March Madness First Round Predictions: 2024 NCAA Tournament Day 2 Best Bets - Alabama slam Charleston

Alabama Crimson Tide forward Noah Clowney (15) and Alabama Crimson Tide guard Mark Sears (1) react after a play during the second half of the NCAA tournament round of sixteen against the San Diego State Aztecs.
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Matt Marquart


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I'm a college basketball contributor here at Pickswise. I have been a longtime NCAAB fan and bettor, as I love to dive deep into every aspect of a particular matchup. In no other sport are there as many teams with different styles of play like college basketball, so I'm fortunate enough to share my thoughts at Pickswise. For Matt Marquart media enquiries, please email
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It was an exciting day of hoops on the first day of March Madness and we are surely in store for more drama today. There are 16 games on the schedule, starting with Northwestern vs FAU at 12:15 pm ET and ending with Grand Canyon vs Saint Mary’s at 10:05 pm ET. In this article, we will be looking at the Friday slate of games and providing a few of our best bets of the day. Let’s dive in, but make sure you also check out our college basketball picks for EVERY game throughout the NCAA Tournament.

Alabama Crimson Tide -9.5 over College of Charleston Cougars (-110)

Odds available at BetMGM at time of publishing.

The first of our March Madness Day 2 best bets is Alabama -9.5. The Crimson Tide are the #4 seed in the West Region and will take on the #13 Charleston Cougars. The first thing to note here is the astronomical total, which is set at 173.5 at BetMGM. This game is projected by KenPom to play to 74 possessions, which is by far the highest on the Friday slate of games. The significance of this is that in general, more possessions means more opportunities for the better team, which in this case is Alabama, to extend a lead and win by double-digits. Alabama led the country in points per game this season at 90.8 and it seems very likely they will reach that mark against Charleston, who ranks just 175th in adjusted defensive efficiency.

If Alabama can hit their typical 90 points, the question will be whether or not the Crimson Tide can hold Charleston to 80 points or less. Yes, Alabama’s defense ranks 112th in KenPom adjusted defensive efficiency, but I’m not sure that Charleston can get there. Lastly, I think that we can get a clue of how this game will play out based on the non-conference portion of each team’s season. Alabama played six opponents in the non-conference schedule who ranked outside the KenPom top 75 (which Charleston does as well) and the Crimson Tide won those games by 32, 56, 34, 31, 44, and 45. Charleston played just two top-100 opponents and lost by 18 and 16.

Read our full Charleston Cougars vs Alabama Crimson Tide predictions

Texas A&M Aggies vs Nebraska Cornhuskers Over 146.5 (-110)

Odds available at BetMGM at time of publishing.

I’m targeting a total in my other best bet of March Madness Day 2. I believe the matchup between #8 Nebraska and #9 Texas A&M is conducive to a lot of points being scored in this one. The place to start is the expected pace of this game, which could be faster than the 67 possessions projected by KenPom. Nebraska has played fast all season, as they rank 45th in average offensive possession length. Texas A&M ranks just 205th, but has been playing faster as of late. All three of the Aggies’ SEC Tournament games played to at least 72 possessions, well above their typical 65.8. This suggests that Texas A&M is a “pace-taking” team, meaning that they tend to play fast when their opponent likes to or slowly if they are playing a more methodical opponent. With Nebraska’s affinity to push the tempo, we could see an up-and-down game break out.

From a matchup perspective, each team has a clear path to points in this one. Texas A&M is one of the best compact defenses in the country, as they allow the 12th-highest three-point attempt rate to their opponents. This is great news for Nebraska, who shoots threes at a top-30 rate and makes over 35 percent of them. On the other end, Texas A&M should be able to score by pounding the offensive glass. The Aggies lead the country in offensive rebounding rate and Nebraska ranks 315th in points allowed via second-chance offensive rebounds, per Haslametrics. Look for both teams to score efficiently and for the game to go over the total.

Read our full Texas A&M Aggies vs Nebraska Cornhuskers predictions

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