The MAC treated us well Tuesday night, offering up two winners against the spread on our free picks of the day. Let's see how the Big Ten and the Big 12 feel about our choices for Wednesday night.
Backing the Bears
Big Dance probables from the Big 12 hook up when Baylor drops in on Iowa State.
Baylor won back-to-back games last week over Texas Tech and Kansas State, balancing the ship after losing two straight to Oklahoma State and Kansas just before that. The Bears shot 49 percent from the floor Saturday against the Wildcats, and made eight of 16 shots from 3-point range.
Big-picture, with 20 wins and an 8-6 mark in Big 12 play Baylor is just about assured of a spot in the NCAA tournament. Just about.
Iowa State has won three in a row, after beating Oklahoma State and Texas, both on the road, last week.
And just before that the Cyclones beat West Virginia by 20. At 20-6 overall and 10-4 in conference play Iowa State can tie Kansas for first place with a victory tonight.
Iowa State is 14-0 SU at home this season, but only 6-5 ATS.
Baylor beat ISU in the first meeting between the teams this season 74-73 back in January in Waco. The Bears led that game by 14 with about nine minutes to go, but let the Cyclones back in it, before hitting a game-winning shot in the final seconds.
Iowa State may be looking for revenge tonight, and the Hilton Coliseum should be rockin', with a shot at first place, but sometimes things like that can work against a team. How many times have we seen teams handed a gift – in the Cyclones' case, the recent Kansas losses – only to choke on it?
Yes, Iowa State is likely to win this game outright, but we like the dog and the points in what should be a close, tough contest.
Free NCAA Basketball Pick: Baylor +6.5 at Pinnacle
Big Ten Border Battle
A pair of NCAA tournament hopefuls from the Heartland meet when Illinois visits Iowa.
Iowa is a streaky outfit; it began Big Ten play with four wins in five games, then lost three in a row; it then won two in a row, including a victory over Maryland that looks pretty good right now, but then lost two more in a row, at home to Minnesota and at Northwestern. Now, the Hawkeyes have won two more in a row, beating Rutgers 81-47 and Nebraska 74-46 last week.
At 17-10 overall and 8-6 in Big Ten play Iowa is bubbling; a loss tonight might not be fatal to its Big Dance chances, but it certainly wouldn't help.
Illinois, the underdog in tonight's NCAA Basketball odds, meanwhile, recently won four in a row to play itself into NCAA tournament consideration, but has lost its last two in a row, at Wisconsin and Sunday at home to Michigan State 60-53. The Illini went cold in the second half Sunday, fell down by 11, rallied and had a chance to tie in the final minute but ran out of gas.
At 17-10 overall and 7-7 in conference play Illinois is probably a notch behind Iowa in the bubble battle. A win tonight would be a very nice resume-enhancer.
Iowa is a team that can't seem to enjoy its own success. Back in January the Hawkeyes beat Ohio State, then lost by 30 to Wisconsin, the first of three L's in a row. They then beat Maryland by 16, but followed that up with a loss at home to Minnesota. Now they've won two more in a row. Why do we get the feeling Iowa is ripe for a stinker tonight?
Illinois isn't the greatest team in the world, but it's still got something to play for. Just like our pick above, we like the dog and the points for our NCAA Basketball picks.
Free NCAA Basketball Pick: Illinois +8 at 5Dimes