Finding underdogs to cover can often turn into a needle in the haystack exercise, but our handicapper believes these three that should be among your Tuesday NCAA Basketball picks.
Seton Hall Pirates vs. Wichita State Shockers
Let's tip this underdog hunt off with a contest that likely falls off the radar for most college hoops fans, in part because it's getting second billing on the prime-time marquee belonging to the worldwide leader in sports. It is, however, the type of matchup many college basketball bettors will wish they had seen once March Madness comes around.
The interconference clash pits the undefeated Seton Hall Pirates of the Big East on the road against the 11th-ranked Wichita State Shockers of the Missouri Valley Conference, ESPN2 providing the telecast starting at 7 PM (ET). SBR's live College Basketball odds saw this one go out with the Shockers laying 11, and we're beginning to see -11½ following overnight action.
Seton Hall has built its 7-0 record against some patsies, no doubt, and tonight's tip will be the first true road test for Kevin Willard's crew. Those are two facts we cannot dismiss. Still, this is a scrappy bunch of Pirates that plays in-your-face defense and is a perfect 6-0 against the spread in addition to their unblemished straight-up mark.
All of that will be tested against Gregg Marshall's Shockers. Wichita State goes 4-deep on the double-digit scoring front, led by Ron Baker's team-leading 17.8 PPG, and there isn't a player on this roster who won't crash the boards.
The Shockers have also covered each spread they've been asked to, including as 3 point underdogs at Utah where they fell 69-68 in overtime, so only one team can keep that going tonight. I like Wichita State to win outright, but will take the Pirates and the points for my free college basketball pick.
Free NCAA Basketball Pick: Seton Hall +11.5
Texas A&M Aggies vs. Baylor Bears
A fairly short 90-mile drive on Highway 6 is all that separates the Texas A&M Aggies and Baylor Bears, yet the two schools are worlds apart in the grand scheme and let's just say they don't fit the definition of friendly neighbors.
The old conference rivals get reacquainted for the first time since Texas A&M left the Big 12 following the 2011-12 hardwood schedule, and the renewal of the Battle of the Brazos marks the 206th time the Aggies and Bears have gotten together on the court. ESPN2 will follow up the Seton Hall-Wichita State broadcast with this clash at 9 PM (ET), and Baylor is -6½ on Tuesday's college basketball betting card after opening a couple of points higher at some sports books.
This should be about as physical and defensive-minded game as you'll find on Tuesday's slate, so if that's not your cup o' tea, don't tune in. The total is also going to be an interesting play with the clubs a combined 2-7 O/U plus four of the last five in this series never making it to the mark. Texas A&M needs to be at its very best to get the outright win, and I believe they'll be at least good enough to get the cover.
Free NCAA Basketball Pick: Texas A&M +6.5 at BookMaker
Louisville Cardinals vs. Indiana Hoosiers
About the same time the Aggies and Bears are getting underway, the Indiana Hoosiers and Louisville Cardinals collide in the second game of tonight's Jimmy V Classic. This matchup follows the Illinois-Villanova battle at Madison Square Garden, and it's no surprise to see Rick Pitino's Cardinals drawing chalk with an 11 point spread that has been inflated by one since the college basketball odds went out.
Combine the defensive intensity of both Texas A&M and Baylor, and you have Louisville in a nutshell. How Tom Crean draws up a game plan to combat that remains to be seen, but he did a good job on that front in wins over SMU and Pittsburgh. The Hoosiers are also going to have to continue the fine shooting that has them eighth in the country connecting on more than 52% of their attempts from the floor.
Indiana needs to play 40 minutes of its best defense, and we saw how defensive pressure by Michigan a week ago vs. Louisville got the Cardinals out of rhythm on the offensive end. If the refs call it close, the Hoosiers should be able to pull off a cover with much better free-throw shooting; give me Crean's crew and the points for my free NCAA Basketball pick.
Free NCAA Basketball Pick: Indiana +11
Willie Bee's Season: 0-2 (-2.20)