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College Basketball Vegas Odds and Picks: February 18th


I went 3-2 in my last picks, moving me to 98-102-3 this season and ever closer to an even record. I shan't rest until we crack .500 again.

Today we've got some really intriguing matchups, from a spread point of view. We pit the state of Ohio against the state of Michigan for the game of the century of the season, plus some real bruisers in the Big Ten and Mountain West. Lastly, we'll wrap up with a couple of mid-majors that could be faking it, or they could be making it. I'll show you the smart bets today. Feel free to tell me why I'm wrong. Which lines do you like in these games?

As always, all times EST.

9:00pm ESPN/ESPN3: No. 6 Ohio State @ No. 19 Michigan (+5.5)

Let's clear something up right away: A lot of things need to happen for Michigan to win this game, or even keep the Buckeyes from taking a comfortable lead. Wolverine guards Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. will need to have a great game. Collectively, Michigan will need to find and exploit holes in the nearly-impenetrable Ohio State defense. It also won't hurt if Jared Sullinger suffers foul trouble, like he did when these two met in Columbus a few weeks ago. Michigan was within three in that game, but the Buckeyes tightened the clamps and won by 15. Michigan has revenge on the mind, and can tie for the Big Ten lead with a victory, so there is no shortage of motivation. They've also won two of their last four against Ohio State at home, and the Buckeyes play such suffocating defense that even if they do leave with a win, I have a hard time believing that the game won't come down to the wire.

Plenty more picks after the jump...

1:45pm ESPN3: Kansas State @ No. 10 Baylor (-7.5)

Baylor should win this game comfortably. Then again, if Baylor won all the games that they should have won this season, they'd still be undefeated. Instead, Perry Jones III hit a rough patch and both Kansas and Missouri have beaten the Bears twice. Now, Jones is talking like his confidence is back and they host a K-State team that is desperate for win but slumping too hard to earn your confidence, just 2-4 in their last six.

1:00pm CBS: No. 11 UNLV @ New Mexico (-5)

Funny that a team on the verge of the Top 10 is not favored against an unranked conference opponent that they defeated by 17 points just a few weeks ago. And they're five-point underdogs, at that! Plenty of factors will work in New Mexico's favor, though. While UNLV comes off an overtime loss at TCU, the Lobos have won six straight. Plus, UNLV isn't very impressive on the road with just a 6-5 record. And while the Rebels are an offensive juggernaut, the Lobos are good enough to keep pace and are far more effective defensively. This is a stretch and either team could potentially run away with the game, but my gut is going with the percentages.

6:00pm ESPN/ESPN3: No. 16 Saint Mary's (-2.5) @ No. 14 Murray State

In the marquee matchup of the mid-major BracketBusters contests, Saint Mary's will try to wipe the varnish off of Murray State's feel-good story of the year, while simultaneously showing the nation that the Gonzaga Age has passed. Despite losing to the Zags last week, Saint Mary's still looks like the better team and has a chance to prove themselves outside of their enclave. Murray State doesn't really do anything better than Saint Mary's, so they'll have to rely heavily on junior Isaiah Canaan and a hostile home crowd to keep their RPI from plummeting.

Ryan ZumMallen writes about basketball and hamster wheel racing in Long Beach, CA. Follow him in the Twitterdome at @ryanzummallen.