It's a small slate of games tonight, but it's a slate that's packed with punch. We've run over the available college basketball odds and believe we've got a good read on a couple of these upcoming matchups.
Virginia Cavaliers vs. Syracuse Orange
The Cavaliers remain atop the highly competitive ACC, and have a two-game cushion on Duke, but they should be in for a dogfight tonight against the Orange. Current NCAA Basketball odds show Virginia favored by 5.5 points despite being out on the road on this occasion. The O/U is at 113, so obviously oddsmakers believe points are going to be very hard to come by.
Good times have been aplenty for Virginia, a team that's won eight straight games after its one and only conference loss to the Blue Devils. The Cavaliers have really locked in defensively all season, but they've been even more dominant in that regard recently, holding opponents to 49 or less points in five of their last seven games. Over the weekend they outlasted Virginia Tech in a 69-57 home win, as Malcolm Brodgdon scored a team-high 19 points.
The Orange, despite their best efforts, haven't been able to match that type of success. However, they've picked up some nice wins themselves this season, and they're not going to go down easy come NCAA tournament time, that much we know. Overall Syracuse is sitting at 18-11, while going 9-7 in ACC play. Rakeem Christmas has been the team's best player and the Orange will need him to have a good game if they want to exploit Virginia's top-notch defense.
And, when push comes to shove, we actually do think Syracuse will keep this game close and cover as home dogs. Looking at the total, it's clear that this is going to be a defensive struggle, and that's a style of game that the Orange are used to. They may not be able to win straight up (we wouldn't be surprised if they did, though), but Syracuse should get up for this and we think there's definitely value to be had on the home team.
NCAA Basketball Pick: Syracuse Orange +5.5 at BetOnline
Iowa State Cyclones vs. Oklahoma Sooners
As opposed to the game discussed above, tonight's battle between Iowa State and Oklahoma should feature a lot of offense. But first, how is the spread looking for this Big 12 showdown? The Cyclones are favored by 5.5 points on their home court, while the total is all the way up at 151. That's quite a big difference from Syracuse/Virginia.
Iowa State has hit a bit of a snag here lately, losing consecutive games. The Cyclones lost by nine at home to Baylor and then dropped a heartbreaker (by one point) at Kansas State. They're 20-8 overall and 10-6 in conference action, and they'll be looking to close out the regular season with wins over both Oklahoma at home and then TCU on the road. Building up some momentum heading into the Big 12 tournament wouldn't be the worst thing in the world.
As for the Sooners, they've been on a good run of form, having won three straight and eight of their last nine. Included in there are wins over this same Iowa State as well as West Virginia, both of whom were ranked coming in. Oklahoma has been leaning on the likes of Buddy Hield, Isaiah Cousins, TaShawn Thomas and Ryan Spangler, but it's Hield that has become the go-to guy for the team.
Tonight's game inside Hilton Coliseum should be highly entertaining and we should be seeing a breathless, very up-tempo matchup. And, while the Cyclones have been less than convincing as of late, this sets up as a good spot for them to get back on track. They'll be at home, where they've been mostly excellent despite a couple hiccups here and there. We are willing to place our NCAA basketball picks expecting them to rise to the occasion and win by a least six against the Sooners.
NCAA Basketball Pick: Iowa State Cyclones -5.5