NCAA Tournament Picks Of The Day: Top Sweet 16 Plays On Thursday

Matthew Jordan

Wednesday, March 23, 2016 7:44 PM GMT

The worst-seeded team among the four is just No. 5 Maryland. Here are my top two picks for Thursday with BetOnline NCAA basketball odds.

No. 3 Texas A&M vs. No. 2 Oklahoma
West Region game with a tip at 7:37 p.m. ET from  Anaheim. The winner faces either No. 4 Duke or No. 1 Oregon. Of course these schools were long-time conference rivals until the Aggies moved to the SEC a few years ago in a decision that was all about football. If you were like me and had No. 11 Northern Iowa advancing to the Sweet 16, you probably had circled that result as correct when the Panthers led A&M by 12 points with 35 seconds left on Sunday. But the Aggies staged the greatest comeback in Division I history -- the previous record for biggest deficit rallied from in the final minute in a win was 11 done twice -- in a 92-88 double-overtime stunner. In those final 35 seconds, the Aggies scored six times for 14 points in six possessions and forced four Northern Iowa turnovers in five possessions.

It was truly something you will never see again. Texas A&M, the SEC regular-season co-champion, is in the Sweet 16 for the third time in school history and first since 2007.  It's a good thing the Aggies player got three days off following that win because I'm guessing they would have been completely gassed in a quick turnaround. While A&M had the comeback of this tournament, Oklahoma's Buddy Hield, the Big 12 Player of the Year winner and National Player of the Year candidate, had the individual game of the tournament on Sunday in an 85-81 win over VCU. Hield, the nation's No. 2 scorer, scored 19 of his 36 points in the final eight minutes of that victory. Hield’s 36 points tied the second-highest total ever by any player in an NCAA Tournament game from a Big 12 school.

Oklahoma leads the all-time series 31-10 and won the most recent one in December 2013. It has to be OU covers here as you NCAA basketball picks. Go 'over.' Texas A&M is 0-8 ATS in its past eight games after scoring at least 90 points in its previous outing. OU is 6-1 ATS in its past seven vs. the SEC. The 'over' is 5-1 in A&M's past six games. It is 4-1 in OU's past five non-conference games.

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NCAA Basketball Free Pick: Over 146
Best Line Offered: at 5Dimes

 

No. 5 Maryland vs. No. 1 Kansas
South Region game with a tip of approximately 9:40 p.m. ET from Louisville with the winner facing either No. 3 Miami or No. 2 Villanova. Believe it or not, Maryland likely has more future NBA players on its roster than does Kansas, the No. 1 overall seed in the Big Dance and which was the Big 12 regular-season and tournament champion. The Terps were No. 3 in both preseason polls, while KU was No. 4 in the AP and No. 5 in the USA Today. Maryland (27-8) has definitely underachieved at times this season. It has in this tournament, too, beating No. 12 South Dakota State by only five in Round 1.

On Sunday, it beat No. 13 Hawaii 73-60 despite trailing midway through the second half and hitting just 1-for-18 overall from 3-point range. Thanks for the Terps, they hit 70 percent of their 2-point field goals and were 28-for-31 from the free-throw line. Kansas (32-4) slaughtered Austin Peay in Round 1 and then beat No. 9 UConn 73-61 for its national-best 16th straight win. Perry Ellis has scored at least 20 points in six of the past seven games and has 21 in each of the two in this tournament. He's among the betting favorites for NCAA Tournament Most Outstanding Player. Kansas is 3-2 all-time vs. Maryland. They last played in the 2002 Final Four, a Terps win.

Maryland coach Mark Turgeon played at Kansas from 1984-87 and is 0-6 in his career as a coach against his alma mater, all of those games coming while he coached Texas A&M. I believe that record falls to 0-7, but I'm taking the points. Go 'under' the total in the NCAA Tournament Odds Boards. KU is 5-14 ATS in its past 19 vs. the Big Ten.  The 'under' is 18-7-1 in Maryland's past 26 overall. The 'under' is 25-7 in KU's past 32 NCAA Tournament games. 

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NCAA Basketball Free Pick: Under 143.5
Best Line Offered: at Pinnacle