Sunday offers up a somewhat limited slate of college basketball games to bet, but we think we've found a couple games worth playing, one from the Valley, the other from the Big Ten.
Aces Host Shockers
Wichita State, closing in on another good NCAA tournament seed, is a big favorite over a decent Evansville team. Wichita State has won five in a row, after slapping Southern Illinois Tuesday night 84-62, covering as an 11-point favorite on the NCAA basketball odds. So at 24-3 overall and 14-1 in conference play the Shockers sit a half-game behind first-place Northern Iowa in the Missouri Valley Conference.
Evansville, meanwhile, recently lost three in a row, but has won its last three, most recently beating Drake Tuesday night 61-52. Just before that the Aces also won at Southern Illinois 72-64. Evansville just missed the cover at -10 against the Bulldogs, but covered at -1 over the Salukis.
At 19-8 overall, 9-6 in conference play Evansville won't make the Dance, outside of a run through the MVC tournament, but it will be playing in the postseason. More immediately the Aces would probably love to give the Shockers a tough time today.
Wichita State took the first meeting this season between these teams a month ago in Evansville 61-41, easily covering as a six-point favorite. The Shockers only shot 41 percent from the field that day, but held the Aces to just 30 percent shooting.
But we believe Evansville will put on a little better performance today than it did back on Jan. 17. The Aces won't shoot the lights out, or anything like that, but they should should a little better than 30 percent.
Also, Wichita State has won 30 games in a row at home; the last team to beat the Shockers on their home court was Evansville, two calendar years ago. Wichita State is very likely to extend its home winning streak to 31 games today, but this spread is inflated by at least a bucket or two. We like the dog and the points in this spot.
Free College Basketball Pick: Evansville +15 at Bookmaker
Spartans Host Illini
Big Ten Big Dance hopefuls meet when Illinois hosts Michigan State.
Michigan State has won three in a row, after dispatching of Michigan Tuesday night 80-67, covering as a five-point favorite. The Spartans jumped out to an early 13-point lead, later built that to 19 and never led the Wolverines get closer than 10 after that. Michigan State shot a hot 62 percent from the floor Tuesday, and held the Wolverines to just 40 percent shooting. Just before that victory the Spartans edged Ohio State 59-56, and just before that they beat Northwestern 68-44.
Illinois recently won four in a row, but lost last Sunday at Wisconsin 68-49, missing ATS as a 14-point underdog. The Illini had that spread covered with six minutes to go, pulling within 10 points, but gave up a late Badgers spurt and lost the cash. Illinois shot just 40 percent from the floor Sunday, while allowing Wisconsin to shoot 51 percent.
At 17-9 overall, 7-6 in the Big Ten the Illini have played themselves onto the NCAA tournament bubble.
Illinois took the first meeting between these teams this season two weeks ago in East Lansing 59-54, winning straight-up as a 10-point dog. Neither team led that game by more than eight points at any time, and neither team shot the ball worth a darn; the Illini just out-gutted Sparty that day.
Michigan State won a rivalry game last time out, beating Michigan, while Illinois lost a game at a tough Wisconsin outfit. For us, that sets today's game up for a “reversal of fortune” play. Our guess is the Illini will shoot a little better than they did against the Badgers, and the Spartans won't shoot 62 percent, like they did against the Wolverines. We like the Illini to win this game outright, so we'll add them to our college basketball picks.
Free College Basketball Pick: Illinois +109 on the moneyline at Pinnacle