March Madness Second Round Predictions On All Sunday Games

#5 Houston vs #4 Illinois - Mark Ruelle

The Fighting Illini will have to knock down shots in this game. They will not be able to hang in with the Cougars if they score 54 points. Houston will undoubtedly attack Cockburn in the post with defenders from different angles and force Cockburn to find the open shooter. I think it's unlikely that the Cougars will strictly matchup White with Cockburn all game because of foul issues and Houston's lack of depth. On the offensive end, Houston will rotate the basketball on drive and kicks looking for 3pt shots. Nearly 40% of the Cougars shots are from long range this season although they only average just over 8 per game. They will shoot the 3-ball at a high volume for a reduced reward. Illinois has been more efficient at the 3-ball this season, 31st in the country in 3pt field goals made. They have struggled recently, however, and Plummer's second-half outburst was critical. Houston's relentless pressure and immense half-court defense will be too much for the Fighting Illini to overcome in this game.Prediction - Houston -4

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#7 Ohio State vs #2 Villanova - Mark Ruelle

This is a great matchup for the Wildcats. Ohio State is not lengthy enough to bother the Wildcats in the paint and does not possess the kind of shooting that should bother the Wildcats. Villanova is a team built on precision and ball movement. Ohio State is a good, if not very good defensive team, but to expect them to put up the same kind of defensive numbers they put up against Loyola is unrealistic. In addition, Villanova possesses more depth and even more shooters than Loyola provides. I expect Villanova's execution to eventually wear down the Buckeyes and pull away for a 10+ points victory.Prediction - Villanova - 5

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#7 Michigan State vs #2 Duke - Blake V.

There are so many reasons to love Duke in this matchup, but it all starts with firepower. The Blue Devils have five players scoring in double figures, led by one of the best players in college basketball. Michigan State only has one guy in double digits—the lack of explosiveness really hurt the Spartans against some of the best teams in the Big Ten. They are also coming off a draining game against Davidson, while Duke cruised through its first-round contest. The dominance of Krzyzewski over Izzo is just another layer that adds value to Duke on Sunday.Prediction - Duke -6.5

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#11 Iowa State vs #3 Wisconsin - Nate Reeves

While the Badgers certainly have their flaws as a team, they keep finding ways to win games and will be tough to beat here with the fired up home crowd in Milwaukee. Iowa State's offense is too limited to pull off another upset against a tougher opponent this time around, and the Badgers at least have one elite playmaker to turn to with Davis when they need a clutch bucket.

The Cyclones are not here because of their offense, which is 186th nationally in effective field goal percentage while turning it over a ton, and its unlikely Hunter will repeat his hot shooting performance again. This is a sound Badgers defense at 37th in KenPom, as it does a great job of not helping opponents out any with excellent rebounding and free throw rates allowed.

By far the biggest strength of the Iowa State defense is forcing turnovers at the fourth-highest rate nationally, but Wisconsin counters that by being the best team at avoiding giveaways in college basketball with a rate of 12.6%. Add in this is essentially a home game for Wisconsin, and the Badgers will be able to handle such a low spread.Prediction - Wisconsin -4.5

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#11 Notre Dame vs #3 Texas Tech - Blake V

I don’t want to fade Notre Dame after the performance it put together on Friday. The Fighting Irish never looked tired against Alabama, despite coming over a double-overtime contest two days prior. They have now covered the spread in six of their last eight games, saving their best basketball for the end of the season. Texas Tech dominated Montana State on Friday, but I am not going to put too much stock in that result. The Red Raiders are 2-5 against the spread in their last seven games and are 2-7 ATS in their last nine games against an ACC opponent. There always seems to be a team from the First Four making a deep run in the Big Dance—Notre Dame is that team this year.Prediction - Notre Dame -8

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#10 Miami vs #2 Auburn - Nate Reeves

The Hurricanes are looking underrated here with an offense that has been tough for even elite opposing defense to guard, and Miami has shown enough upside to beat the likes of Duke this season. Auburn's defense was enough to get the Tigers past an overmatched 15 seed, but things get a lot tougher here, and their lack of shooting especially on the road remains a concern.

This Miami offense is capable of making things at least interesting here, as it ranks 30th nationally in effective field goal percentage while hardly ever turning the ball over, which proved to be the difference against USC. Compare that to Auburn, which is 152d in effective field goal percentage due to its poor perimeter shooting and even worse away from home, leading to losses against the likes of Florida and Texas A&M heading into the NCAA Tournament.

The only major weakness for Auburn all season was guard play, and a Miami defense that forces turnovers on 20.5 percent of opposing possessions could cause some trouble. An outright upset likely won't happen here, but this sneaky good Miami offense will be able to at least keep up with the favored Tigers.Prediction - Miami +7.5

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#6 Texas vs #3 Purdue - Chris King

Texas may have gotten past Virginia Tech but they face an extremely prolific offensive team in Purdue. Perhaps what could be the most challenging thing for the Longhorns is the sheer size factor that the Boilermakers bring to the floor. In Edey and Williams, the Boilermakers have a two-headed monster to work with that can do damage. Coupled with the explosiveness of Ivey and the three-point prowess of Stefanovic, the Boilermakers are a hard team to contain. Texas has the advantage on the defensive end of the floor but Purdue’s size advantage gives them the upper hand as they reach the Sweet 16.Prediction - Purdue -3.5

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#9 TCU vs #1 Arizona - Mark Ruelle

With what the Wildcats must have perceived to be the preliminaries out of the way, it's down to business for Arizona. They are a high-level team on both ends, run a high octane offense and can protect the rim with a pair of 7 footers. TCU has had a nice season and is a strong defensive team but there isn't a scenario I can see that TCU will hang with Arizona for 40 minutes. They might even hang for 20 minutes, maybe even the first 30 minutes but the Wildcats are deep and relentless. On top of all that, the Wildcats are likely to have the services of their starting point guard, Kerr Kriisa, once again. Rest assured, the Wildcats will not push past 15 turnovers in this game with Kriisa back. Even if he's held out of another game, Arizona is just too much in all areas for the Horned Frogs.Prediction - Arizona -10

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