Four double-digit seeds will look to punch tickets into the Sweet 16 when the second round of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament concludes Monday.
That includes a matchup between two of those teams. No. 11 UCLA – a school with 11 national championships – meets No. 14 Abilene Christian – is coming off its first tournament victory at the Division I level. No. 13 Ohio faces No. 5 Creighton in the same region, and No. 10 Maryland meets No. 2 Alabama in the East Region.
Gonzaga is the only team favored by double digits in what should be another day full of fantastic finishes.
Sporting News offers its picks for the second-round games:
March Madness picks, predictions for Round 2
No. 1 Gonzaga (-14.5) vs. No. 8 Oklahoma (West)
Oklahoma advanced to the second round without second-leading scorer Da’Vion Hamilton, who is out after testing positive for COVID-19. The Sooners still have Austin Reaves, and Brady Manek can be a X-factor player in this game if he continues to stay hot from 3-point range. Gonzaga, however, simply presents too many problems on the offensive end, and the Bulldogs were dialed in with their first-round game. Don’t be surprised if Oklahoma leads early, but Gonzaga will pull away in the second half behind another big game from Corey Kispert.
No. 5 Creighton (-6) vs. No. 13 Ohio (West)
Can the Blue Jays hold off another hot Cinderella pick? Marcus Zegarowski keyed the first-round victory against UC-Santa Barbara with 17 points, but he also facilitated with eight assists. He is every bit as important as Ohio guard Jason Preston, who nearly had a triple-double in the first-round victory against Virginia. Creighton shoots 36.4 percent from 3-point range. Ohio is at 35.9. It will come down to a few shots from there in either direction, and look for the Bobcats to get those one more time from forward Ben Vander Plas in a tight one.
No. 3 Kansas vs. No. 6 USC (-1.5) (West)
Kansas the underdog? USC brings an interesting challenge with 7-foot center Evan Mobley, and his brother Isaiah Mobley is another consistent scorer. Eastern Washington pushed the Jayhawks, but that was due in large part to hot 3-point shooting in the first half. Kansas got 35 points off the bench in the first round. That depth matters. The Jayhawks were 2-5 S/U as an underdog this season, but they break that trend to get back to the Sweet 16.
No. 2 Iowa (-5) vs. No. 7 Oregon (West)
Oregon advanced to the second round in a no contest. The senior trio of Eugene Omoruyi, Chris Duarte and LJ Figueroa average double figures, and they pose an interesting challenge for Iowa. The Hawkeyes have an experienced tournament team led by SN Player of the Year Luka Garza, and the hot shooting will continue behind Jordan Bohannan and Joe Wieskamp. Iowa gets back to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 1999.
No. 1 Michigan (-5.5) vs. No. 8 LSU (East)
This is going to be a popular upset pick knowing the Wolverines are without Isaiah Livers and face a top-10 scoring offense led by Cameron Thomas, who scored 27 points in the first round against St. Bonaventure. Michigan counters with Hunter Dickinson, and if the 7-foot-1 center stays out of trouble the Wolverines should have enough to hold off the Tigers late. The Wolverines are 5-1 against SEC opponents in the tournament since 2008 – and a lot of those were hot upset picks, too.
No. 4 Florida State (-1.5) vs. No. 5 Colorado (East)
Colorado erupted for 96 points and 16 threes in its first-round victory against Georgetown, but the Buffaloes need to match Florida State on the glass on both sides to have a chance. The Seminoles had just five offensive rebounds in its first-round victory, and M.J. Walker had an off night. If those struggles continue, then Florida State will be in trouble. Colorado is the best free-throw shooting team in the nation. That makes the difference down the stretch in a small upset.
No. 11 UCLA (-5) vs. No. 14 Abilene Christian (East)
Abilene Christian is playing with house money after shocking Texas in the first round in a 53-52 thriller, and the Wildcats have the fourth-best scoring defense in Division I. Abilene Christian will need to shoot better from 3-point range after hitting just 3 of 18 against the Longhorns. UCLA guards Johnny Juzang and Jamie Jaquez Jr. have combined to average 45 points per game. It still feels weird to call the Bruins a sleeper.
No. 2 Alabama (-6) vs. No. 10 Maryland (East)
This is the other Big Ten-SEC second-round showdown. Maryland hit 9 of 18 from 3-point range in its first-round matchup, and they likely will have to match that to have a chance against the Crimson Tide. Herbert Jones also poses a problem on the interior for Maryland. It will be tight, but we’re sticking with our pick from Selection Sunday. Maryland will keep it tight enough to cover, but we’re switching our pick from Selection Sunday.