We look to the Big Ten and the Mountain West for our Plays of the Day, with picks on 2 games involving 3 teams working on improving their NCAA tournament qualifications and seedings. How do we use their motivations to handicap these contests?
Boilers- Spartans in East Lansing
Coming off a tough loss at Ohio State Purdue looks elsewhere for resume-enhancement when it visits Michigan State Wednesday night.
The Boilers had won four in a row, until Sunday's 65-61 loss to the Buckeyes. Purdue led by a dozen at the half at Columbus, but faded late, letting the Buckeyes rally for a victory. Still, in hanging on for the cover as nine-point road dogs the Boilers are now 13-3 ATS in Big Ten play this season.
At 19-10 overall and 11-5 in conference play, with eight wins over its last 10 games, it looks like Purdue has played itself into the NCAA tournament field. However, nothing is for sure just yet, and another victory or two certainly wouldn't hurt, especially one on the road against a quality foe.
Michigan State, meanwhile, had won four in a row itself, but has now lost two straight, after falling at Wisconsin Sunday 68-61. The Spartans trailed by 11 at the half, and by 22 with 15 minutes to go, but rallied and stole a back-door cover as eight-point college basketball odds dogs when Bryn Forbes hit a meaningless 3-pointer with less than 10 seconds to go.
At 19-10 overall and 10-6 in Big Ten play it appears as if MSU has done just enough to earn itself another invitation to the Big Dance.
We picked a winner with Purdue plus the points Sunday against Ohio State, because we liked what we'd seen from the Boilers recently, and we thought Sunday's spread was a tad inflated. And we don't see much reason to wander from that line of thinking for this game. Michigan State has won and covered the last six meetings in this series, but maybe it's time for the Boilers to put an end to that nonsense.
Free College Basketball Pick: Purdue +7 at 5Dimes
Aztecs-Rebs in Vegas
San Diego State, in quest for another Mountain West Conference title, hits Vegas to take on the Runnin' Rebs.
The Aztecs had won four in a row, and seven of eight, but got upset Saturday at home by Boise State 56-46. San Diego State led that game by seven midway through the second half, but went cold, and got outscored 24-7 down the stretch, losing outright as an eight-point favorite.
The Aztecs shot just 33 percent from the floor Saturday, and got pounded on the boards by a 42-31 margin, a rarity for Coach Fisher's squad.
However, in our books a performance like that just sets San Diego State up for a play its next time out. Which happens to be tonight.
Big-picture, the Aztecs are tied for the lead in the MWC with Boise State, and are probably headed back to the Big Dance for the sixth-straight season.
UNLV, meanwhile, had lost four of its previous six games, but picked up a victory Saturday, beating Wyoming 69-57. The Rebs shot 48 percent from the floor, and hit 11 of 19 shots from the trifecta area.
But at 16-13 overall UNLV is falling short of preseason expectations.
San Diego State stunk it up last time out, but we like its chances for a bounce-back effort. And we don't think the Rebs can shoot 11/19 on 3-pointers against this Aztecs defense. Also, SD State has beaten UNLV four times in a row, including a 53-47 decision six weeks ago. So this game looks like a good spot to take the better team on the road with our NCAA Basketball picks, at a manageable spread.
Free College Basketball Pick: San Diego State -4.5 at BetDSI