High/Low Picks For Wednesday, February 1

dennis smith nc state basketball

Wednesday, February 1, 2017 2:53 PM GMT

The biggest spread on the opening NCAA basketball board for Wednesday and one of just a few games with double-digit lines is Wichita State at Drake, while the smallest spread is Syracuse at NC State. Here are my picks.

Wichita State At Drake (-17)

A Missouri Valley Conference game. Wichita State was a preseason favorite to win that conference again but finds itself a game behind Illinois State, which has yet to lose in conference play. The Shockers should be an NCAA Tournament team again at 19-4 overall as long as they finish strong – although they didn’t have any good non-conference wins so WSU might want to take the conference tournament to avoid a nervous Selection Sunday. Wichita won at Bradley 64-49 on Sunday for a fourth straight win. After trailing by eight points with a minute to play in the first half, WSU outscored the Braves 47-24 the rest of the way. Markis McDuffie finished with nine points and pulled down a career-best 14 rebounds – the most by a Shocker in nearly two years.  Wichita State ranks in the Top-10 nationally in scoring margin (3rd, +18.7), rebound margin (6th, +8.9) and field goal percentage defense (8th .382). A win here make Gregg Marshall the 32nd active Division I coach with 250+ wins at his current school.

Drake is 7-15 overall and 5-5 in the MVC. It has alternated wins and losses over the past six and comes off a 71-63 home defeat to Northern Iowa. Drake had won five in a row at home. The Bulldogs shot just 38.5 percent overall and 6-for-29 from long range. While Wichita leads the MVC in scoring at 81.6 points per game, Drake is No. 2 at 75.2. In their last six home games, the Bulldogs are averaging 88.2 points per game while shooting 47.4 percent from the floor and 41.0 percent from the arc. Drake has dropped 10 in a row to Wichita State. It was 90-65 in Wichita on Jan. 4. The Shockers dominated the boards and had 26 second-chance points. WSU is 7-2-1 ATS on NCAA basketball odds in the past 10 meetings.

NCAAB Free Pick: Wichita State -17

Best Line Offered: Heritage

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Syracuse At NC State (Pick’em)

Important ACC game for both schools as neither is likely an NCAA Tournament at-large team yet, and of course the Orange reached the 2016 Final Four after barely sneaking into the Big Dance. Syracuse (13-9, 5-4) comes off its best performance of the season and first win over a ranked team with an 82-72 home victory over No. 6 Florida State on Sunday. Andrew White scored 24 points to go with nine rebounds, and John Gillon had 21 points and matched his career high with 11 assists. White III leads the ACC in 3-point field goals per game with a 3.2 per game average. Since a season-opening four-game winning streak, SU hasn’t won three straight as it tries to do so here.

It would be a shame if NC State (14-8, 3-6) misses the NCAA Tournament because the Wolfpack have a spectacular freshman point guard in Dennis Smith Jr., a lock 2017 NBA lottery pick. He’s averaging 19.0 points, 6.5 assists, 4.4 rebounds and 2.2 steals per game. NCSU has lost five of seven, however. It was crushed at No. 13 Louisville 85-60 on Sunday. Smith struggled in shooting 3-for-12 with eight points and five turnovers against that excellent Cardinals defense. In the last three games, junior forward Abdul-Malik Abu is averaging 17.3 points and 7.3 rebounds. He is shooting 63.9 percent from the field. Meanwhile, in NC State’s wins this season, opponents are shooting 39.2 percent from the field and averaging 70.3. In the Wolfpack’s losses, opponents are shooting 49.5 percent and averaging 90.8 points.

Syracuse leads the series 6-3 and won 75-66 at home last year. This year’s Orange are really struggling on the road and have failed to cover their past six away from home.

NCAAB Free Pick: NC State At Pick’em

Best Line Offered: BetOnline

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