2018 NCAA March Madness Expert Picks – Round Of 64
It’s finally time for March Madness! After the First Four games are in the books, the Round of 64 is set to kickoff on Thursday afternoon at 12:15 EST as No. 10 seed, Oklahoma, is faced to set No. 7 seed, Rhode Island. From there, we have an entire day of games, not only today but into Friday and throughout the weekend. Check back for more picks throughout the tournament, culminating with the National Championship on April 2. The odds below are listed from Sportsbetting Sportsbook but please line shop to find the best price before placing your wager.
(10) Oklahoma vs. (7) Rhode Island -2.5 Total: 158
The Sooners come into March poorly finishing the season, with a 4-11 record over the past two months. They end up with an 18-13 record on the year in the Big 12 but still have the talent to come alive in March, especially with one of the best players in the country, Trae Young, who leads the nation in both points and rebounds.
The Rhode Island Rams took the Atlantic 10 regular season title and will make an appearance in the NCAA Tournament. They finished the season 25-7 overall and lost in the A10 Championship game to Davidson after going through St. Joseph’s and TCU to reach the final. The game initially opened as a pk, but the Rams are now -2 or -2.5 at most online sportsbooks. More tickets have gone on Rhode Island so far but not by much.
The Rams have been a team that has been talked about all year, and some have even gone as far as picking them to take down the tournament. At this point, I think just about everyone is overvaluing them. The Sooners, on the other hand, have disappointed fans this year but were thrilled to get a tournament bid. Oklahoma has dominated outside of the Big 12, despite a rough go in-conference, and Rhode Island doesn’t have the talent to match them. Some can debate if the Sooners should even be in the Big Dance due to their play, but here we are, and this is the matchup we have.
If Oklahoma can dominate possession in this game and push the tempo as they have all year (4th in the nation) – they should have an excellent chance to run the Rams out of the gym. Rhode Island has struggled to score as of late and have not cleared over 61 points in their last 5 games and is coming off 3games in the past 5 days.
I like the underdog Sooners to win outright.
2018 March Madness Pick: Oklahoma +2.5
(15) Iona vs. (2) Duke -20.5 Total: 157
Iona finished fourth in the MAAC but managed to win their conference tournament, so the Gaels are in the tournament but face the near-impossible task of taking down a powerhouse, in Duke. They finished the season with a 20-13 record and have won three games in the past three days, including a win over Fairfield to take down their conference tournament.
Duke wasn’t quite as dominant as in years past after beginning the season at the top-ranked team, but they’ve got as good a chance as anyone to take down a National Title with their talent. They finished the year 26-7 overall and 13-5 in the tough ACC. The Blue Devils fell to rivals, UNC, in the ACC conference tournament semifinals. They’re coming off several days more rest than the Gaels.
Duke opened as a 20-point favorite, but that line has moved around a bit since opening. It dropped down to -19.5 but is now at -20 or -20.5 at online sportsbooks. About 60 percent of tickets or so have come in on the Blue Devils. The Blue Devils defense is a reason to consider the Gaels in this one. There is no arguing that Duke is the far more talented team, but their lapses defensively at times – draw me more towards Iona in this one, especially with such a significant number.
The Gaels have a deep bench, with five players that average 10 points or more and seven guys that play 24 minutes or more on average. Fresher legs may give Duke defenders a bit more trouble than expected. They can indeed shoot the ball from distance and have been outstanding at the free throw line as of late. They made 23 of 27 attempts against Fairfield from the charity stripe to propel them to victory in their conference tournament.
Duke wins this one, but the game stays within 20 points. Iona has been competitive all year and is playing excellent basketball coming into the tournament. Even after a grueling conference tournament run – I like this one to stay within 20 points.
2018 March Madness Pick: Iona +20.5
(9) Alabama vs. (8) Virginia Tech -2 Total: 142
Alabama finished the SEC with a 19-15 record and bowed out of the SEC conference tournament in the semifinals after beating Texas A&M, but falling to Kentucky in the semifinals. The Tide is mostly known for producing NFL talent, but not so much for the NBA. Guard Collin Sexton is a top 10 NBA prospect and has been on a tear as of late, scoring 76 points in two conference tournament games.
The Hokies are back in the NCAA Tournament for the second consecutive year. Virginia Tech finished the season with a 21-11 overall record and a 10-8 record in the tough ACC. However, they’re one of the only two teams in the country with a win over No. 1 overall seed, Virginia. The Hokies fell to Notre Dame in the ACC tournament after blowing a 21-point lead in the second half. Betting tickets are around 50/50 for each team so far, but the Hokies have moved from an opening number of -1.5 to -2 at Bovada and other sportsbooks.
Much of this game will come down to Sexton for the Crimson Tide, and they’re okay with that. The freshman guard is probably the hottest player in college basketball right now, and on the season, he has taken more than 30 percent of his team’s shots.
Alabama matches up better than most think against the Hokies, with size down low to contest Virginia Tech’s rebounding advantage. Both teams like to push the ball, which is why it’s worth betting on the best guard in the country to run his offense against a defense that has had plenty of issues (although they have been better lately) this season.
I’ll take Sexton and the points.