To hear most basketball experts tell it, the winner of the South Region winner is all set in stone as many expect No. 1 seed Florida to advance all the way to the Final Four at the very least.
The Florida Gators were bestowed the overall #1 seed in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, but the Selection Committee did them no favors when seeding the rest of the South region.
There are two very talented teams, Kansas and Syracuse, that spent all season in the top 10, while VCU and UCLA seem to be hitting their stride at the right time. There are also a couple of dangerous lower seeds — don’t sleep on Ohio State or New Mexico — that could make some noise, too. The Gators will be favorites to reach Dallas, but it will be far from easy.
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March Madness Second Round South Region Free Picks
Analysis: I’m going to come right out and say it college basketball bettors. The Ohio State Buckeyes (25-9 SU, 15-18 ATS, 15-17-1 O/U) could have a lot more trouble on their hands than they bargained for when they take on a Dayton Flyers (23-10 SU, 17-12 ATS, 16-12 O/U) team that I believe is underrated.
Not only is Ohio State coming off a heartbreaking 72-69 loss to Michigan the last time out, but they also haven’t beaten an opponent by more than four points in their last three victories while also posting a pitiful 0-6 ATS mark over their last half-dozen games.
The Flyers have the edge in scoring, shooting percentage and two other crucial areas – rebounding and bench play and also holds the edge in double-digit scorers with three on its roster compared to just two for Ohio State.
The key trends for this matchup also strongly suggest an upset with the Dayton Flyers going 8-2 ATS in their last 10 non-conference games and a bankroll-boosting 5-2 ATS in their L/7 games against a team with a winning SU record.
Conversely, Ohio State is just 1-4 ATS in their last five March Madness NCAA Tournament games and a woeful 0-7 ATS in their L/7 neutral site games.
Ohio State could and probably should pull out the SU victory based on roster talent alone, but I’m not taking any chances seeing as how all signs are point to a Dayton upset.
The Pick: Dayton +6 Points
Analysis: The Western Michigan Broncos (23-9 SU, 16-12-1 ATS, 15-12 O/U) have won four straight games including its 98-77 win over Toledo on Saturday to win the MAC Conference crown.
Unfortunately, they get to face a ticked off Syracuse (27-5 SU, 14-12-2 ATS, 10-1502 O/U) team that is coming off a heartbreaking 66-63 loss to NC State in the ACC Tournament on Friday and has dropped three of its last four games and five of its L/7 overall.
Sure, the Orange have ugly losses to Georgia Tech (67-62) and Boston College (62-59 OT) along the way, but this is a new start for the Orangemen and I believe Jim Boeheim will have them ready to embrace it.
Syracuse holds the edge in defense, rebounding, turnovers and bench play in this matchup, but it is their recent struggles, particularly against mediocre teams, that I believe will actually help them to take this game more seriously.
Syracuse has gone 6-1 ATS in its last seven games against non-conference opponents and 5-2 ATS in its last seven neutral site matchups, but the Western Michigan Broncos likely won’t go away quietly as their 4-0 ATS mark in their last four neutral site games suggests.
The Broncos narrowly lost to Missouri 66-60 on Dec 15 and beat New Mexico State 70- 64 in its regular season opener and I think they’ll find a way to narrowly cover against Syracuse .
The Pick: Western Michigan +13 Points
Analysis: Not many people have been keeping tabs on Danny Manning’s Tulsa ballclub, but I have and I say the Golden Hurricane could very well pull off the upset against a UCLA team I’m not really enamored with.
Not only did Tulsa win the Conference USA tournament title with a solid 69-60 win over Louisiana Tech in their last contest, but the Golden Hurricane have actually won a blistering 11 consecutive games while going 4-0 ATS over their last four and an incendiary 12-1 ATS over their last 13 games overall.
UCLA finished 12th in the nation in scoring (81.8 ppg) and 10th in field goal percentage (49.0) and they did win the annual Pac-12 tournament with a huge 75-71 win over Arizona to move to 5-1 SU over their last six games and 4-1 ATS over their L/5.
In the end, I think UCLA’s superior scoring ability (Tulsa has just two double-digit scorers) will led them to victory, even though I’m going to urge college hoops gamblers to back Tulsa to narrowly cover the spread in a thriller.
The Pick: Tulsa +9.5 Points