Today's Free Picks for
Posted at 11:00 AM EST.
Big Ten Tournament – Madison Square Gardens – New York, New York.
12:00 PM EST. We backed the Badgers in their 59-54 win over Maryland yesterday, and we're not backing off today. Wisconsin's path to the Madness runs through this Big-10 tournament and one can never underestimate a team with such a strong post-season pedigree. Perhaps most importantly is that the Badgers believe they can do this and that first win is sometimes the toughest but it sets them up nicely for this one. Give the Badgers a game under their belt in which they showed resiliency all game. The favored Terps would never go away yesterday but the Badgers would never give up the lead for more than an instant. The Badgers have that noon start under their belt and they have a win and momentum for this one. There is nothing suggesting that they won’t put up a fight again this afternoon against the #2 team in the country and the #1 seed in this tournament.
The Spartans have been on cruise control for weeks. While there is no denying this team is very talented, Michigan State has phoned it in on more than one occasion down the stretch. MSU's 12 straight wins to end the season looks great on paper, but the Spartans were prone to sluggish starts. Tom Izzo's crew was down at halftime to Maryland, Penn State and Northwestern before coming back in the second half of those contests. Michigan State was stuck by 13 and 22-points against the 'Terps and Wildcats respectively. The Spartans were tops in the Big Ten at 16-2 and finished the season with a 28-3 record overall, but they played one of the weakest non-conference schedules in the nation ranking just 312 out of the 351 schools as per KenPom. The Spartans were the betting chalk in every game they played this season but were a weak and vulnerable favorite by going 15-15-1 against the number. MSU had its hands full with the Badgers in a five-point win as a 7½-point favorite in Madison five days ago, and now it is asked to spot double-digits just a few days later.
A conference championship is nice but it’s not the goal. The goal for these top-ranked programs is to make the Final-4 with a chance to win a national title. Not a single ESPN 30/30 film or other doc has been made about a teams’ miracle run to a conference championship. Nobody even remembers what a team did in the conference tourney so it really plays second fiddle to the big prize for these major programs like Duke, North Carolina and MSU. With their ticket to the dance already punched, MSU’s eye on the big prize could get in the way of a highly intense effort here. In order to beat a double-digit spread against a “win or go home opponent”, an intense and high level performance is required and we’re going to trust that it will be the Badgers with that type of effort here and not the Spartans.
NOTE: More NCAA games today will be posted.
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#847 Wisconsin +11½ -104 (Risking 2.08 units - To Win: 2.00)