I didn’t plan on taking two days off from putting out picks, but when you haven’t seen your wife in five weeks and she finally makes it home from seeing her family in Florida, these things happen. Turns out, taking time off was the right decision, because this was a weekend of craziness in the world of college basketball. When you have Gonzaga losing to Saint Mary’s, Arizona blowing a lead to Colorado and Nebraska shooting 58% on the road at Penn State, of all places, it’s just one of those weekends that cannot be explained.
Luckily, one of the only plays I had was North Carolina and N.C. State over, which is about as reliable a play as it gets because it’s happened so many times. And that leads me to what we’ve got going on now: conference tournaments. This is where you put the lessons of the year into practice, because every game in conference tournament play features a rematch of some kind.
We’ve only got one conference tournament game today (out of the Northeast Conference), but it’s definitely going on my card for today. Here are my plays for February 28.
FAIRLEIGH DICKINSON, -165
The Knights might be awful, but they’re hosting this game for a reason. Central Connecticut State is one of the few teams that FDU beat this season, and the Knights did it convincingly. The Blue Devils have been terrible on the road (they’re also awful at home, but that’s not the point) and FDU has won three of its past four in Teaneck, so there’s a good chance they get the win here before being fed to Bryant on Wednesday.
Fading Baylor is dangerous, but the Bears aren’t quite the same team away from home and Texas has been virtually impossible to defeat in Austin unless you’re Mark Adams and Texas Tech. The Longhorns really need this game to get off the No. 5 line and get a top-four seed, and I think they’ll play like it here. Texas for plus money offers good value.
NORTH CAROLINA/TEXAS TECH PARLAY, -225
Terrible odds, but sometimes you just have to take a win. North Carolina absolutely cannot afford to lose this game if it wants to make the NCAA tournament and has been excellent at home this year outside of the loss to Duke. Texas Tech is undefeated at home and shouldn’t have much of a problem with Kansas State, which seems to be on its last legs. I’m likely going to back both of these teams to cover their spreads.
OREGON STATE, +300
What possesses me to take a 3-24 team on the moneyline? The fact that Washington State has gone 1-6 in its past seven games is a start. The Beavers aren’t quite as bad as their record suggests, and they’ve been competitive at times on their home floor. This is a major longshot, and you’re much better off taking Oregon State +8, but it’s worth a flier.
After four straight road games, Washington should be ready to bounce back on home ice. The Capitals have got to start stringing some wins together soon, and this looks like an opportune time to do it with the Maple Leafs coming in. Toronto did beat Detroit 10-7 last time out (not a misprint), but the Leafs are losers in four of their past six on the road, so this has potential.