Favorites look to keep covering in Dance

Mar 22, 2008 7:00 PM

by Mark Mayer |

The second round of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament begins today with favorites going 22-10 (68.8 percent) against the spread thus far. Today’s games feature the winners of Thursday’s opening round contests, which saw the favorites go 13-3 ATS. The underdogs bounced back a bit in Friday’s 16-game slate, going 9-7 ATS.

Top matchups Saturday include West top seed UCLA against Texas A&M, Midwest top seed Kansas opposing UNLV, and West No. 2 seed Duke meeting West Virginia. The winners of Saturday’s games advance to next Thursday’s Sweet 16. Here are GT’s favorite plays for Saturday.

UCLA -10½ vs Texas A&M: The Aggies are resilient, but have sustained double-digit losses to Kansas and Texas in the Big 12. UCLA is at least the equal to those teams and comes off a brutal 41-point mauling of Mississippi Valley State as a 31½ point favorite. The smaller price here is juicy. UCLA.

Wisconsin -4½ vs Kansas St: The Badgers were pushed a bit by Cal-Fullerton before winning comfortably by 15 as a 12-point favorite. K-State has Michael Beasley, regarded as the nation’s top freshman and he won his matchup with USC’s O.J. Mayo in the opening round. Still, the Badgers were No. 1 in the Big 10 and this again seems a cheap price vs. an 11 seed, WISCONSIN.

Pitt -2½ vs Michigan St: The Panthers rode their Big East tournament title to a first-round victory over Oral Roberts. The Spartans were impressive in eliminating Temple, but this is a much tougher assignment. The refs will be key to this game in terms of fouls. This figures to be a physical battle, which plays into Pittsburgh’s style. The Panthers can cover at the line. PITT.