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The best NCAA upset picks for Feb. 18

Profile Picture: Dan Halverson

Dan Halverson

February 18th, 2022

The Saturday slate of college basketball games is the main entree for fans around the country each week, but Friday nights are the hearty appetizer to get us all warmed up. As we kick back and settle in for the weekend, here are five upsets to look for from the 16 games set to tip-off tonight.

Nebraska (+2.5) vs. Maryland

Sat, February 19 2022, 2:00 AM

Nebraska

Moneyline

+110

Spread

+2

Total

O 145.5

Maryland

Moneyline

-136

Spread

-2

Total

U 145.5

The Nebraska Cornhuskers have had an abysmal season that has many wondering how the athletic department could have incorporated such a massive buy-out into Fred Hoiberg’s contract. And to be clear, they have struggled immensely with defense and late-game offense under Hoiberg.

But this is a team that is 10-7 against the spread at home this year and 6-4 against the spread in their last 10 games. They were blown out by Northwestern at home, but have otherwise been competitive recently with a healthier roster, defeating Minnesota and losing close games to Rutgers and Wisconsin.

Maryland is just 3-11 in Big Ten conference play and is in no spot to be favored on the road in a game like this.

Richmond (+2.5) vs. VCU

Sat, February 19 2022, 12:00 AM

VCU

Moneyline

-148

Spread

-2.5

Total

O 133

Richmond

Moneyline

+120

Spread

+2.5

Total

U 133

Richmond and VCU are both Atlantic 10 heavyweights that have maintained an excellent rivalry for many years. The next iteration of the rivalry takes place with VCU as narrow favorites thanks to home court advantage.

These teams are fairly even on paper though, with Richmond sitting at 17-9 and the Rams at 17-7. Richmond is 7-2 against the spread on the road and 4-1 against the spread in their last five games. VCU, meanwhile, is just 5-7 against the spread at home.

VCU holds only a slight edge in the efficiency rankings, and this game is basically a coin flip with plus odds being offered on the visiting Spiders.

Penn (+4) vs. Yale

Sat, February 19 2022, 12:00 AM

Yale

Moneyline

-190

Spread

-4

Total

O 144

Penn

Moneyline

+155

Spread

+4

Total

U 144

Friday night always means Ivy League action, and a couple of academic blue bloods face off with the 11-12 Quakers of Penn traveling to Yale to face the 14-9 Bulldogs.

Yale has a poor offense, coming in 205th in KenPom’s efficiency rankings. They have just two scorers averaging double-digit points, so while guard Azar Swain puts up 19.1 points per game, the rest of the team hardly contributes on the scoreboard in a meaningful way. If Penn can shut down Swain, the Bulldogs may find themselves in trouble.

Penn is 8-2 straight up and against the spread in their last 10 games and could be streaking at the right time. They are just a half-game behind Yale for first place in the conference and this game should offer plenty of intensity and drama late.

Green Bay (+5.5) vs. Purdue Fort Wayne

Sat, February 19 2022, 1:00 AM

Green Bay

Moneyline

+200

Spread

+5.5

Total

O 131

Purdue Fort Wayne

Moneyline

-250

Spread

-5.5

Total

U 131

This one is hard to swallow. Green Bay is just 4-21 overall while Purdue Fort Wayne is 16-10. PFW is 8-2 in its last 10 games, while Green Bay is just 1-9. When these teams played earlier this season, it was a 16-point margin.

The visiting Mastodons of Purdue Fort Wayne are now just 5.5-point favorites, a short number given the apparent mismatch. It looks fishy with how appealing the relatively small spread on the favorite is here.

The Mastodons have a mediocre offense and if the shots don’t fall on a Friday night road trip, they could fall in an embarrassing fashion.

Northern Kentucky (+1.5) vs. Detroit

Sat, February 19 2022, 12:00 AM

Detroit

Moneyline

-122

Spread

-1.5

Total

O 137

Northern Kentucky

Moneyline

+100

Spread

+1.5

Total

U 137

It usually isn’t a good move to take a team with a winning record in an underdog role playing on the road against a team with a losing record, but Northern Kentucky is a better basketball team than Detroit so we’ll take a shot with the 15-10 Norse in this game.

Northern Kentucky is 228th in KenPom efficiency rankings and Detroit is just barely behind them in 230th, but the Detroit defense is awful at 306th in the country. Both teams run a slow pace, but Northern Kentucky is a better rebounding team and if they can earn a few more possessions in what should be a close contest that could make all the difference.

Let’s take the team that has been more successful at ending the game on the right side of the scoreboard.

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