With the second round of the 2017 NCAA March Madness championship tournament set to get underway in just over 24 hours, this trio of second round must bet picks is sure to please.
With three higher-seeded favorites all offering a ton of value in their respective second round matchups, let’s find out who those value-packed ballclubs are.
NCAA Basketball Tournament 2nd Round Best Bets
No. 12 Middle Tennessee State vs. No. 4 Butler (26-7)
When: Saturday, March 18, 2017 at 7:10 PM ET
Where: BMO Harris Bradley Center, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Odds; Butler -3.5
Analysis: A convincing 60 percent of public bettor like Middle Tennessee State to cover the spread as 3.5-point underdogs, but for me, the Butler Bulldogs are the pick to win and cover the spread because of their elite defense.
While Middle Tennessee has gone 7-0 SU and 6-1 ATS in seven neutral site games this season, Butler is 4-1 SU and ATS in their five neutral site contests. I know the Blue Raiders are 5-0 ATS in their last five neutral site games and 7-1 ATS in their last eight non-conference contests, but Butler has gone 5-0 ATS in their last five NCAA Tournament games as a favorite while posting an insanely good 39-11-2 ATS mark in their last 52 neutral site contests. Butler wins and narrowly covers the spread as slight favorites.
NCAA Basketball Tournament 2nd Round Best Bet: Butler 77 Middle Tennessee State 72
No. 8 Wisconsin (26-9) vs. No. 1 Villanova (32-3)
When: Saturday, March 18, 2017 at 2:40 PM ET
Where: KeyBank Center, Buffalo, New York
Odds: Villanova -5.5
Analysis: The eighth-seeded Wisconsin Badgers have had a solid season and they got past tiny Vermont in their opener 84-74, but I’m going to advise you to jump on board with the 59 percent of public bettors that like the top-seeded Villanova Wildcats to win and cover the spread as slight 5.5-point favorites.
Not only is Wisconsin just 4-4 over their last eight games, but the Badgers have suffered losses against lesser teams like Ohio State, Michigan State, Iowa and Michigan.
On the flip side of the coin, the defending national champion Wildcats have won six straight and nine of their last 10 games including their 76-56 blowout of Mount Saint Mary’s in their opener despite failing to cover the spread as a 25-point favorite.
Villanova is almost as good as the Badgers defensively, but they’re much better scoring the ball and that will be the difference in this contest.
Wisconsin is 2-5 ATS in their last seven games following an SU win and 0-4 ATS in their last four games as an underdog while Villanova has gone 4-0 ATS in their last four games following an ATS loss, 11-1 ATS in their last 12 games against Big Ten ballclubs and 8-3 ATS in their last 11 games as a favorite of 6.5 points or less. Villanova wins and narrowly covers.
NCAA Basketball Tournament 2nd Round Best Bet: Villanova 74 Wisconsin 68
No. 7 St. Mary’s (29-4) vs. No. 2 Arizona (31-4)
When: Saturday, March 18, 2017 at 7:40 PM ET
Where: Vivint Smart Home Arena, Salt Lake City, Utah
Analysis: St. Mary’s got past a very good VCU squad 85-77 in the first round and they’ve got a phenomenal defense that limits the opposition to just 57.1 points per game to rank second nationally, However, the second-seeded Arizona Wildcats put up a season-high in points in their 100-82 win over North Dakota in their opener.
A whopping 64 percent of public bettors like the Wildcats to get the win and ATS cover and I believe it’s a no-brainer of a pick seeing as how Arizona is far superior athletically and far more explosive offensively, not to mention the fact that 7-0 center Lauri Markkanen matches up perfectly against St. Mary’s seven-footer Jock Landale and the Gaels almost assuredly won’t have an answer for blossoming guard Allonzo Trier.
St. Mary’s is an uninspiring 1-5 ATS in their last six neutral site games as an underdog and 0-5 ATS in their last five games as an underdog. Conversely, Arizona has gone 30-1 ATS in their last four games following an SU win and 4-0-1 ATS in their last five games overall.
Keep it simple and back the Wildcats to take out St. Mary’s with room to spare.