NCAA Basketball Picks Of The Day: Win Big Before Super Bowl 50

Matthew Jordan

Sunday, February 7, 2016 12:10 AM UTC

Sunday, Feb. 7, 2016 12:10 AM UTC

The NCAA (or the schools) was smart enough to not schedule any games opposite Super Bowl 50 on Sunday, with the final tipoff at 4 p.m. ET between Utah and Oregon in the Pac-12. Here are my top picks for the day with Heritage's NCAA Basketball odds.

No. 5 Iowa vs. Illinois (+11)      
This could be a huge Big Ten trap game for Iowa (18-4, 9-1) as the Hawkeyes entered the weekend tied atop the standings with Indiana. Those two play on Tuesday in Bloomington so it might be easy for the Hawkeyes to overlook Illinois (11-12, 3-7) in the only regular-season meeting between the schools.  Iowa has followed a close loss to Maryland with back-to-back home blowouts of Northwestern and Penn State. A whopping 15 of Iowa's 18 wins have come by at least 10 points, with seven by at least 20. Iowa is also the only team in the country to rank in the Top 15 in both offensive (sixth) and defensive (12th) efficiency. Iowa's three losses are by a combined 12 points and to lock NCAA Tournament teams Iowa State, Notre Dame and Dayton. The Illini ended a two-game losing streak with a 110-101 triple-overtime win at Big Ten winless Rutgers on Monday. Malcolm Hill had 32 points to lead the Illini. That game was crazy as Rutgers' best player missed the potential winning free throw with 3.3 seconds remaining in regulation and Illinois then blew a seven-point advantage with about 30 seconds left in the first OT. The Illini have two forwards questionable for Sunday in Mike Thorne Jr. and Michael Finke. Thorne averages 12.9 points and 8.5 rebounds and has missed the past four. Finke (9.0 ppg, 4.0  rpg) missed just the Rutgers game with a knee issue.

Take Illinois with your NCAA Basketball picks. I don't expect the Illini to win, but I think they keep things relatively close. Call it a hunch. Plus there is the look-ahead factor for the Hawkeyes.

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NCAA Basketball Pick: Illinois +11 
Best Line Offered: at Heritage


No. 12 SMU vs. South Florida (+16)
SMU (19-2, 8-3) has a one-game lead over Cincinnati and Temple for the American Athletic Conference lead entering the weekend and all the Mustangs have to play for this season is a regular-season conference title because they are ineligible for any postseason play. The Mustangs have put the AAC title back in play by losing two of their past three -- both on the road. They were upset 71-68 in Houston on Monday. SMU was up five at the half but shot only 8-for-27 after intermission in scoring 29 points. Nic Moore led the Mustangs with 16 points. They lead the conference in scoring (79.4 ppg), shooting, rebounding and assists. South Florida (5-19, 2-9) is pretty terrible, ahead of only Tulane in the AAC standings, but the Green Wave have three more overall wins entering the weekend.  The Bulls weren't competitive on Thursday in an 88-57 loss at Cincinnati. The bright spot was 17 points from Jahmal McMurray. He leads all AAC freshmen in scoring at 15.0 ppg and is averaging 21.0 over his past four. USF is one of the nation's worst scoring teams at 63.2 ppg.  USF lost at SMU 72-58 on Jan. 2. The Mustangs shot just 41.1 percent from the field but their bench outscored USF's 17-1. It was SMU's first game after learning that one of its best players, guard Keith Frazier, had left the team.

Back South Florida at +16 NCAA Basketball odds. It's the Bulls' biggest home game of the season so they will cover. The Mustangs have covered just one of their past seven vs. teams with a losing record. USF is 4-0 ATS in its past four after an ATS loss.

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NCAA Basketball Pick: South Florida +16
Best Line Offered: at Heritage


Utah vs. No. 16 Oregon (-5.5)
The Utes (17-6, 6-4) are in good shape for an at-large NCAA Tournament bid but don't want to push things with a late-season fade. Utah had been playing arguably its best basketball of the season with a five-game winning streak before going to Oregon State on Thursday and losing 71-69. That ending was wild. OSU took a two-point lead with 13 seconds left and then made the stupid decision to foul Utah's Jordan Loveridge behind the 3-point arc with under three seconds left. He made all three for a one-point lead. Oregon State had to inbound the ball from under its own basket so it was unlikely to get off a good shot. So what happened? Utah's Brandon Taylor fouled Beavers freshman Stephen Thompson Jr. on a half-court try at the buzzer. Thompson made all three for the unlikely win. Oregon (19-4, 8-2) leads the Pac-12. The Ducks bring a five-game winning streak into this one, including a very impressive 83-75 victory at No. 18 Arizona last Thursday to end the Wildcats' national-best 49-game home winning streak. The Ducks were able get some revenge for one of their two conference losses with a 76-65 win over Colorado on Thursday to improve to 14-0 at home this season; the Buffs had beaten Oregon 91-87 in Boulder on Jan. 17. Oregon won in Utah on Jan. 14, 77-59. The Ducks got 21 points and eight rebounds from Dillon Brooks and never trailed. Oregon shot 55 percent to just 34 for Utah. Star Utes center Jakob Poeltl had seven points, more than 10 below his season average. Side with Oregon.  The Utes are 1-5 ATS in their past six Sunday games. Oregon is 14-3 ATS in its past 17 at home. The Ducks have covered the past five meetings. 

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NCAA Basketball Pick: Oregon -5.5
Best Line Offered: at Heritage 

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