March Madness Betting Guide: Second Round, Sunday
numberFire has built comprehensive algorithms to pinpoint the bets with the highest probability of returning money, whether you are betting on the total, the spread, or the moneyline. For those new to numberFire, we use a five-star system to show which bets you should be targeting for any given game. Stars represent how much you should risk on a wager relative to what you would normally bet.
For example, if you would normally bet $110 to win $100 on a -110 spread wager, if we give a three-star ranking, we suggest risking three times that amount: $330 to win $300. Here are the best bets for this weekend with guidance from our model.
Please note that lines are subject to change throughout the day after this article is published. Please check here to make sure you're seeing the most updated information. You can also look at our oddsFire tool to get a feel for what the betting public is doing.
Loyola (IL) +7.5: 3 Stars out of 5
Loyola (IL) did not get enough respect from the NCAA selection committee for their fantastic regular season. The Ramblers finished the year 24-4 and were given only an 8 seed. Loyola ranks 9th in the nation, per KenPom, and we rank them 15th, handing them a 12.77 nERD rating -- which indicates the expected point differential over an average opponent on a neutral floor.
The strength of Loyola is on the defensive end as they own the third-best adjusted D, according to KenPom. The Ramblers won their first game of the tournament rather easily with a 10-point win over 9 seed Georgia Tech. They should provide a stiff test for 1 seed Illinois.
We do rank Illinois second overall with a nERD of 18.46, but our projections really like Loyola to make this close. We have the Illini coming out on top by a final score of 71.85-69.80. Our model gives a 65.60% likelihood of the Ramblers covering the 7.5-point spread, making this a three-star bet for Sunday.
Wisconsin +6.5: 2 Stars out of 5
Wisconsin is coming off a 23-point blowout victory over North Carolina, so they carry some positive momentum into this clash. The Badgers had a strong year, finishing 10th in our nERD rankings (13.91), and they sit 12th via KenPom. Just like Loyola, the Badgers were sold short by the committee.
Baylor has had a magnificent season, finishing the regular season 22-2, and they rank fifth in our rankings (16.41 nERD) and fourth in KenPom. They are rightly favored to win this game. However, the Bears are becoming slightly more vulnerable of late, having gone 4-2 to finish the regular season season before winning their first-round game over Hartford.
Our model has Baylor winning 73.18-69.76, but we give Wisconsin a 59.30% chance to cover. We have Wisconsin covering 6.5 points a two-star wager.
Rutgers +8.0: 3 Stars out of 5
Rutgers ranks 26th in our rankings with a nERD of 11.41, so we have them as an under-seeded 10 seed based. KenPom slots the Scarlet Knights 34th.
Rutgers faced a difficult Big Ten schedule, but they still managed to finish the year with a 15-11 record for the regular season, including a win over second-ranked Illinois, who we have ranked four spots higher than Houston, a team with a nERD of 16.03.
The Cougars are the best 2 seed in the field going by both KenPom and our numbers. This will be a very difficult game for Rutgers, one we see Houston winning 68.1% of the time. But our algorithm gives Rutgers a 59.81% chance to cover the 8.0-point spread, projecting a final score of 73.44-68.71 in favor of Houston. We list this as a three-star bet for Sunday.