Free NCAA Tournament Picks For Saturday: Round Of 32 Begins

Matthew Jordan

Saturday, March 19, 2016 12:22 PM GMT

Half of the NCAA Tournament's Sweet 16 will be filled by late Saturday night as the Round of 32 tips off around the country. Here are my top three tournament picks for Saturday.

No. 5 Indiana vs. No. 4 Kentucky 
East Region game at 5:15 p.m. ET in Des Moines, and tickets are about impossible to get. These rivals hate each other so much that they refuse to schedule one another in the regular season any longer. It's probably two most basketball-centric states (high school and college) in the USA. This will be the 57th meeting all-time and first since a Sweet 16 matchup in 2012. This features two of the country's best offenses, with Kentucky is first in efficiency and Indiana fifth. And it's truly a shame they have to play this early in the Big Dance. Indiana (26-7) should have probably been at least a No. 4 after winning the Big Ten regular season title but was upset in its conference tournament opener. IU looked just fine on Thursday in a 99-74 wipeout of No. 12 Chattanooga, which is darn good team. Yogi Ferrell had 20 points and a season-high 10 assists and Indiana shot a stellar 64.9 percent from the field. Indiana got good news in the return of former starting guard Robert Johnson. He had missed the previous four games with an injury. Johnson had seven points and six assists off the bench. Kentucky (27-8) should have probably been a No. 3 seed after beating Texas A&M for the SEC Tournament title -- the Aggies got a No. 3 seed. The Cats also rolled in their opener Saturday, 85-57 over No. 13 Stony Brook. The Cats set an NCAA Tournament record with 15 blocks. Great matchup of point guards in Ferrell and Tyler Ulis, the SEC Player of the Year. Ferrell probably has to win that decisively because UK is much deeper overall. Take Kentucky and go 'over' to set up a likely Sweet 16 epic showdown with North Carolina. Indiana is 1-7 against the NCAA basketball odds in its past eight vs. the SEC. UK is 6-0 ATS in its past six games.

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NCAA Basketball Picks: Kentucky -4 & Over 155
Best Line Offered: at 5Dimes

 

No. 9 Connecticut vs. No. 1 Kansas 
South Region game at 7:45 p.m. ET from Des Moines. These powerhouse programs have met just twice, a home-and-home series in the mid-1990s. Connecticut (25-10), the AAC Tournament champion, won a fifth straight game Thursday, 74-67 over No. 8 Colorado. The Huskies trailed by nine at halftime but won their seventh straight NCAA Tournament game -- remember, they won it all in 2014 but then weren't able to defend last year due to a low APR score. Daniel Hamilton had 17 points and 10 rebounds against CU, his fourth straight double-double. The Huskies were 22-for-23 from the foul line. UConn leads the nation in free-throw shooting at 79.3 percent. Kansas (31-4) won its 15th game in a row and showed why it's the No. 1 overall seed in this tournament with a 105-79 rout of No. 16 Austin Peay. The Jayhawks made 61 percent of their 2-point attempts and had 58 points in the paint. The quick turnaround here shouldn't be an issue as no KU player was on the floor for more than 27 minutes. This is definitely a clash of styles. UConn’s field-goal percentage defense is third-best in the country at 38.2 percent. KU is sixth nationally in shooting at 49.4 percent. The Huskies are 5-0 ATS in their past five non-conference games. The 'over' is 6-2 in the Huskies' past eight games. The 'over' is 4-1-1 in KU's past six.

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NCAA Basketball Picks: UConn +8 & Over 140
Best Line Offered: at BetOnline

 

No. 9 Providence vs. No. 1 North Carolina 
East Region game at 9:40 p.m. ET from Raleigh, N.C. It's the second time in three years these teams meet in the NCAA Tournament. In 2014, No. 6 seed North Carolina beat No. 11 Providence 79-77 in the teams' opener in San Antonio. Marcus Paige led North Carolina with 19 points -- he remains a crucial part of these Tar Heels. Providence (24-10) was rather fortunate to beat No. 9 USC 70-69 on Thursday as the Trojans missed some key free throws down the stretch, which led to a Rodney Bullock layup off an inbounds play with 1.5 seconds left for the win. PC has two stars in Kris Dunn and Ben Bentil, but Bullock really stepped up with 16 points and 10 rebounds. Dunn facing off against Paige will be a great matchup here. North Carolina (29-6) perhaps took No. 16 Florida Gulf Coast too lightly at first as the Heels led only 41-40 at halftime before blowing the doors off after intermission in an 83-67 win. The Tar Heels improved to 32-1 in NCAA games in their home state, with 28 straight victories. Just not fair the Heels get to play this game in Raleigh, but I suppose that's earned with a No. 1 seed. UNC covers and go Over as the NCAA tournament picks. The Friars are 1-5 ATS in their past six after an ATS loss. The 'over' is 6-0 in UNC's past six non-conference games. 

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NCAA Basketball Picks: UNC -10.5 & Over 151
Best Line Offered: at Pinnacle