is to take the Under 142 total points.
The Arizona State Sun Devils have played Under the O/U total in three of their L/5 games while Texas has gone 1-4 O/U over the same span. More importantly, the Longhorns have topped the 70-point plateau just once in its last seven games while Arizona State has either scored or allowed 64 points or less in six of their L/8 games. I like the Under and Arizona State for the SU win.
The Pick: Under 142 Total Points/Arizona State SU Win
Analysis: This second round matchup could be one of the more interesting ‘opening’ matchups in any region. Eighth-ranked Kentucky (24-10 SU, 1515-2 ATS, 12-18-1 O/U) has been much maligned this season after seeing their ballyhooed recruiting class underachieve for major stretches this season. Still, the athletic – and dangerous – Wildcats have looked very competent in winning two of their last three games and narrowly losing to Florida 61- 60 in the SEC title game on Sunday. Making things even better for Wildcats betting backers is the fact that Kentucky has covered the spread in three straight after failing to do so in each of their previous five contests.
Not only has No. 9 Kansas State (20-12 SU, 16-13-1 ATS, 12-17 O/U) lost three straight games coming into this matchup, but the ‘other’ Wildcats have also failed to cover the spread in each of those games while compiling a pitiful 2-6 ATS mark over their last eight games overall.
Kentucky simply has too much firepower for K-State and I believe they’re playing with a focus we haven’t seen all season long from this young team, which is why I like them to win and cover the spread with a just bit of room to spare.