We have two NFL conference championship games, two potentially impactful Big Ten basketball matchups and an exciting regular season NBA game in the coming days.
Hail Varsity's Brandon Vogel, Greg Smith, Jacob Padilla and Derek Peterson try to predict the victors.
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.
NFL: New England (-7.5) vs. Jacksonville
BV: Tom Brady single-handedly beats the Jags, and, even as someone who is mostly Patriots neutral, it is insufferable. PICK: New England 31, Jacksonville 24
GS: There isn’t anything to support this other than my gut but I think the Jags get this done after getting after Brady all game. PICK Jacksonville 24, New England 17
JP: I really don’t want the Patriots to win, so with my track record of picking NFL playoff games this year I’ll take the Pats. PICK: New England 27, Jacksonville 20
DP: I can’t believe I’m about to do this but give me Blake Bortles. Some guy got a Jags Super Bowl tattoo already, Jalen Ramsey assured the fans a Super Bowl and I just really want to see it. I have reversed course. I’m all aboard. PICK: Jacksonville 27, New England 23
NFL: Philadelphia vs. Minnesota (-3)
BV: Congrats to Philly for gutting one out last week, but Minnesota is clearly a team of destiny here. (That destiny being facing the Patriots in the Super Bowl. Have fun with that.) PICK: Minneota 24, Philadelphia 21
GS: Minnesota got a nice wake-up call last week after surviving that game. Vikings roll here. PICK: Minnesota 31 Philadelphia 14
JP: See my explanation for the first game. PICK: Minnesota 21, Philadelphia 17
DP: Beating Atlanta with Nick Foles is one thing. Beating that Vikings defense with Nick Foles is another. The Vikes are going to make it tough on him and get it done. KEENUM VERSUS BORTLES FOR THE BELT. PICK: Minnesota 28, Philadelphia 17
CBB: Northwestern vs. Penn State
BV: Penn State has almost every edge here, but Northwestern has to figure things out at some point this season, right? I think the Wildcats get to the line often enough to exact revenge here at home. PICK: Northwestern 68, Penn State 65
GS: Give me the home team. This will be where things finally click for Northwestern. PICK: Northwestern 70, Penn State 60
JP: Josh Reaves getting suspended was a huge blow to this Penn State team. He played the last time these two teams faced off and won’t this time. Add in that round two is at Northwestern and I’ll take the Wildcats. PICK: Northwestern 75, Penn State 70
DP: The Penn State loss continues to be a nagging “what if” moment for Husker fans as Northwestern gets it done thanks to the home crowd. PICK: Northwestern 72, Penn State 66
CBB: No. 22 Ohio State vs. Nebraska
BV: Can the Huskers keep rolling? It’s a big ask on the road against an Ohio State team that’s way ahead of schedule. Buckeyes keep cruising. PICK: Ohio State 68 Nebraska 59
GS: This is too tall of a task for Nebraska coming off a huge win against Michigan. Look for a big let down. PICK: Ohio State 75, Nebraska 60
JP: I think Ohio State is playing above its head right now and the win over Michigan should inspire a lot of confidence in this Nebraska team, but even so I haven’t seen enough to feel confident picking the Huskers. This one isn’t at the Vault. PICK: Ohio State 72, Nebraska 65
DP: They can feel it. They’re for real. I’m all ‘N’ on this squad. Good defense, can match up with anyone now that Jordy Tshimanga is back and James Palmer Jr. is rolling. It’s not a safe bet to say the shooting continues but it’s a bet I’m taking for now. PICK: Nebraska 74, Ohio State 68
NBA: Houston vs. Golden State
BV: Well this will be fun. No Ariza for the Rockets, plus the Warriors are too good right now away from home. PICK: Golden State 112, Houston 106
GS: I’m looking forward to this game as the Warriors usually get fired up to play against the good teams in the league. Give me the Dubs. PICK: Golden State 120, Houston 109
JP: James Harden worked off some of the rust from all the time he missed in Houston’s last game against Minnesota, so he could potentially look more like himself in this one. Golden State is coming off of a stretch of four road games in six days, and although they’ve had two days off to recover, that still takes a toll. PICK: Houston 115, Golden State 110
DP: James Harden is back, Chris Paul is playing well, Eric Gordon is shooting the lights out and Houston is at home. This will be the Warriors’ fifth-straight road contest since Jan. 12, they haven’t looked particularly great in any of the last three and they haven’t played a team as good as Houston. PICK: Houston 121, Golden State 114
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.