March Madness Second Round Predictions: 2024 NCAA Tournament Best Bets - Sunday, March 24

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Caleb Wilfinger


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Deputy Editor for Pickswise with years of experience handicapping and giving out winning picks. Lover of all US sports and Southampton FC. For Caleb Wilfinger media enquiries, please email
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After a long and unpredictable college basketball season, March Madness has certainly lived up to its name thus far. We’re on to round 2 of the action, and what a tournament it has been! We’ve seen massive upsets on both sides of the bracket, to go along with a few near buzzer-beaters, wild comebacks, improbable meltdowns and everything in between. 

With the first three days of the tournament in the rearview mirror, it’s time to turn to my best bets for Sunday’s Round of 32 action on the hardwood. Also, be sure to keep an eye on our March Madness picks for all the content you need to get you primed for all of the games.

James Madison Dukes +7.5 vs Duke Blue Devils (-110)

Odds available at BetMGM Sportsbook at time of publishing. Playable to James Madison +6.5.

One of my best bets of the opening round was James Madison to not only cover the spread against Wisconsin, but win the game outright. The Dukes did just that and did so in dominant fashion, taking an early lead and never looking back en route to a convincing victory. And while Duke is a more complete offense with floor-spacers at the guard position in Jared McCain and Tyrese Proctor, my faith in James Madison hasn’t wavered and there are clear paths to success for the Dukes in this matchup.

Despite its struggles down the stretch of the season, Wisconsin’s offense was still a top 20 unit per KenPom. James Madison’s tenacious defense still held the Badgers to a measly 0.84 points per possession, and I believe that the Dukes aggressive style of defense is transferable in a game where they can dictate the pace and tempo on both ends. On the other side of the ball, the Duke defense is allowing the 110th-highest two-point scoring rate per KenPom, and the Blue Devils also allow opponents to shoot over 35% from beyond the arc while sitting at 92nd in open three-point rate per Shot Quality. James Madison has no trouble attacking the paint, shooting over 46% from two-point range in Friday’s game. If the Dukes can keep up that level of efficiency, there’s no reason why they can’t cover this inflated number on Sunday.

Grand Canyon Antelopes +6.5 vs Alabama Crimson Tide (-110)

Odds available at FanDuel Sportsbook at time of publishing. Playable to Grand Canyon +5.5.

Another one of my favorite wagers of the Round of 64 was backing Grand Canyon as 6-point underdogs against Saint Mary’s, and I’m going right back to the well with the Antelopes on Sunday against an Alabama team that I’ve been looking to fade for some time. Bryce Drew’s team more than proved that it belonged on the biggest stage on Friday, taking the Gaels completely out of their offense and forcing consistent tough shots. On the other end, Tyon Grant-Foster and company made things very difficult on a stout Saint Mary’s defense thanks to their physicality, offensive rebounding and consistent success attacking the paint. As it has done all season long, Grand Canyon’s ability to control the tempo and limit opponents’ scoring outbursts proved pivotal once again in the victory.

The Antelopes like to play fast and they’ll get a team in Alabama that is more than happy to oblige, as the Crimson Tide play at one of the fast paces in the country while taking a ton of threes. That introduces a ton of variance into the game, which could end up coming back to bite us here (Alabama made 13 threes against Charleston after all). However, the athleticism of Grand Canyon and the Antelopes ability to attack the paint and generate consistent second-chance opportunities via their dominance on the glass is something that is easily transferable in this matchup. Even if the Antelopes are missing shots, the second-chance looks should be there and I trust this veteran group in a close game against an Alabama team that hasn’t exactly played much defense all season (117th in defensive efficiency at KenPom). Let’s back Grand Canyon to keep things close.

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