Of course, we had to have at least one hall-of-fame coaching reunion at Mike Krzyzewski’s latest March craze.
Duke takes on Michigan State in a game between two of the best programs in the sport. Tom Izzo’s Michigan State team didn’t do too well this regular season, especially near the end, but it’s looking much better since the tournament began. Maybe it’s the start of another surprise run for the Spartans.
Here are the picks for Sunday’s games, with spreads from BetMGM:
Houston (-3.5) over Illinois
Illinois escaped in the first round and now faces a Cougars team that is in third place at KenPom. Even if he doesn’t fully believe the metrics, it’s clear that Houston is really good and not well positioned.
Villanova (-4.5) over Ohio State
Villanova won by 20 in the first round and the Wildcats’ offense remains one of the best in the game. Ohio State was never in any real danger against Loyola Chicago, crushing the Ramblers and holding them to 41. OSU isn’t a great defensive team, so holding off Loyola like that is probably an outlier.
Michigan State (+6.5) over Duke
The Spartans continue to come out of their funk since February and early March. The Davidson team that they beat is pretty good. Duke was unable to cover another margin in the first round, the Blue Devils’ fifth straight game in which they failed to cover. Duke has been overrated and taking the points with MSU seems like the right call.
Wisconsin (-4.5) over the state of Iowa
Iowa State went from 12-0 to 20-12 before the tournament began. The Cyclones had one victory in the tournament, against a similar disaster from an LSU team that fired their coach before the tournament. Wisconsin is a quality team that gets wins, and playing in Milwaukee gives the Badgers another edge.
Notre Dame (+7.5) over Texas Tech
Notre Dame probably shouldn’t have been in the tournament based on his resume, but that doesn’t matter once you’re in. Notre Dame beat the Rutgers team in one game and then crushed Alabama to reach the second round. Texas Tech is impressive defensively, but Notre Dame is playing well enough to cover.
Auburn (-7.5) over Miami
This is a tough matchup for Miami. They don’t shoot a lot of 3s, but they don’t have a lot of size either, and Auburn does. It could hinder the Hurricanes’ offense. Miami isn’t a great team and I still think there could be a deep run for Auburn.
Purdue (-3.5) over Texas
Texas is hard to understand. They have had a disappointing season according to expectations. But they haven’t been bad. They never had much trouble against Virginia Tech in the first round. It may be the kind of team that has a lot of talent but doesn’t get it until the tournament. But I’m still going with Purdue, because it’s hard to believe such a talented team doesn’t survive the first weekend.
TCU (+9.5) over Arizona
It makes sense why Arizona is almost a double-digit favorite. The Wildcats are very good. But it’s not like TCU is a major midfielder who just pulled off a first-round upset. As of February 26, TCU has wins over Kansas, Texas Tech and Texas. They won’t be scared. Arizona wins but TCU can keep it within the spread.
Second round to date: 6-2
Tournament to date: 18-26