The second day in the NCAA Tournament’s Round of 64 will see the lone number-one seed not to play yesterday, Arizona, make its debut in the 2022 tournament, alongside a slew of interesting upset prospects.
The biggest story of yesterday was #15 Saint Peter’s knocking off #2 Kentucky in overtime behind 27 points from Daryl Banks III. Oscar Tshiebwe had 30 points, 16 rebounds, two steals, and two blocks in the loss.
Buckle up and get ready for another day in the most beautifully chaotic tournament on the planet; here we go, the best bets for Friday, March 18.
Davidson ML vs Michigan State
Davidson is the sixth-best three-point shooting team in America; their four leading scorers all average at least 11 points per game and 38% from beyond the arc, making them as dangerous as anyone when it comes to sharing the ball and stretching the defense.
The Wildcats are also extremely controlled on offense and play at a slower pace. Which often leads to them finding open shots from beyond the arc.
Davidson is also elite from the free-throw line. They should be able to see any games with thin margins over the line.
Michigan State enters the tournament with oscillating form, having split games with Purdue, beat Wisconsin, and lost to Ohio State and Michigan all over the past couple of weeks.
Tom Izzo’s squad has multiple contributors but only one player averaging double-digit scoring, and in moments where his team needs a takeover player, they often find themselves without one.
Expect Davidson to get past Michigan State and ultimately kickstart a journey to the Sweet 16 after that.
UAB +8.5 vs Houston
UAB is one of the best sleeper team prospects in this entire tournament because of its experience and versatility. The Blazers have a 20-point-per-night scorer in Jordan Walker as well as three other players averaging 10+ points, and they shoot the ball well from the field, free-throw line, and three-point territory.
What makes this team even better is that they rank 38th in the nation in defensive efficiency. And although they are going against a stellar defensive outfit, they have four players with 1,000+ career points. Their experience should help mitigate that.
Houston has a whopping six players scoring double figures per night and ranks third nationally in defensive efficiency. They have great speed and length and are ultra-aggressive on that side of the ball. They also manage to find themselves open on offense quite a bit.
The major downfall for Houston is their horrendous free-throw shooting (66.9%), so if the game turns into a foul shot competition, UAB should be able to claw its way back in and keep the score close.
Notre Dame vs Alabama ML
Alabama is about as up-and-down a team as you will find in college basketball; some weeks, they are beating Gonzaga and look like the best team in the country, and then in others, they look like they don’t belong in a major conference.
Bama likes to play at a fast tempo and get the ball to any of its playmaking guards, who dominate the team’s scoring numbers. The Crimson Tide turns the ball over a ton and cannot make many threes, but their athleticism and speed alone should help them notch a narrow win in the opening round.
Notre Dame made the tournament on the back of an 89-87 thriller against Rutgers in the First Four and will already be zapped of energy, which is a very bad sign against such a fast opponent. The Irish had an outstanding assist-to-turnover ratio against the Scarlet Knights but are likely to fold in their upcoming match against the Southeastern Conference giants.