This time next week, we'll be hip-deep in conference tournament action. Before we get there, though, the final few games of the regular season are needed to clear up the seeding for those tourneys and our college basketball picks.
Two games on Thursday's slate could go a long way to deciding some of those seeds, as a pair of matchups pitting ranked clubs take place in the Big Ten and American Athletic Conference. Our last stop is out in Las Vegas where the West Coast Conference is getting a jump on other leagues with their conference tournament at Orleans Arena. All three contests are rematches from earlier this season.
Josh Pastner and the Memphis Tigers have a tough closing schedule in the AAC, and they already passed the first test by taking a second game from defending national champ Louisville last Saturday. Now Memphis heads to Cincinnati to battle the Bearcats in a 7 PM (ET) tip at Fifth Third Arena.
The Bearcats are 4 point chalk and SBR's live college basketball odds will have the total just as soon as lazy oddsmakers release it.
The conference standings are tighter than a gnat's rump with five teams heading into their final two contests only a couple of games apart. Memphis (22-7 straight up, 15-11 against the spread) is tied with the Connecticut Huskies for fourth and still has a chance to move up to second if the chips fall just right and the Tigers close with wins over Cincy tonight and SMU this Saturday.
Cincinnati (24-5 SU, 12-11 ATS) is deadlocked at the top of the conference with Louisville after losing its last two games to the Cardinals and Huskies. Poor shooting cost the Bearcats both games, combining to hit just 29-of-104 from the field (27.8%). The Bearcats won the first meeting with the Tigers in Memphis, a 69-53 decision as 5.5 point road underdogs.
College Basketball Pick: Cincinnati -4
Struggling Hawkeyes, Spartans Clash In East Lansing
ESPN follows up the Cincinnati-Memphis contest with a pair of Big Ten teams that are struggling as the season winds down. The Michigan State Spartans look to stop a 2-game skid at home in a 9 PM (ET) tip against the Iowa Hawkeyes who have dropped three of four, and the Spartans are giving up 3.5 points.
Iowa (20-9 SU, 15-12 ATS) just halted a 3-game slide with an 83-76 win Sunday vs. Purdue, but the Hawkeyes couldn't beat the -15 line in the contest to continue a 4-game losing streak vs. the spread. The final was enough to go past the 151 point total to run that string to eight consecutive Iowa 'overs.'
Michigan State (22-7 SU, 16-12 ATS) is finally back to full strength after dealing with several injuries this season, but the Spartans have still lost their last two. The latest defeat was at home last Saturday when State couldn't solve Illinois' defense to fall 53-46 to the Fighting Illini who were getting 12.5 points at Breslin Center. Take Michigan State for your college basketball picks.
College Basketball Pick: Michigan State -3.5
Madness Begins For West Coast Conference
Several leagues crank up their postseason tournaments Thursday, among them the West Coast Conference where the Pacific Tigers collide with the Santa Clara Broncos in Las Vegas. Tip-off is tentatively set for 11 PM (ET), with Pacific the 2.5 point favorite.
The significance of this 8/9 matchup is the winner faces WCC top-seed Gonzaga on Saturday. Pacific (15-14 SU, 16-12 ATS) and Santa Clara (13-18 SU, 10-15-1 ATS) tied with 6-12 conference marks, the Tigers getting the No. 8 seed based on their RPI.
Two regular season meetings were split, each team winning on its own home court. Santa Clara won the most recent clash a little less than three weeks ago, scoring a 70-50 rout of Pacific as a 1 point home 'dog. This rivalry dates back to 1904, but this is the first time the schools have met in a conference tournament since their old WCAC days.
College Basketball Pick: Pacific -2.5
Season: 48-35-4 (+9.5)