Free NCAA Basketball Picks: Top Value Plays To Fatten Your Wallet

Matthew Jordan

Monday, February 29, 2016 2:08 PM UTC

Monday, Feb. 29, 2016 2:08 PM UTC

Coach Jim Boeheim's Syracuse Orange are somewhat on the bubble for the NCAA Tournament. Here are my top three NCAA Basketball picks for the night.

Syracuse vs. No. 7 North Carolina
These rankings are before Monday's new polls and the Tar Heels (23-6, 12-4) are likely to drop a tad as they lost at No. 3 Virginia 79-74 on Saturday to fall back into a tie for first place atop the ACC standings with Miami. UNC closes the regular season this Saturday at Duke so that's certainly a possible loss. The Blue Devils are a game back of first with Virginia. Miami is at Notre Dame and at Virginia Tech this week. Virginia is at Clemson and home to Louisville. In the loss to UVA, Heels star Brice Johnson, a top ACC Player of the Year candidate, scored his team’s first six points of the second half but then didn't score the rest of the game. He finished with 12 points.

Carolina’s six losses this year have been by a total of 22 points. It's Senior Night at Chapel Hill for this game. That means the home finale for Johnson and starting point guard Marcus Paige, among a few others. The Heels are 14-1 at home this season, with that lone loss in the final second vs. Duke. Syracuse (19-10, 9-7) is generally projected as a No. 9 seed for the NCAA Tournament right now. The Orange enter off a 75-65 home win over NC State on Saturday. Michael Gbinije scored a career-high 34 points in his final home game.

On Jan. 9, Syracuse hosted No. 6 North Carolina and lost 84-73 to drop to 0-4 in the ACC this season. That was also Boeheim's return from a nine-game suspension. Johnson had 16 points and eight assists for UNC. Trevor Cooney had 27 for Syracuse.  My NCAA basketball pick is North Carolina. The Orange are 1-4 ATS in their past five vs. teams with a winning record.

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NCAA Basketball Pick: North Carolina -13
Best Line Offered: at 5Dimes


Oklahoma State vs. No. 17 Iowa State
The Cowboys (12-17, 3-13) won't be playing any postseason basketball after the Big 12 Tournament and are just a game out of last place in the Big 12 (TCU in basement). The Pokes dropped a fourth straight game Saturday, 70-56 at home to No. 14 West Virginia. Joe Burton scored a career-high 16 points in the loss. OSU is now 1-7 this season against teams ranked in the AP Top 25. The Cowboys are the only team in the country slated to face four ranked opponents to close out the regular season. They are a solid defensive team, ranking second in the Big 12 in scoring defense at 67.3 points allowed and field goal percentage defense at 40.5 percent. But OSU struggles to score, ranking 294th nationally at 67.5 points per game. Iowa State (20-9, 9-7) is sixth in the Big 12.

The Cyclones are looking for their first back-to-back wins since Jan. 23 & 25. They beat visiting Kansas State on Saturday, 80-61. Jameel McKay came off the bench and had 14 points with 17 rebounds as Iowa State won a 20th game for a school-record fifth straight season. This game is Senior Night in Ames. McKay, Abdel Nader and Georges Niang, the team's best player and leading scorer (19.4 ppg), are seniors. ISU has won its past six Senior Night games.

The past nine meetings in the OSU-ISU series have been decided by an average of 3.9 points. Iowa State has won the past six of them. The Cyclones won 64-59 in Stillwater on Feb. 6. Niang had 18 points and nine rebounds. McKay missed the game due to suspension. Go with Iowa State. OSU is 0-4 ATS in its past four games. ISU is 6-1-1 ATS in the past eight meetings, making it a no-brainer for the NCAA basketball odds boards to pick ISU as the favorite. 

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NCAA Basketball Pick: Iowa State -14
Best Line Offered: at Pinnacle


No. 2 Kansas vs. No. 25 Texas
Kansas (25-4, 13-3 Big 12) could be No. 1 in the new polls Monday with Villanova losing last week to Xavier. The Jayhawks clinched at least a share of their 12th straight Big 12 regular-season title with a 67-58 home win over Texas Tech on Saturday. The 12 straight league titles rank second in NCAA history behind UCLA's run of 13 in a row in the Pac-10 from 1967-79. KU's nine-game winning streak overall is tied for the third-longest in the nation. Texas (19-10, 10-6) is in a three-way tie for third in the conference. The Horns upset No. 3 Oklahoma 76-63 on Saturday. UT closed the game on a 25-5 run. Isaiah Taylor led Texas with 18 points. It was Texas' fourth win over an AP Top 10 team this season. The Jayhawks are the only Big 12 team that the Longhorns haven't beaten in 2015-16. On Jan. 23 in Lawrence, KU won 76-67. UT led by five at halftime. Perry Ellis led Kansas with 26 points. Kansas has won four straight in the series. Take the points on Texas. KU is 1-4 ATS in its past five after an ATS loss. Texas is 7-1 ATS in its past eight after a win. The underdog is 4-1 ATS in the past five meetings. 

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NCAA Basketball Pick: Texas +2 
Best Line Offered: at Bookmaker

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