After an exhausting opening day of the NCAA Tournament, we get to do it all again today! Times like these should be cherished because, in a blink of an eye, the only major sport to watch and bet on will be baseball (no disrespect to hardcore baseball fans). It’ll be the dog days of summer and we’ll be clamoring for a day like today. There are another 16 games in action, starting off with the seventh-seeded Michigan State Spartans taking on the tenth-seeded USC Trojans at 12:15 PM EST. The day will be bookended at 10:05 PM EST. when the sixth-seeded TCU Horned Frogs face the eleventh-seeded Arizona State Sun Devils.
Similar to yesterday, I’ll be filtering through five games and pointing out different angles I like on the game. Some games may just have one pick, while others could include multiple. There truly is nothing like the first few days of the NCAA Tournament and the possibilities are endless. Nobody’s perfect in this game (it’s impossible) but all I can do is offer some analysis and maybe, we just happen to hit all our bets.
In this article, you can find some of my favorite picks for day two of the NCAA Tournament on Friday, March 17th, 2023. Make sure also to check out our other NCAA/NIT Tournament articles as we will be having picks and DFS suggestions running throughout the Tournament. You can access all of our latest sports betting promos, and sign up for a sportsbook here. Find me on Twitter @Jwiesel13, I’m happy to talk bets, sports, or just interact with the community. Enjoy the tournament!
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Michigan State Spartans (7) vs USC Trojans (10)
12:15 PM ET (CBS)
Starting with the first game of the day, I can see a little potential upset brewing in Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio. Michigan State enters this game as a 2.5-point favorite in the Eastern region matchup.
The Spartans are led by two seniors in Tyson Walker and Joey Hauser. Both averaged over 14 points this season while knocking down two three-pointers per game. Hauser can really turn it on and has scored at least 15+ points in seven of his last eight games. It may not sound like much, but it goes a long way in a sport that is wildly unpredictable with scoring patterns. Junior guard A.J. Hoggard was the main distributor this season, averaging six assists per game.
For USC, you will be seeing the ball a lot in two players’ hands. The first is number five Boogie Ellis. Ellis was one of the best and shiftiest guards in the country this season, averaging 18 points, three assists, three rebounds, and a steal. His stats don’t do him full justice and I’d advise finding a highlight video from when he dropped 33 points and seven assists in a home win against Stanford on February 18th. Boogie’s running mate, Drew Peterson is the other player to key an eye on. The six-foot-nine fifth-year senior put up a really solid 14 points and six rebounds this season for a Trojans team that finished third in the PAC-12. Both players earned First-Team All-PAC 12 honors.
One notable stat is Michigan State finished tied for second in the country in three-point percentage. Aside from that, they weren’t a very prolific offense and were just above 175th nationally with 7.5 threes made per game.
USC scored a few more points per game, shot better from the floor, has a small edge rebounding, and was the higher-rated defense of the two.
This feels like an evenly matched game and I feel safer having the best player Boogie Ellis on my side.
The picks: USC Trojans +2.5 (-115 FD), Over 137.5 (-110 FD)
Xavier Musketeers (3) vs Kennesaw State Owls (14)
12:40 PM ET (TruTV)
Xavier plays their first game since getting beat handily by the Marquette Golden Eagles in the Big East Tournament final. Kennesaw State finds themselves participants in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since joining the Atlantic Sun division in 2005-06. The Owls’ 15-3 conference record was the first time they finished better than .500 in the conference since joining.
The Musketeers were an elite offensive team this season. Among teams in the tournament, Xavier ranks seventh in Kenpoms adjusted offensive efficiency. Kennesaw comes in at 60th. Adjusted defensive efficiency was a little closer with the Musketeers ranking 38th and the Owls ranking 47th.
Kennesaw makes more threes per game though it is less than one. Xavier has the edge percentage-wise and was tied for second in three-point percentage this season. The Owls ranked just above 230th for opponent three-point percentage. If Xavier can get good looks, the data tells us they should be converting.
Other areas Xavier has advantages in are rebounds and assists. They averaged the most assists in the country and should be able to move the ball against the Owls.
Xavier guard Souley Boum made All-Big East First Team with averages of 16 points, four assists, and four rebounds. The X-men also had guard Colby Jones make All-Big East Second Team and center Jack Nunge was an All-Big East honorable mention. They will still be without forward Zach Freemantle but he hasn’t played in a game since January 28th.
The key players to watch on Kennesaw State are guards Chris Youngblood and Terrell Burden. Neither taller than six feet, they will once again be tasked with navigating around bigger defenders as they have been their entire college careers.
I think Xavier has too much skill for Kennesaw and will look to make a statement after the blowout loss in the Big East final.
The picks: Xavier -12.5 (-114 FD), Xavier team total first half over 39.5 (-115 FD)
Baylor Bears (3) vs UC Santa Barbara Gauchos (14)
1:30 PM ET (TNT)
If you haven’t watched Ajay Mitchell play this season, this will be your first opportunity to see the Big West conference player of the year in action. Mitchell averaged 16.4 points and 5 assists this season, leading the Gauchos to a 27-7 record. The six-foot-four guard has some of the best footwork in the country and will continuously get to his trusty left hand in the lane. Alongside Mitchell is senior Miles Norris who averaged 14 points and made All-Big West Second Team. Point guard Josh Pierre-Louis is the third important member of UC Santa Barbara who after a one-year hiatus is back in the NCAA Tournament.
I’m a bit down on the Baylor Bears going into the tournament. They still have undeniable big-name players in Keyonte George, Adam Flagler, LJ Cryer, and Jalen Bridges. There have been times this season when Baylor has looked amazing and other points that leave you scratching your head.
The Gauchos were a very respectable team this season. They were in the top 70 in offensive rating and tied for 21st in true shooting percentage. UC Santa Barbara has also shot 50% or better from the field in 14 of their last 22 games.
Baylor shoots better from the outside and is more physically gifted but as long as Mitchell and Norris can avoid foul trouble, I’m a big fan of the Gauchos covering this number.
The pick: UC Santa Barbara +10.5 (-110 FD)
Iowa State Cyclones (6) vs Pittsburgh Panthers (11)
3:10 PM ET (TruTV)
What a turnaround for the Pittsburgh Panthers basketball program. After six straight losing forgetful seasons, Pittsburgh was once again relevant. Finishing with a 23-11 record, they finished with a 14-6 record in the ACC, their best since joining the ACC in 2013-14. After getting smashed by the Duke Blue Devils in the quarterfinals of the ACC tournament, Pitt would have to earn their way into the final round of 64. Taking on Mississippi State in the 11-seed first four-game, Pitt would hold on to win 60-59. The game featured 21 lead changes which was the most in the NCAA Tournament in five years.
Iowa State is back in the tournament after making the sweet 16 last year. The Cyclones had a decent season in the Big 12, finishing 19-13 overall and 9-9 in the conference, good enough for sixth.
I like the over in this game.
Pitt has two 15-point-per-game scorers in Blake Hinson and Jermarius Burton. Nelly Cummings (11.1 ppg) and Greg Elliot (10.5 ppg) round out a Pittsburgh team that put up over 75 points per game, top 85 in the country. They also were top 30 in three-pointers made per game. Against Mississippi State, Cummings (15), Elliot (13), Hinson (12), and Nike Sibande (11) all scored double-digit while Burton only scored six and struggled with foul trouble. They have guys that can put the ball in the basket and do a good job spreading the scoring. It’s not contingent on their best player needing to play great.
Iowa State is not the flashiest offense but they offer two scoring guards in Gabe Kalscheur and Jaren Holmes. Kalscheur is the type of player that can pop. He scored 26 points with five threes against West Virginia on February 27th. In the Big 12 tournament quarterfinal win over Baylor, Kalscheur put together an electric 24-point, six three-pointers effort.
The pick: Over 130.5 (-115 FD)
Memphis Tigers (8) vs Florida Atlantic Owls (9)
9:20 PM ET (TNT)
The Flordia Atlanta Owls were one of three teams to win 31 games this season. Winners of the C-USA conference, FAU is back in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2002. As a 15-seed, they lost to the second-seeded Alabama Crimson Tide by a score of 86-78.
Penny Hardaways Memphis squad finds themselves back in the 8-9 game, this year as the eighth seed.
Both teams can put up points, ranking in the top 30 for points per game this season. Kenpom gives a slight edge to Memphis when it comes to overall adjusted efficiency margin.
Florida Atlantics’ strength relies on hitting three-pointers. They were 13th nationally in threes made per game. If they wanted to pin a good outside shooting team against a team that defends the three-point line well, they were successful. Memphis was 28th this season in opponent three-point percentage.
Memphis has two dynamic players in fifth-year senior Kendric Davis and senior DeAndre Williams. Many felt Davis who averaged 22.1 points, 5.6 assists, and 3.7 rebounds was snubbed when he wasn’t selected to an AP All-American Team.
As much as I do love a good story like FAU who had a superb season, I think this Memphis team is good, really good. They pass the ball well, have active hands on defense and though they weren’t in the top 20 for offensive and defensive rating like FAU, they still found themselves in the top 80.
Kendric Davis and DeAndre Williams prove to be too much to handle, and Memphis moves on.
The picks: Memphis -1.5 (-110 FD), Memphis team total over 77.5 (-106 FD)