High/Low Picks For Thursday, March 2

Matthew Jordan

Wednesday, March 1, 2017 8:33 PM UTC

Wednesday, Mar. 1, 2017 8:33 PM UTC

The biggest spread on the opening NCAA basketball board for Thursday was Middle Tennessee hosting Florida International in Conference USA action, while the smallest number was between Portland State and Northern Colorado. Here are my picks.

Florida International At Middle Tennessee (-20)

Looking for a double-digit seed in the NCAA Tournament that can win at least one game? I give you Middle Tennessee (25-4, 15-1 C-USA), the Conference USA regular-season champion. You might remember last March when the Blue Raiders were a No. 15 seed in the NCAA Tournament and ruined my bracket – and many others – by upsetting No. 2 Michigan State in a game that really wasn’t close. MT then was clobbered in the Round of 32 by Syracuse. This season, Middle Tennessee has a very good RPI of 32 with quality wins over UNC Wilmington (another potential sleeper), Vanderbilt and Belmont. This is one of the best defensive teams in the country, allowing 63.1 points. That’s 18th nationally. That said, with the C-USA regular-season title (guarantees at least an NIT berth) and conference tournament top seed wrapped up, what is there to play for here?

Florida International (6-23, 2-14) is tied for last in the conference with North Texas. You probably have never heard of two schools that FIU has beaten this year: Florida Memorial and Ave Maria. The Golden Panthers enter on a four-game skid but lost only two of those by a combined five points. There will be some history in this game most likely for FIU’s Donte McGill as he’s six points shy of becoming the seventh player in FIU history to score 1,000 points for his career. He’s fourth in the C-USA in averaging 19.0 ppg. Florida International also has the conference’s second-leading rebounder in Michael Kessens at 9.0 rpg. Why is this team so bad?

Middle Tennessee beat FIU 65-52 on Jan. 19. The Blue Raiders shot 51.1 percent, while the Golden Panthers hit only 39.6. Middle Tennessee now has won five of the last six meetings with FIU.

NCAAB Free Pick: FIU +20Best Line Offered: BetOnline

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Portland State At Northern Colorado (Pick’em)

Big Sky game. Portland State (14-13, 7-9) is eighth in the conference, one game behind Sacramento State.  The Vikings aren’t far from being a top-tier team in the conference as they have played a ton of close games and generally lost them: 71-65 to Montana State, 80-77 in OT at Sacramento State, 130-124 in triple OT at Eastern Washington, 96-93 in OT vs. Weber State, 92-90 in OT, and 85-82 at Montana. The good news is Portland State is on a two-game winning streak. PSU was clearly fired up Saturday in an 84-72 home win over Northern Arizona in the team’s final game ever in the Stott Center gymnasium. PSU first played basketball in the current building in 1966-67. Portland State will play off campus at a site to be determined in 2017-18 and then a new arena the next year.

Northern Colorado (9-18, 5-11) is tied for ninth in the 12-team conference. It lost at home to North Dakota last Thursday, 84-81 in OT despite a career-high 30 points from sophomore guard Jordan Davis. He scored 15 of his team’s final 16 points in regulation. Meanwhile, freshman Kai Edwards had his first career double-double with 11 points and 14 rebounds. The Bears have now lost their last five games at home. Northern Colorado won at Portland State 73-59 on New Year’s Eve behind 19 from Davis. The Vikings were just 24-for-66 from the field. UNC hit 47.3 percent. Portland State has still covered six of the past seven meetings.

NCAAB Free Pick: Portland State At Pick’emBest Line Offered: Heritage

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