NCAA Basketball Picks: Lay The Points In Florida St. vs. Syracuse ACC Battle

Willie Bee

Thursday, February 11, 2016 12:27 PM UTC

Thursday, Feb. 11, 2016 12:27 PM UTC

Our lone free NCAA basketball pick today is a big matchup in the ACC where the Syracuse Orange are home favorites against Malik Beasley and the Florida State Seminoles.

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Free NCAA Basketball Pick: Syracuse -3
Best Line Offered: at Bookmaker


Count me among those saddened to see the old BracketBusters games go the way of the dodo a few years back. The opportunity to see two top-notch programs from outside the power conferences was always too difficult for me to pass up, but television eventually won out over quality basketball.

While it's not a BracketBuster, tonight's contest between the Florida State Seminoles and Syracuse Orange is at least a potential bubble buster with both teams needing all the wins they can get at this stage of the schedule. The squads will go at it a little past 7 PM (ET) inside the Carrier Dome, ESPN providing the broadcast, and the Orange are 3 point favorites at Bookmaker. Some sportsbooks are listing 139 for the total while others are going with 141.

Before the Orange joined the ACC, they and the Seminoles met four times, the last coming in 1997 and Syracuse winning three of the meetings. The Orange has since won both encounters as conference opponents to give them a 5-1 record in the overall history of the series.

Syracuse grabbed a 70-57 decision a little more than a year ago on this floor, building a strong first half lead to cover the NCAA basketball odds as 9½ home chalk. Trevor Cooney led the Orange with 28 points, powdering the FSU defense with seven 3-pointers on 11 attempts. The rest of his teammates shot just 13-of-41 from the field (31.7%) to keep the game 'under' a 129 point total after the previous tilt in Tallahassee had just enough to get past a 126 point mark.


Can 'Noles Stretch Win Streak To 5?
Okay, so it hasn't exactly come against the cream of the conference, indeed, three of the wins were over the dregs of the ACC (NC State, Boston College and Wake Forest, but Florida State (16-7 straight up, 9-9-1 against the spread) has won four in a row to at least get back into bubble conversation for the dance. If not for a second half collapse against Pittsburgh, the streak would already be at five and have the Seminoles firmly in the picture.

One of the biggest issues for Leonard Hamilton has been keeping his star freshman Malik Beasley out of foul trouble against more formidable opponents. The 6'-5" guard is a scoring machine, topping the Seminoles with a 17.3 PPG average and connecting on more than 51% of his field goal attempts, but the kid's inexperience on defense often comes through and Beasley has allowed that frustration to get the best of him.

That sets up some interesting matchups out on the perimeter at both ends of the court. The Seminoles have to loosen up the Orange's 2-3 zone by connecting on outside shots, and the battle between Beasley and Syracuse freshman Malachi Richardson is one to watch.


'Cuse Looking To Close Out Perfect 4-Game Homestand
I wouldn't necessarily call it an easy schedule, but the remaining slate for Syracuse (16-8 SU, 11-12 ATS) is at least favorable despite four of the final six games coming on the road. This contest closes a 4-game homestand for the Orange, and is a must-win for Jim Boeheim's boys.

The two really big tests will come about a week from now at Louisville and at UNC on the final day of the month. Syracuse has the two games left with the Seminoles, plus NC State and Boston College along with Pitt at home. The Orange might be able to drop the two against the Tar Heels and Cardinals, but need wins in the other games to gain at least some momentum entering the ACC Tournament.

The total is an interesting play with a 2 point range for bettors to work with, but my free NCAA basketball pick is on the home team minus the points.

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