NCAA Tournament East Region 2nd Round Preview & Picks: Are Duke and Sparty Set to Meet?

Most people expected Duke and Michigan State to meet up in the East Region final, and after the first round of the NCAA Tournament, nothing has changed. Both Duke and Michigan State showed signs of weakness in their first-round victories, but they are still on a collision course to meet up. Beyond the Blue Devils and Spartans, plenty of elite teams still remain and will look to change this plan.

All four second-round matchups in the East Region should be competitive games, and there will be plenty of excitement as well. Let’s take a quick look at each of the four second-round games in the East Region and make a betting pick for each one of them.

Check out all of our March Madness previews & picks here.

Maryland Terrapins vs. LSU Tigers Preview & Picks

The Maryland Terrapins (6) look to keep their season alive when they take on the LSU Tigers (3) in a second-round matchup. The Terrapins and Tigers both were able to survive upset bids from their opponents in the first round, and both teams are battle tested this season. Maryland will look to control the temp in this game, while LSU wants to get out on the break and turn this into a transition game.

Center Bruno Fernando and point guard Anthony Cowan lead a talented Maryland squad that has a ton of offensive weapons. Fernando and Cowan have combined for more than 28 points per game this season, and they will need to lead their squad in this one. LSU doesn’t have a true star on the offensive end of the floor, but they have elite athletes at almost every position.

The LSU Tigers are playing without their head coach, but that hasn’t seemed to bother them in recent games. Maryland has had an up and down season but knows how to beat teams that are better than them. Look for this to be a tight game throughout, but the LSU Tigers just have too much talent and will advance.

Bet LSU -2.0 over Maryland in this second round matchup.

Minnesota Golden Gophers vs. Michigan State Spartans Preview & Picks

The Minnesota Golden Gophers (10) will take on conference rival Michigan State Spartans (2) in another second-round matchup in the East. The Spartans blasted the Gophers in their only other meeting this season and come into this game with a much better resume. There will be no surprises when these two teams take the floor, so expect this to be a competitive game.

Minnesota shot just 32 percent from the three-point line as a team during the regular season, but they were on fire in the first round. Michigan State struggled mightily on both ends of the floor, before finally pulling away from 15-seeded Bradley in their first-round win. If the Gophers are going to keep this game close, they are going to need a repeat of their shooting performance from Thursday afternoon.

Even though Minnesota has the chance to make enough shots to keep this game close, Michigan State won’t allow that to happen. The Spartans have one of the best point guards in the country in Cassius Winston, and head coach Tom Izzo knows how to get his team to respond. This game will be closer than the first meeting, but the Spartans are going to win comfortably.

Conference opponents are always tough to knock off, but the Spartans won’t have much trouble with the Golden Gophers in this game. Bet the Michigan State Spartans -10.0 over the Minnesota Golden Gophers in this game.

UCF Knights vs. Duke Blue Devils Preview & Picks

The UCF Knights (9) will try to do the unthinkable in upsetting the Duke Blue Devils (1) in a second-round matchup. It took Duke a full half to get rolling in the first round, but then they looked unstoppable again. UCF was impressive in putting together a complete game in a big win over VCU.

The Knights feature the tallest player in college basketball in 7’6” Tacko Fall, and he can be dominant on the defensive end of the floor. Look for Tacko Fall and the athletic Duke players to meet at the rim more than a few times in this game. The Blue Devils are led by Zion Williamson and RJ Barrett, who have combined for more than 43 points per game this season.

UCF is a terrific team, and they have a chance to make this game a challenge for Duke. The Knights can really shoot it, and they play defense at an elite level. In the end, though, Duke just has too much talent, and they will eventually pull away with a comfortable win.

Bet the Duke Blue Devils -13.0 over the UCF Knights in this game.

Liberty Flames vs. Virginia Tech Hokies Preview & Picks

The Liberty Flames (12) will look for their second straight upset win when they take on the Virginia Tech Hokies (4) in this second round matchup. Liberty put on a shooting clinic in their upset win over Mississippi State in the first round and will look for a repeat performance in this game. Virginia Tech allowed just 52 points in a comfortable win over Saint Louis in the first round.

The Hokies got point guard Justin Robinson back for the NCAA Tournament, and he was terrific in the first round. Kerry Blackshear and Nickeil Alexander-Walker combined for 35 points in the Virginia Tech win. Caleb Homesley was the star for Liberty in the first round, pouring in a game-high 30 points in the upset.

Virginia Tech is one of the best defensive teams in the country, and they will have an answer for the hot shooting of Liberty. The Flames will do all they can to make enough shots to keep this game close, but their run is going to come to an end. Liberty will keep it close, but the Hokies will keep on dancing.

Take the points in this game and bet the Liberty Flames +9.0 against the Virginia Tech Hokies.

Check out all of our March Madness previews & picks here.

Ryan has been writing about sports betting for over a decade now, residing in sunny Orlando, Florida. He played 4 years of college basketball which gave him a true understanding of how athletes think and operate. Knup has become a true student of “investing” in sports and has spent endless hours studying odds, line moves, trends, stats and teams to become a true expert in sports betting.