Today's Free Picks for
Posted at 11:45 PM EST.
Big Ten Tournament – Madison Square Gardens – New York, New York.
6:30 PM EST. The Wildcats made history last season after appearing in their first-ever NCAA Tournament. Highlights included Elaine from Seinfeld cheering on her son, Charlie Hall, and how could we ever forget the crying Northwestern kid? All jokes aside, the Wildcats took a big step forward last season and beat Vanderbilt in round one before losing that heartbreaker to Gonzaga in round two. Expectations were understandably high after NW lost just Sanjay Lumpkin and Nathan Taphorn, but perhaps regression was inevitable after such an incredible run. The Wildcats finished just 6-12 in Big Ten play. A 0-6 run to end the season isn't likely to inspire much confidence from a market that loves winners. However, despite the poor results, the Wildcats hung around with #2 Michigan State and actually had the Spartans dead to rights before blowing a 22-point halftime lead at home just two Saturdays ago. The Wildcats best win came over ranked Michigan in the first week of February. Only a miracle run through this tournament will punch the Wildcats' dance card, but the role of spoiler is one this team could relish in.
The Nittany Lions' shot at an at-large bid to The Big Dance took a fatal blow in its last game, a 76-64 loss at Nebraska. One could argue that PSU's hopes ended after back-to-back losses to Purdue and Michigan but many were calling that contest with the Cornhuskers a potential at-large elimination game. Regardless of its standing, Penn State had a great chance to make life difficult for one of its Big Ten rivals and couldn't be bothered to muster up any effort. That 12-point margin of victory by Nebraska actually flatters the Nittany Lions, who were down 17-points at halftime. Penn State was a nice sleeper pick before conference play began, but a 5-0 start to the season was long forgotten, as its 0-3 end to its year is a far more accurate indication of where this program is. When looking back on the year, the Nittany Lions have to know they've blown a great opportunity to get that at-large bid. A pair of wins over ranked Ohio State should be the foundation of any decent tournament resume, but Penn State failed to get it done against the schools it had to beat like Minnesota, Indiana, Maryland and this Northwestern squad. If the Nittany Lions could not be bothered to show up when their at-large dreams were still a reality, how is this side going to turn it on for a grueling run through this Big Ten tournament? We're suggested they aren't. PSU can’t be trusted to and we’ll therefore bypass the points in favor of the big price outright.
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#559 Northwestern +205 (Risking 2 units - To Win: 4.10)