NCAA Basketball Picks of the Day: Best Value Plays for Sunday's Card

Matthew Jordan

Saturday, January 2, 2016 8:20 PM UTC

Saturday, Jan. 2, 2016 8:20 PM UTC

It's obviously a huge week in the NFL with it being the end of  the regular season, but don't overlook NCAA basketball odds. There are some solid games on Sunday's.

Illinois vs. Ohio State
Are the Illini (8-6, 0-1 Big Ten) an NCAA Tournament-quality team. I'd say no thus far with losses to teams like North Florida and Chattanooga. They did take a five-game winning streak in Wednesday's Big Ten opener at home against unranked Michigan, but the Wolverines prevailed 78-68. Mark Donnal scored seven during a 9-2 run to open the second half that put the Wolverines in front for good. Kendrick Nunn had 23 points to lead Illinois. If this team misses the NCAA Tournament again, Coach John Groce won't be back next season -- although the school first has to hire an athletic director to make any decisions. Ohio State (9-5, 1-0) opened conference play with a 78-63 home win over Minnesota. Marc Loving led the Buckeyes with 20. OSU improved to 7-0 this season when outrebounding its opponent and had a season-high 24 assists (on 29 field goals) vs. the Gophers. Ohio State is now 114-13 (.897) at home since the 2009-10 season, the most home wins in the country. The Buckeyes are 61-3 against unranked conference opponents at home under Coach Thad Matta. Illinois and Ohio State played once last season and the Buckeyes, then ranked 20th, won 77-61 at home. D'Angelo Russell, now a rookie with the Lakers, had 22 points to lead the Buckeyes. Loving had 13. The Illini fell to 2-12 at Value City Arena. The Illini have covered only one of their past eight games. OSU is 6-1-1 ATS in its past eight at home add them as the NCAA basketball pick. The home team is 6-2 ATS in the past eight meetings.

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NCAA Basketball Pick: Ohio State -8
Best Line Offered: at BetOnline


Wichita State vs. Bradley
Wichita State (7-5, 1-0) was a heavy favorite to repeat in the Missouri Valley Conference but the Shockers have underachieved, although injuries have played a big role. WSU's five non-conference losses this year equaled its combined total from the previous four seasons. From 2011-15 the Shockers were 45-5 in non-conference play. Wichita opened MVC play with a 67-4 home win over Drake on Thursday for its 38th consecutive home victory (fourth longest in MVC history). The Shockers allowed only 16 field goals while forcing 18 turnovers. It was the eighth time in the past three seasons WSU created more turnovers than it allowed baskets. Fred VanVleet had 13 points and six assists. He went over 500 assists career, the 14th player in conference history to do so. The senior missed four games due to injury earlier this season and the Shockers were 1-3 without him.  Bradley (2-12, 0-1) has only beaten Ball State and something called Maryville (Mo.) this season. The Braves lost a third straight Wednesday, 80-44 at Northern Iowa. Bradley led 7-4 lead but then went more than seven minutes without a score and UNI took control. The Braves were 0-for-6 with six turnovers during the drought. Wichita swept Bradley last year, but the game in Peoria was just a 3-point win. VanVleet made two free throws with 4.6 seconds left, and then Bradley's ensuing inbounds pass was stolen. WSU is 1-5 ATS in its past six road games. The home team has covered four of the past five.

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NCAAB Free Pick: Bradley +17.5
Best Line Offered: at Heritage


Oregon vs. Oregon State 
Oregon (11-2) was ranked for a while and might be back in the AP Top 25 on Monday with a win in the Pac-12 opener against its bitter rival. That the Ducks are 11-2 is pretty good considering Jordan Bell missed eight games with a broken foot and Dylan Ennis missed 12 with a foot injury. Ennis, a senior transfer, debuted Tuesday in an 88-60 win over Western Oregon. He was projected to start this season but Casey Benson has played well in his spot. He leads the Ducks with 41 assists and with just eight turnovers he stands fourth nationally in assist-to-turnover ratio. Oregon State (9-2) enters on a three-game winning streak. The Beavers could be crazy rusty here as they haven't played since a rout of Quinnipiac on Dec. 21. It's the school's longest stretch of off days in a season since 1998. Oregon State was the worst 3-point shooting team in the Pac-12 last season (32.3 percent) but enters the weekend third at 39.2 percent. OSU's offensive rating has gone from 276th in the country last season to 84th this year. Senior guard Gary Payton II leads the team in points (16.8 per game), rebounds (8.2), assists (5.0) and steals (2.5) and is the only player to rank in the Top 10 of each category in the Pac-12. Oregon State and Oregon meet for the 345th time in the Civil War. It's the most-contested rivalry in college basketball. This is the 11th time the teams have met in the Pac-12 opener. Oregon has won the past eight in that situation, including by 12 last year in Eugene. The Ducks also won by three in Corvallis to close the 2014-15 regular season. The Ducks are 7-1 against the NCAA basketball odds in their past eight Pac-12 games. OSU is 2-9 ATS in its past 11 vs. teams with a winning record. Oregon has covered four straight in the series.

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NCAAB Free Pick: Oregon PK
Best Line Offered: at Pinnacle

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