Today's Free Picks for
Posted at 3:30 PM EST odds are subject to change.
Pinnacle Bank Arena, Lincoln, NE
Nebraska +130 over Northwestern
7:00 PM EST. Northwestern is not convincing enough to be road chalk here. Although the Wildcats are coming off a win over Wisconsin and have a 13-5 overall record (4-3 in the Big-10), they’re favored here because Nebraska has been so bad for so many years that the market is very reluctant to get behind them, especially when they’re taking back small points like they are here.
Northwestern has a much better record and they also have more recent pedigree but it was five-plus years ago that HC Chris Collins and his Wildcats were on top of the world. The Wildcats had finally done it, that being reaching the elusive NCAA Tournament for the first time and the program was on the upswing. Since then, the Wildcats have settled back into mediocrity, and that’s probably being kind. Northwestern is 30-74 in that span in Big Ten play and hasn’t finished with a .500-or-better record overall in any of the last five years.
Collins looked to have a lifetime deal after taking the program dancing in 2017, but he’s got a fairly new athletic director and can ill afford to take a step backwards after a 15-16 season last year, in which Northwestern lost a ton of close games. Yeah, Northwestern has its starting backcourt from last year along with basically everyone else on the perimeter but Collins’ top big men both transferred out of the program — Pete Nance left for North Carolina after flirting with the NBA Draft, and Ryan Young went to Duke. That’s a combined 23.6 points and 10.7 rebounds, leaving a mammoth hole up front. The Wildcats played the 287th ranked non-conference Strength of Schedule so of course they went 9-2 out of conference.
The Cornhuskers have played a very difficult schedule up to this point. Their non-conference slate included games against Creighton, Memphis, the Johnnies, Oklahoma, Florida State and Boston College. They literally played four games against weaker competition and won them all by double digits. Nebraska has already played nine conference games and although they are just 3-6 against its conference rivals, they won home games against Ohio State, Iowa and also have a win at then #7 Creighton.
When Fred Hoiberg replaced Tim Miles in late March of 2019, Cornhuskers fans rejoiced. Hoiberg was the guy who owned the transfer market long before the portal ever existed, and he was tasked with making Nebraska relevant again in hoops. Three years and 12 Big Ten wins later, Hoiberg is squarely on the hot seat. He might have been removed this past offseason by new AD Trev Alberts if not for a hefty buyout. Hoiberg restructured his contract, and the buyout dropped from $18.5 million to $11 million. A revamped roster that has been built around positional size, experience and skill has the Cornhuskers looking much better but in the eyes of the market, it is the same ol’, same ol’, That provides us with this opportunity.
Nebraska is one of the most battle tested teams in the country. There are a lot of solid players up and down the roster and although there is not a true star, they’re making great progress and are ready to strike against evenly matched teams like Northwestern. Northwestern is not a great team, far from it but they can compete with anyone in the Big-10 in their own barn and probably shouldn’t be an underdog to Northwestern.
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Nebraska +130 (Risking 2 units - To Win: 2.60)