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2021 NCAA Tournament bracket predictions: March Madness picks, odds, lines for second-round games Sunday

The second round of the 2021 NCAA Tournament is about to get underway, and a few Cinderella squads will be hoping to keep their early magic going on Sunday. Most notably, No. 15 seed Oral Roberts faces No. 7 seed Florida, and No. 13 seed North Texas faces No. 5 seed Villanova. 

Both the Eagles and Mean Green are facing opponents who have appeared vulnerable recently, so it’s not totally out of the question that another upset — or two — could be in order. Don’t forget about Oregon State, either. The No. 12 seed Beavers parlayed the momentum of their run through the Pac-12 Tournament into a first round victory and are back in action against No. 4 seed Oklahoma State.

VCU is sent home and history was made in the first round. The latest episode of Eye on College Basketball covers it all. Listen now and subscribe.

The eight-game slate on Sunday gets started with a pair of No. 1 seeds looking to make it to the Sweet 16. No. 1 Illinois faces off with intra-state foe No. 8 Loyola Chicago, and No. 1 Baylor battles with No. 9 Wisconsin. An Illini win would put them in the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2005 while a win for the Bears would mark their first appearance in the third round since 2017.

By night’s end, eight teams will be on their way to the Sweet 16. Our team of experts has analyzed the games and made picks straight up and against the spread for each of them below. Odds via William Hill Sportsbook

Who will win and cover every game, and which teams should be on upset alert? Visit SportsLine now to see which team to back in every matchup, all from the model that’s up $2,600 for $100 players.

(8) Loyola Chicago vs. (1) Illinois

Time: 12:10 p.m. ET | Location: Bankers Life Fieldhouse
TV: CBS | Live stream: March Madness Live

It feels like nostalgia for the 2018 Loyola Chicago team is having an impact on this point spread (-7 for the Illini via William Hill SportsBook), because Illinois is fully capable of running up a big number here. Aside from Friday’s win over a shorthanded Georgia Tech squad, the Ramblers’ only other game against a power conference opponent this season was a 14-point loss to a ho-hum Wisconsin squad. If the Badgers can beat Loyola Chicago by double-digits, Illinois can do it easily. Prediction: Illinois 80, Loyola Chicago 62 — David Cobb

(9) Wisconsin vs. (1) Baylor

Time: 2:40 p.m. ET | Location: Hinkle Fieldhouse
TV: CBS  | Live stream: March Madness Live

Baylor has yet to return to the midseason form that made it a Tier 1 contender along with Gonzaga, but it made quick work of No. 16 seed Hartford and still has the most vicious and unrelenting 3-point attack in college basketball. Against a Badgers defense that is susceptible to teams who can shoot it well from deep, I’ll lay the points with the Bears. Prediction: Baylor 74, Wisconsin 64 — Kyle Boone

(11) Syracuse vs. (3) West Virginia

Time: 5:15 p.m. ET | Location: Bankers Life Fieldhouse 
TV: CBS  | Live stream: March Madness Live

Syracuse and its zone defense suffocated San Diego State in Round 1, but Bob Huggins and West Virginia – equipped with one of the most potent offenses since his time with the Mountaineers – have the goods to slice and dice that D. The guard play from Deuce McBride, Sean McNeil and Taz Sherman gives me confidence to pick WVU but I’m taking the points with Cuse after it played arguably its most complete game against SDSU on Friday. Prediction: West Virginia 69, Syracuse 67 — Boone

(6) Texas Tech vs. (3) Arkansas

Time: 6:10 p.m. ET | Location: Hinkle Fieldhouse 
TV: TNT | Live stream: March Madness Live

Texas Tech is the program with a more entrenched defensive identity by virtue of its 2019 run to the national title game. But Arkansas is actually a smidge better this season in defensive efficiency, per KenPom, and that should help the Razorbacks get a slight edge in what is basically a pick ’em game. Prediction: Arkansas 69, Texas Tech 66 — Cobb

(10) Rutgers vs. (2) Houston

Time: 7:10 p.m. ET | Location: Lucas Oil Stadium 
TV: TBS | Live stream: March Madness Live

Houston is nails on both ends of the floor, while Rutgers’ offense can’t quite keep up with its top-25 level defense. While the Scarlet Knights did take out a Clemson team that at one point in the season had the No. 1 defense in the country, they scored only 60 points in a rock fight. If that’s the style this game goes – and both teams play plenty slow, so it’s likely – then advantage goes to the Cougars in a close one. Prediction: Houston 70, Rutgers 65 — Boone

(15) Oral Roberts vs. (7) Florida

Time: 7:45 p.m. ET | Location: Indiana Farmers Coliseum 
TV: truTV | Live stream: March Madness Live

Did you see what Oral Roberts did to Ohio State? The Eagles weren’t intimidated by the Buckeyes, so they surely won’t cower against Florida. The Gators have been inconsistent all season, and their defense will be tested against Max Abmas and Kevin Obanor. Look for Oral Roberts to rack up a bunch of points again and keep its Cinderella run going. Prediction: Oral Roberts 79, Florida 76 — Cobb

(13) North Texas vs. (5) Villanova

Time: 8:45 p.m. ET | Location: Bankers Life Fieldhouse 
TV: TNT  | Live stream: March Madness Live

Maybe Villanova deserves more credit for the way it handled Winthrop on Friday without Collin Gillespie, but there are still questions about how the Wildcats will fare against a team that can match its athleticism. North Texas is a tougher matchup in that regard, and with the Mean Green on a tear right now, expect Villanova to have a tough time closing this one out. Prediction: North Texas 66, Villanova 62 — Cobb

(12) Oregon State vs. (4) Oklahoma State

Time: 9:40 p.m. ET | Location: Hinkle Fieldhouse
TV: TBS | Live stream: March Madness Live

Sure, Oregon State’s red-hot, with a Pac-12 tourney title under its belt and an impressive win over a fifth-seeded Tennessee team in Round 1. But Oklahoma State’s the more complete team. And with Avery Anderson and Cade Cunningham, I’m not in any position to bet against the Cowboys right now. Godspeed if ya do. Prediction: Oklahoma State 74, Oregon State 65 — Boone

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