High/Low Picks For Thursday, February 2

Matthew Jordan

Wednesday, February 1, 2017 9:17 PM UTC

Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2017 9:17 PM UTC

The biggest spread on the opening NCAA basketball board for Thursday by far is No. 24 Florida around three touchdowns over visiting Missouri in the SEC, while the smallest spread is Michigan State at Nebraska in Big Ten action.

Missouri At No. 24 Florida (-21.5)

Remember when Missouri used to be an excellent basketball program? As recently as the 2013-14 season, this school finished with 23 wins. But that was the last year under Coach Frank Haith and there were some NCAA violations that occurred under his watch. The school self-imposed some sanctions and the NCAA largely agreed with them, adding a year of probation. Kim Anderson replaced Haith and Anderson almost surely is not going to be back next season with a 24-59 overall record. This year, the Tigers are 5-15 and winless in the SEC – to be fair, the entire roster is made up of first- or second-year players. It’s one of the least-experienced teams in the nation. Missouri enters on a 12-game losing streak, including an inexplicable 81-76 home defeat to little Lipscomb right before SEC play began. Mizzou comes off a 63-53 home loss to No. 23 South Carolina on Saturday.  Senior forward Russell Woods led the team in scoring for the first time ever with a career-high 18. He also had eight rebounds.

The No. 24 Gators should reach the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2014. Florida has followed a two-game losing streak with blowouts of LSU and Oklahoma. The 84-52 win over the Sooners on Saturday was in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge. It was the third-worst home loss in Oklahoma history. The last time the Sooners were beaten so badly in Norman was a 44-point loss to Missouri in the 1921-22 season. Kevarrius Hayes entered that game averaging 5.6 points and had a career-high 20 for Florida. Canyon Berry returned from a one-game injury absence with 15 points. The Gators are averaging 78.7 points and allows66.1. They are 4-2 all-time vs. Missouri and won in Columbia last season 82-72. Florida opened the game on a 21-6 run and maintained a double-digit lead throughout most of the game.

Missouri is 8-3 ATS in its past 11 on the road, and the Tigers should be able to lose by 18 or fewer.

NCAAB Free Pick: Missouri +21.5Best Line Offered: BetOnline

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Michigan State At Nebraska (Pick’em)

Big Ten matchup and an important one for Michigan State, which is squarely on the NCAA Tournament bubble at 13-9 overall and 5-4 in the Big Ten. A loss like this could be crushing for the Spartans’ at-large chances; they haven’t missed the Big Dance since 1997. Sparty ended a three-game losing streak on Sunday with a 70-62 home win over rival Michigan. Miles Bridges, one of the top freshmen in the nation and a likely 2017 NBA lottery pick, had 15 points and 13 rebounds. The MSU bench got a big boost from Matt McQuaid, who had been slumping. He made all three of his 3-pointers for nine points after making a total of five 3-pointers in eight Big Ten games this season. MSU big man Nick Ward, another good freshman, had to go to urgent care after the game to deal with the flu but should play vs. the Huskers. Ward scored 13 points on 6-for-6 shooting against Michigan but had only two rebounds and played just 16 minutes.

Nebraska is 10-11 overall and 4-5 in the Big Ten. It ended a five-game losing streak with an 83-80 home upset of No. 20 Purdue on Sunday. The Huskers’ Michael Jacobson played through the flu and made the go-ahead put-back basket with 42 seconds left. Jacobson spent much of the first half running back and forth between the bench and the locker room. Sophomore forward Jack McVeigh and freshman forward Jeriah Horne, both of whom had been barely playing or contributing of late, came off the bench to combine for 37 points and 10 rebounds. Nebraska is now 6-3 this season in games decided by five points or less. The jersey of current Cleveland Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue will be retired by the school Thursday night. He was one of the best players in Nebraska history.

The Spartans lead the series 12-9, but Nebraska has won the past three. MSU is 0-4-1 ATS in the past five meetings.

NCAAB Free Pick: Nebraska At Pick’emBest Line Offered: Heritage

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