If you needed any inspiration to start taking the underdog a little bit more how about the Wolf Pack last night? They beat Duke in Cameron Stadium for the first time since 1995, and while we thought they’d cover the spread we didn’t think they’d do it in such glorious fashion.
It just goes to show how unpredictable sports are, let alone college basketball. These are just kids after all, some as young as 18 trying to get their team to the promised land each and every night, and what a ride it’s been. After just two top 25 teams were in action Monday, the NCAA returns with a bang on Tuesday night full of possible upsets. Let’s get to it!
Auburn Tigers at #24 South Carolina Gamecocks
Auburn (+9.5) at South Carolina (-9.5)
It’s an SEC battle when the Gamecocks host the Tigers on Tuesday night and South Carolina could use the win. After losing badly to Kentucky 85-69 on Saturday night they watched their ranking drop to 24 this week.
Sindarius Thornwell will try and do it all again for the Gamecocks after scoring a career-high 32 points in the loss on Saturday and he’s likely to be without P.J. Dozier as well. Dozier missed the last game with back spasms and he’s highly questionable to suit up for this one.
Auburn has won three of four and Austin Wiley is a big reason why. The freshman collected rookie of the week honors in the SEC with averages of 14.5 points and 7.5 rebounds in the Tigers’ two wins.
Auburn are just 3-7 against the spread in their last ten games but with Dozier likely to miss time or at the very least play injured we like the Tigers to cover the spread on the road.
#2 Kansas Jayhawks at #18 West Virginia Mountaineers
Kansas (+4) at West Virginia (-4)
The talk has been swirling all season long about the jinx in West Virginia. Just last year, when number 1 ranked Kansas entered West Virginia their best player Frank Mason committed a brutal seven turnovers and watched his team lose 64-63.
Now Mason is in the running for National Player of the Year and leads the Big 12 in scoring with 20.1 points. He’s also shooting a jaw-dropping 53 percent from three and has upped assists to 5.4 a game.
That’s the player the Mountaineers need to try and shut down this time and they’ve struggled mightily lately. Jevon Carter, the nation’s leader in steals may be up to the task, and it’s going to be a fun ride in Morgantown.
The Jayhawks continue to play weaker opponents all season long but now finally get a taste of a good, ranked team. Still, they’re ranked number 2 for a reason and getting four points on the road. Take Kansas on the spread.
#13 Louisville Cardinals at Pittsburgh Panthers
Louisbille (-7) at Pitt (+7)
Another revenge game is on the card when the Cardinals try and beat the Panthers for a second straight time in Pittsburgh. Louisville was well on its way to a blowout the last time these two teams met but the Panthers clawed all the way back to make it a one possession game, only to see that comeback fail.
Now Pitt is in more trouble than just one game. They’re 1-5 in Conference play and recently had a week off to try and improve and right the ship before its too late. The Panthers have good players with Stallings and Artis both ranked 1st and 2nd in ACC scoring, but if the wins don’t start coming they’ll be in danger of missing the tournament.
It won’t be easy against a Lousiville team that’s won nine straight against Pittsburgh and is enjoying a successful season o their own. The Cardinals do it on both ends of the floor. They rank eight in the country in field goal percentage and sixth in blocks and are capable of running anyone out of the gym.
Getting seven points at home is huge and if Pittsburgh is ever going to turn their season around now is the time. We still think Louisville wins, but it’s going to be by less than 7. Take Pitt on the spread.
#20 Purdue Boiler Makers at Michigan State Spartans
Purdue (-2) at Michigan (+2)
Purdue has enjoyed a successful opening to the season due to some good play, but also some nice scheduling. They’ve been at home for the majority of their games and their opponents haven’t exactly been the cream of the crop.
They’ll be out to prove they can beat a good team in Michigan State on the road to prove the haters wrong. In two of their road games against Big 10 Opponents Purdue beat Ohio State by just one and lost to Iowa (another unranked team) by five.
Notoriously slow starters, Tom Izzo and his Spartans team feel ready to go on a hot streak. He fails his team played well and came up against some lucky shooting in their last two losses. With four freshmen starting for the Spartans, it’s just a matter of time before they start clicking under one of the best coaches in basketball. Is Tuesday night their moment?
The Spartans have won all three of their home games in Conference play this season and we expect that trend to continues against a Purdue team that has looked shaky all season on the road and benefited from an easy schedule. Take Michigan State on the spread.
Rutgers Scarlett Knights at #22 Maryland Terrapins
Rutgers (+11) at Maryland (-11)
It’s the battle of the guards when Maryland hosts Rutgers on Tuesday night. Rutgers is coming off a huge 65-64 win over Nebraska in their last outing when guard Corey Sanders hit the last second shot.
Sanders is averaging a team-high 12.4 points per contest which in itself shows you just how much the Knights are struggling on offense this season. They’re shooting just 29 percent from three and a brutal 64 percent from the free throw line. Sanders is capable of some big shots, but he doesn’t have the same game as his opponent Melo Trimble.
Trimble is a huge reason why Maryland is in the top 25 this season. He’s averaging 17.1 points per game and shooting 45 percent from the field, a respectable number for a guard who attacks the basket the way Trimble does.
That attacking will have to be on full display as Rutgers has out-rebounded their opponents all season long. If Maryland misses some shots early that could mean way more chances with the basketball for the Scarlett Knights.
Rutgers is just 6-7 against the spread this season and playing a much better team in the Terrapins on the road. Take Maryland on the spread and hope Trimble feasts on the Knights.
#1 Villanova at Marquette
Villanova (-5) at Marquette (+5)
Oh baby. This game has all the makings of another big upset, depending on how you feel about Villanova. The Wildcats are coming off a national championship and have dominated Marquette in recent play.
The Cats have just one game all season, on the road to number 8 ranked Butler, and that national championship may be a burden instead of an inspiration. Coaches and teammates have discussed how difficult it is to stay motivated, and yet here they are ranked number one.
Kris Jenkins is enjoying his best college season with averages of 14.3 points, 4.2 rebounds and 1.2 steals and still knows his team can improve. Nothing is going to come easy on Tuesday night against Marquette.
The Golden Eagles shoot the three better than anyone in the league and are coming off a big road win against Creighton, but the Blue Jays aren’t the Wildcats. Villanova is 20-9 against the Golden Eagles all time.
There’s a lot of action on Marquette at home as people think this is a trap game for the Wild Cats. With the spread only at -5 and Villanova dominating recently we see no reason to shy away from the defending national champs. Take Villanova on the spread.
#12 Virginia Cavaliers against #14 Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Virginia (+1) at Notre Dame (-1)
Basically our first pick em’ of the night this is by far the most evenly matched game of the week. The Fighting Irish are coming off a huge 18-point win over Syracuse for the first time in five games and now have another deep-seeded rival to deal with.
The Cavaliers have won all four meetings in ACC play against the Irish since the conference pulled in Notre Dame and the games haven’t even been close. Virginia has won by an average of 13.2 points. The Cavaliers have been the best team in the ACC by far since the Irish joined and they know what it means to knock off the top dog.
Notre Dame is still undefeated at home this season with a sparkling 12-0 record but that 0 could turn into a 1 real quickly with the way the Cavaliers are playing. Virginia doesn’t seem to care if they leave home with a 5-1 record on the road.
The win over Syracuse was huge, but we don’t think this Notre Dame team is ready to take down big bad Virginia just yet. The Cavaliers won’t be scared by a sold out crowd and know how to win on the road. They’re also 10-6 against the spread this season so take them.
#4 Kentucky Wildcats at Tennessee Volunteers
Kentucky (-9.5) at Tennessee (+9.5)
Kentucky has been its usual dominant self this season but may be without De’Aaron Fox on Tuesday. Fox is second in scoring on the team and leads the club in assists per game but may have to sit out as he deals with an ankle injury. He was spotted in a walking boot on Saturday but was already down to just taped ankles when he practiced on Monday.
Kentucky still lit it up without Fox and is averaging a wild 92.9 points per game, ranked third in the nation. That staggering offense is set to invade Tennessee with Malik Monk leading the SEC in scoring at 21.7 points per game.
The Volunteers are just 3-3 against the same opponents that the Cats have whipped 6-0 this year, and all signs points to a Kentucky victory whether or not Fox plays, but can they cover a 9.5 point spread?
If Fox is good to go, he still won’t be at 100 percent, which means Tennessee will have an easier time of staying in the game. Still, that 9.5 point spread reflects the chance of Fox missing time, and we like Kentucky to cover it, and then some. Take the Wildcats on the spread.
Penn State Nittany Lions at #15 Wisconsin Badgers
Penn State (+14) at Wisconsin (-14)
Wisconsin gets sett to host Penn State after an overtime win at Minnesota on Saturday and the team reflected their busy schedule by giving some of the starters rest, including Ethan Happ in practice.
Happ is coming off Big 10 player of the week honors after posting average of 19.5 points, 9.0 rebounds and 4.5 assists. He also had a career high in points with 28 and blocks with five in his last game against Minnesota.
Now he brings his team and their 17 straight wins against Penn State back home to take on the Lions. On Saturday Penn State got rocked by Purdue 77-52 and don’t look at all prepared for a matchup with the Badgers.
Shep Garner leads the team in scoring at just 12.3 points per game , but the offense is distributed with five players all hovering around double digit scoring numbers. Still, will it be enough to get to Wisconsin?
When you’re staring at a team getting 14 points it’s never easy to shy away from it, but that’s exactly what you need to do in this situation. The Badgers are a much better team with big time players capable of running Penn State out of the gym. They’ve won 17 straight and we expect that number to climb to 18 in a blowout. Take the Badgers on the spread.
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