Elite Eight Picks

With the first round of the NCAA Tournament in the books, it’s time to move ahead in the bracket and preview the Sunday second round picks  at BetRivers.com. The Sunday NCAA Tournament schedule features several intriguing matchups like No. 1 Baylor vs. No. 9 Wisconsin, No. 3 Arkansas vs. No. 6 Texas Tech and a couple of Cinderellas looking to stay out past curfew.

Longtime national college basketball writer Rob Dauster, the co-founder of The Field of 68 Network, previews his second round picks for Sunday and identifies the bets worth a wager. Follow the latest updates and start your online sports betting PA experience with the best online sportsbook in the US.

Click here for the complete list of NCAA Tournament first-round odds, tournament futures and prop bets.

Read below for a breakdown of NCAA Tournament predictions and second round picks.



#1 ILLINOIS (24-6) vs. #8 LOYOLA-CHICAGO (25-4), 12:10 p.m. ET
MONEYLINE: Illinois -315, Loyola +255
SPREAD: Illinois -7
OVER/UNDER: 133.5 points
Click here for the full list of Illinois-Loyola odds.

This is the easiest bet of the day for me, and it mainly comes down to the idea that Loyola is just not as good as their numbers indicate. They’ve played two games against high-major competition this season — they lost to Wisconsin and they beat a Georgia Tech team that was playing without Moses Wright. Loyola also lost to Richmond on a neutral court and fell against Indiana State and Drake, who was missing two starters at the time.

This is not meant to disparage Loyola, either. They are the best team in the Valley. They deserved their spot in the NCAA tournament. They are better than the team that made it to the Final Four. But this is a borderline top 25 team at best, and Illinois has been the best team this side of Gonzaga in college basketball for the last month. To put this into content, the line for Baylor-Wisconsin is (correctly) 6.5, and I just don’t see how how this line is 7 if that line is 6.5.

#1 BAYLOR (23-2) vs. #9 WISCONSIN (18-12), 2:40 p.m. ET
MONEYLINE: Baylor -315 ML, Wisconson +245 ML
SPREAD: Baylor -6.5
OVER/UNDER: 137 points
Click here for the full list of Baylor-Wisconsin odds.

If this game was played before Baylor’s shutdown, I would bet it all on the Bears to cover the 7 points.

Baylor’s defense is designed to take away what you want to run offensively. They force everything to the baseline, they deny ball-reversals and they switch all exchanges. The entire goal is to make you try and create a mismatch and beat one of their elite on-ball defenders in isolation, and Wisconsin just does not have enough guys that can create in that setting.

The problem is that we don’t know which Baylor is going to show up. Over the final three weeks of the regular season, they ranked 180th nationally in defensive efficiency. They finally had a chance to get on the practice floor and work on their rotations this week. Will they be back to what they were before the shutdown?

I’m not sure. But I am willing to bet on it if it means selling high on a Wisconsin team we know is not all that good that just beat up on a blueblood on national television.

#3 WEST VIRGINIA (19-9) vs. #10 SYRACUSE (17-9), 5:15 p.m. ET
MONEYLINE: WVY -182 ML, Syracuse +155 ML
OVER/UNDER: 147.5 points
Click here for the full list of West Virginia-Syracuse odds.

This is a weird matchup.

On the one hand, West Virginia is the worst team in the NCAA tournament when it comes to playing againf Westst a zone. They rank in the 15th percentile in offensive efficiency against zones, having seen 126 possessions of zone this season. It’s not secret that the Orange play a 2-3 zone, and that part of the reason they have as much success in March as they do is because the 2-3 can mess with teams that aren’t used to seeing it.

On the other hand, Syracuse is the worst defensive rebounding team in the NCAA tournament. West Virginia is one of the best. They may struggle to score against the zone, but their best offense may end up being going and getting a missed shot.

I tend to lean Syracuse here. I’ll probably end up on the moneyline. Derek Culver is the best offensive rebounder on the roster, and he can be foul prone.

#3 ARKANSAS (23-6) vs #6 TEXAS TECH (18-10), 6:10 p.m. ET)
MONEYLINE: Texas Tech -130 ML, Arkansas +110 ML
SPREAD: Texas Tech -2
OVER/UNDER: 141 points
Click here for the full list of Arkansas-Texas Tech odds.

This matchup is going to come down to one thing: Do you trust Arkansas’ guards to make good decisions against a defense that can really pressure the ball?

I’ve gone back and forth on this. On the one hand, the Razorbacks have been really, really good for the last month of the season. On the other hand, Jalen Tate can be a turnover machine at times and J.D. Notae is certainly capable of throwing passes to guys in the wrong jersey.

But I’m also not convinced that this Tech defense is as good, 1-on-1, as any of Chris Beard’s past defenses. I expect this game to get progressively smaller as it goes along. Eric Musselman will play Justin Smith at the five when he needs to. Beard is not afraid of matching that, playing Micah Peavy at the five with Terrence Shannon and Kevin McCullar at the forward spots. If all of that happens, can a team that already has issues on the defensive glass be able to do anything?

This is a game where you are going to be betting on better talent (Arkansas) or better coaching (Texas Tech), and if I’m being honest, I don’t have a great feeling either way. I have Arkansas in my bracket, but I will not have any action on this game.

#2 HOUSTON (25-3) vs. #10 RUTGERS (16-11), 7:10 p.m. ET
MONEYLINE: Houston -335 ML, Rutgers +270 ML
SPREAD: Houston -7.5
OVER/UNDER: 131.5 points
Click here for the full list of Houston-Rutgers odds.

I think Rutgers is the play in this spot. Houston plays Bullyball. They physically overwhelm lesser competition, but they really have only played two teams that are anywhere near as good as Rutgers this season. The first was Texas Tech back in November. The other was Memphis, who lost a pair of one-possession games to Houston in the final two weeks of the season.

Now, there are two things here that concern me:

1. Houston is one of the nation’s best offensive rebounding teams, and the defensive glass is where Rutgers struggles the most on the defensive side of the ball.

2. Houston’s weakness defensively is how much they foul. Their defensive free throw rate is one of the highest in the country, and Rutgers is the worst free throw shooting team in the tournament. They hit 63.6 percent of their shots from the charity stripe, and free throws are what cost Memphis wins in both of those games.

So here’s why I’m on Rutgers: I think the rebounding numbers are somewhat skewed by the fact that Rutgers played in the biggest conference in the country and Houston played in a league that had team make it to the round of 68 in the NCAA tournament. Put another way, 8.5 points is too many points. So hold your nose, and tap in.

#7 FLORIDA (15-9) vs. #15 ORAL ROBERTS (17-10), 7:45 p.m. ET
MONEYLINE: Florida -360 ML, Oral Roberts +260 ML
SPREAD: Florida -8.5
OVER/UNDER: 148 points
Click here for the full list of Florida-Oral Roberts odds.

As weird as this might sound, I actually think that Florida is a better matchup against Oral Roberts than Ohio State was. The Gators are much more athletic. They have guards that will be able to stay in front of Max Abmas. They have forwards that will be able to keep Kevin Obanor in check. They have a five, Collin Castleton, that should be able to get whatever he wants against ORU’s front line.

The Gators are significantly better defensively that OSU, and unlike the Buckeyes, they’ll actually have the best player on the floor in Tre Mann. I think the Gators cover here.

#5 VILLANOVA (17-6) vs. #13 NORTH TEXAS (18-9), 8:45 p.m. ET
MONEYLINE: Villanova -230 ML, North Texas +190 ML
SPREAD: Villanova -5
OVER/UNDER: 126.5 points
Click here for the full list of Villanova-North Texas odds.

My plan here is going to be to continue to wait for this line to move and try and get UNT at +7 or +7.5.

Villanova covering relatively easily last night was a great thing for us. They are not that good without Collin Gillespie healthy. UNT is tough defensively. They don’t allow much penetration and they won’t beat themselves. I expect them to be able to keep Villanova’s “playmakers” in check, and given the pace that both of these teams want to play at, I do expect to see another game where the under is very much in play.

But I’m way more interested in what can happen for UNT offensively. They are one of the best three-point shooting teams in the country, and Villanova has not been all that good at running opponents off of the three-point line. They also struggle to defend penetration, and playing off the bounce is what Javion Hamlet does best. Throw in that Villanova likely won’t be able to take advantage of UNT’s turnover issues, and I think the Mean Green will be the play again.

#4 OKLAHOMA STATE (21-8) vs. #12 OREGON STATE (18-12), 9:40 p.m. ET
MONEYLINE: Oklahoma State -265 ML, Oregon State +215 ML
SPREAD: Oklahoma State -6
OVER/UNDER: 140 points.
Click here for the full list of Oklahoma State-Oregon State odds.

This is where the magic ends for Oregon State.

They had an incredible run through the Pac-12 tournament. They looked awesome against a Tennessee team that has been a mess for two months. Oklahoma State has been as good and as tested as anyone in college basketball the last two months. This is where the dream dies for the Beavers.

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