In the first night of March, the college basketball world didn’t disappoint. As No. 8 Purdue and No. 10 Wisconsin battled for control of the Big Ten, the game came down to the wire. Boilermakers star Jordan Ivey drained a 3-pointer with nine seconds left to tie the game, but the Badgers decided not to call a timeout and forged ahead. With 1.6 seconds left, Chucky Hepburn banked a 3-point shot in off the glass to provide the winning points in a 70-67 triumph, giving Wisconsin at least a share of the Big Ten title, which they can earn outright with a win at home over Nebraska this weekend.
Tonight, No. 5 Auburn can inch closer to an SEC regular season title, as the Tigers are among three ranked teams in the league playing tonight. Let’s start there in our look at the best bets for Wednesday’s action in men’s college basketball.
(5) Auburn Tigers vs. Mississippi State Bulldogs
The Bet: Auburn, -3.5
Since ascending to the No. 1 ranking in the AP poll in late January, Auburn is 0-5 against the spread away from home and 2-3 straight up, currently on a three-game road losing streak. Going into their final road contest of the season, the Tigers (25-4, 13-3 SEC) are a game ahead of Kentucky, Tennessee, and Arkansas in the conference standings, so a win here tonight will keep them on the path of winning the SEC regular season title. Expect head coach Bruce Pearl to challenge his team to show that it can put on a strong performance on the road.
The Bulldogs (17-12, 8-8 SEC), meanwhile, are on the very edge of the bubble, but a signature win over a team like Auburn would keep them in the discussion. The problem is, they have just two conference wins against the top five teams in the conference (one over Arkansas and another over Alabama), and Mississippi State is 0-7 as an underdog.
Auburn’s recent numbers against the spread are not good (1-5-1 ATS in their last seven, and 3-7 ATS this season on the road). But Auburn has won five of their last six against the Bulldogs and are 4-2 ATS in those six games, and with so much on the line, we’re expecting Auburn to put its foot down and finally put forth a dominating performance on the road.
Georgetown Hoyas vs. Seton Hall Pirates
The Bet: Georgetown +13.5
Georgetown is trying to avoid becoming just the second team in modern Big East history (DePaul in 2008-09) to finish the league’s regular season winless. While the Hoyas (6-22, 0-17 Big East) are facing an uphill battle in that quest with remaining games at Seton Hall and Xavier, the Hoyas have generally played teams close.
In their last five games, they have not lost by more than 11 points. That includes an eight-point loss at Villanova and a nine-point defeat against UConn. Tonight, the Hoyas get 13.5 points at Seton Hall.
The Pirates (18-9, 9-8 Big East) have come on as of late after losing four of five to finish out January, as Seton Hall has won six of their last eight since that low point. Just two of those six wins, however, have been by double-digits, and they won 70-63 at Georgetown in that stretch.
Georgetown is 3-1-1 ATS in its last five games, and the Pirates are 3-3 ATS in its last six. The Hoyas are allowing 10 more points than Seton Hall on average, but the offensive numbers are closer with the Pirates averaging 74 on the season as opposed to G’Town’s 71 PPG.
We’re not expecting the Hoyas to get that elusive first win tonight, but they should keep things close, as they have been doing, to cover the large spread.
Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs. Florida State Seminoles
The Bet: Notre Dame -2
Notre Dame can lock up the No. 2 seed in the ACC tournament with a win over Florida State tonight, as the Irish (21-6, 14-4 ACC) have quietly put together a nice season. Notre Dame has lost just three games since a Dec. 18 loss to Indiana and has won every game against the lower half of ACC teams–with the exception of a loss at Boston College on Dec. 3.
The Seminoles, meanwhile, scored a nice win at Virginia over the weekend on Matthew Cleveland’s buzzer beater, but it’s too little, too late for Florida State, as the Noles are 15-13 and just 8-10 in the ACC. The win at UVA came after FSU lost three of their previous four games. The Irish, on the other hand, have won seven of their last eight and have covered in four of their last five.
The teams have not met this year, and the Irish won last year’s lone meeting 83-73. While the teams have split the last 10 meetings, Notre Dame has covered in eight of those 10 games. The Irish are also on a five-game cover streak on the road, whereas FSU hasn’t covered in any of their five previous home games. With the Irish just having to lay two points, we like their chances of covering.