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Purdue vs. Michigan State NCAA Pick – March 13th

The Committee has an interesting decision today. Beyond the typical Bubble debate, which will be plenty healthy as mid major candidates of differing credentials like Wichita State, St. Mary’s, Valpo and Monmouth await word as to whether they will get the nod over some teams like Michigan, Pitt, UConn, Cincinnati, St. Bonaventure, South Carolina and Temple (and even longer-shots like Vanderbilt, Syracuse, Georgia and Florida). To make matters even more complicated, San Diego State entered the mix by losing to Fresno State yesterday and Memphis could steal ANOTHER bid by knocking off UConn. This year’s bubble has shrunk like no other in recent memory and NO ONE who was on the bubble other than Gonzaga, made life easy by just winning their tournament…

But the most interesting debate might be over the fourth #1 seed. Both of the prime contenders lost yesterday, Villanova and Virginia. Both lost in the championship games to good teams in tight, well-played games. So whom get punished worse? Villanova has a better record and won their conference regular season (Virginia did not). But Villanova flunked their two biggest non-conference tests badly, to Oklahoma and the aforementioned Wahoos. I think UVA gets the slight nod here based on the perceived strength of the ACC vs. the Big East. My vote would be Nova. You can kill them for their loss to UVA (fairly) but Virginia has a gang of losses to non-tourney teams like Florida State, Georgia Tech and George Washington.

Of course, if Michigan State loses today, perhaps both get the nod…

Today is the final day of college hoops before one-and-done Madness ensues. Let’s see if we can cap off the regular season with a winner.

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Today’s Free Pick:

Purdue Boilermakers vs. Michigan State Spartans -4.5

Sparty is rolling, there is no denying it. And Purdue has their work cut out for them today. But I think they have a good shot to knock off Michigan State if they play well today. Purdue is an excellent defensive team and a fantastic rebounding team. Michigan State has been known to struggle a bit offensively at times and doesn’t always get great shots. They rely heavily on Valentine’s creativity and some scrappy hustle plays around the rim.

AJ Hammonds doesn’t allow for much success around the rim. Look for the Purdue big man and Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year to have a BIG impact today. Add in seven-footer Isaac Haas and Caleb Swanigan and the ‘Makers have size and length to spare. I think that’ll give Sparty real difficulty today.

This isn’t to overlook Michigan State. The Spartans enter winners of eight straight, including yesterday’s tough win over Maryland and wins over Indiana and three over poor Ohio State. But only a win over OSU and Rutgers came on the road, so the schedule had a little to do with the run. On the road this season they got dropped by Iowa, Wisconsin and Purdue – and didn’t have to go to Indiana or Maryland.

I like Purdue on the moneyline at +175 as a good value wager, but if the game was a pick em, I’d be less inclined to go Boilers. My point is, I don’t KNOW they are going to win, I just feel very good they won’t get beat badly, so with the points, I’m all in. If I can get close to 2:1 on a team that has a good shot to win, I usually like the value.

Look for a good game. And look for defenses to reign. Both teams can really get after it with intensity and physical strength. Purdue has more size and depth. Michigan State has Denzel. That’s a near push, but I’ll go with the Boilermakers right down the road in their second home of Indianapolis.

Free Pick: Purdue Boilermakers +4.5