Winning Route is Directly North With Northwestern and Northern Iowa

Charles Stark

Friday, December 22, 2017 2:37 PM UTC

Friday, Dec. 22, 2017 2:37 PM UTC

For Friday’s NCAA basketball action I believe we have two live underdogs we need to look at. Rebounding Northwestern heads south to Oklahoma, and Xavier travels to Northern Iowa in a game of contrasting styles. Can the road underdog and home underdog stay within the number in these solid college matchups?

College Basketball Friday: Northwestern vs. Oklahoma

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Free College Basketball Pick: Northwestern +9Best Line Offered: Heritage

Northwestern didn’t start the season as anticipated but recently has rebounded nicely with four consecutive wins. Today they have a very difficult task playing at Oklahoma, and oddsmakers have made the Sooners solid favorites. For my NCAA pick, though, I’m going to take Northwestern plus the points because I like how they match up, and I think they can take this game to the final couple minutes. Oklahoma has been putting up points better than anybody in the country, averaging 94.2 points per game going at a frenetic pace; they average 68 attempts per game, which ranks fourth in the country. However, Northwestern should be able to mitigate that somehow considering they’re allowing just 50.4 attempts per game, which ranks fifth in the country. Oklahoma has been subpar defensively, allowing opponents to shoot 36 percent and drop 28.5 field goals made per game, ranking them 214th and 296th, respectively. Northwestern is very talented and I like for them to give Oklahoma all they want.

College Basketball Friday: Xavier vs. Northern Iowa

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Free College Basketball Pick: Northern Iowa +6.5Best Line Offered: 5Dimes

This is a game of conflicting styles with up-tempo Xavier coming in as the road favorite, but for my NCAA pick I will back Northern Iowa at home plus the points. Ben Jacobson is probably one of the most underrated coaches in the country and he will have his team ready to take on this very talented Musketeers team. Xavier has been absolutely rolling but I think they’ll find things a lot more difficult against a Northern Iowa team that is the best defensive team they will have faced since taking on Cincinnati. The difference being, though, is they are on the road in this matchup so this could be a lot tougher for them than most people might anticipate. Northern Iowa ranks 20th in the country in opponent shooting efficiency and their overall percentages are very solid. They are allowing just 62.1 points per game, which ranks 13th in the country. Xavier comes in with some nice offensive statistics, and defensively they been good as well, but this is just too many points for them to give up against a well-coached solid defensive team on the road.

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