Wednesday offers a somewhat limited college basketball betting slate, but we've found three free picks we think are worthy of a wager, especially at these nice prices.
North Carolina -8 vs. Wake Forest
The Tar Heels, the preseason favorites to win the ACC, head up the road just a ways to take on Coach Manning's Demon Deacons.
UNC owns victories this season over UCLA, Florida, Ohio State and Louisville, its only losses coming against Butler, Iowa, Kentucky and Notre Dame. The Heels have also won three in a row, most recently beating Virginia Tech 68-53 Sunday. But Carolina is also 0-4 ATS in its last four games, because it couldn't cover at -3 at home against the Cardinals, at -5 at North Carolina State and at -21 at home against the Hokies. Two of those games were at home, where the home-court advantage tends to inflate the betting lines a bit.
Wake Forest was supposed to finish near the bottom in the ACC this season, after going 6-12 in conference play last season, as it went through the learning curve with the new coach. So far the Deacons are .500 at 9-9, but they haven't really beaten anybody worth mentioning. They've also lost three of their first four ACC games, after falling at Syracuse in overtime eight days ago 86-83. But playing with low expectations, Wake has covered the spread seven games in a row, including as a 14-point dog against Florida, winning at Richmond as a six-point dog, covering the NCAA Basketball odds +13 against Louisville, +15 against Duke and +9 against the Orange.
But all streaks eventually come to an end, sometimes two at a time. Bottom-line, North Carolina is the better team in this match-up, playing on the road, where the spread is more amenable. If this game were being played at the Dean Dome the Heels might be favored by a dozen or more points. We like Carolina for the victory, and the cover.
NCAA Basketball Pick: Tar Heels -7.5
Memphis vs. Tulsa
Tulsa has won seven games in a row, covered the spread four games in a row, while playing great defense, holding its last six opponents to 58 points or less. And the Hurricane is only favored by a couple of buckets at home against Memphis. This might be a tough, tight game but we like the home team at the short spread for our College Basketball pick.
NCAA Basketball Pick: Take Tulsa at -4
Penn State vs. Michigan State
Michigan State isn't quite “Michigan State” this season, at least not yet. Last time out the Spartans lost by 16 points at Maryland, and the outing before that they needed overtime to beat Northwestern. Penn State, meanwhile, hasn't done a whole lot to impress this season, and it's lost its last five games in a row. But four of those losses could be considered “close;” last time out the Lions fell in overtime against Purdue, after giving up a game-tying 3-pointer off a missed free-throw with five seconds left in regulation. Wednesday's game might be a case in which home-court advantage has added a few too many points to the spread.
NCAA Basketball Pick: Take Penn State at +12 at 5Dimes