Free NCAA Basketball Picks For 2K Classic At Madison Square Garden

Willie Bee

Thursday, November 17, 2016 3:07 PM UTC

Thursday, Nov. 17, 2016 3:07 PM UTC

Marquette, Michigan, Pittsburgh and SMU get the spotlight tonight at MSG, and we've got a couple of free college basketball picks for the 2K Classic.

Our first real tournament of the season gets underway Thursday night in New York City, and it should provide very competitive matchups between four schools that should all be dancing come March. The one thing we know for sure is that while all four enter the 2K Classic Benefitting Wounded Warrior Project with 2-0 records, only one will emerge with a spotless mark intact.

Season: 1-4 (-3.40)

Pittsburgh Vs. SMU

Both the Pittsburgh Panthers and SMU Mustangs are getting fresh starts this season under new coaches, so it's only fitting they tip this event off with the first-ever meeting between the two programs. ESPN2 will start its broadcast from Madison Square Garden at 7 PM (ET), and it's the Mustangs pushed up to 4 point favorites at Bookmaker after opening -2. Scoreboard bettors are faced with a 148 point total.

Jamie Dixon bolted from Pitt after 13 seasons to take a job with his alma mater down at TCU, and the Panthers were quick to bring in former Vanderbilt head coach Kevin Stallings. The change left Stallings little time to focus on recruiting, but he won't need much out of freshmen this season with such a strong cast of returning players led by senior forward Michael Young.

There has been plenty of offense so far, but defense has been lacking. Pittsburgh opened things with a 93-90 double overtime win over Eastern Michigan, a game the Panthers were favored by 11½ on the NCAA basketball odds, then toppled Gardner-Webb by a 99-80 count, using a big first half to coast to that decision.

After trouble with the NCAA his last couple of seasons, Larry Brown left Dallas with assistant Tim Jankovich taking over. The Ponies won't have 2-time AAC Player of the Year Nic Moore on the floor any longer, but they do get Semi Ojeleye in the mix after he sat out last season following a transfer from Duke. Ben Moore, Shake Milton and Sterling Brown are back after each averaged double-digits last season. The Mustangs also posted wins over Gardner-Webb and Eastern Michigan to get here, but did so with far more effective defense.

It's that defense that has me on the 'under' for this game.

Free NCAA Basketball Pick: Under 148Best Line Offered: at Bookmaker

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Michigan Vs. Marquette

Once the Panthers and Mustangs finish up, Michigan and Marquette hit the floor in the nightcap. Bookmaker has some similar numbers posted for this battle with the Golden Eagles laying a point against the Wolverines and 149 for the total.

These two played one common opponent in Howard before arriving in the Big Apple. After being tested early, Marquette methodically pulled away behind 50.9% shooting from the field for an 81-49 decision as 26½ point chalk. Five players on Steve Wojciechowski side scored in double figures. Marquette had previously beaten Vanderbilt, 95-71, blowing open a close game early in the second half to easily cover a -1½ spread.

Michigan opened the campaign with a 76-58 decision vs. Howard, a game that never made it to the college basketball betting board. John Beilein's boys went five minutes into the contest before finally scoring, but didn't not relinquish the lead once they had it. The Wolverines followed that up with a 77-65 win over IUPUI, failing to cover as 17½ point favorites. Once again, Michigan started slowly and needed a 13-0 run at the end of the first half to take control.

With those two games behind them, Michigan obviously won't panic if it falls behind early, and the Wolverines own a 13-6 advantage in the rivalry. But this is a pretty good Marquette team, and one that might be a bit underrated in the Big East. I'm taking the Golden Eagles for my free college basketball pick.

Free NCAA Basketball Pick: Marquette -1Best Line Offered: at Bookmaker

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