Harvard Crimson vs. Yale Bulldogs
The Crimson are trying to nail down the Ivy League championship. Harvard has a two-game lead over Yale, leading the Bulldogs in the Ivy standings, 11-1 to 9-3. A victory here would give Yale no real path to the championship and send Harvard to the NCAA tournament, for all practical intents and purposes. Yale, with a win, would set up an exciting and close finish in the Ivy League race. This game is on Yale’s home floor, but Harvard – which won an NCAA tournament game last season when it shocked New Mexico – has lost only four times all season. As a bettor, you should be willing to trust Harvard on the college basketball odds.
Pick: Harvard -7
Southern Illinois Salukis vs. Northern Iowa Panthers
This is a game in which the winner will play the very next day. This is because the Salukis and Panthers are meeting in the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament, also known as “Arch Madness” due to the fact that the event is held in St. Louis. The Salukis, in the 1990s and into the first few years of this century, were an elite program that battled with Creighton for league supremacy. Now, though, the Salukis have fallen on hard times – they’ve been poor for the past six years and show no real signs of improving. Northern Iowa has been roughed up by injuries this season, but the school that pulled off a magical March upset of Kansas in 2010 is probably going to have too much for Southern Illinois.
Pick: Northern Iowa -4.5
Wisconsin-Milwaukee Panthers vs. Valparaiso Crusaders
This is another conference tournament game, so while it might seem easy to evaluate teams solely on how good they are, one of the realities of conference tournaments is that they involve neutral-site games. Most conference tournaments use such a format so that they can gather all the schools and all the fan bases in one central location for three or four days, throwing a party but also creating a measure of convenience for everyone in the league. There’s just one problem with all this as far as the Wisconsin-Milwaukee Panthers are concerned: The Horizon League Tournament is in Valparaiso, Ind., this year. That’s going to give Valpo a decided advantage in the quarterfinals and offer the Crusaders a realistic chance of winning the whole tournament.
Pick: Valparaiso -3.5