Our NCAA Tournament predictions are set to continue on Thursday night with the third set of games that are on tap. Don’t miss these March Madness picks!
NCAA Tournament Matchup: #16 Western Kentucky Hilltoppers vs. #1 Kentucky Wildcats
Date: Thursday, March 15th, 6:50 ET
Location: KFC Yum! Arena, Louisville, KY
March Madness Odds: Kentucky -24.5
NCAA Tournament TV Schedule: TBS
Western Kentucky has been a team on an absolute roll over the course of the last few weeks. It has beaten Middle Tennessee State, and then it barreled right through the Sun Belt Tournament. Now, it has a win over Mississippi Valley State in come from behind fashion. Of course, this is Kentucky, not any of these other teams. We tend to think that the Wildcats are just going to make a mockery out of the Hilltoppers, knowing that they were just beaten in the SEC Tournament finale. In the end, that is going to be a bad, bad sign for WKU, which really isn’t going to have anything that it can do. If UK wants to win this one by 50, it will. This one won’t be all that close at the gun, and barring a backdoor cover for the Hilltoppers, we don’t see this happening.
NCAA Tournament Free Pick: Kentucky -24.5
NCAA Tournament Matchup: #12 VCU Rams vs. #5 Wichita State Shockers
Date: Thursday, March 15th, 7:15 ET
Location: Rose Garden, Portland, OR
March Madness Odds: Wichita State -6.5
NCAA Tournament TV Schedule: CBS
We really hate when these mid majors get matched up against one another in the NCAA Tournament this early, and this is another case of two potential Cinderella stories that are going to be pitted against one another where only one will move on. Wichita State is no joke. The Shockers might not have won the Missouri Valley Conference this year, but they were one of the top teams in the Ken Pomeroy rankings all season long, and for good reason. There just isn’t anything that this team doesn’t do well. VCU is a team that is going to get a lot of pub after last year’s run to the Final Four, but in the end, Head Coach Shaka Smart knows that this team isn’t nearly as talented as the one that made it on that great tear last year. The Shockers should put an early end to the Rams in relatively convincing fashion.
NCAA Tournament Free Pick: Wichita State -6.5
NCAA Tournament Matchup: #10 West Virginia Mountaineers vs. #7 Gonzaga Bulldogs
Date: Thursday, March 15th, 7:20 ET
Location: Consol Energy Arena, Pittsburgh, PA
March Madness Odds: Gonzaga -1
NCAA Tournament TV Schedule: TNT
West Virginia is a team that has gotten a lot of publicity this week, and we definitely understand why. It is going to be playing a de facto home game here against a Gonzaga team that is forced to travel all the way across the country. There is a lot that is being made out of Kevin Jones and Darryl Bryant as well, both of which have the potential to put this WVU team on their backs and carry it to the finish line. We just aren’t all that impressed with the Zags. Sure, they have 25 wins, but they also have just two covers in their last seven games here in the NCAA Tournament, and we don’t think that that is a good omen for a team that struggled this year against somewhat similar teams outside of the WCC. It’s a good sign that BYU was able to win the play-in game against Iona, but there’s a big difference between the talent level of a team like Iona and a team like West Virginia. The Huggy Bear should get another scalp here in the first round against the Zags.
NCAA Tournament Free Pick: West Virginia +1
NCAA Tournament Matchup: #14 South Dakota State Jackrabbits vs. #3 Baylor Bears
Date: Thursday, March 15th, 7:25 ET
Location: The Pit Arena, Albuquerque, NM
March Madness Odds: Baylor -8
NCAA Tournament TV Schedule: truTV
With Nate Wolters on the court, the Jackrabbits are clearly going to be a team that a heck of a lot of bettors like on Thursday night. This is a do it all that averages well over 20 points, five boards, and five assists per game, and he might have to go off for a triple-double for the Summit League champs to pull the upset in this one. Still, in the end, these Jackrabbits have never been dancing before, and this is going to be a rude awakening against a Baylor team that has as much talent as anyone else in the nation. As long as Baylor wants to be in this game and wants to put South Dakota State away relatively early, it should be able to do just that in what should feel like a tad more of a home game for the Bears than the Jackrabbits.
NCAA Tournament Free Pick: Baylor -8