It was another wild night in college hoops with two more ranked teams falling to unranked opponents. In fact this time, Providence and Kentucky didn’t just lose to unranked teams, they lost to teams that were under .500 overall in DePaul and Tennessee. Not a good night for the big guys, though at this point in the season, it is getting tougher and tougher to discern who the “big guys” even are…
So are more upsets brewing tonight? Nine ranked teams are taking on unranked foes tonight, though a few (Notre Dame vs Miami and Maryland at a tricky Nebraska squad) wouldn’t be considered MASSIVE upsets. But how far will the upset bug spread? Should Xavier be concerned as 23 point faves over miserable St. John’s? Virginia is a 24 point favorite, Iowa is 17, Wichita State is 17.5 – surely none of THEM are in trouble… are they?
You never know when a mundane schedule, a night like tonight with no matchups between ranked opponents, might turn into a fantastic one. I’ve scoured through the schedule, and here are my two favorite dogs tonight.
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Today’s Free Picks:
Southern Illinois Salukis at Wichita State Shockers -17.5
The Salukis are big dogs. Literally. That’s what a Saluki is. So, with our trivia for the day accomplished, let’s dive into whether they are also an underdog worth backing.
Wichita State has put a tough non-conference run WAY in the rear view mirror. They are healthy now and crushing opponents. They have dispatched their top competition in the Valley with aplomb. They won at Northern Iowa by 19, at Evansville by 13, and taken out their last three home foes by a combined 74 points. That’s some domination.
Southern Illinois was no match for Wichita State at home last time around, getting trounced by 25 in one of the bigger home games since the heyday of Saluki pride in the late 2000’s. However, I expect them to play a little better this time around. They enter at 18-5 and 7-3 in the Valley, and aside from last matchup’s debacle, no one has gotten over on SIU easily. Southern Illinois is actually the far more efficient team in conference play, shooting 47% to Wichita’s 43% and outshooting them from behind the arc 36.3% to 34%. Of course, if you can’t take care of the basketball, none of that matters. They will have to be MUCH better in that regard this evening.
Wichita State should win this game. No doubt about that. But 18 is a ton to lay down against a team that has been very good this season overall. They may well pull away late, but I’ll take the Salukis to at least make this a game worth watching. Southern Illinois is 7-2 ATS on the road this season and 4-1 in their last five games.