Willie’s NCAAB season picks record: 22-15-2 (+6.20 units)
Wednesday, 7 p.m. ET (ESPN2)
Free NCAAB Pick: NC State ATS
Best Line Offered: BetOnline
You only get one chance to make a good first impression, as the old saying goes. For Auburn and North Carolina State, Wednesday’s clash in Raleigh is more like a last chance to make a good impression on the NCAA Tournament selection committee before tough conference schedules begin for the Tigers and Wolfpack.
Auburn benefitted from Gonzaga’s second loss of the season to inch up a spot to seventh in the AP Poll, NC State lurking just outside the rankings in the season’s seventh week. With the spread hovering around a pick ‘em and the total hitting 160 or so, this should be the most entertaining matchup on the Hump Day card.
‘Pack 5-2 ATS In 7 Home Tilts
Bruce Pearl’s troops have just the one loss to then-No. 1 Duke at the Maui Invitational, still managing to stay within the +11 spread on the NCAA basketball odds in the 78-72 setback. The Tigers have won all five games since then, including a sound whipping of Arizona in the 3rd-place game out in Maui, but they’ve failed to cover the spread in their last three triumphs. They reach Raleigh off a narrow victory over UAB in overtime, the Tigers favored by 20 and the hotly-contested affair staying within five points the entire time. Auburn suffered through its worst performance of the season from 3-point range, connecting on just 4-of-22 attempts.
Kevin Keatts’ club also has one lone defeat, a 79-75 setback just after Thanksgiving at Wisconsin where Bookmaker was giving North Carolina State backers a half-dozen. The Wolfpack have won and covered all three games since that loss, the latest a very impressive performance in Atlantic City this past Saturday when they pasted an 89-78 decision on Penn State as small chalk. Five NC State shooters scored double-figures, topped by Braxton Beverly’s 18, and the Wolfpack shot a season-best 60.7 percent from the field while netting half of their 14 attempts from beyond the arc.
Last 4 Meetings Decided By 7 Points Or Fewer
The schools have met eight times previously with the Wolfpack up 5-3 in the series, but only one of those matchups took place in the last 43 years. That lone meeting in recent times was at the 2009 Glenn Wilkes Classic in Daytona Beach where North Carolina State went a perfect 3-0 in the tourney thanks to a last-second bucket to beat Auburn, 60-58. The Wolfpack were favored by a point in the matchup with the final failing to reach the total.
This is undoubtedly the toughest test for NC State so far, but it’s also the first real road test for Auburn, and that has me on the Wolfpack at home with my free NCAA basketball pick.