As March Madness approaches, the importance of these college basketball matchups increases exponentially. Here are two picks we have confidence in for Monday.
Prospects of an undefeated season have quickly evaporated, as the Orange have now lost two games in a row ahead of tonight's matchup against Maryland.
Syracuse will come in favored by 4 to 4.5 points in the college basketball betting odds, with the total opening at 131. These two teams haven't squared off against each other this season and this will be the first meeting since 2008.
The Orange, three days after a shocking home loss to Boston College, fell by six at Duke over the weekend. A controversial call had Jim Boeheim livid and his subsequent ejection all but ended the game.
In a game where points were hard to come by, Jerami Grant and C.J. Fair were the only two members of Syracuse to score in double figures. Grant was most effective with 17 points and eight rebounds, with Tyler Ennis (2-of-13 FG) struggling with his shot but still putting up a 9/6/4 line.
Those thinking Syracuse will be steamrolling over the Terrapins tonight may want to re-consider. Maryland has had some tough losses in ACC play, but they shouldn't be taken lightly whatsoever.
This is a well-balanced team that has five different players who average double-digit scoring, led by Dez Wells with 14.8 points per game. Jake Layman, Seth Allen and Nick Faust round out the top guard options, while Evan Smotrycz and Charles Mitchell provide the size. Smotrycz can also step out and hit the three.
We expect the Terrapins to really give the Orange another fight for their lives tonight. Syracuse may squeak out the straight up win, but we're taking the points and going with Maryland at home.
NCAA Basketball Pick: Maryland Terrapins +4.5
Oklahoma State Cowboys vs. TCU Horned Frogs
The streak is finally over. Marcus Smart returned and helped Oklahoma State end a seven-game losing run in an easy 84-62 home win over Texas Tech this past weekend.
Smart returned in style, scoring 16 points to go along with 10 assists, three rebounds, six steals and two blocks. Phil Forte hit four threes en route to 20 points and Markel Brown, Le'Bryan Nash and Kamari Murphy all scored in double figures as well.
Now that the Cowboys have gotten back to winning and have their best all-around player back, we look for them to finish out their regular season strong in preparation for a run in the NCAA tournament.
Tonight they come up against the worst team in the conference in TCU. The Horned Frogs have yet to win a single game since Big 12 play begun, meaning they take a 14-game losing streak into this evening's battle with Oklahoma State.
Obviously the effort level will be there for a desperate TCU squad, but in the end we believe the gulf in talent will prove too much. There's also a chance Amric Fields, who averages 13.1 PPG and 6.1 RPG for the Horned Frogs, won't be able to play because of a knee injury. Therefore, we're steering clear of the hosts and recommending that readers back Oklahoma State to record their second straight win.
The Cowboys beat the Horned Frogs by 32 in the first meeting last month and, while we may not see that big of a blowout, we do think Oklahoma State will end up cruising to the win and ATS cover.
Back the Cowboys to wrap up our college basketball picks for the day.
NCAA Basketball Pick: Oklahoma State Cowboys -11.5