The boys are back after a bit of a break to help you get some cash in your pocket before March Madness begins. Today’s picks take you all over the map, coming from the major conferences as well as mid-majors, while also giving you a nice mix of favorites and underdogs to back, with an under mixed in as well.
Pat: DePaul (+5) at Georgetown
The Hoyas have been one of the nation’s most inconsistent teams this season, while DePaul has thrived in the role of spoiler. Coming off of three straight losses, this seems like the perfect time for the Blue Demons to come into Washington D.C. and knock off a Georgetown team in need of a win in order to keep their bubble hopes alive. One of the main reasons they’ve been competitive in the Big East this year is the strong and steady play of senior guards Max Strus and Eli Cain. While the Hoyas have a pair of talented freshman guards in Mac McClung and James Akinjo, I trust the more consistent and elder Blue Demon guards to show up in this one.
Alex: Florida (-5.0) at Vanderbilt
The Gators have been hot as of late and show no signs of cooling off. Meanwhile, Vanderbilt has been ice cold on a 15 game losing streak. The Commodores have had a disaster of a year after the explosive freshman Darius Garland suffered a season ending knee injury on November 23rd against Kent State. The Gators have been showing steady improvement all season and have been able to pick up four consecutive wins with one of those wins coming on the road against an extremely talented LSU team. Florida is only four games back of the three way tie at first place in the SEC conference and can make a serious push for a better seed in the SEC tournament with a victory against a win-less conference opponent in Vanderbilt. Look for the more physical and hungry Gators to keep rolling and cover the spread while helping their chances to sneak into the NCAA tournament.
Pat: Baylor/Texas under 134.5
Both teams would love a win here, especially the shorthanded Longhorns, who currently find themselves square on the NCAA tournament bubble. Shaka Smart’s high-pressure defense is tough to figure out, as evidenced by the average of 64.1 Big 12 points that the Longhorns boast have given up. Texas’ offense has been inconsistent all year, and they’ll be without leading scorer Kerwin Roach in this one, who is out with an injury for the second straight game. Baylor is no slouch on the defensive end, and their job on that end got a lot easier with the Roach injury. This is a low number, but I still expect it to fall under the total in a game where the first team to reach 60 will likely be the winner.
Alex: Marquette (+4.5) at Villanova
The last time these two teams faced off, Marquette was able to squeak out a one point win at home. However, they might have a small problem trying to duplicate their success this time around. The Wildcats have been sliding lately and are desperate to get back in the win column with a game at home, after dropping their last three games on the road. However, Marquette has had a very strong year and has proven to be one of the tougher teams in the conference. They are led by the game changing offensive talent of Markus Howard, who can easily take over a game if he gets hot. The Golden Eagles have only four losses this season, two in the conference to St. Johns and the other two earlier in the season to Kansas and Indiana. The Golden Eagles should be able to keep it close with the Wildcats.
Pat: Fordham (+2.5) vs. Saint Joseph’s
St. Joe’s has been a huge disappointment this season, joining Fordham in the basement of the Atlantic 10 standings. The Hawks have been a terrible road team, losing all seven of their road contests in conference play, and despite the fact that they only have two conference wins, the Rams have been sneakily competitive this season. I feel that is a good spot to take advantage of recency bias, as Fordham is coming off a blowout home loss to a surging St. Bonaventure team on Saturday. Vegas wants you to play St. Joe’s in this one, but I like the Rams to bounce back at home over a team that’s looked like they’ve given up on many occasions over the past two months.
Alex: Loyola-Chicago (-1) at Northern Iowa
The Loyola-Chicago Ramblers are currently on top of the Missouri Valley Conference and are looking to hold on to that one seed with the conference tournament right around the corner. This team still has a lot of pieces from the Ramblers team that made a miraculous and historic Final Four run last year, only losing seniors Ben Richardson and Donte Ingram and junior Audarius Avery. The Ramblers play stifling defense and are ranked sixth in the country, holding their opponents to only 60.9 points per game. Their defense will be the key to sweeping their season series with the Panthers. Look for the Ramblers to finish their season on a high note by getting in a comfortable position to win their conference and secure an automatic bid to the tournament.