I’m not sure about everyone else, but I’m exhausted after that huge Saturday of college basketball. We had amazing finishes, back and forth games, and tournament births clinched. This is the time of the year that I live for, and I hope everyone else is enjoying the ride. We have a little bit of a smaller slate today, the main matchups coming out of the Big Ten, where a lot is still to be determined for a bunch of teams. Both of my NCAA basketball picks come from there today.
This matchup features two teams in the Big Ten who pretty safely have their tournament tickets punched. There is still plenty to play for on both ends with conference tournament and big dance seeding on the line.
I am leaning towards the under in this game. Iowa has been a very confusing team to me all season long. They are one of the top offenses in the NCAA this season, ranking inside the top 20 in both points per game and offensive efficiency. They are also one of the poorer defenses in the country, tied for 237th in the nation in points allowed per game. You’d think that would make them pretty likely to hit some overs, right?
Wrong. They are just 13-17 on overs this season. It doesn’t quite add up, but at the end of the day, it does come down to both teams doing their part to hit an over. Today, I think this continues as they head to Champaign to take on the Illini.
Illinois, while a solid team this season, is an average team offensively. They rank in the middle of the pack in points per game this season, scoring 70.5 per contest. They do not hit threes, which is a big reason why I’m playing this under. In fact, they hit just 5.4 threes per game, tying them for 315th in the country. Woof.
They have also struggled to go over in a lot of games this season, going 11-16-2 on overs to date. They are 5-10-1 on overs on their home court, which is where this game is being played today. When these two teams played earlier in the season, the total went under by 10 points. I expect it to go under again today.
THE PICK: UNDER 149
This is the game I’m most excited for today. Maryland has a chance to take home a piece of the Big Ten title in front of their home fans. They are facing a very strong Michigan team who is a lock for the tournament and will be trying to improve their seeding while also trying to play spoiler.
This pick goes against a lot of my typical criteria. Maryland has not been a good team against the spread as of late. They are 0-4-1 against the spread in their last five games. Not great. However, I am relying a lot on the importance of this game and the home-court advantage to get them there.
Three out of those five games haven’t just been losses against the spread, they have been losses straight up. Less than two weeks ago, Maryland was projected as a 2-seed in the big dance. Now, they are looking at a 4-seed. They have a ton to prove in this game, and winning a piece of the Big Ten championship would certainly help their case come Selection Sunday. This is also the last home game of the season for the Terps, and Senior Day. That means it’s the last home game for Anthony Cowan Jr., who is their leading scorer. Call me a sucker, but that means something to me. I think he brings his A-game this afternoon and makes Michigan pay.
THE PICK – MARYLAND -4.5
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