NCAA Second Round Upset Picks — Syracuse and ATS Monster Oregon State Still Live Plays

Syracuse players celebrating

Syracuse’s Quincy Guerrier (1), Buddy Boeheim (35) and Alan Griffin celebrate a teammate’s 3-point shot late in the second half against San Diego State in a college basketball game in the first round of the NCAA men’s tournament at Hinkle Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Friday, March 19, 2021. (AP Photo/AJ Mast)

  • Syracuse and Oregon State are still strong upset plays in the second round of the NCAA Tournament
  • Oregon State is 11-1 ATS in its last 12 and 16-3-1 ATS since a 34-point home loss to Arizona
  • First round record: 2-1; see below for our upset picks in Round 2

Syracuse (17-9) has not gotten a lot of recent respect from the NCAA selection committee or the oddsmakers, but the team has a way of turning the tournament Orange. Syracuse hammered No. 6 seed San Diego State from deep in the first round, leading by as many as 27 points in the second half.

Oregon State (18-12) recorded its first NCAA Tournament victory in 39 seasons with a victory over Tennessee in the first round, but still apparently has work to do on name recognition. A TV announcer congratulated the Ducks afterwards. He meant Beavers.

Let’s look at the potential upsets in the second round.

NCAA Second Round Upset Picks

Matchup Spread Moneyline Pick Units
Oregon State Beavers vs Oklahoma State Cowboys OKST -6 +205 Beavers 2
Ohio Bobcats vs Creighton Bluejays  CREI -5.5 +194 Bobcats 2
Syracuse Orange vs. West Virginia Mountaineers WVA -3.5 +142 Orange 2
Oregon Ducks vs Iowa Hawkeyes IA -4 +154 Ducks 1
Oral Roberts Golden Eagles vs Florida Gators FLA -8.5 +300 Golden Eagles 1

Odds from FanDuel on March 20. 

Beavers Just Dam Good

Oregon State  was picked to finish 12th in the Pac-12 preseason media poll, a vote that said more about the media’s concern over the loss of career leading scorer Tres Tinkle that it did about the Beavers’ ability to play through it.

Oregon State has won four games in a row and seven of eight, in the process defining itself as an unselfish group that is greater than the sum of its parts.

Top NBA draft candidate Cade Cunningham and the Cowboys are the more athletic group. But Beavers’ guards Ethan Thompson and Jared Lucas can handle pressure, and the frontline of Warith Alatishe, Roman Silva et al are rebounders first and scorers when matchups allow.

2021 NCAA Men’s Tournament Championship Odds Tracker

The Beavers only qualified for the NCAA Tournament by winning the Pac-12 tournament, but their last four victories — including a convincing 70-56 win over Tennessee in the first round — have come as an underdog against NCAA Tournament teams.

Oregon State is 11-1 ATS in its last 12 and 16-3-1 ATS since a 34-point home loss to Arizona on Jan. 14.

The Lone Ohio Ranger

No. 2 seed Ohio State was expected to be the Buckeye state’s remaining NCAA representative after the first round, but here is No. 13 seed Ohio (17-7), primed for a run.

Ohio 6’4″ combo guard Jason Preston initiates the offense, and the Bobcats take advantage of his penetration with spot-up perimeter shooters Ben Vander Plas and Ben Roderick.

Vander Plas scored 10 straight points in the game-changing stretch in the win over Virginia on Saturday, and both he and Roderick average more than two three-pointers per game.

Both hit three 3-pointers against Virginia while Preston had 11 points and 13 rebounds, finishing two assists short of a triple-double.

Ohio has won and covered 10 of their last 11 games. Two of their losses came when Preston missed four games with a lower leg injury early in the MAC season.

Oral Roberts’ 1-2 Punch

In guard Max Abmas and forward Kevin Obanor, the Golden Eagles (17-10) have the kind of inside-outside punch that makes for tournament success.

Abmas leads NCAA Division I in scoring, averaging 24.4 points per game after getting 29 in the upset of Ohio State on Friday. Obanor, 6’8″, is averaging 18.6 points and 9.5 rebounds after getting 30 and 11 against the Buckeyes. Each had five three-pointers Friday.

The Golden Eagles lead Division I, shooting 82.2% from the free throw line, and they could not be expected to give away points down the stretch as Ohio State did. The Buckeyes missed three of five free throws in the final four minutes to keep Oral Roberts in the game.

A strong non-conference schedule has prepared the Golden Eagles for this.

Boeheim and His Buddy

Syracuse (17-9) did what it does Friday in the NCAA Tournament, winning its first game as a No. 11 seed while taking advantage of exceptional perimeter shooting and its difficult-to-read zone defense. The Orange led San Diego State by 27 points in a 78-62 victory.

Coach Jim Boeheim’s son Buddy had 30 points and made seven of the Orange’s 15 three-pointers against the Aztecs, who shot 35.8% from the field as their offensive weaknesses were exposed.

Syracuse has won their first game in eight of the last nine NCAA appearances, and a low seeding never seems to matter.  The Orange won three games as a No. 11 seed in 2018 and four games as No. 10 seed in 2016.

The Orange shoot 78.6% from the foul line, always a good thing.

Oregon Likes This Spot

No conference has looked better early than the Pac-12, and that bodes well for regular-season champion Oregon, which did not have to play to advance after VCU was forced to forfeit a first-round game because of positive coronavirus tests.

The Ducks traditionally peak now. In Dana Altman’s 11 seasons, they are 60-21 in games played after March 1 and are not always a high NCAA seed. They reached the Elite Eight (2016) and Final Four (2017) from low seeds but also won two games in 2019 as a No. 12 seed before losing to national champion Virginia.

The Ducks are 11-3 since point guard Will Richardson returned from preseason thumb surgery, and they employ an aggressive zone press led by guard Chris Duarte. They are not big but make up for that with athleticism and quickness that could bother presumptive national player of the year Luka Garza.

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Jack Magruder

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