NCAA Men’s College Basketball Top 25: Free Picks and Predictions for Wednesday 2/22

by Cameron Dorrett
on February 22, 2017

The end of the regular season is inching closer and closer with just two weeks of ball left. The NCAA season wraps up on March 5th but there’s still plenty to play for. These Top 25 teams may be inching closer to earning their spot in the tournament, but as everyone knows seeding is everything when March rolls around.

There’s still upsets galore and desperate teams pulling off big wins in an effort to save their season. Make sure you do all the research necessary with injuries piling up as well. As always, we’ll do our part and provide you with breakdowns of each game so you know exactly where to bet as the action heats up. Let’s get to it!

TCU Horned Frogs at #3 Kansas Jayhawks

Spread

  • TCU (+13) at Kansas (-13)

Just one more win and the Jayhawks can clinch at the very least a share of the Big 12 conference title and continue it’s run of dominance in the league to 13 straight wins. If they can accomplish the feat it would tie UCLA for the longest record when the Bruins won 13 in a row from 1967-1969. But unlike the Bruins, who used three separate coaches during that run of dominance this Kansas team has been all Bill Self’s work.

Knowing Self, he could care less about the record and just wants to keep his Jayhawks focused on finishing the season strong. They enter this game with a 24-3 record and are 12-2 in the Big 12 and can stretch their lead to three games in the conference with a win against the Horned Frogs.

Kansas has worked hard, but also been fortunate with those close games this season. Every single one of their last seven games have been decided by single digits and yet they still emerged winners in all but one of them. They are now 10-2 in single digit games and 8-1 against conference opponents. They’ve also won eight games after trailing by at least nine points this season and are a dominant force whether they’re trailing or not.

If there’s any concern for the Jayhawks it’s their lack of depth. The bench is thin and their starters are already playing more minutes than they probably should. Frank Mason III is leading the Big 12 in scoring with 20.3 points per game but he also averages the most minutes in the league at 35.8. Fellow Jayhawk Devonte Graham is third in minutes at 34.9

Kansas has overcome their opponents with defense as of late despite how good their offense is. They came back against West Virginia after being down 14 points with just three minutes left and against Baylor they limited Jonathan Motley who has been incredible for the Bears all season.

The Horned Frogs can’t be taken lightly as they are prone to go on steaks at any moment. They lost four straight at the end of January, then won three in a row, but are back to losing again having dropped their third straight this week. They lost boy just six points against Kansas in their first matchup thanks to an incredible game from Vladimir Brodziansky. He forward leads TCU with 13.8 points per game and is second in shooting percentage in the Big 12. Kenrich Williams is second in the Big 12 in rebounds at 9.0 and Alex Robinson is third in assists at 5.8. That type of production has given TCU some consideration for the tournament and they just might make it with solid play against Kansas.

Key Matchup

Josh Jackson against Alex Robinson. Jackson will be expected to play more and take on more of the offensive load with Mason playing so many minutes. That’s just fine for him as he averages 16.5 points, 6.9 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 3.0 steals and blocks this year. Robinson will play his best defense and averages 1.6 steals a game so Jackson will have to take care of the ball.

Advice

TCU has never won in the Allen Fieldhouse against Kansas and have dropped 39 straight games on the road against ranked opponents. The Jayhawks are trying to wrap up another regular season title and they should have little problem against the Horned Frogs. Take Kansas on the spread.

Pick

Kansas
84
TCU
70

#10 Duke Blue Devils at Syracuse Orange

Spread

  • Duke (-3.5) at Syracuse (+3.5)

The Blue Devils enter Syracuse with a 22-5 record overall and a 10-4 mark in the ACC and thanks to their recent success have moved up all the way to number 10 in the rankings. They’ll bring a red-hot seven game win streak into the Carrier Dome to take on the Orange who are just 16-12 overall and 8-7 in the conference.

This is a huge chance for Syracuse to right their ship after they’ve struggled mightily recently with three straight losses and now find themselves unsure of their standing in trying to get into the NCAA Tournament. They’ve played excellent at home this season with a 14-3 record and hope that strong play carry forward. A win against Duke would do wonders for Syracuse as they try to find a signature win down the stretch to try and make the tournament.

The Orange lost 71-65 to Georgia Tech on Sunday after a controversial call with 15 seconds left in the game but they’ll have to wipe that from their minds in an effort to snag a huge victory at home. That won’t be easy against arguably the best team in basketball right now. Duke has won seven straight and are 5-0 since Krzyzewski made it back to the bench after recovering from back surgery last month. Duke has overcome injuries to their coach, and also their players, as well as dealing with questions surrounding the attitude of Grayson Allen. They’re put all the distractions away and are now just one game behind the Tar Heels for top spot in the Conference.

The Blue Devils beat UNC beck on February 9th and the rivals will meet for a final time on March 4th in what could easily determine the number one spot for the season in the ACC. Duke’s latest win came on Saturday and they were led by Luke Kennard like they have been all season long. He dropped 23 points and was helped by Jayson Tatum who chipped in with 19 more in a big win on the road against Wake Forest.

Key Matchup

Grayson Allen against Andrew White III. White leads the Orange with 17.9 points per game and will be a nuisance for Allen to defend. He’ll also need to keep his emotions in check in front of a huge crowd at Syracuse in order to lead his Duke team to a win.

Advice

As strong as the Orange have looked at home the spread is only 3.5 points and with the way Duke is playing they can easily overcome that on the road. Take the Blue Devils on the spread and hope their winning ways continue.

Pick

Duke
76
Syracuse
70

Minnesota Golden Gophers at #24 Maryland Terrapins

Spread

  • Minnesota (+4) at Maryland (-4)

The Terrapins don’t have a realistic shot at the Big 10 conference title but are still trying their hardest to move up in the seeding for the NCAA Tourney. Minnesota on the other hand is just trying to make it into the big dance. The Gophers enter with a 20-7 record overall but just an 8-6 mark in the conference and will have to try and beat the Terrapins who are 22-5 overall with a 10-4 mark in the Big Ten.

Maryland is coming off a 71-60 loss to Wisconsin on Sunday and thrust the Badgers into a first place tie with the Boilermakers at 11-3 in the conference. The Terrapins just couldn’t get a stop on defense and faced the consequences.

Minnesota meanwhile enter after a huge win over Michigan in overtime and are feeling confident in their abilities. They’re one of the toughest teams to play against despite their perceived lack of  talent and are now 3-2 in overtime games this season within the conference. They are led by Nate Mason who is averaging 15.0 points a game while Amir Coffey chips in with 12.3 and Jordan Murphy and Dupree McBrayer both chip win with just over 10 points a contest. That balanced attack can be tough to deal with and the Terrapins will have to be sharp at home.

Maryland continues to be led by Melo Trimble who is dropping 17.6 points per game and trying to carry his team to a National Championship. He’s helped out by freshman Justin Jackson who drops 10.8 points a game and adds 6.2 boards. He had a huge game in the Terrapins last win at Minnesota when he poured in 28 and added 10 rebounds in a big win on the road.

Key Matchup

Melo Trimble against Nate Mason. Both players know how big this game is but for Mason and his Gophers it could literally decide whether they make the tournament or not. It won’t be easy to stop Trimble though he has scored at least 10 points in 25 games this year and has accomplished that feat in 16 straight. He dropped 32 against Wisconsin and is one of the hardest players in all of college basketball to guard when he gets hot.

Advice

Call us crazy but Minnesota needs this win and have been playing well of late. They’re fighting for their lives and that can be enough to overcome spreads sometimes. Take the Gophers on the spread and hope they play with desperation.

Pick

Minnesota
76
Maryland
73

#22 Butler Bulldogs at #2 Villanova Wildcats

Spread

  • Butler (+10) at Villanova (-10)

The Wildcats can lock up first place in the Big East for the regular season with a big win over the Bulldogs at home on Wednesday night. Villanova is now 26-2 overall and 13-2 in the conference after crushing the Seton Hall Pirates 92-70 on the road last week. Jalen Brunson dropped 22 points and a career-high 10 dimes. Kris Jenkins continues his strong season with 22 points himself as the Wildcats couldn’t miss on the night and shot 67.3 percent from the field for their best mark of the year.

It won’t be as easy when the Bulldogs come to town. Butler is 21-6 overall this season and 10-5 in the conference. They’ve also already beat the Wildcats when they handed Villanova a 66-58 loss back in early January to snap a big win streak for the Cats. Villanova won their last game without Darryl Reynolds who has sat out the last three contest due to a rib injury. His status for Wednesday is still up in the air and it will be vital to check back closer to game time.

The Wildcats made do without him though in the impressive win over the Pirates and used just a six man rotation along with Dylan Painter who chipped in with two points and a board in basically his first minutes of the season.

Butler continues its recent run of dominance and has already posted their 11th season of 20 wins or more in their last 12 years. In the last game against the Wildcats the Bulldogs delivered a great team effort with four different players scoring in double digits including Kethan Savage and Andrew Chrabascz who combined for 26 points.

The Bulldogs are coming off their second straight win after making easy work of St. John’s 82-66. They were led by Nate Fowler’s 15 points and Tyler Lewis; 10 points and eight assists without turning over the ball once.

Key Matchup

Jalen Brunson against Tyler Lewis. Lewis is the leading guard for the Bulldogs and will have to try and dictate the offense while also trying to slow down the red-hot Brunson. It should be a fun matchup but the Wildcat definitely has the upper hand.

Advice

Villanova has been outstanding at home this season and should be able to handle the Bulldogs. Still, we like Butler’s play as of late and this is a school that knows how to show up in big games. Take Villanova to win but Butler on the spread.

Pick

Villanova
78
Butler
73

#6 Oregon Ducks at California Golden Bears

Spread

  • Oregon (+13.5) at California (-13.5)

Oregon hits the road with a 24-4 record and a beautiful 13-2 mark in the Pac-12 and are trying to win the regular season championship for the second straight year while California still needs a signature win to make sure they get to punch their ticket to March Madness.

A win from the Ducks wont lock up the regular season title but it will go a long way. Oregon is in second spot behind Arizona but the Wildcats have much tougher games this week against UCLA and USC. Arizona could easily lose one or both of those games and the Ducks know how big a win against California on the road would be for their chances.

Their last three games are against California, Stanford and Oregon State and are all on the road. Oregon is just 4-3 on the road this season but will essentially need to win out if they want to end up in first in the Pac-12. The Ducks made easy work for the Bears in their first meeting back on January 19th but that game wasn’t in California. Now the Bears get to play at home where they’re 14-2 this season.

Dillon Brooks continues to the the man for the Ducks. He’s averaging 15.4 points, but over this last six he’s kicked it up another notch. He’s averaged 21.3 points during that span while knocking down an incredible 5.79 percent of his three pointers. The Bears will respond with their own star in Ivan Rabb who is averaging 14.8 points and a wicked 10.7 rebounds a game for a double double. He’ll need to have a huge game if the Bears want to make the big dance.

The Bears will also need to rely on their team strengths which are strong defense and big rebounding. Cal ranks first in the Pac-12 in both scoring defense and field goal defense and if they can get some big production from Rabb on offense they have a chance to win this game. They also are second din rebounding and if they can control Brooks on the glass they;ll give themselves even a better shot.

Key Matchup

Dillon Brooks against Ivan Rabb. Both players love banging on the glass and trying to get into the paint. They can both fill it up and know how to score and carry their team to a win. This game is important for both of them and both of their teams and we expect some fireworks when they clash on Wednesday.

Advice

This spread is huge so we love taking Oregon on the road already, but the Ducks have a real shot to actually win this game as well. If you’re feeling lucky throw some cash down on the moneyline too.

Pick

Oregon
76
California
73

#7 Louisville Cardinals at #8 North Carolina Tar Heels

Spread

  • Louisville (+6) at North Carolina (-6)

This is going to be fun. The Tar Heels welcome the Cardinals to town for a huge game on Wednesday night between two top ten ranked teams. North Carolina plays host with a 23-5 record overall including an 11-3 mark in the ACC and have been involved in all sorts of late season big games. They hold just a one game lead over Louisville and Duke and will end their season against Syracuse.

That’s what makes this game so important for the Tar Heels. A loss to the Cardinals and they’ll be tied for first. The Tar Heels enter with the fifth highest offense in the country to rely on, averaging 86.9 points per game. They are 10-2 at home against top ten teams and want nothing more than to send the Cardinals packing.

Louisville is no easy win however. The Cardinals have a fast style of temp than can trick teams and upset normal studs like the Tar Heels. North Carolina still has their ultimate weapon in Justin Jackson though. He’s become of the best players in all of college basketball this season and has shown no signs of slowing down.

He’s led the team in scoring 15 separate times this season and has dropped 20 points on 14 separate occasions. He averaged 18.6 points per game compared to Louisivlle’s top scorer Donovan Mitchell who averages 15.6.

Key Matchup

Justin Jackson against Donovan Mitchell. Mitchell may average less points but he does everything for the Cardinals. He chips in with 4.7 rebounds, 2.7 assists, and 2.1 steals a game and loves the challenge of locking down the best defender on the other team. Look for him to zero in on Jackson early in an effort to stop the Tar Heels’ star.

Advice

The Cardinals are getting six points on the road but the Tar Heels have looked incredible lately, especially at home. They know how bit this game is for the standings and will lock in against Louisville. Take North Carolina on the spread.

Pick

North Carolina
84
Louisville
73

Providence Friars at #23 Creighton Blue Jays

Spread

  • Providence (+8) at Creighton (-8)

The Blue Jays play host trying to locked up the number two seed before the Big East tournament kicks off so they can try and get the highest possible seed when March Madness begins in earnest in less than a month. The Friars are just trying to bounce back and make it into the NCAA Tournament regardless of how they get there.

Providence hits the road with a 16-11 record and a 6-8 mark in the Big East this season and have two big wins on their resume to make the selection committee take notice. They beat Butler and Xavier and another win over Creighton would all but assure them a spot in the big dance.

They’ll need to be better than they were against the Blue Jays the first time around when they lost 78-64 earlier in the season, but that was back when Creighton still had Maurice Watson and were at full strength and ranked number 7 in the country. The Blue Jays that the Friars will play on Wednesday are a much different looking team and Providence has a way better chance of a win.

Providence is going to lean on those back to back huge wins over the Bulldogs and Musketeers when they walk into Creighton on Wednesday and the Blue Jays would be wise not to look past them. Creighton’s next game is against Villanova in a much bigger matchup and that could distract them from giving it their all.

The Blue Jays are coming off a 17 point win over Georgetown but have losses against Seton Hall and that same Xavier team that Providence just beat. The Blue Jays have been excellent at home this season though with or without Mo Watson and will be eager to add another win to the resume when the Friars come knocking.

Key Matchup

Marcus Foster against Rodney Bullock. Foster has been incredible since Watson went down and now has averages of 18.6 points, 2.7 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 0.7 steals. He’s become the go-to scorer for the Blue Jays and the Friars would be smart to lock him down. That may start with Bullock who leads the team in points at 16.7 but also steals at 1.3. He’s capable of playing excellent ball on both ends of the floor and will be focused all night in a must-win game for the Friars.

Advice

We love Providence right now and the win over Xavier is as telling as any considering the Blue Jays lost to them last week. Creighton may still win this game but we want you to the Friars getting eight points on the road.

Pick

Providence
74
Creighton
72
MONEYLINE
DECIMAL
FRACTIONAL
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