High/Low Picks For Tuesday, February 14

purdue-basketball

Monday, February 13, 2017 8:21 PM GMT

The biggest spread on the opening NCAA basketball board for Tuesday’s Valentine’s Day is Big Ten contender Purdue over conference lightweight Rutgers, while the smallest number is between Iona and Canisius in the MAAC. Here are my picks.

Rutgers At No. 16 Purdue (-19)

I believe the Boilermakers have the highest ceiling of any Big Ten team because they have the conference’s most dominant player in big man Caleb Swanigan, a double-double machine. Purdue (20-5, 9-3) is currently tied for second in the Big Ten, a game behind Wisconsin. The Boilers beat the Badgers by 11 in their only scheduled meeting so Purdue still has a pretty good shot at being the top seed in the conference tournament. It doesn’t play a ranked team the rest of the regular season. Purdue will be well-rested as it has been off since a 69-64 victory at Indiana last Thursday. Swanigan was at it again with 16 points and 14 rebounds. He’s averaging 19.0 ppg and 12.8 rpg and is looking to become the first Division I player since Marcus Mann of Mississippi Valley State (1995-96) to average 19 points, 12 rebounds and shoot 45 percent or better on 3-pointers in a season. Swanigan has a national-best 21 double-doubles on the season and is second nationally in rebounding. He’s a beast.

Rutgers as usual is the Big Ten’s worst team at 2-11 in the conference and will fall under .500 on the season (13-13) for the first time with a loss as expected. The Scarlet Knights haven’t finished with a winning record since 2005-06. Ah well, at least there’s always football season (sarcasm). Rutgers has been very competitive at times this year. It only lost by nine at home to Minnesota on Saturday. The Knights were within five with possession late, but a 3-point attempt by Nigel Johnson with just over a minute to play rattled out. If this team could shoot free throws, it would have a few more Big Ten wins. Rutgers was just 10-for-22 from the line vs. the Gophers and that has been a problem all year. Seven of RU’s last 10 games have been decided by single digits. Last season, 15 of the team’s 17 conference losses were by double digits.

Purdue visited Rutgers last year and won 107-57. It was the Boilers’ largest margin of victory ever in a Big Ten game.

NCAAB Free Pick: Rutgers +19

Best Line Offered: Heritage

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Iona At Canisius (+1)

Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference game. Iona (17-9, 10-5) is the defending MAAC champion and is currently in second place, three games in the loss column behind Monmouth. So a loss here for the Gaels all but wraps up the regular-season title for Monmouth, which visits Iona to close the regular season. Iona enters having won seven of its past eight. It won at Niagara 90-76 on Sunday. Despite suffering an early injury, Jon Severe led the Gaels with 23 points to go with six rebounds and two steals. Rickey McGill scored all 19 of his points in the second half while adding five rebounds and five assists. Iona shot 60.7 percent in the second half. You may recognize the name of one Iona player: San Cassell Jr., the son of the former NBA guard.

Canisius (15-11, 8-7) has made the NCAA Tournament just four times and not since 1996. It had a two-game winning streak end in a 94-81 home loss to Niagara on Friday. The visitors shot 78.6 percent from the field and 88.9 percent from 3-point range in the second half. Canisius junior Jermaine Crumpton led all scorers with 25 points. The Golden Griffins are now 10-4 this year when scoring 80-plus points in a game, with two of those four losses coming to Niagara. The Griffins have played better on the road for the most part as they have nine true road victories this season, which are the most in the MAAC. However, Canisius lost at Iona 98-75 on Jan. 8. The Gaels shot 62 percent from the floor and made 15 of 25 3-pointers.

NCAAB Free Pick: Iona -1

Best Line Offered: BetOnline

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