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The NCAA Championship has been greta fun and already thrown up so many memorable moments. Now we're into the second round and here are our picks.
Kentucky v Wofford
In case you missed their game on Thursday, let me fill you in: Wofford is legit.
The Terriers win their games with buckets of points from an absolute barrage of 3-pointers. Wofford scores 81.3 points per game on 48.7% shooting and 41.7% from beyond the arc (good for 2nd in the country) – not many teams can compete with that.
On the flip side, Kentucky has won their games on the backs of their solid defense. However, their lone weak point is defending the deep ball, allowing 34.6% (good for 190th in the country). Against a similarly weak 3-point defense in Seton Hall (156th in the country), Wofford shot 46.4% from 3, making 13 shots to account for 39 of their 84 points.
Further playing into Wofford’s favor is the injury of PJ Washington. An NBA prospect, Washington leads the Wildcats in points, rebounds, shooting percentage, and 3-point shooting percentage. In a game that will feature loads of points, his loss will certainly be felt. I like Wofford to take advantage of his absence and keep this game close, if not win outright
1u - Wofford +5 @ -110
Kentucky v Wofford
Even without PJ Washington, this game should feature a lot of scoring. Wofford is a high-octane offense with the shooting prowess to take advantage of Kentucky’s defensive weakness. If Kentucky wants to win, they’re going to have to keep pace with Wofford’s attack.
Both teams’ game history points to the over hitting here as well. 3 of Wofford’s 4 neutral site games have cleared 139. Wofford has also played one SEC team this season – Mississippi State. In that game, the total was 185. Meanwhile, 4 of Kentucky’s 6 neutral site games have cleared 139. Kentucky has also played two SoCon teams this season – VMI and UNC-Greensboro. In those games, the totals were 174 and 139.
Wofford’s best chance at winning this game is turning it into a shootout. Look for this game to easily clear 139.
1u -Over 139.5 total points @ -110
Michigan State v Minnesota
10.5 points is a lot of chalk to eat during March Madness but this game is an exception. Michigan State is such a mismatch for Minnesota that it’s almost cruel.
On offense, Michigan State wipes the floor with Minnesota. The Spartans average 78.7 points on 48.4% shooting to the Golden Gophers’ 71.2 on 43.9% shooting. Michigan State also shoots the deep ball worlds better than Minnesota, hitting 38.1% of their 3-pointers compared to Minnesota’s 32.5%. Minnesota even struggles to hit their free throws, shooting only 67.9% on the year – 284th in the country.
Defensively, Michigan State is studly, holding teams to 65.5 points on 37.9% shooting. Minnesota isn’t horrendous (69.4 points on 43.4% shooting) but isn’t close to Michigan State’s level.
These teams met earlier this year and the Spartans dismantled the Golden Gophers, winning in a 79-55 rout. While Minnesota admittedly looked great on Thursday, they shot and scored miles above their season averages. Tom Izzo should bring them crashing back to Earth.
1u - Michigan State -10.5 @ -110
Michigan v Florida
Florida and Michigan are both very similar teams. Defensively, they are both very strong: the Gators hold opponents to 63.6 points on 41.1% shooting and the Wolverines hold opponents to 58.5 points on 39.7% shooting. Offensively… not so much. Florida averages 68.3 points per game (272nd nationally) and Michigan averages 70.5 points per game (217th nationally).
This game should be an ugly grindfest. Florida has played a few of those types of games this season, but one stands out in particular – a 63-59 loss to Michigan State, a team that has beaten Michigan three times this year.
In games with strong defense and limited possessions, getting free points is a huge advantage. Florida should keep this close through the very end.
1u - Florida +6 @ -110