The second round of the 2021 NCAA men’s basketball championship starts Sunday, March 21, so here’s the best betting pick for the South Region clash between the No. 9 Wisconsin Badgers and No. 1 Baylor Bears at Hinkle Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.
Both Wisconsin and Baylor dominated their opponents in the first round. The Badgers thrashed off the No. 8 North Carolina, while the Bears dismantled the No. 16 Hartford. Baylor opened as a 6-point fave for Sunday’s clash, according to William Hill Sportsbook, while the totals sit at 138.0 points.
The Badgers gave no chance to the Tar Heels
The Wisconsin Badgers entered their first-round matchup as 2-point underdogs, but they were ready for the Tar Heels, controlling the game for all 40 minutes. Greg Gard’s boys built a 16-point halftime lead and had no problems finishing the job in the second period.
The Badgers shot 50.8% from the field and 48.1% from downtown while holding the Tar Heels to just 38.5% shooting from the field. Senior guard Brad Davison accounted for 29 points on 10-for-15 shooting, while another senior G D’Mitrik Trice added 21 points, five rebounds, and three assists.
Trice leads the way for the Badgers, averaging 13.9 points, 3.4 boards, and 4.0 dimes per contest. Wisconsin leans heavily on five seniors including forward Micah Potter (12.6 PPG, 5.8 RPG), and the Badgers own the 12th-best defensive rating in the country, allowing 89.9 points per 100 possessions.
On the other side of the ball, the Badgers tally 113.5 points per 100 possessions (27th in the nation) on 42.4% shooting from the field (259th) and 36.5% from beyond the arc (60th).
The Bears cruised past the Hawks
The Baylor Bears failed to cover a massive 25.5-point spread in the first round but had no problems outlasting the Hartford Hawks 79-55. The Bears put on a strong defensive performance, forcing 24 turnovers and limiting their rivals to 35.2% shooting from the field.
Furthermore, Baylor recorded 15 steals and 14 offensive rebounds while leading by as many as 29 points. Senior guard MaCio Teague finished the game with 22 points and four rebounds, while junior guard Jared Butler added 13 points, nine assists, and five steals.
The Bears have the third-best offensive rating in the nation, scoring 123.0 points per 100 possessions. They rank 16th in field goal percentage (48.9%) and first in 3-point percentage (41.4%). Baylor surrenders 93.0 points in a return (34th in the nation) on 43.0% shooting from the field (159th).
Keep your eyes on MaCio Teague (16.3 PPG, 4.2 RPG) and Jared Butler (17.0 PPG, 4.9 APG), while junior guard Davion Mitchell (14.1 PPG, 5.3 APG) is another very important player in Baylor’s rotation.
- 3-6 ATS in the last six games overall
- 9-2 ATS in the last 11 games as favorites of six or fewer points
The Bears have struggled late in the regular season due to the COVID-19 crisis, but they looked well in the first round against Hartford and should be ready for a much bigger challenge in the second round. The Badgers, on the other side, surprised many with their first-round performance, as they’ve dropped five of their last six games in the regular season.
Wisconsin is a good defensive team, but so is Baylor, and the Bears are certainly a better offensive team than the Badgers. Despite their first-round display, I don’t think the Badgers will have enough weapons to deal with Baylor down the stretch, but they could keep it close. Therefore, I would buy a couple of points and take the Bears to cover.
Pick: Take Baylor -4.0 at -143
While Baylor average 68.7 possessions per 40 minutes (155th in the country), Wisconsin records only 64.8 possessions per 40 minutes (328th). The Badgers will look to slow down things against the Bears’ mighty offense, and Baylor shouldn’t rush things either, so I’m going with the under on the totals.
However, if you like to follow the betting trends, you won’t take my advice. The over is 11-2 in Baylor’s last 13 outings, and it is 5-1 in Wisconsin’s previous six games overall.
Pick: Go under 138.0 points at -110