I went 5-3 in my last picks, moving me to 86-81-2 on the season. We're back on the victory trail! No battles between Top 25 teams this evening, but there are plenty of ranked squads looking to pad their resumes, including the No. 1 team in all the land. But that just gives their underdog conference foes more motivation to play spoiler, like your crush who brings her girlfriend along on your first date. Is the third wheel enough to keep you from covering the spread? This metaphor ran out of juice a little while back but you know what I mean!
As always, all times EST. Let's get it!
7:00pm ESPN: No. 10 Michigan State (-3.5) @ Illinois
Illinois is impressive at home and caught a tough break from the refs against Minnesota on Saturday - otherwise they probably aren't sitting on a three-game losing streak. This is still the Illini team that beat both Gonzaga and Ohio State this season. On the other hand, I've been saying all year that the Spartans are criminally underrated and, as Dave pointed out yesterday, Draymond Green has been playing out of his mind. This is a slim margin for what should be a Top 5 team in the nation to cover, so I'm taking that bet.
7:00pm ESPN2: Clemson (+8.5) @ No. 18 Virginia
Considering that Virginia and Clemson are two of the slowest tempo teams in the country, we're probably in for low scores tonight. Not only that, but the Cavs beat the Tigers by just two in the first meeting between these two teams, and slipped up against another slow opponent in Virginia Tech last weekend.
7:00pm ESPNU: Tennessee @ No. 1 Kentucky (-16.5)
Every single stat points toward Terrence Jones by about, oh, a Wildcatrillion.
Plenty more picks after the jump...
8:00pm BTN: No. 20 Wisconsin @ Penn State (+10)
Their defense is one of a kind but their offense is anemic, at best. So we're left with a slow team that chokes the shot clock and can't score on the other end. Even with the Nittany Lions sputtering and over-relying on guard Tim Frazier, the Badgers aren't built to win road games by 11.
9:00pm ESPNU: No. 6 UNC @ Wake Forest (+16)
The game preview would have me believe that North Carolina's atrocious three-point shooting this season should be ignored because they went 10-16 against Georgia Tech. Smarten up, AP, you need more people. This may come back to bite me, being that the Heels have the nation's highest scoring offense, but I've seen enough ACC matchups to know that nothing comes easy, especially on the road, especially in a down year for the conference, and especially after that brainfart-tastic showing against Florida State.
8:00pm ESPN3: Seton Hall @ No. 15 Marquette (-9)
We all want Seton Hall to be relevant, to be somebody, to be a contender, especially in a wide-open Big East. But head coach Kevin Willard is tinkering with his lineup in search of a remedy, and playing at uber-efficient Marquette is no time to be experimenting.
9:00pm ESPN: Vanderbilt (-3) @ Arkansas
Breaking their run of bad luck in Fayateville and putting an end to Arkansas' 13-game home winning streak, Vanderbilt - ranked No. 25 by the AP - handles their business against Arkansas' fast but out-of-control offense.
8:00pm ESPN3: Southern Illinois @ Northern Iowa (-13)
When the Salukis lose, they lose big. Like 85-42 big, or 60-40 big in their last two defeats. Northern Iowa has dropped their last two and I'm officially admitting I was wrong about their season prospects, but this is a game to right the ship.
8:00pm ESPN3: Oklahoma State (-4) @ Texas Tech
Cowboys' mediocre defense meets Raiders' bad offense.
9:00pm ESPN3: Kansas State @ Iowa State (-1.5)
Kansas State's defense may be good enough to slow the Cyclone attack but records don't lie. Super soph Royce White and Iowa State continue to find ways to win games they should lose.