NCAA Tournament First Round Day 2 best bets from college basketball expert John Martin: Texas A&M towers over Nebraska

Texas A&M Aggies guard Manny Obaseki (35) reacts after making a basket and getting fouled against the Florida Gators during the first half at Bridgestone Arena.
Photo of John Martin

John Martin


Show Bio

NFL handicapper for Pickswise.
Read more about John Martin

The first day of the NCAA Tournament is in the books, and as it typically does, it delivered on its promise of absolute chaos. Kentucky – one of the most popular national title picks – lost in the first round to 14-seeded Oakland. Two other double-digit seeds – Duquesne and Oregon – are also moving on to the second round. Meanwhile, Nevada blew a 17-point lead late in the second half and lost to Dayton. March Madness has truly arrived!

It’s likely your bracket is busted already. But hey, that’s okay! We can still win some bets, even if yesterday was unkind to us. Looking at you, Drake. Seriously? Again? A second straight NCAA Tournament meltdown? Alas, the unpredictability and pressure of the moment is what makes this event so special. Let’s get back on track with our March Madness best bets today, but make sure you also check out our college basketball picks for EVERY game throughout March Madness.

Texas A&M Aggies +1 over Nebraska Cornhuskers (-110)

Odds generally available at the time of publishing.

OK, so granted, taking two SEC teams the day after every SEC team lost in the tournament seems not great. But there’s good reason here. Nebraska has only beaten two teams in the Top 100 at Kenpom away from home – December against a Kansas State team that didn’t even make the tournament and Indiana, which also didn’t make the tournament. Texas A&M has been as volatile as any team in the country, but they have two things: Guards and the ability to rebound their misses. It’s OK if you have the lowest effective field goal percentage in the tournament if you rebound 42 percent of your misses, which they do. This Texas A&M team beat Iowa State on a neutral site, they played Houston extremely close in a semi-away game, and they beat Kentucky on a neutral in the SEC Tournament. The Aggies have big-game players, and we expect them to show up today in Memphis.

Check out our full Texas A&M Aggies vs Nebraska Cornhuskers predictions

Florida Gators -1.5 over Colorado Buffaloes (-110)

Odds generally available at the time of publishing.

Before the SEC Championship game, the Gators were absolutely rolling. They rolled Alabama in the second-to-last game of the regular season. They beat Alabama again in the SEC Tournament. They knocked off an NCAA Tournament team in the semis in Texas A&M. And then, in the first few minutes of the title game, they lost their starting center Micah Handlogten to a devastating injury. He had to be carried off on a stretcher in a brutal scene, especially so close to the NCAA Tournament. Florida did their best to overcome the emotion and sudden change of the moment, but Auburn was just too much. Now that they’ve had close to a week to digest the news and figure out how to play without their center, I think we’ll see a much better effort. Handlogten is a solid player, but he was in no way key to what they do offensively. That comes through guards Walter Clayton Jr. and Zyon Pullin and Tyrese Samuel inside. Colorado took care of Boise State, but the Broncos just simply don’t have the guardplay that Florida is going to show them. Florida gets this done on a short number.

Lock in our HUGE March Madness Day 2 16-team parlay, with a pick on EVERY game today (+51463 odds!)

By signing up you agree to our terms and privacy policy