By Ryan Coleman
Welcome one and all to the official coronation of the college basketball season. Obviously, it’s been going on for awhile but now that football is officially over, we can all turn our eyes on this wonderful sport. My most confident plays last week didn’t particularly pan out but it was still a winning week and that’s all that really matters, right? Here are my picks for Tuesday’s games.
(Disclaimer: I write this article the night before and it gets published the morning of the games. If there is any significant line movement feel free to reach out to me on Twitter @ryancoleman98 with any questions.)
Ohio State at Michigan
6:00 pm central, ESPN2
Line: Michigan -2.5
The Pick: Michigan -2.5
Can Ohio State…win games? Honestly, at this point it would be a shocker considering their only wins in their last nine games are Nebraska, Northwestern and home tilt against Indiana. In this match, I don’t think they can. The Buckeyes rely heavily on shooting around the perimeter but Michigan does a nice job running shooters off the line and forcing opponents to go score from down low. It will be interesting to see how Ohio State attacks that given they have a star big in Kaleb Wesson, but perhaps settle for perimeter jumpers too often. Michigan has almost as many question marks as OSU and if you told me about a month and a half ago that neither team would be ranked in the top 25 for this game I would call you crazy. But for the Wolverines, defeating Rutgers on a neutral court without Isaiah Livers gives me confidence that this team can build on their momentum and win at home. It will be a close game I am sure but for this one I’m saying Go Blue.
Penn State at Michigan State
7:00 pm central, Big Ten Network
Line: Michigan State -8.0
The Pick: Michigan State -8.0
I know I just got burned by Michigan State last game but that was the road team, this is them at home. The Spartans at home are undefeated in conference and have been consistently blowing teams out of the water with an average home margin of victory sitting at 17.8 points in Big Ten play. Yes, that was no typo, 17.8 points. Even if you take away the skewed 29-point victory over Northwestern, they have won every home Big Ten game by double-digits including Rutgers, Illinois, Michigan and Minnesota. While Penn State has an elite interior defense, Sparty can score in many different ways and I fully expect a strong bounce back game after that abysmal performance in Madison. I expect this line to fall a bit and for Michigan State to close around a 6 point favorite if you care to wait but I still think the Spartans can continue their double-digit victory ways.
Auburn at Arkansas
6:00 pm central, SEC Network
Line: Arkansas -1.5
The Pick: Auburn +1.5 (POD)
Arkansas is well-known by now for their elite perimeter defense but this is not the same Auburn team as last year that was greatly dependent on the three ball, it’s actually quite the opposite. A lot of their scoring comes from down low and especially off free throws (you saw that game against Kentucky right?). What benefits the Tigers is that Arkansas is quite foul prone and there is a correlation when it comes to a team’s higher free throw rate in a game and Arkansas losing that game. I haven’t particularly trusted Auburn this entire season but their victory over Kentucky pretty much proved me wrong and they can basically run back that same game plan against the Razorbacks. The Tigers have not been elite on the road this season but I expect them to run the tables in this one and cover.
Mississippi State at Kentucky
8:00 pm central, ESPN
Line: Kentucky -6.0
The Pick: Mississippi State + 6.0
Mississippi State has been flying pretty low under the radar this season but they seemed to have turned the page of late, winning five of their last six games with a one-point road loss to Oklahoma in the mix. The Bulldogs game plan this season has basically been to just rebound their misses and hope for a foul which not only has been working, but Kentucky doesn’t have a real response to either. The Wildcats’ defense is highlighted by their perimeter play but in the paint they aren’t spectacular. The Wildcats have been struggling to play in front of their home crowd for some reason and I am expecting that to factor into this one as well. Kentucky should win a close one here while Mississippi State covers.
Rutgers at Maryland
6:00 pm central, Fox Sports 1
Line: Maryland -7.5
The Pick: Maryland -7.5
Oof, it’s like Vegas knows how good Maryland is at home. Maryland has elite interior defense which is where Rutgers does a lot of its scoring, 60% of their points come inside the arc actually. Furthermore, Rutgers has struggled on the road and with Maryland getting the weekend off, not only are they more rested but the Terrapins got an extra three days to prepare for this team. This amount of points may seem like a lot and there’s a chance it falls before gametime but I am happy to take it.
- Virginia Tech at Georgia Tech (-2.5): Georgia Tech -2.5
- Colorado State (-2.5) at Fresno State: Colorado State -2.5
- Missouri at Texas A&M (PK): Texas A&M Pick-Em
- Air Force at Nevada (-10.5): Nevada -10.5 (POD pt. 2)
- Boise State (-9.5) at Wyoming: Boise State -9.5
Last Week: 18-14
Season Total: 155-117-4*
*While I don’t publish all my plays, you can follow all my picks by following me on the Action Sports Network @RcCola3