Things continue to heat up in the College Basketball world, and with March Madness right around the corner, a single loss can cost a team a spot in the NCAA Tournament.
Let’s take a look at some of tonight’s biggest matchups and decide where we can find the best value for our NCAA Basketball picks.
Wisconsin (17-7, 8-3) at Minnesota (17-7, 5-6)
After watching Wisconsin dispose of #3 Michigan in overtime, I’m a huge Ben Brust fan. Not for betting purposes, but for his general enthusiasm and ability to come through in the clutch.
After a 3-point bomb from Tim Hardaway Jr. in the final seconds of regulation, it looked as if Michigan were to dodge a bullet and leave Madison with a victory. Instead, it was Ben Brust who hoisted a half-court, game tying basket to put this game into overtime and then Brust hit a clutch 3-pointer in overtime to put the icing on the cake. This sent the Wolverines home with a loss and Wisconsin with a huge win, 65-62.
This marks the second consecutive time that the Badgers had to seal the deal in overtime, and despite their seven losses, Wisconsin is back in the top 25.
The Art of Defense
Holding big-time teams to only 40 or 50 points and playing a lethargic type of slow paced basketball has gotten Wisconsin into contention as one of the top rated teams in a highly contested Big-Ten Conference.
Another reason for Wisky’s success has been the play of Jared Berggren. Berggren is a player that comes up with the big basket and clogs up the middle defensively.
Brust was the hero against Michigan, but Berggren came up with a monstrous 16 point, 14 rebound, and 7 blocked shots effort against Iowa. It’s arguable about who’s the leader on Wisconsin, but without the consistent effort that Jared Berggren gives, the Badgers would be lucky to be on the bubble.
Out for Revenge?
Minnesota needs to win this game as they carry a sub.500 record in the conference. They would also like to pay back Wisconsin for a 45-44 loss that they endured at the hands of the Badgers when they were the 12th ranked team in the country in late January. Aside from Andre Hollins’ 20 points, the other 4 Golden Gophers starters amassed just 14 points. It was an ugly game, and we might see the same again despite Wisconsin’s momentum.
The NCAA Basketball odds makers have listed Minnesota as a 5 point betting favorite and the total for the game is 118.5. As much as the UNDER looks appealing, I’m going to side with Wisky.
NCAA Basketball Pick: Wisconsin +5 at 5 Dimes
Iowa (15-9, 4-7) at Penn State (8-15, 0-11)
For the second of my free sports picks, I have decided to take a look at the matchup between Penn State and Iowa.
The Penn State Nittany Lions are still looking for their 1st Big-Ten Conference win of the season, and as an 8 point betting underdog at home, they’ll have to put forth their best effort to get it here. This is crunch time in NCAA Basketball, and it’s also a must win game for Iowa, as they could lose any hopes of a post season.
With no big wins on their resume other than an interconference victory over Wisconsin, Iowa needs to beat up on the bottom feeders. These teams have met once before this season with Iowa coming up with a 76-67 victory on January 31st. Is it possible for Penn State to pull off the upset here?
11 Consecutive Losses
Interconference play separates the men from the boys, and when you average just 60 points, 9 assists, and 38.3% shooting per game; you better have a really good defense. Unfortunately for Penn State, they don’t have the defense of Wisconsin, but they do have two players that can put the ball in the ocean in D.J. Newbill and Jermaine Marshall.
Newbill has been a consistent producer for the Nittany Lions, averaging 18 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 4.3 assists in his last 3 games. Expect a near 20 point game from Newbill. The problem with Penn State is they have no legitimate 3-point shooters and nobody that’s a pure shooter.
Forward, Aaron White, is that consistent shooter that Penn State lacks, but he’s been cold as of late for Iowa. White has shot just 7 of 25 from the field in his last 3 games. Look for Roy Devyn Marble to possibly build off of a huge performance against Northwestern in which he led the Hawkeyes in points (21), rebounds (5), and assists (5).
This isn’t the most exciting matchup to witness, but Penn State is awful and Iowa desperately needs this game where the post-season is concerned.
NCAA Basketball Pick: Iowa -8 at 5 Dimes[gameodds]14/220691/43/us[/gameodds]