Today’s College Basketball picks below….
Washington Huskies -4 @ Washington State Cougars
Washington has withstood the season-ending injury to point guard Abdul Gaddy and remained comfortably in first place in the Pac-10 at 7-1. Washington State has shown flashes of promise, like in their runner-up performance over Christmas in the Diamond Head Classic – and have also shown disappointing inconsistency at just 4-4 in conference play.
This rivalry already means a little more than just your average game but the war of words between Washington star Isiah Thomas and Washington State All American candidate Klay Thompson have elevated the game even further. Thomas has averaged over 20 ppg over the Huskies seven conference wins and has emerged as the primary challenger to Thompson’s Pac 10 POY bid.
Washington State is a good team at home, their only conference loss coming by two to likely tourney-bound Arizona. And this is an enormous game for the Cougars. Not only are they desperate to snap a four-game losing streak to their instate rivals, but with the Pac 10 down a bit this year, this is one of their final opportunities to pick up a much-needed resume win to boost their profile.
Washington has an edge in the backcourt, but lacks a real good defensive matchup for Klay Thompson. I like Thompson to have a big night and put the Cougars on his back for a vital season-defining win.
Northern Iowa Panthers @ Missouri State Bears -7
You are forgiven if you don’t know much about the Missouri State Bears. Most casual fans don’t. Don’t let that lull you into ignoring one of the nation’s best mid-majors in 2011.
The Bears enter at 17-4, 9-1 in the competitive Missouri Valley. They got away with looking ahead in their last contest, escaping with a 73-70 win over Drake. Don’t expect their focus to be anywhere other than on the Northern Iowa Panthers tomorrow night.
Northern Iowa captured the nation’s fancy with their improbable upset of #1 Kansas en route to the Sweet 16. This team, however, is not that team; Ali Farokhamensh has gradated, and the Panthers have been good, but certainly not great this season without him. They enter the game at 16-6 (7-3), but without some of the big wins they captured along the way last season.
The Missouri Valley is likely a two-bid league this year, and No. Iowa is looking up at Wichita State as well. A win tonight on the road at Mo. State to go with their win over the Shockers would be an enormous chip in the pile come Selection Sunday.
However, I’m not sure they’ll get it. I like them to cover the seven point spread however. They have won six straight conference games, including a win at Wichita State, and played the Bears to a one-point loss earlier in the season.
The names might have changed a little bit, but this Panther team is road tough and used to playing with a bullseye on their back. I think they’ll relish the chance to once again play the underdog role for an evening and play loose and aggressive. Gimme the Panthers and the points.
PICK: Northern Iowa +7 (-110) @ SportsInteraction.com <- $200 click link for more info