The NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament is moving through the first round with Thursday a wrap and Friday underway. The tournament is on track for its biggest number of first round upsets in history, which leaves brackets busted, wagers a mess, and Survivor pools potentially in shambles.
If you’ve never played in a Survivor pool, you pick a team each day to win. DraftKings Sportsbook is offering a Survivor Pool and it’s time to start thinking about second round picks. You can only pick a given team once, so you have to be strategic in your picks. You can’t use up No. 1 seeds right away unless you think they’re a particularly week top seed.
We’ll be offering Survivor advice throughout the tournament. Today, we take a look at second round matchups, with a rundown of safe, value, and trap picks.
Saturday: No. 4 Arkansas vs. No. 12 New Mexico State
No. 4 Arkansas probably expected to get UConn here but will get No. 12 New Mexico State instead. The Aggies rode a 37-point offensive explosion from Teddy Allen into an upset over the No. 5 Huskies, stunting the higher-ranked team from an offensive standpoint until the end of the game.
The Razorbacks have the 18th best defense in adjusted efficiency and will most likely dismantle the Aggies by simply keying in on Allen, forcing their other shooters to beat them. We’re still at a point of the survivor pool where you’d want to hold off on choosing top seeds and with a potential showdown No. 1 Gonzaga looming next week, it’d be wise to take Arkansas right now.
Saturday: No. 4 UCLA vs. No. 5 Saint Mary’s
Similar to Arkansas, it’d be wise to use your No. 4/5 picks right now before a prospective showdown with a No. 1 seed next week and in this virtual tossup, go with UCLA.
From an adjusted efficiency standpoint, the Bruins have the edge over the Gaels defensively and in the event of a tight ballgame, they possess the ability to lean on their bench. UCLA should be able to pull out a close one here.
Sunday: No. 1 Arizona vs. No. 9 TCU
The Arizona Wildcats are nearly double-digit favorites heading into the final game of the second round Sunday night. Arizona could potentially get their starting point guard back as Kerr Kriisa continues to recover from an injury. The Wildcats are one of the most talented teams in the country, and they shouldn’t have many issues against TCU.
Best value picks
Saturday: No. 7 Murray State vs. No. 15 Saint Peter’s
The darling of the tournament so far is Saint Peter’s, who went toe-to-toe with No. 2 Kentucky on Thursday and conquered the Wildcats in overtime.
Also surviving an overtime thriller later that night was Murray State, who picked up its 21st straight victory in a battle with San Francisco. Per KenPom, the Racers have a significant advantage from a defensive perspective and should be able to continue their own Cinderella run by putting down the Peacocks.
Sunday: No. 5 Houston vs. No. 4 Illinois
The Houston Cougars are loved by power ratings, and they looked a whole lot better than the Illinois Fighting Illini in Round 1 when they knocked off the No. 12 seed UAB Blazers by 12 points, while Illinois came away with a 1-point victory over the No. 13 seed Chattanooga Mocs. This is a rare opportunity where the worse-seeded team is worth taking a look at, and there’s a ton of value for Houston to win this game.
Saturday: No. 4 Providence vs. No. 12 Richmond
Providence already avoided one upset at the hands of South Dakota State on Thursday but may have a tough time getting past Richmond in the second round.
The Spiders have been on fire since the start of the A-10 Tournament, ripping off four straight victories to get into the big dance before dismantling No. 5 Iowa offensively on Thursday to advance. Survivor pool participants may want to ride the hot hand on Saturday and pick Richmond to extend its magical run into another weekend.
Sunday: No. 3 Wisconsin vs. No. 11 Iowa State
The Wisconsin Badgers have one of the best players in this NCAA Tournament on their roster with Johnny Davis but if you care about metrics like KenPom, the advanced analytics despise the Badgers. Wisconsin pulled away late to beat No. 14 seed Colgate in the first round, but they are only slight favorites over a surprising Iowa State Cyclones team despite the difference in seeding.