Back in November this handicapper recommended a handful of college basketball teams for NCAA futures bets. Some of those teams have disappointed us so far. Two of them play Sunday. Do we stick with them, or play the fade?
Illinois vs. Nebraska
The Huskers, one of our futures picks who's disappointed so far this season, host the Illini for a Big Ten tilt.
We expected good things out of Nebraska this season, with four starters back from the team that went to the NCAA tournament last season. We even put a small futures bet in on the Huskers to win the national championship, at NCAA basketball odds of 100/1. But so far Nebraska has struggled, losing to, among others, Creighton, something called Incarnate Word and Hawaii, then dropping its first two Big Ten games, to Indiana and Iowa. But perhaps the Huskers found a spark last time out, when they shot 49 percent from the floor and beat Rutgers 65-49, covering as 10-point favorites.
But at 9-6 overall Nebraska needs a solid Big Ten campaign to return to the Big Dance.
Illinois started 6-0 this season, the best win coming against Baylor, but since then the Illini are just 5-5 SU, 2-7 ATS. Illinois also lost its first two Big ten games, at Michigan and at Ohio State. But the Illini broke through with a mild upset over Maryland last time out, winning 64-57 as one-point dogs.
Bottom line; we think Nebraska is a better team than it's shown so far, while Illinois has only been a .500 team as of late. And in believing the Huskers are still headed for an upper-division finish in the Big Ten we'll take them today, the home team at a short spread.
Free College Basketball Pick: Nebraska -2.5 at BetOnline
Florida State vs. Syracuse
The 9-6 Seminoles, another of our futures picks, visit the Orange at the Carrier Dome Sunday night.
We thought FSU had a chance for a top-five finish in the ACC this season, and we played the Seminoles at odds of 220/1 to win the NCAA tournament. But Florida State started 1-3, losing games to Northeastern, Providence and UMass. About a month ago the 'Noles sat at 4-5, and had just suspended their leading scorer. But Florida State has rallied and won five of its last six games, including a win over Florida. Last time out the Seminoles knocked off Virginia Tech 86-75, covering as nine-point favorites. So perhaps they've found a little momentum for this ACC campaign.
Syracuse, meanwhile, since a 6-4 start, has won its last five games in a row, after winning at Georgia Tech Wednesday night 46-45. But the Orange are also 0-3 ATS over their last three games, because they couldn't cover as 18-point favorites against Cornell, or as nine-point favorites against Virginia Tech, or as four-point favorites against the Ramblin' Wreck.
Some books opened their line on this game with Syracuse favored by as much as 12 points. But a lot of wallets must be thinking like we are, because most shops later dropped the Orange to -9.5. We don't usually like going with the betting flow, but in this case, the flow might be right. In thinking better things lie ahead for FSU we like the Seminoles as our NCAA basketball pick.
Free College Basketball Pick: Florida State +9.5 at 5Dimes