Hail Varsity's Brandon Vogel, Greg Smith, Jacob Padilla and Derek Peterson are back to predict a slew of interesting Big Ten basketball games and a grudge match in the NBA.
Our weekly Friday Forecast is presented by the Gamblers Assistance Program, the Nebraska Council on Compulsive Gambling and Choices Treatment Center. If you or someone you love has a problem with gambling, call the state-wide help line at 1-800-522-4700.
MBB: No. 4 Michigan State vs. No. 3 Purdue
BV: I think the Boilermakers might have a little extra something on Saturday after dropping a game to Ohio State mid-week. PICK: Purdue 80, Michigan State 76
GS: Purdue is the better team but my gut says go with the Spartans to continue the “skid” for Purdue. PICK: Michigan State 71, Purdue 69
JP: Michigan State is as talented as anyone, but Purdue has a significant edge in experience and matches up well with the Spartans. I don’t see the Boilermakers dropping two in a row. PICK: Purdue 76, Michigan State 70
DP: Purdue is the better team here. I think this won’t be as exciting as it looks. PICK: Purdue 78, Michigan State 69
MBB: Creighton vs. No. 5 Xavier
BV: The Jays got a scare in Chicago, but are 13-0 at home this year. The CenturyLink Center crowd should play a part in this one. PICK: Creighton 85, Xavier 81
GS: Xavier might have the Jays number this season. I shouldn’t pick against the Jays at home but I will. PICK: Xavier 77, Creighton 73
JP: The Jays laid an egg at Xavier, but round two is in Omaha where Creighton is undefeated this season. I’ll pick Creighton, but I don’t feel super-confident in it. The Musketeers are a tough matchup. PICK: Creighton 78, Xavier 75
DP: The Jays are undefeated at home this season. The Jays won’t be undefeated at home this season after this game. PICK: Xavier 88, Creighton 83
MBB: Nebraska vs. Rutgers
BV: Nebraska has the unique challenge of playing a handful of teams it should beat the rest of the way coupled with immense pressure not to “slip up.” That might make this one choppier than it needs to be. PICK: Nebraska 74, Rutgers 65
GS: This should be a trap game for Nebraska. Rutgers just isn’t good enough to capitalize on it though. PICK: Nebraska 67, Rutgers 58
JP: As bad as Nebraska has been at times offensively this season, Rutgers is worse. The Scarlet Knights will keep it competitive as Nebraska seems to play to its competition more often than not, but the Huskers will still come out on top. PICK: Nebraska 75, Rutgers 64.
DP: I can’t decide if all this extra rest time will be good or potentially disruptive to a team that, despite the offensive speed bumps, has been pretty hot down the stretch. I don’t think it’ll matter against Rutgers. The Huskers will fix whatever it was that had them idling against the Scarlet Knights last time. PICK: Nebraska 76, Rutgers 65
MBB: Maryland vs. Northwestern
BV: Two mostly solid teams from the Big Ten’s flabby middle. Give me the Wildcats coming off a good win against Michigan. PICK: Northwestern 71, Maryland 70
GS: Give me the Wildcats in the battle of the “Big Ten’s flabby middle.” PICK: Northwestern 71, Maryland 66
JP: Northwestern has won four of its last five, with the lone loss coming to a Michigan team the Wildcats beat their last time out. Maryland, on the other hand, has lost four of its last five. PICK: Northwestern 73, Maryland 68
DP: Brandon said it pretty perfectly. PICK: Northwestern 83, Maryland 80
NBA: Boston vs. Cleveland
BV: I’m a Celtics fan, but it seems preordained that the new-look Cavs get a win that makes everyone think they fixed things. That won’t be the case long-term, but it’ll be good enough here. PICK: Cleveland 105, Boston 103
GS: I don’t see how Cleveland wins this game unless somehow the best player on Earth goes nuts. Wait, he probably will. PICK: Cleveland 109, Boston 100
JP: Adding four new starters/major rotation players is not an easy thing to do midseason, and I don’t have faith in Tyronn Lue out-coaching Brad Stevens either. I do think this trade will help the Cavaliers, but not this quickly. PICK: Boston 110, Cleveland 104
DP: I’m actually a huge fan of the Cavs’ deadline deals, but I think the biggest thing they got from Thursday’s trade deadline was a re-engaged LeBron James. I see the King going off in this one, prompting the rest of the world to proclaim the switch has flipped. PICK: Cleveland 114, Boston 107
Our picks today are for entertainment purposes only. Between 6 and 8 million Americans meet the criteria for gambling addiction, and many more are affected by another individual’s gambling problem. Don’t gamble more than you can afford and if it stops being fun seek help.
Problem gambling is not a bad habit or a moral weakness. It’s a serious condition. But with help, problem gamblers can put the game in perspective and make decisions to improve their lives.
If you or someone you love has a gambling problem, in Lincoln call Choices treatment center 24/7 at 402-476-2300 or statewide call The Nebraska Council on Problem Gambling 24/7 at 1-800-522-4700. Help is free so call today.