Tuesday, February 27, 2024

2023 March Madness predictions: NCAA bracket expert picks against the spread, odds in Sunday’s Round 2 games

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March Madness was cranked up to a higher level of chaos the last few days as the 2023 NCAA Tournament bracket broke open with two No. 1 seeds getting sent home, a No. 15 seed punching its ticket to the Sweet 16 and No. 16 seed Fairleigh Dickinson making history as the second such team to ever defeat a No. 1 seed. All that stands between us and a Sweet 16 now is one full Sunday slate. Buckle up.

Round 2 wraps Sunday with eight games that will officially put a bow on the first full weekend of this year’s NCAA Tournament where eight teams will get sent home and the other eight will punch its tickets to the second weekend. If the rest of this week is any indication, the one thing we can expect is the unexpected.

Saturday alone provided fireworks we rarely see as No. 1 seed Kansas was eliminated by No. 8 seed Arkansas and No. 15 seed Princeton played its way into the final sixteen for the first time since well before expansion in 1967. Sunday shapes up to deliver goodies as well with No. 3 seed Kansas State an underdog to No. 6 seed Kentucky, No. 2 seed Marquette narrowly favored over No. 7 seed Michigan State and No. 3 seed Baylor vs. No. 6 seed Creighton basically sitting at a pick ’em.

And oh, by the way, did we mention a No. 16 seed could play its way into the Sweet 16 as well? Fairleigh Dickinson could make history as the only team to do that. After stunning No. 1 seed Purdue in Round 1 on Friday, the Knights could do what has never been done before in NCAA Tournament history in getting to the second weekend as a 16 seed.

Of course, getting some extra skin in the games may help put you in the tournament spirit (if you aren’t already there). Below, our CBS Sports experts have provided their insight with picks straight up and against the spread for some of the top games on Sunday’s extended slate. Our expert brackets may offer some help on this front as well.

While surviving and advancing is clearly what matters for most, we care about whether these teams will cover their spreads, and we’ve tracked the season since November to be able to offer our own thoughts on every game.

Be sure to stick with CBS Sports throughout the rest of the month for NCAA Tournament coverage through the end of the Final Four. Let’s take a look at our expert picks for the opening day of the second round on Sunday.

Odds via Caesars Sportsbook | All times Eastern

Featured NCAA Tournament picks

(3) Kansas State vs. (6) Kentucky

Sunday, 2:40 p.m. | CBS, March Madness Live: Kentucky fans may recall Kansas State ending the Wildcats’ season in 2018 when UK was a 5 seed and K-State was a 9 seed in a wide-open region. So, I get there may be some nerves here for BBN. But the Wildcats — aside from two losses at the end of the season to Vanderbilt — are playing as well as they have all season after dumping Providence in a sweat-free Round 1 win. Laying the deuce here with UK. Pick: Kentucky -2 — Kyle Boone

Spread

KSU +2.5

UK -2

KSU +2.5

UK -2

KSU +2.5

UK -2

Straight up

KSU

UK

KSU

UK

KSU

UK

(2) Marquette vs. (7) Michigan State

Sunday, 5:15 p.m. | CBS, March Madness Live: Picking against Marquette the last two months has mostly been an unproductive betting strategy, but darn it, I’m going back to that well in just taking the points with Michigan State. Close matchup featuring a good offense from Marquette and much-improved D from Sparty that makes this a near-draw. Pick: Michigan State +2.5 — Kyle Boone

Spread

MAR -2.5

MAR -2.5

MAR -2.5

MSU +2.5

MAR -2.5

MSU +2.5

Straight up

MAR

MAR

MAR

MSU

MAR

MSU

(4) UConn vs. (5) Saint Mary’s

Sunday, 6:10 p.m. | TNT, March Madness Live: UConn’s only losses in the past two months have come against teams also playing in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. The Huskies have won 10 of their last 12, and they just crushed Iona 87-63 in the first round after trailing at halftime. Saint Mary’s is an excellent defensive team, but the Huskies can beat opponents in a variety of ways and should find a method for creating separation as the game progresses. Pick: UConn -3.5 — David Cobb

Spread

UCONN -3.5

UCONN -3.5

UCONN -3.5

UCONN -3.5

UCONN -3.5

UCONN -3.5

Straight up

UCONN

UCONN

UCONN

UCONN

UCONN

UCONN

(4) Indiana vs. (5) Miami

Sunday, 8:40 p.m. | TNT, March Madness Live: Indiana has a size advantage inside with Trayce Jackson-Davis, but the Hoosiers are also fine with running, which is what Miami will seek to do. The Hurricanes escaped an upset bid from Drake in the first round but didn’t look like themselves for much of the game until their backs were against the wall late. Meanwhile, the Hoosiers handled business against a solid Kent State team on Friday and are poised to ride Jackson-Davis into the Sweet 16. Pick: Indiana -1.5 — David Cobb

Spread

IU -1.5

UM +1.5

UM +1.5

IU -1.5

IU -1.5

IU -1.5

Straight up

IU

UM

UM

IU

IU

IU

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