And the beat goes on...beat the bookie, that is. After a clean 3-0 sweep with Thursday's NCAA Basketball Picks, our capper is back with more predictions as conference tourneys heat up.
(5) Memphis vs. (4) Temple - AAC Quarterfinals
The American Athletic Conference is dragging everything out to the bitter end, their tournament championship not taking pace until mid-afternoon on Sunday which will leave the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee scrambling before releasing its Field of 68. Not that it really matters to either the Memphis Tigers or Temple Owls, both of whom need to win the league tourney to impress the committee enough for an invite.
Well, that might not be fair to the Owls who are sitting on the bubble to get to the Big Dance and could get in without winning the AAC Tournament. But they'll need to at least advance beyond this 4/5 matchup with Memphis, tip-ff coming a bit past 2 PM (ET) on ESPN2, and the college basketball odds suggest Temple will with the Owls -3.
Memphis (18-13 straight up, 13-15 against the spread) is not expected to have leading scorer and All-AAC player Austin Nichols for Friday's fight. The sophomore forward hurt his right ankle in early February, then reinjured it in a loss to Tulsa two weeks ago.
Temple (22-9 SU, 14-13-1 ATS) sloughed off at the end of the schedule dropping three of its final four games. All three setbacks came to the trio of squads seeded higher than the Owls in this tournament - SMU, Tulsa and Cincinnati.
The only regular season meeting came a week after the Super Bowl in Memphis, Temple rallying for a 61-60 win after trailing by 10 at the half. Favored by 3½ at home, the Tigers led by as many as 16 but were never able to keep the Owls at bay. Memphis had won the previous four meetings and lead the all-time series, 7-6, 2-1 on neutral courts.
Without Nichols, it's tough to get behind Memphis and so I won't. Fran Dunphy gets his 500th victory and Temple covers to get my free NCAA Basketball Picks rolling.
NCAA Basketball Picks: Temple -3
(7) Indiana vs. (2) Maryland - Big Ten Quarterfinals
Mark Turgeon and the Maryland Terrapins provided us with one of the best stories this season as they exceeded expectations to finish second to Wisconsin in the Big Ten along with a No. 8 ranking in the latest AP and coaches polls. But now it's time to prove that wasn't a fluke as they begin their postseason schedule in the conference quarters against the Indiana Hoosiers.
You'll need the Big Ten Network to catch this 6:30 PM (ET) contest, and it should be a good one if the NCAA basketball odds are any indication. Maryland is only favored by 2 points, the total yet to be released.
Indiana (20-12 SU, 15-16 ATS) advanced to this round with a 71-56 victory over Northwestern on Thursday, easily covering a 4 point spread with the final falling a dozen short of a 139 total. Maryland (26-5 SU, 11-15-2 ATS) has been idle since closing out its schedule last Sunday with a 64-61 decision at Nebraska, the Terrapins' 7th-straight win.
That streak started with a 68-66 triumph over Indiana on February 11, avenging a 19-point setback in Bloomington a few weeks earlier. Tom Crean and the Hoosiers covered each meeting, but the third time should be the charm for Turgeon and the Terps.
NCAA Basketball Picks: Maryland -3
(6) Xavier vs. (2) Georgetown - Big East Semifinals
The only upset in the quarterfinals of the Big East Tournament at Madison Square Garden was pulled off by the Xavier Musketeers, and it wasn't that big of a shocker in a 67-61 win over Butler who closed as 1½ point chalk.
The Musketeers will now look for a second upset in Friday's semifinal matchup against the Georgetown Hoyas. FOX Sports 1 has the tip around 9:30 PM (ET), and the Hoyas are -2 on the NCAA basketball betting board.
Xavier (20-12 SU, 15-15 ATS) and Georgetown (21-9 SU, 11-15-1 ATS) opened their league slates against one another on New Year's Eve, a 70-53 Hoyas win in Cincinnati as 5 point 'dogs. Georgetown followed that up with a 66-53 victory at home a month later to cover the -4 line, and I'm liking the Hoyas to make it 3-for-3 with my last free college basketball pick.
NCAA Basketball Picks: Georgetown -2 at 5Dimes
Season: 71-59 (+6.10)