March Madness Second Round Predictions On All Saturday Games

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Saturday's Second Round Games

#11 Michigan vs #3 Tennessee - Mark Ruelle

A quick look at the optics and you can't help but escape the fact that Michigan will have to play a lights-out game in order to win while Tennessee just needs to play to their normal level and they should be victorious. The Volunteers are outstanding ballhawks, can rebound very well despite having a lack of true length, and are extremely efficient at both ends. Offensively, Tennessee is ranked 34th in the country in efficiency. They will move the ball around and find open shooters for spot-up three-point shots. Michigan struggled early on against Colorado State to adjust to that style and, if that happens here, the score will be far more lopsided. While not confirmed as of yet, one would think Jones will be a go, which should be a plus for the Wolverines. They will be desperate for veteran leadership against a swarming defense like the Volunteers. If he is unable to go, this will be a runaway. Even with Jones, however, Michigan doesn't have the consistent shooting to match with Tennessee. Prediction: Tennessee -5.5

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#9 Creighton vs #1 Kansas - Nate Reeves

There's still plenty of bright spots for the Creighton defense, which carried the team to the Tournament by ranking 16th in KenPom efficiency. It's not the same without Kalkbrenner as the rim protector, but the Bluejays have still been excellent at limiting opponents from three and also rank inside the top 5 nationally in free throw rate allowed.

While Kansas is more efficient offensively, the defense hasn't been exactly bad either at 25th in KenPom efficiency and 37th in effective field goal percentage allowed, numbers that have gotten better of late. Creighton also slows down the tempo and will likely take as much time as possible with a dangerous offense on the other side, which will lead to the Bluejays not putting up enough points to reach this number. Prediction: Kansas -11.5

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#12 New Mexico State vs #4 Arkansas - Blake V.

I love Arkansas as a small favorite on Saturday night and cannot understand why this team is not getting any attention. The Razorbacks have experience, talent and balance, not to mention they bring back a core group that made a deep run in the NCAA Tournament last season. They have been underrated in the betting market over the last two months, covering the spread at a 14-4-1 clip over their last 19 games. As I watched New Mexico State celebrate its first-round win, it looked exactly like a mid-major team that is not prepared to win multiple games. The Aggies celebrated like they just won the title—but that is going to be their only win in the Big Dance. Prediction: Arkansas -6.5

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#12 Richmond vs #4 Providence - Nate Reeves

While it didn't always show it over the last two regular seasons, the Richmond core of Golden, Burton and Gilyard is extremely talented and finally clicking on both sides of the ball. The Friars can be vulnerable as they tend to play close games against all levels of competition, and it's worth a shot to stick with the red hot Spiders right now.

This is a solid Richmond offense at 70th in KenPom as the Spiders are tough to stop in the paint and hardly ever turn the ball over, while Gilyard has added some strong outside shooting during this run. Providence is only a mediocre shooting team with a 50.1 effective field goal percentage, and while the Friars are certainly clutch, that has led them to playing a lot of games that are decided by one possession.

While the defense hasn't been good for much of the season, Richmond has totally turned a corner on that end, holding elite offenses Iowa and Davidson to under 0.95 points per possession. Experience and a great point guard is often a recipe for success in March as Richmond is currently showing, and the surging Spiders have enough to beat a Providence team that does not own strong metrics.Prediction: Richmond +3

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#8 North Carolina vs #1 Baylor - Chris King

We’re looking at a pair of teams that are very proficient on the offensive end of the floor and at clearing the glass. The problem for the Tar Heels here is their inability to slow teams on the defensive end of the floor, That puts them at a distinct disadvantage against Baylor, who is an excellent defensive team that holds opposing teams to 42.1% shooting from the floor, including 29.7% from three-point range, on the season. The Tar Heels are good at the line, which can help them stay within striking distance but the fact that Baylor’s defensive work far exceeds that we’ve seen on Tobacco Road, you have to give the edge to the defending champs. Another big showing from Mayer and Akinjo jumpstarts Baylor to a victory. Prediction: Baylor Bears -5.5

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#5 St Mary's vs #4 UCLA - Chris King

UCLA clearly can’t take things for granted here like they did with Akron or they’ll be obliterated. The Bruins were fortunate to get past the Zips to begin with and now have to deal with a Gaels team that is more than capable of shutting opposing teams down with regularity. The Gaels crushed Indiana as they played their typical efficient offensive attack and made life miserable for the Hoosiers on the other end of the floor. Saint Mary’s won’t be intimidated by the Bruins or the stage: after all, they beat #1 Gonzaga in Moraga last month. The Gaels deserved the 5 seed they were awarded and their methodical, yet effective offense, plus solid defense, gives them the upper hand here. Prediction: Saint Mary's Gaels +3

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#15 St Peter's vs #7 Murray State - Chris King

This one ensures that we’re going to have a lower seed guaranteed to appear in the Sweet 16. Saint Peter’s can’t be underestimated, as Kentucky has learned now on their way back to Lexington. Now, they get a crack at another team from the Bluegrass State as they take on Murray State. The Racers let a nine-point lead late in regulation disappear but managed to come up with a victory over a tough San Francisco team that pushed them to the limit. Both teams are sound defensively but the Racers have a massive edge on the offensive end of the floor. That advantage is enough to give the edge to Murray State as they reach the Sweet 16. Prediction: Murray State Racers -8.5

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#9 Memphis vs #1 Gonzaga - Blake V.

Memphis has been one of the most interesting teams in the country this season. The Tigers are capable of beating anyone in the country when they are at their best, but they have been extremely inconsistent. They have been in their best form down the stretch, though, including their win over Boise State on Thursday. Gonzaga has not been perfect over the last few weeks, losing to St. Mary’s and playing several other close WCC games. The Bulldogs struggled for more than 20 minutes against Georgia State in their first-round contest. Memphis is an athletic team that can keep Timme and Holmgren in check, so I like the Tigers to cover on Saturday. Prediction: Memphis +10

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