NCAA Tournament Free Picks: Evening Second Round Picks 3/17

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The nightcap of the first full day of NCAA Tournament betting action will get underway just before 7:00 ET, and in this session, there will be some of the best and brightest teams in the land kicking off what they hope will be deep runs into this tourney. But which ones will get the axe with premature exits from the dance? Check out our March Madness picks for Thursday evening.

Matchup: #15 UC Santa Barbara Gauchos vs. #2 Florida Gators
Date: Thursday, March 17th, 6:50 ET
Location: Southeast Region, Tampa Bay, FL
NCAA Basketball Odds: Florida -13
Over/Under 127

Both the Gators and the Gauchos have a lot of returning experience this season, as both teams went dancing last season and brought back the mass majority of their key components this year. The Big West champs are sneaky though, as they have Orlando Johnson, one of the best scorers in the nation at just over 21 points per game. James Nunnally can get his 20+ any given night as well. Sure, Florida has a lot more experience and a lot of potential Final Four types of athletes, but if it does end up going to Houston, it probably isn’t covering every spread along the way. Chandler Parsons and company are great, but the Gators aren’t going to win this one by more than a dozen points. Free March Madness Picks: UC Santa Barbara Gauchos +13

Matchup: #14 Wofford Terriers vs. #3 BYU Cougars
Date: Thursday, March 17th, 7:15 ET
Location: Southeast Region, Denver, CO
NCAA Basketball Odds: BYU -8.5
Over/Under 147

If you love offensive fireworks, you’re going to love this game to pieces. Wofford has no issues running up and down the court with gusto, while BYU’s offense is all about trying to figure out how to get the ball in the hands of Jimmer Fredette. As long as it’s on the right side of half court, Fredette will jack it up without any hesitations, and especially this time of year, everything he touches seems to turn to gold. However, remember the name Noah Dahlman. This is a man that is scoring 20 points per game, and he is a big that can really bring some bulk into the paint against a BYU team that doesn’t have its starting big man in Brandon Davies. No. 14 seeds don’t beat No. 3s all that often, and it would be a real travesty to not see Jimmer in the second weekend of the tournament, but don’t be shocked if the Terriers are dogs with some real bite. March Madness Free Picks: Wofford Terriers +8.5

Matchup: #14 Bucknell Bison vs. #3 Connecticut Huskies
Date: Thursday, March 17th, 7:20 ET
Location: West Region, Washington DC
NCAA Basketball Odds: Connecticut -10
Over/Under 132.5

Do the Bison really have a shot at pulling off the upset in this one? We know that the Huskies dominated games out of conference play this year, but they all weren’t the easiest wins in the world. All too often, this offense just gets into a lull because Kemba Walker isn’t on his game. In fairness to Walker, he did put up five amazing games in the Big East Tournament, and this is why this team really caught some fire. Bucknell was a great mid major all season long, and it certainly has the ability to shoot the three pointer, connecting on 40.2 percent of all long range shots. The Bison are the real deal, and though they might not ultimately end up pulling off the great upset, they certainly can stick around and make this a game down the stretch. Free March Madness Picks: Bucknell Bison +10

Matchup: #13 Belmont Bruins vs. #4 Wisconsin Badgers
Date: Thursday, March 17th, 7:25 ET
Location: Southwest Region, Tucson, AZ
NCAA Basketball Odds: Wisconsin -4.5
Over/Under 126

More upsets on the horizon? Ever since the brackets were released on Sunday, there had to be a heck of a lot of teams that had to be thrilled that Belmont wasn’t the team that they were playing against. This is a team that can shoot three pointers like no one’s business, and it certainly has the winning mentality, having done so 30 times on the season. However, Wisconsin’s last time on the court was an embarrassment that ugly defeat at the hands of the Penn State Nittany Lions in which neither team scored even 40 points. Don’t be surprised if the Badgers get great games out of Jon Leuer and Jordan Taylor, and that these two men carry them to victory against an overvalued bunch of Bruins. Free March Madness Picks: Wisconsin Badgers -4.5

Matchup: #10 Michigan State Spartans vs. #7 UCLA Bruins
Date: Thursday, March 17th, 9:20 ET
Location: Southeast Region, Tampa Bay, FL
NCAA Basketball Odds: Michigan State -1.5
Over/Under 125.5

Did someone just forget to tell us about a few things here? Sure, we know that Michigan State was the trendy pick in the NCAA Tournament odds several months ago, but what has this team done to deserve this type of recognition now? The Spartans really struggled with the Iowa Hawkeyes in the Big Ten Tournament, while they were kicked out of the field by the Penn State Nittany Lions. Now, we know that PSU had a special run and earned its place in this tournament, but if you think that that team was one of the best 37 at large teams in the country, you’re crazy. In fact, we know that these Spartans are only here on merit only. Sure, we know that UCLA was booted out of the Pac-10 Tournament by about 100 points by a bad Oregon Ducks team, but we also know that it has the ability to beat anyone in the conference. If the Bruins can beat the likes of the Arizona Wildcats and the Washington Huskies, they can certainly take down Michigan State from an overrated Big Ten conference as well. March Madness Free Picks: UCLA Bruins +1.5

Matchup: #11 Gonzaga Bulldogs vs. #6 St. John’s Red Storm
Date: Thursday, March 17th, 9:45 ET
Location: Southwest Region, Denver, CO
NCAA Basketball Odds: St. John’s -1.5
Over/Under 135

What just an awful spot this is for the Johnnies… Haven’t these guys been through enough already? They lost DJ Kennedy for the season in the Big East Tournament, and they had to play the hardest schedule in the nation this season. Now, they have to fly to the West Coast to deal with a Gonzaga team from the West Coast, and Head Coach Mark Few and company have the gripe of being the hottest team on this side of the Rocky Mountains in the country. The Bulldogs could really care less whether or not they are underdogs or favorites in this one, as they have a ton of NCAA Tournament experience and have pulled out wins in both roles. After a great season, the Red Storm will finally succumb to the pressure and will get bounced from the NCAA Tournament prematurely. Free March Madness Picks: Gonzaga Bulldogs +1.5

Matchup: #11 Missouri Tigers vs. #6 Cincinnati Bearcats
Date: Thursday, March 17th, 9:50 ET
Location: West Region, Washington DC
NCAA Basketball Odds: Cincinnati -1
Over/Under 137.5

The Tigers are one of the more public underdog choices in this year’s March Madness, and for good reason. Marcus Denmon and company just play this ridiculous style of defense that presses for the full 40 minutes, and when push comes to shove, we have to admit that this is a tactic that just works in the dance. It might not win the tourney, but in these early games, fans get on your side when you do things like that, and on the neutral court, that’s a great way to swing momentum. Even though the Bearcats figured out how to win a ton of games this season, their non conference schedule was paper thin. This is a totally different type of challenge, and it is one in which UC doesn’t even know is really this dangerous. Not only is this going to be an upset. This is going to be a romp. March Madness Free Picks: Missouri Tigers +1

Matchup: #12 Utah State Aggies vs. #5 Kansas State Wildcats
Date: Thursday, March 17th, 9:55 ET
Location: Southeast Region, Tucson, AZ
NCAA Basketball Odds: Kansas State -2.5
Over/Under 129

We do love the makeup of this Utah State team, as it really does have a lot of veterans and has the potential to pull off a lot of upsets in this tournament. However, this is virtually a pick ’em game, and it is a game against the likes of which the Aggies haven’t seen this year. Utah State really hasn’t played that well against big time foes, as its only “signature” win came against a St. Mary’s team that, when push comes to shove, ended up in the NIT. K-State is on fire, and Jacob Pullen will make sure that this is a team that just will not lose. Free March Madness Picks: Kansas State Wildcats -2.5

Lou Palumbo is the founder and part owner of the Sports Handicapping Community. He's been writing and posting free picks and sports handicapping strategies on the Cappersinfo forums and website for 15 years now. He enjoys handicapping just as much as he did from the very first day he built the original Cappersinfo website.

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