NCAA Tournament Second Round Day 2 best bets from college basketball expert John Martin: Texas A&M can keep it close

Wade Taylor IV of the Texas A&M Aggies
Photo of John Martin

John Martin


Show Bio

NFL handicapper for Pickswise.
Read more about John Martin

The final day before things get real in the NCAA Tournament is here, and there’s no shortage of juicy matchups. We went 2-0 with our picks on the Saturday slate, so we can start to really build some momentum here with a good day. It was a ho-hum day for the tournament overall, as every single favorite won outright. That’s no fun! Either way, we’ve got a great slate today and several bets to make, so let’s get into it.

It’s likely your bracket is busted already heading into today’s action. But hey, that’s okay! We can still win some bets. Let’s stay hot 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 +10 vs Houston Cougars (-110)

Odds generally available at the time of publishing.

Texas A&M and Houston met at the Rockets arena in December. Houston got out to a monster lead, 53-32, at one point. The Aggies responded with a 31-10 run and tied it at 63 apiece with 1:30 left and ultimately lost 70-66 in a game that closed at 7 in a semi-away game for A&M. However, Aggies guard Tyrece Radford did not play in that game. Radford just had 20, 10, and 5 on Friday night against the Huskers, so his presence in this game will be massive. Also, A&M has changed its starting lineup since then, rolling with Solomon Washington inside and bringing Jace Carter off the bench for energy. Manny Obaseki is also starting now and had 22 Friday night for the Aggies.

Houston had two players who were active in that game who are not playing now. JoJo Tugler is out for the season, and Kelvin Sampson said Friday after their game against Longwood that: “The guy that we really need in this game is a guy like Tugler because he’s such a good rebounder. I say that becauise Texas A&M is an elite, elite offensive rebounding team. We’re good, but we’re not elite. They’re elite. They’re a much better offensive rebounding team than we are.” There’s also the matter of starting big man J’Wan Roberts, who is also dealing with a shin injury. He didn’t play in the second half against Longwood and is clearly still not right.

Overall, Houston is an incredible team and deserving of the spot they’re in. But Texas A&M deserves an upgrade with the way they’ve played over the last month of the season and it’s not quite reflected in the market yet. Give me the Aggies.

Baylor Bears -4.5 over Clemson Tigers (-110)

Odds generally available at the time of publishing.

Nobody’s really talking about the Baylor Bears, and I’m not sure why. They have several NBA players on the roster, they have a championship coach, and they can shoot the heck out of the ball. The Bears set a school record in their first-round matchup against Colgate with 17 made three-pointers. This tournament is all about the ability to put the orange ball in the orange rim, and the Bears do it as well as anybody.
On the other side, Clemson was incredibly impressive against New Mexico on Friday afternoon. Despite being an 11-seed, the Lobos closed as 2.5-point favorites against the 6-seeded Tigers and were a very trendy pick; Clemson demolished them from the jump. But is that more about Clemson, or a pretty underwhelming Mountain West Conference? I lean toward the latter.
Clemson is definitely a challenge inside with the versatile forward P.J. Hall, but where I think the advantage lies for the Bears is their perimeter play. I’m not sure how the Tigers are going to slow down the combination of Jayden Nunn, Jakobe Walter, RayJ Dennis and Jalen Bridges. Those are four players totally capable of taking over a game, and it’s not a situation where it has to be another 17 3-pointer effort. Clemson has some impressive wins on its resume, but they’ve also got some headscratching losses. There’s a talent and a coaching mismatch in this one. If Yves Missi is as healthy inside as he has let on, he should be able to neutralize Hall enough to create some separation for the Bears in this one.
By signing up you agree to our terms and privacy policy