Free NCAA Basketball Picks and Predictions: Monday 2/27
After a fun week of basketball, the games are starting to get tighter with the conference tournaments coming up. This means that placing bets becomes that much more difficult. It’s difficult enough to predict the outcomes of college basketball, but with teams playing in desperation mode as their seasons come to an end, it’s even harder.
That’s why we’re here. With just three games on tap for Monday it’s important to dive deep into each matchup and understand who holds the edge. With some teams having clinched certain spots in the conference it’s also important to check the lineup right before tip-off in case any of the stars are sitting to get rest. With that in mind, let’s get to it!
#12 West Virginia Mountaineers at #9 Baylor Bears
- West Virginia (+2) at Baylor (-2)
The Bears and Mountaineers meet in Baylor with one thing for certain: neither team is going to win the Big 12 Conference. Kansas locked that up last week for the 13th straight year and both teams are disappointed in letting it slip away. Both teams looked like they had the capability to knock off Kansas this year but it just wasn’t meant to be.
Baylor enters with a 23-6 record overall and a 10-6 mark in the conference and were the number one team in all of college ball back in January. The Mountaineers enter with an identical 23-6 mark overall but a slightly better 11-5 record in the Big 12. They were oh so close to beating Kansas just two weeks ago when they led by seven with just a minute left in the game. Kansas mounted one of their classic comebacks like they’ve done all season and sealed the game in overtime.
There’s not a ton at stake in this game with both teams already set to make the NCAA tournament but there’s always pride and seeding to think about. West Virginia enters with five wins in their last six game and that loss came against Kansas in overtime. The Mountaineers hung on against TCU on Saturday with a last second free throw to win 61-60, while Baylor has been barely keeping it together.
The Bears have just three wins in their last eight games but are still 5-3 against opponents ranked in the top 25 this season. With that being said they haven’t grabbed a win over a ranked opponent since knocking off Kansas State back on January 14th. The Bears do have some excuses though, and they come in the form of injuries. Point guard Manu Lecomte has been playing on a sprained ankle for the last three games and it appears he’s going to miss this big game against West Virginia.
That’s terrible news for the Bears as they go against one of the best press defenses in all of basketball. The Mountaineers made the Bears turn over the ball a wild 29 times in the first meeting between the two teams and are coming off a game where they forced TCU to turn it over 21 times.
The Bears still bang on the glass, can score in the paint, and are long inside. Johnathan Motley is healthy and sometimes he’s all the Bears need to win. He’s averaging 17.3 points and 9.8 rebounds and was huge in helping the entire team block 10 shots in a win over the Sooners last week.
Johnathan Motley against Nathan Adrien. Adrien doesn’t have the same gaudy stats Motley does but he still leads the Mountaineers in rebounds per game at 6.2 He’ll have to compete with Motley all night but will hopefully get some help from his teammates. With Baylor dealing with injuries it may allow the Mountaineers to zero in on Motley which could help Adrien take the edge in this matchup.
We see this game as a pick em basically and with the injuries to Baylor we’ll take the two points the Mountaineers are getting and ride the hot team. Take West Virginia on the spread and watch the press go to work.
#8 North Carolina Tar Heels at #18 Virginia Cavaliers
- North Carolina (-2.5) at Virginia (+2.5)
The last time these two met was just a week ago and the result is certainly fresh in Virginia’s minds. The Cavaliers were held to just 41 points and lost by 24 against the Tar Heels in what turned out to be their longest losing streak in seven years. The Tar Heels on the other hand just keep rolling and have now won four straight games heading into this one.
North Carolina will improve their 8th ranked seed with two big wins against top 15 teams when they handled Virginia and Louisville. They also beat Pittsburgh by 18 and are looking to be in their best form of the season. The Tar Heels also guaranteed themselves a share of the ACC conference championship by beating Pittsburgh and will hope their rivals lose as they pile up the victories.
Justin Jackson has been huge for the Tar Heels all season and lit up Pittsburgh with 23 points in their last game. North Carolina’s defense was also excellent against Virginia and limited them to just 41 points which turned out to be the Cavliers’ worst mark of the year. They also limited Louisville to 63 and Pittsburgh to 67 and are starting to play incredible basketball on both ends of the floor.
The Tar Heels can seal up the ACC for good with a win over the Cavaliers for the second straight year and 31st time in the history of the school. Despite how strong they’ve been recently they still can’t take Virginia easily. The Cavaliers are one of the best teams at home this season and broke out of their slump when they rolled over the Wolfpack by 15 points. They knocked down 11 of their 16 threes and may have found their rhythm again.
The Cavaliers had been struggling from behind the mark, and were brutal the last time they played the Tar Heels when they made just two of their 20 three point attempt. They’ll have to hope the team that shot well against N.C. State will show up and not the version that couldn’t hit a shot against the Tar Heels.
Virginia was held to 2-20 from the 3-point line in its first matchup against North Carolina and will have to continue to shoot the ball well against a Tar Heels team who is finding themselves on the defensive end of the floor. North Carolina can score too though, and rank seventh in the country in scoring dropping an average of 86 points a game.
Justin Jackson against London Perrantes. The Cavaliers have a balanced scoring attack and Perrantes leads that attack with just 12.4 points per game. He also leads the team in assists with 3.9 and while he may not be the one man wrecking crew that Jackson is he still controls an offense that can get hot at any moment. He won’t be responsible for locking down Jackson, but he will be responsible for trying to match his pace and production on the offensive side of the ball.
Virginia plays well at home, but their recent struggles and poor performance against the Tar Heels in their last meeting has us favoring North Carolina in a big way. The Tar Heels just have to cover 2.5 points in a win and that smells like a good bet to us. Take North Carolina on the spread.
Oklahoma Sooners at #3 Kansas Jayhawks
- Oklahoma (+13.5) at Kansas (-13.5)
Kansas has been dominant all season but concerns about their depth are starting to creep up. Because they use such a shallow lineup minute concerns have started to affect their stars. Senior guard Frank Mason and junior guard Devonte’ Graham are set to become season leaders in minutes for any Jayhawk that has ever played under coach Bill Self in his 14 year career.
The Jayhawks will now be looking for some help for their stars who need rest. Kansas has clinched the Big 12 with a 26-3 record overall and an awesome 14-2 mark in the conference. They’ve done it for the 13th straight year and would like nothing more than to coast for the last week without their stars playing heavy minutes. This game is their final home game of the year however and the stars may want to get some run in front of their fans.
They got some help in their last win when junior guard Dwight Coleby chipped in to help the Jayhawks beat Texas 77-67 on Saturday. The transfer from Ole Miss is still recovering from tearing his ACL a little over a year ago but was great on Saturday with 12 points and four boards in just 13 minutes of play. That’s the most he’s played in the Big 12 this season and made an impact right away.
The Jayhawks won’t lean on all their backups just yet though. It is senior night after all and Kansas has won their last 33 home finales in school history. That record is only set to grow when the Sooners come to town.
Oklahoma is in a tie for dead last in the Big 12 but are coming off a strong game. They rolled over Kansas State by 30 points in an 81-51 win on Saturday to give their coach Lon Krueger his 600th career win and give the fans something to finally hear about. The win came after a stint that saw the Sooners lose nine of their last ten prior to the win and they needed that victory more than anyone.
The biggest problem for Oklahoma bas been losing Jordan Woodard for the year. He was leading the team with 14.6 points per game before suffering an awful season ending ACL injury back on February 11th. The younger players on the team have tried to step up in his absence and now two freshman lead the team in scoring and rebounding. Guard Kameron McGusty paces the team in points with 13.9 a game while Kristian Doolittle is doing his part with 6.2 boards a game.
Frank Mason III against Kameron McGusty. Mason has been incredible this year with 20.2 points a game but also leads the team in minutes and will need some rest before the tournament starts. If he takes his foot off the gas McGusty could turn in a solid performance for the Sooners. It won’t be easy for the young freshman against the veteran senior but stranger things have happened down the stretch.
Senior Night is huge in Kansas and the Jayhawks love to give their fans a treat on the last regular home game of the season. We expect Mason, Jackson and the rest of the Jayhawks crew to come out balling and put away the Sooners easily. 13.5 points is a lot on the spread but Kansas can do it. Take the Jayhawks on the spread.