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Free NCAA Pick Friday

#853 Rutgers +15 over Purdue 8:00 PM CT

A bye in the conference tournaments isn’t always an ideal situation, especially for highly ranked teams headed for upper tiers seeds in the NCAA Tournament regardless of the conference tournament results. Facing teams coming off Thursday wins Michigan State and Nebraska both looked flat in Big Ten tournament action and the advantage of rest might be negated by a lack of familiarity with the venue with this year’s tournament in Madison Square Garden for the first time.

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Rutgers won just three Big Ten games on the season but has two Big Ten wins the last two days and this is a tournament the team has been waiting for playing close to home in front of the New York crowd. Rutgers should have good support tonight as a heavy underdog and this is a team that gave Purdue fits in a 78-76 escape for the Boilermakers a month ago.

Purdue has little at stake this week, they can’t become a #1 seed even by winning this tournament as they are very much set in their March position. The Boilermakers have just one double-digit win in the last 10 Big Ten games as they struggled down the stretch compared with a dominant run in late January. Rutgers has been very good at creating turnovers and rebounding and this double-digit spread will likely be magnified with a slow pace of play that could be even more deliberate with Rutgers playing a third game in as many nights.

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Free NCAA Pick Wednesday

#714 Penn State -3 over Michigan 6:00 PM CT

Penn State has won six of the last eight to make a late season run in Big Ten play, up to 9-7 and 19-10 overall. The Lions have a few bad losses on the resume to overcome and still have plenty of work to do to make a NCAA Tournament case. Penn State has lost three home games this season but they have won the past four home games and have home wins over Nebraska and Ohio State to take out two of the better teams in the conference. After beating the Buckeyes last Thursday Penn State came up just short at Purdue in what could have been a season-making win for the team.

Purdue was gifted a 27-13 edge in free throw attempts and the Lions have 15 turnovers to offset a big rebounding edge for Penn State and continued strong shooting for the Lions. A lot went right for Michigan’s senior day win over rival Ohio State Sunday and a letdown is very possible tonight back on the road in a more critical game for the host. In Sunday’s narrow win for Michigan the Wolverines hit 17 of 24 from the line despite being one of the nation’s least productive and lowest percentage free throw shooting teams. Michigan was crushed on the boards 40-30 including a 15-4 edge for the Buckeyes on the offensive glass but turnovers and missed layups and free throws burned Ohio State.

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Michigan only has four road wins all season and a Wolverines team reliant on 3-point shooting will face a very strong perimeter defense for Penn State that has held foes to just 34 percent shooting from beyond the arc. Michigan’s defensive profile is vastly overrated through non-conference success against nine teams outside the nation’s top 150. Michigan is 20th nationally in defensive efficiency with the season numbers but just seventh in the Big Ten in the conference season through one of the weaker Big Ten slates. Michigan is 11th in the Big Ten in 3-point defense and there should be a good opportunity for Penn State to continue a strong late season run.

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Free NCAA Pick Tuesday

#527/528 ‘UNDER 139.5’ Indiana at Nebraska 8:00 PM CT

Indiana has won four in a row but they have beat the four worst teams in the Big Ten in that stretch and they were fortunate in a very narrow comeback win at Iowa on Saturday winning 84-82. Indiana made 14 3-point shots in Saturday’s win hitting 58 percent from beyond the arc. Now 9-7 in Big Ten play Indiana has made a nice run back to respectability but they are 0-5 vs. the top five teams in the Big Ten which Nebraska is a part of and the recent wins with improved offensive numbers have conveniently been against the worst defensive teams in the conference.

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Nebraska’s NCAA Tournament hopes took a big blow with a loss at Illinois on Sunday, snapping a six-game streak. Nebraska is 11-5 in Big Ten play but like Indiana most of the wins came against the bottom of the conference. Nebraska is 13-1 S/U at home however with a perfect 7-0 Big Ten record at home including beating Michigan. The lone loss on the season in Lincoln came by one-point against Kansas and three of the last four home wins have come by double-digits. The season is on the line for Nebraska tonight and after allowing more than 70 points for the sixth time in 16 Big Ten games the defensive intensity should be escalated.

These teams are both in the top five in defensive efficiency in Big Ten play while being two of the worst shooting teams with both teams below 35 percent from 3-point range. Indiana is also a below 64 percent free throw shooting team and Nebraska has featured the Big Ten’s best 3-point defense and the second best effective field goal defense in the conference. These teams combined for 170 points last season in a road win for Nebraska but that was with a much different Hoosiers team under Tom Crean. Even with 84 points Saturday Indiana has averaged just 65 points per game on the road in conference play and they averaged just 60 points per game against the defenses that rank ahead of Nebraska.

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Free NCAA Pick Saturday

#525/526 ‘UNDER 152’ Indiana at Iowa 1:00 PM CT

Iowa has lost four games in a row to fall to 3-12 in Big Ten play but they have faced some of the top teams in the conference in that run. The three road losses in that stretch have been ugly but Iowa played right with Big Ten leaders Michigan State in a three-point home loss in the last Iowa City game. Iowa also beat Wisconsin and Minnesota by double-digits in the prior two home dates with those teams rating similarly to the Hoosiers.

After some ups-and-downs Indiana is above .500 in Big Ten play in Archie Miller’s first season in Bloomington. The past three wins have come against the three worst teams in the Big Ten however with the road win at Rutgers one of just two road wins on the season for Indiana. Indiana is one of the worst 3-point shooting and free throw shooting teams in the nation as Iowa rates as the much better offensive team in this matchup. Indiana has a far better defense than Iowa in the Big Ten rankings but Iowa has had to play one of the toughest slates in the conference to weigh on the numbers. Indiana is shooting just 32 percent from 3-point range and 64 percent from the line in Big Ten play while also featuring one of the worst 3-point defenses in the Big Ten.

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Iowa’s young team has shown some growth albeit with some inconsistency and the Hawkeyes have great height for several potential matchup edges in this game especially with Indiana mostly unable to score reliably from long range this season. Iowa beat Indiana in the home meeting last season in an overtime game that helps push this total higher and despite a disappointing season overall, this is a marquee home date for the Hawkeyes in a still tough venue for foes to play in. Indiana had 18 turnovers in a rivalry win over Illinois on Wednesday and the only two Big Ten road wins came against two of the worst three offensive teams in the conference. Iowa is a bit tough to count on to secure the win but the shooting numbers for Indiana should be rough in this game and a this high total will be tough to reach.

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Free NCAA Pick Wednesday

‘UNDER 146.5’ #747/748 Ohio State at Purdue 7:30 PM CT

After slipping by Michigan with a one-point win in early January, Purdue turned in wins by 34, 28, and 23 the next three games to establish itself as the Big Ten frontrunner. Purdue remains undefeated at 12-0 in Big Ten play but in now four straight games it has taken close calls to keep the streak alive regardless of the competition. Purdue’s last four wins have come by four, seven, eight, and two points and while this home date with Ohio State matches two teams in the first two spots in the Big Ten standings, Saturday’s game with Michigan State seems more important in the big picture.

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If you are looking for top 20 wins for Purdue there aren’t any, as beating Ohio State Wednesday would qualify as the strongest win of the season to date for the Boilermakers. Wins over Marquette, Arizona, and Louisville no longer stand out in non-conference play and Purdue has played one of the weakest Big Ten schedules so far. Purdue narrowly out-paces Ohio State in conference offensive efficiency but the top defense belongs to the surprising Buckeyes who should control the pace in this matchup and aim to grind out a tight lower scoring game.

Ohio State has not lost a true road game yet this season and while this will be by far the toughest test this team continues to impress with Chris Holtmann deserving of national coach of the year consideration in his first season in Columbus. The only Big Ten loss for Ohio State came by three points in a game where Penn State shot over 58 percent, including making 11 of 14 3-point shots. Despite Purdue’s size Ohio State is the far more impressive defensive rebounding team and Ohio State has scored at a higher percentage inside of the 3-point line. The Boilermakers are much more reliant on 3-point shooting and despite some high scoring games for both teams these are relatively slow tempo teams. ‘Under’ looks promising with high stakes in the Big Ten tonight.

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Free NCAA Pick Saturday

#576 Rutgers +16 over Purdue 3:00 PM CT

Purdue is riding 18 consecutive wins with a perfect mark in Big Ten play but they have had close calls with single-digit wins in the past three games. This is a dangerous game facing what is perceived as the worst team in the Big Ten on the road heading to Rutgers Saturday while next on the schedule are conference title deciding contests with Ohio State and Michigan State next week.

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Purdue won by 31 in early January hosting Rutgers but the Knights have competed well in most home games. Both Big Ten wins came at home as did a nice non-conference upset over Seton Hall. Michigan State won by just 10 in Piscataway while Nebraska won by just six and in non-conference play Florida State won by only five.

Rutgers ranks 17th nationally in defensive efficiency as the underdog points will be appealing with Rutgers able to slow the pace of this game down. The Knights have outstanding turnover numbers on both sides of the ball and have defended the 3-point shot with great success allowing only 32 percent from beyond the arc this season.

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Rutgers has played the second toughest Big Ten schedule at this point in the season while Purdue’s schedule ranks as the second easiest slate. Purdue remains the Big Ten favorite and a national threat but this massive home underdog spread is alluring with the Boilermakers not playing their best games of late and featuring the biggest games of the season up next.

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Free NCAA Pick Tuesday

#547 Northwestern +2 over Minnesota 8:00 PM CT

Northwestern was one of the great stories of the college basketball season last year but this year the Wildcats have struggled and are far away from being in contention for the program’s second NCAA Tournament appearance. The Wildcats have nine losses while going just 3-5 in Big Ten play but this stretch of road games could make or break the chances of turning the season around.

The Wildcats are still a strong 3-point and free throw shooting team and the decline of the defensive numbers can be attributed in part to the schedule with five losses to top 25 caliber teams already this season. Northwestern has only one road win this season but this is a favorable opportunity facing a reeling Gophers team.

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After a 13-3 start to the season Minnesota has dropped five of the last six games with Reffie Lynch and Amir Coffey out of action. Coffey did return for Saturday’s 18-point loss to Ohio State but was ineffective with three turnovers and only 11 points. This home game follows three consecutive away games for the Gophers and precedes a week off as this is likely a fatigued team with a shortened depth chart, mostly only with seven major contributors.

Northwestern won by 23 in Evanston in early January and a dramatic shift in the trajectory of this game shouldn’t be expected. The Wildcats have won four of the last five meetings between these teams and has been the far superior defensive team in this matchup. Minnesota has three home losses this season and the only Big Ten home wins came against the bottom of the conference as the Wildcats are the team more likely to breakout tonight in a battle of two of the Big Ten’s big disappointments.

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Free NCAA Pick Tuesday

#521 Wisconsin +14.5 over Purdue 6:00 PM CT

Purdue is 6-0 in Big Ten play but four of those wins came by slim margins of 12 or fewer points. The Boilermakers got a blowout win at Minnesota on Saturday against a depleted Gophers squad and the early Big Ten slate has been fairly soft. Purdue’s best win came by just a point at Michigan and that is one of just two top 30 wins on the season for Purdue.

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Wisconsin is in a down year with injuries taking a big toll. The Badgers are 9-9 but through an extremely difficult schedule most loses have been very close, with seven of nine losses coming by 12 or fewer points. Wisconsin plays at an extremely slow pace as points will be at a premium and this double-digit spread will feel even larger given the pace of play and the limited amount of possessions. This is a third straight road game with Wisconsin losing the past two road games but both of those losses came by just four points and the Badgers have had a full week to prepare for this game.

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Wisconsin won at Penn State and played competitively at highly ranked Virginia and this is a key stretch in the season for the Badgers now rested with time to prepare for one of the biggest games of the season. These teams combined for just 121 points last season as this double-digit spread will be very appealing at that pace. Wisconsin has lost three home games this season but all against high quality teams and now the team should be more comfortable in the current rotation.

Struggling from 3-point range was the common thread in both Purdue losses and the Badgers have the ability to make those looks difficult while keeping this game tight with an inflated spread as Purdue has grown overvalued through a soft slate and the Badgers are still a dangerous team in Big Ten play with this biggest Wisconsin underdog spread in a long time.

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Free NCAA Pick Friday

#842 Penn State -6 over Northwestern 7:00 PM CT

Northwestern might appear to be a tempting underdog tonight as Chris Collins has a lot back from last year’s squad that made noise in the NCAA Tournament. Top player Bryant McIntosh missed the last game and looks unlikely to be back in action anytime soon though no official announcement has been made.

The six losses for Northwestern have come against top 125 teams but three of the defeats have come 15 or more points and an average of more than 14 points per defeat. The games in the win column for Northwestern don’t offer great promise as the best win of the season came in overtime at home against Illinois. The Wildcats are a great free throw shooting team that takes care of the ball but hasn’t been able to match the success on defense of last season’s team.

Penn State has a similar 11-5 record on the season while also lacking high quality wins but the Lions haven’t lost by more than 11 points in ant game while taking on several challenging matchups. Both home losses came by a single point and Penn State currently is 17th nationally in defensive efficiency. The Lions have great rebounding numbers while also creating turnovers at one of the highest rates in the Big Ten.

This is also an excellent outside shooting team connecting at over 38 percent from 3-point range. Northwestern won at Penn State in the only meeting last season but it was one of the better shooting games of the season for the Wildcats. Satchel Pierce looks likely to return tonight after missing the loss to Maryland and Penn State hasn’t lost consecutive games all season.

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Nelly’s delivered in our 2* top play last night with a near upset from a heavy underdog. We are on a 26-15 run since December 3 in basketball for great returns including hitting 72% on the season in the NBA. Get a guaranteed NBA pick tonight for just $15. Big E is on a 9-3 run in his last 12 basketball picks as well – don’t miss Friday’s Biggie play for just $9.94.

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Free NCAA Pick Saturday

#163 Akron +31 over Penn State 11:00 AM CT

The Nittany Lions delivered an incredible season going from a 2-2 start including a loss in the Big Ten opener to the Big Ten championship with huge wins over Ohio State and Wisconsin. Now juniors Penn State has stars at quarterback and running back with Trace McSorley and Saquon Barkley and the offense has the potential to top last season’s great numbers.

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The defense was erratic last season and that may remain the case this season. Penn State has failed to cover in an early season MAC matchup each of the past two years and this will be the biggest Penn State spread vs. a FBS foe since 2008. Akron lost by 44 at Wisconsin last season but the Zips have a respectable showing vs. Penn State from 2014, the same year they upset Pittsburgh.

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Terry Bowden’s squad hit a high mark in 2015 before sliding to 5-7 last season, losing the final four games with bowl eligibility on the line. This year’s team has some veteran experience with Thomas Woodson back at quarterback and the points are appealing given that a top 10 Wisconsin squad only gave the Zips +23½ early last season. Penn State has a revenge game with Pittsburgh up next and the offense might try to keep some of its best plays off the table if they are able to as this isn’t likely to be a game where the Lions are adding points late.

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