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Ranking every underdog 1-16 in the round of 32 for the NCAA Tournament

Mike Miles

Mike Miles

William Purnell-USA TODAY Sports

Vaughn Dalzell ranks every underdog 1-16 in the round of 32 for the NCAA Tournament.

The best bets are ranked lower (1, 2, 3) and the worst underdogs are ranked higher, towards the bottom of this article (14, 15, 16).


1. Auburn +6.5 vs. Houston: Houston is more than likely going to be without Marcus Sasser, the Cougars best player, plus Jamal Shead is banged up, their second-best player. This game is in Alabama, so Auburn will have a crowd advantage against the No. 1 seeded Houston Cougars.

2. Arkansas +3.5 vs. Kansas: This -3.5 point spread is the lowest for a No. 1 seed against a No. 8 seed since 1996 when Purdue laid -2.5 versus Georgia and lost outright. This is fishy and Arkansas is athletic, while Kansas is attempting to repeat. Give me the Razorbacks.

3. Princeton +6.5 vs. Missouri: Missouri dominated Utah State holding them to 4-of-24 from three (16.7%) but a red flag for the Tigers was only grabbing three offensive rebounds. Princeton is ranked 3rd in defensive rebounding percentage and held Arizona to seven offensive rebounds and 3-of-16 from three (16%).

4. Northwestern +7.5 vs. UCLA: The Bruins didn’t need to break a sweat in the first round, but this is a much more difficult test. Northwestern was dominated on the boards against Boise State, but UCLA isn’t the strongest rebounding team either, so expect Northwestern to hang around with its No. 98 offense and No. 18 defense.

5. Miami +1.5 vs. Indiana: The Hurricanes closed their previous game against the Drake Bulldogs on a 16-1 run, which lost us our Drake +3.5 bet. Miami received Norchad Omier back and he recorded 12 points and 14 rebounds in 36 minutes, which will be needed versus Indiana’s Trayce Jackson-Davis.

6. Furman +5.5 vs. San Diego State: SDSU remains on the East Coast and will face another tough test in what should be a low-scoring game with Furman. Both teams rank 329th and 346th in adjusted defensive tempo and the Aztecs rank 10th overall in efficiency. For Furman, that didn’t matter versus Virginia, so we’ll see what the Paladins are made of versus a similar but slightly better opponent.

7. Fairleigh Dickinson +13.5 vs. Florida Atlantic: UMBC lost 50-43 the following round after defeating Virginia, so FDU will try to break history yet again. Despite being +22.5 and +2100 on the ML against Purdue, FDU is +13.5 and +640 on the ML against FAU. It’s FDU and the world against the books!

8. Pittsburgh +4.5 vs. Xavier: The Pitt Panthers opened their first round game on a 22-2 run and now have a chance to win their third-straight game in order to reach the Sweet 16. Jeff Capel has finally built something at Pitt and as an underdog, the Panthers are one of the top 10 most profitable ATS teams this season.

9. Kansas State +1.5 vs. Kentucky: Expect a classic rock fight between these two teams after Kentucky showed off its shooting struggles versus Providence (38.3% from two and 31.2% from three). Kansas State has the 20th-ranked defense in the country and held Montana State to 6-of-21 from three (28.6%) and forced 16 turnovers.

10. Michigan State +3.5 vs. Marquette: Marquette holds the nation’s second-longest winning streak at 10 games and won the last two outings by a combined 31 points. Michigan State has only played two games since February 4th, which can’t be a good thing this time of year.

11. Saint Mary’s +3.5 vs. UConn: Both of these squads struggled in the first half versus VCU and Iona, but we know both are capable of making runs in the tournament. UConn has potential to win it all and with how Adama Sanogo performed in the second half versus Iona, I am not sure Saint Mary’s can guard him for 40 minutes.

12. Penn State +5.5 vs. Texas: Jalen Pickett and Andrew Funk continue to ball out for Penn State with 46 of their 76 points against Texas A&M. PSU doesn’t offensive rebound or force turnovers and with Texas being my pick to win it all, I will pass on PSU with the points but they’re live to cover.

13. Creighton +1 vs. Baylor: This one of the biggest toss up games but with Baylor’s second-half against UC Santa Barbara, it’s no wonder the Bears are favorites here. These are the No. 13 and 14 ranked teams in Kenpom.

14. TCU +4.5 vs. Gonzaga: TCU barely survived Arizona State and with how Gonzaga’s offense has looked since the beginning of February (No. 1 in efficiency and points per game), the Bulldogs should advance.

15. Maryland +8.5 vs. Alabama: The Terps got their third road win in the last 14 road/neutral site games and now take on the No. 1 seed who didn’t need their best player to score a single point in the first round (Brandon Miller).

16. Tennessee +3.5 vs. Duke: Tennessee struggled mightily versus Louisiana while Duke handled Oral Roberts without a sweat. The Blue Devils are a top-5 ranked team over the last three weeks as well as eight weeks complimented by a top 10 defense. I like Duke a lot.


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