Today's Free Picks for
Posted at 11:45 AM EST
Big East Tournament - Madison Square Garden - New York
2:30 PM EST. Let us preface this with some thoughts on wagering this time of year in college basketball. The conference tournaments are a mad scramble to get an automatic or an at-large bid to The Big Dance. Some teams are “locks” to get in and so there is that intangible of whether or not they care about a conference tournament game or not. Remember, these are excitable kids, not pros and there are is a great deal of anticipation for those that know they’re going dancing. A good example of that is Louisville against North Carolina today, two teams that are a lock to get in. Some may argue that these teams want a conference championship to hang from the rafters and while that may or may not be true, when it’s all said and done, it means nothing. Nobody remembers you for winning the conference, instead, it is what you did at the NCAA’s that define one’s year. Furthermore, most of these tournament games are played on neutral sites and in a much different atmosphere than these teams are accustomed to playing in. For instance, the SEC tournament is at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville and the Big-Ten tourny is at the United Center in Chicago. Different backgrounds, massive arenas, different rims and where a crowd of 6000 appears tiny. Motivation, preparations and other intangibles makes it so difficult to come up with the right formula to pick winners. The point is to be extremely cautious this time of year, whereas easy looking games rarely are (see Kansas -2½ over Texas today). With that, we’re going to tread carefully too with just a couple of games today.
For Xavier and Creighton, everything is on the line and both teams probably have work to do to get in. The Musketeers knocked off St. John’s on Saturday, their second win over the Red Storm in three games and sixth in the past seven overall, a torrid run that took XU from 11-13 to the outer fringe of the bubble conversation. Still, though: the outer fringe. As good as the Musketeers have been lately, they still need a tournament quarterfinal win over Creighton here, plus some help elsewhere on the bubble. Or, failing the latter, a semifinal win over Villanova. That Xavier has gotten itself to this point — where another win or two will put it on the bubble for real come Selection Sunday — is already a serious accomplishment. It’s already done so much, yet there’s still much more to do. Beating St. John’s twice isn’t impressive and nor is Xavier’s entire body or work. As a well-know mid-major, we trust they’re getting too much credit in this price.
The Bubble Watcher’s initial instinct upon seeing the Big East tournament bracket might be to lament Creighton’s fate: The Bluejays, very much in need of wins, will face one of the hottest teams in the country in here and some may suggest it’s a brutal draw but frankly, it’s the Musketeers that got the brutal draw. In some ways, Xavier’s scalding finish has obscured the fact that the Bluejays themselves ended the season with five consecutive wins, including March 3’s massive road win over Marquette, a streak that rescued a banished, woebegone résumé out of the bubble wilderness once and for all. Meanwhile, while nothing is guaranteed for either team — and Creighton may also need more than one win to feel safe about its bid — one would rather arrive at Madison Square Garden with Creighton’s résumé than Xavier’s. Creighton played the 29th ranked non-con schedule in the country (Xavier’s non-con SOS was 142), they’re the superior team and they’ll leave absolutely nothing on the table here in this winnable game. Creighton has been tough all season while the Musketeers have not.
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#683 Creighton -2½ -101 (Risking 2.02 units - To Win: 2.00)