NCAA Tournament Day Four Preview: March Madness Upsets, Picks, and Bets for March 24, 2024

NCAA Tournament Day Four Preview: March Madness Upsets, Picks, and Bets for March 24, 2024

The NCAA tournament has sent 44 of the initial 68 teams home, and we’re still in the first weekend! Round two moves into its second day with an absolute banger between Colorado and Marquette. The second round ends with Yale and San Diego State to wrap up the weekend. We’ve got eight more games to get through, and the top plays for each. Let’s get into my March Madness upsets, picks, and bets for March 24, 2024.

Will UConn continue to roll through the tournament? Will some of the Cinderellas find their way into the Sweet Sixteen? March Madness continues and we’ve got picks for March 24.

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NCAA Tournament Day Four Preview: March Madness Upsets, Picks, and Bets for March 24, 2024

(10) Colorado vs. (2) Marquette

Spread: Marquette -3.5
Total: 147.5
Time: 12:10 PM ET
Network: CBS

Colorado won a one-possession thriller over Florida to get through to the second round. Marquette wore down Western Kentucky and ended up running them out of the gym to win their first-round matchup.

Tyler Kolek returned to the lineup for Marquette and looked like he hadn’t missed a day. Kolek filled up the box score with 18 points, 11 assists, and six rebounds. Kolek appeared to answer any questions about the health of his oblique. His return to form would make Marquette a much tougher hurdle to clear.

It’s clear that Colorado has enough offensive firepower to keep pace with the Golden Eagles, but can they get a stop if they need it? Based on what we saw against Florida, the answer is no. Can Marquette get a stop against the Colorado offense if they need it? The Golden Eagles were able to get stops against a capable Western Kentucky side and have a top 20 Adjusted Defense ranking.

Colorado also just finished a track meet against Florida, and has to turn around to face a team that plays at almost as quick a pace. Look for this one to stay close at the half, but Marquette will pull away in the second half and cover the number.

Pick: Marquette -3.5

(8) Utah State vs. (1) Purdue

Spread: Purdue -11.5
Total: 148.5
Time: 2:40 PM ET
Network: CBS

This is one of the hardest games on the slate to cap. The Purdue Boilermakers handled Grambling in a business-like fashion. Utah State got to watch Boise State, Nevada, and New Mexico get bounced from the tournament before the Aggies tangled with TCU. The Aggies put it on the Horned Frogs in the second half and looked a lot more capable than some of the other Mountain West teams did.

Purdue is known for struggling in March, but so are teams from the Mountain West. This is a weird case of two teams that could choke away a game having to meet.

Purdue has lost to Farleigh Dickinson, St. Peter’s, and North Texas in the last three tournaments. Would Utah State really look that ridiculous alongside those three other names?

Utah State has proven they can hang with high-powered offenses in the Mountain West and are coming off a great win against TCU. The number is coming in a little hot for this matchup, and it’s not out of the realm of possibility for Purdue to struggle against a twitchy, athletic Utah State team. If Utah State starts intercepting passes and forcing turnovers, watch out. The Boilermakers could be headed for another early exit.

The Aggies should cover the 11.5 and consider sprinkling the moneyline against a Purdue team that has let us down often enough to expect it.

Pick: Utah State +11.5

(12) James Madison vs. (4) Duke

Spread: Duke -7.5
Total: 148.5
Time: 5:15 PM ET
Network: CBS

James Madison jumped out to an early lead against Wisconsin and was able to hold on to complete the first-round upset. Duke completely outclassed Vermont and cruised to a first-round win.

JMU looked great in their matchup against Wisconsin. They came out and hit Wisconsin early and often. They took a few counter punches, but were able to fight back and maintain a lead for the majority of the game. The Dukes looked more athletic and played with a greater sense of urgency than Wisconsin.

The only takeaway from the Vermont/Duke matchup was how great the Duke defense looked against Vermont. The Catamounts only attempted six three-pointers, got turned over 12 times, and blocked five shots. If Duke brings the same defensive intensity to today’s game, they may make it to the Sweet Sixteen.

However, it’s clear that James Madison is in this tournament with a chip on their shoulder. They’ve only lost three games all year, but might not have qualified for the tournament if they didn’t win their conference tournament. It’s clear that the Dukes want to show they belong. What better way than to make a blue blood bleed a little?

This game has all the makings of a one or two possession game. JMU just beat one of the better offenses in the country, and should be able to take punches from Duke and answer back. Look for James Madison to cover a beefy number.

Pick: James Madison +7.5

(6) Clemson vs (3) Baylor

Spread: Baylor -4.5
Total: 144.5
Time: 6:10 PM
Network: TNT

Clemson was a bit of a surprise to earn a tournament bid, but they proved they belonged with a first-round win over popular sleeper New Mexico. Baylor absolutely dismantled a mediocre Colgate team to move on to the second round.

Both teams looked dominant in the first round of March Madness, but the Clemson win is a bit more impressive. New Mexico won its conference tournament and looked exceptionally mediocre against Clemson. The Tigers’ offense looked crisp, and their bigs used their experience and skill to outclass New Mexico. They made the Lobos’ back court look mortal.

Baylor has been one of the quietest, really good teams in the country this year. They let teams like Houston, Iowa State, and Kansas get the headlines, while the Bears just had a really good year.

Where Clemson has the advantage is with their bigs. P.J. Hall and Ian Schieffelin are capable of banging inside or launching from beyond the arc. New Mexico didn’t have an answer for Clemson’s big men.

Baylor center Yves Missi needs to stay out of foul trouble and have a fantastic defensive game for Baylor not to suffer a similar fate. Missi is dealing with a back injury but is expected to play. If Missi is diminished or struggles early, Clemson could steal this one.

It comes down to the Clemson bigs versus Baylor’s defense and athleticism. This is another game that could end up as an absolute rock fight. Baylor could very well win a close one, but the Tigers should cover the number.

Pick: Clemson +4.5

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(12) Grand Canyon vs. Alabama

Spread: Alabama -5.5
Total: 168.5
Time: 7:10 PM ET
Network: TBS

Grand Canyon blew the doors off a St. Mary’s team that never looked comfortable in their first-round win. The Lopes looked more athletic and attacked the basket against a St. Mary’s team that looked stapled to the floor. Alabama won a track meet against a Charleston team that lacked the athleticism to match the Crimson Tide.

The problem with this game is that the Lopes just won by speeding up and attacking the Gaels. The Crimson Tide want to be sped up and attack. If the Lopes get into a track meet with Alabama, they’ll likely find themselves playing from behind.

Alabama is going out to run up and down the court, get as many shots as possible, and win games with an avalanche of points. Grand Canyon may end up outclassed by power conference athletes if they try to play this way.

If the Lopes can slow down Alabama and ugly up the game a little, they might have a better chance to stay in this one. This game script is unlikely. Look for Alabama to run their system, pile up points, and cover the spread while heading into the Sweet Sixteen.

Pick: Alabama -5.5

(9) Northwestern vs. (1) Connecticut

Spread: Connecticut -14.5
Total: 135.5
Time: 7:45 PM ET
Network: TruTV

Northwestern beat Florida Atlantic in overtime to move on to the second round, while UConn absolutely destroyed Stetson and is primed for a deep run.

The analysis here is simple. Northwestern is already short-handed and just logged heavy minutes in a tough game against Florida Atlantic. UConn didn’t have a single regular play more than 29 minutes in their first-round matchup.

Northwestern has been scrappy all year, but scrappiness is about to run into a buzzsaw. UConn has won their last six tournament games by at least 15. The only team that got within 16 points was St. Mary’s last year. Northwestern has a roster that’s a bit more worn out and is coming up against a UConn team that takes these games personally.

UConn rolls the Wildcats, covers the number, and cruises into the Sweet Sixteen. There’s not much to overthink here.

Pick: Connecticut -14.5

(9) Texas A&M vs. (1) Houston

Spread: Houston -9.5
Total: 133.5
Time: 8:40 PM ET
Network: TNT

Houston appeared to take the 1-seed/16-seed matchup personally as they wrecked Longwood in the first round. Texas A&M absolutely ran Nebraska out of the gym in their first-round win.

Texas A&M shot 56% from three-point range against Nebraska. There’s no way the Houston Cougars will allow that to happen. If anything, the Cougars might take it as a challenge to completely shut down the Aggies from beyond the arc.

Nebraska didn’t do nearly enough on the defensive end to handle Texas A&M. Houston has one of the best team defenses in the country, and they’ll emphasize getting back, being in position, and making the Aggies uncomfortable at every turn.

The Aggies are due to regress, and that regression is coming in the form of a Houston Cougars team in ‘Eff you’ mode for the tournament. Look for Houston to handle Texas A&M and cover by double digits.

Pick: Houston -9.5

(13) Yale vs. (5) San Diego State

Spread: San Diego State -5.5
Total: 128.5
Time: 9:40 PM ET
Network: TBS

San Diego State managed to outlast a tough UAB squad in the first round, while Yale pulled off a dramatic upset of (4) Auburn.

San Diego State failed to cover against UAB, while Auburn won outright as a dog. It’s hard to lay multiple possessions with the Aztecs because they don’t really blow teams out. Their games are typically tighter, lower-scoring affairs, and that’s the game script we’re likely to see today.

In the end, San Diego State’s athleticism and ability to defend the perimeter should win out, but Yale will do enough to cover the number. This is one of the best bets for March Madness on March 24.

Pick: Yale +5.5

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