NCAA Tournament: Preview & Picks for Saturday’s Late-Night Games

March Madness continues to chug along into Saturday with the Round of 32 beginning. We’ll look at our sides for the four games we’ll be tuned into at night.

7:10 p.m. ET | #9 Auburn vs. #1 Houston | TBS

I hate trying to guess line movement, but this game will all come down to Marcus Sasser’s availability. Sasser is one of the best players in the country and necessary to Houston’s national championship aspirations. He was dealing with a groin ailment leading up to the tournament, with many saying he should sit out the opening round. He ended up giving it a go but didn’t finish the game, with his Saturday status now in limbo. With all things being considered, Auburn did impress in a slugfest against West Virginia, but Houston has far more talent when at full strength. If Sasser can go, I expect Houston to be too much for Auburn all around. If not, I’d lean toward Houston with a shortened line, but I will not be rushing to the books to place this bet. 

ATS Pick: Houston with Sasser

7:45 p.m. ET | #10 Penn State vs. #2 Texas | CBS

Penn State rolled their Big Ten tournament confidence into a dominating win over a strong, questionably under-seeded Texas A&M squad. Andrew Funk led the charge with 27 points, where he went 8/10 from beyond the arc, with the team shooting 59%. That won’t happen again with Texas’s perimeter defense that’s held opponents to only roughly 32% from deep this season. Penn State has been a fun story, but the hype results in Texas being undervalued here when they have the matchup advantage. I’ll lay the points with the Longhorns.

ATS Pick: Texas -5.5 

8:40 p.m. ET | #7 Northwestern vs. #2 UCLA | TNT

I’m not overly confident backing UCLA as the rounds progress in this tournament, given my sentiment that the Jaylen Clark injury will eventually catch up to them, but I like them here. Northwestern is a fine team that pulled out a gutsy victory over Boise State on Thursday, but UCLA’s talent will be too much. UCLA plays with a pace that Northwestern will have no answer to, while UCLA’s interior depth concerns shouldn’t matter against a smaller Northwestern team. I see the Bruins winning by double digits.

ATS Pick: UCLA -7.5 

9:40 p.m. ET | #8 Maryland vs. #1 Alabama | TBS

I will say Maryland really impressed me over West Virginia. The Terps were resilient and efficient against an intelligent and well-coached Mountaineers team. They quelled the notion that they couldn’t win on the road that many were concerned about heading into the tournament too. However, Alabama is a different beast. I know they only played a sixteen-seed thus far, but they utterly dominated TAMU-Corpus Christi and were up twenty at the half. All the while, Brandon Miller, the best player in college basketball, contributed no points. I’m not worried about his injury concerns, so with us assuming Miller will play his normal minutes Saturday night, I expect the Tide to run Maryland out of the gym early.

ATS Pick: Alabama 1st Half -4.5