NCAA Tournament Survivor Guide For Round 2 (Sunday)

Mar 20, 2022 - 4:02 AM

If you survived Thursday’s upsets and avoided choosing teams like Kentucky, Iowa, or UConn with your first survivor pool pick, there is a good chance you made it through Friday unscathed. However, there was some silver lining for those who advanced in survivor pools to the weekend, as the plethora of first-round upsets made picks like Arkansas on Saturday that much easier.

Unfortunately, Sunday’s survivor pick is much more difficult to make than Saturday’s, as just one point spread is bigger than -7.5 points. Only No. 1 seed Arizona is a larger favorite, but one might be more willing to hold onto the Wildcats as a potential later-round pick instead of “surviving and advancing” with them now. That decision is precisely what makes these survivor pools so tricky but fun!

Throughout the tournament, one has to make eight picks: two from the First Round (one for each day played), two from the Second Round (one for each day played), and one from the Sweet 16, Elite 8, Final Four, and National Championship.

Starting with this round, we will rank all eight games in order of most confidence to least confidence and provide a short narrative for each.

Here is a list of odds for all the favorites to win their Round 2 matchups on Sunday (odds courtesy of BettingPros consensus).

Check out all of our 2022 March Madness Coverage >>

Best Picks in Order of Most-to-Least Confidence

Arizona -475

Arizona is not in jeopardy of losing to a TCU team that was under .500 in Big 12 play and lost three of five games to finish the regular season. The Horned Frogs are the country’s best offensive rebounding team, securing 37.8% of their misses. However, the Wildcats’ frontcourt is massive and will negate the advantage that TCU has over most teams. In addition, several offensive rebounds mean you miss many shots, and TCU cannot afford to do that against the Wildcats’ explosive offense. But while there is little doubt Arizona will advance, survivor pool contestants must decide if they are the correct value play at this stage of the competition.

Texas Tech -330

Texas Tech faces a well-coached Notre Dame team, but one that may be fortunate to be in the Round of 32. The Fighting Irish stole their First Four game late against Rutgers and cruised against a shorthanded Alabama team after Jahvon Quinerly went down early with a knee injury. The Red Raiders are one of the country’s oldest and most experienced teams, and we believe they have too much talent to slip up in this matchup. Those that think the Red Raiders will have a difficult time making the Final Four with Gonzaga in their bracket should take a long look at Texas Tech, as this is likely the last great opportunity one will have to select them.

Auburn -335

Auburn’s opponent, the Miami Hurricanes, is dangerous because they have a trio of experienced guards and a head coach who made a surprise trip to the Final Four before. However, Auburn has been the better team all season long, and Miami would have to have an outstanding game shooting the basketball, seeing as points in the paint are hard to come by against the Smith-Kessler combination for the Tigers. Like Texas Tech’s outlook, Auburn has an arduous path to the Final Four as long as Kansas remains alive in its bracket. Therefore, if you do not project Auburn to the Final Four or beyond, now is an excellent time to use them.

Villanova -220

Villanova cruised to an opening-round victory over Delaware, but things get much tougher against a battle-tested Big Ten opponent. Villanova backers should be encouraged that Ohio State is a poor defensive team, ranking outside the top 100 in KenPom’s adjusted defensive efficiency. They are also 328th in forcing turnovers. And while many teams do not have the roster versatility to match up with E.J. Liddell, Villanova seemingly has two players, Jermaine Samuels and Brandon Slater, who should be up to the test. The No. 2 seed Wildcats may be underdogs in the Sweet 16 if they face No. 3 Tennessee, so the Wildcats could be a sneaky survivor play in this round if you like their chances to beat the Buckeyes.

Wisconsin -175

Wisconsin is arguably the best bet among the four remaining teams despite having the third-lowest moneyline odds, as Iowa State struggles to score the basketball at times. Texas Tech and Auburn may be better value plays at this stage, but the Badgers do not have as high of a ceiling as those two to advance deeper in the tournament, so those that may want to save the Red Raiders and Tigers just in case could look Wisconsin’s way as their survivor pick.

Duke -275

I’m not sure I understand why Duke is such a heavy favorite in this game. Granted, Coach K is 12-3 in 15 career games against Tom Izzo. But Izzo knocked off a much better Duke team than this that had Zion Williamson and R.J. Barrett, and I would want no part of fading a Hall of Fame coach who has proven so successful in March throughout his career.

Houston -200

Houston is likely a decent-sized favorite over Illinois based on how each team looked in the first round. However, Illinois has arguably the biggest matchup problem in Kofi Cockburn. The Fighting Illini are much more battle-tested coming out of the Big Ten than Houston was in the AAC all season.

Purdue -167

Hopefully, you chose Purdue in its opening-round game against Yale, making this decision to stay away from this game an easy one.

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Mike Spector is a featured writer at BettingPros. For more from Mike, check out his archive and follow him @MikeSpector01.

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