March Madness Second Round Lines & Popular Underdog Bets: Upset Potential


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March Madness Second Round Lines & Popular Underdog Bets: Upset Potential

The NCAA men’s basketball tournament is in full swing, with the first round already providing some upsets. Oddsmakers are setting lines for the second round of March Madness, which runs on Saturday and Sunday, and a few lower seeds are getting short odds to pull off more upsets. Some lower seeds are even favorites in the second round of March Madness. 

We’re looking at some of the underdogs with upset potential this weekend, with a quick breakdown of the matchups, betting lines, and context. Of course, just because a team is favored doesn’t mean it will win the game, as nothing is guaranteed in this single-elimination tournament. 

Most likely upsets based on odds

(5) Gonzaga vs. (4) Kansas

This is clearly a close matchup in terms of seeding, and books are listing Gonzaga as a relatively big favorite. Kansas is missing leading scorer Kevin McCullar Jr. (knee), who has been ruled out for the entire tournament. The Jayhawks opened as 7.5-point favorites in the first round against No. 13 Samford and squeaked out a 93-89 win. Center Hunter Dickinson returned from a back injury to post 19 points and 20 rebounds in the victory. After winning the national title in 2022, Kansas lost to No. 8 Arkansas in the Round of 32 last season.  

Gonzaga opened as a 7-point favorite against No. 12 McNeese State and rolled to an 86-65 victory. The Zags have made every NCAA Tournament since 1999 under Mark Few, and they’ve made the Sweet 16 in eight straight years, so books are banking on that history to a degree. The Zags are so balanced that eight players recorded at least seven points and five scored in double figures against McNeese, with Anton Watson (13 points, 13 rebounds, nine assists) doing a bit of everything. 

(9) Michigan State vs. (1) UNC

Michigan State was a slight favorite over No. 8 Mississippi State in the first round and rolled to a comfortable 69-51 win. After opening the season as the No. 4 team in the AP Top 25, the Spartans struggled early, but this program has a reputation in March Madness under veteran coach Tom Izzo, who is coaching in his 26th straight NCAA Tournament. Michigan State is a relatively short underdog considering the Spartans are now taking on the top overall seed in the West Region.  

North Carolina has no shortage of success in the tournament, with the most Final Four appearances (21) in history. But last year, UNC became the first team in NCAA history to miss the tournament altogether after opening the preseason as the No. 1 team in the nation. The Tar Heels easily dispatched Wagner, 90-52, in the first round, bouncing back from a stunning loss to NC State in the ACC Tournament championship. The Tar Heels have a loaded roster with Armando Bacot and Harrison Ingram up front and Cormac Ryan and RJ Davis on the wings. 

(11) Oregon vs. (3) Creighton

Oregon is riding a momentous wave after rushing the field for the Pac-12 Tournament championship. The return of 6-foot-11 center N’Faly Dante helped spark the Ducks down the stretch, and they handed a senior-laden South Carolina team an 87-73 defeat in the first round. Oregon is a relatively short underdog against No. 3 Creighton and has the potential to take down another experienced team and continue its run. Head coach Dana Altman led the program to the Final Four as a No. 3 seed in 2017, and Oregon reached the Sweet 16 as a No. 12 seed in 2019. 

Creighton lost in the first or second round in 2017, 2018, and 2022, but it made the Elite Eight last season as a No. 6 seed. Additionally, the Bluejays have tons of experience and flexed their muscles with a 77-60 win over No. 14 Akron in the first round. Creighton is a top team on offense and defense, with seniors Baylor Scheierman and Ryan Kalkbrenner starring on both ends. 

History of underdogs winning in the second round

YearSecond round upsetsHighest seeded upset
2023515
2022615
2021715
201915
2018611