Only a few weeks remains before March Madness kicks off, so every college basketball game is important.
The three games we preview for our Tuesday parlay involve teams almost certain to be playing next month, including Illinois, West Virginia and Villanova.
Get the latest odds at our online sportsbook, which offers excellent college basketball lines.
Illinois (16-5) vs Michigan State (11-9)
When: Tuesday, February 23, 7:00 pm, ET
Where: Breslin Center, East Lansing, MI
Analysis: Illinois is currently ranked inside the top five following a seven-game winning streak. The Fighting Illini lost back-to-back games to Maryland and Ohio State, but they have rebounded in stellar fashion.
They kicked off the winning streak with a win over Penn State before beating Iowa 80-75. Scoring a win over a top ten-ranked opponent gave Illinois the confidence it needed and it added quality wins over Indiana and Wisconsin to that list.
Kofi Cockburn has been the leading scorer for Illinois in four of its last seven games, which has helped this team go on a winning streak.
Michigan State is 11-9 on the season following a tough win over Indiana. The 78-71 performance was a step in the right direction for a team that had lost consecutive games to Iowa and Purdue.
The Spartans are a team capable of producing an upset, so Illinois will have to weary on Tuesday.
We respect the ability of the Spartans when they’re playing at their best, but Illinois has shown significant improvement of late.
It comes off a blowout 94-63 win over Minnesota and that should give the Fighting Illini enough confidence to beat Michigan State on the road.
Pick: Illinois 80 Michigan State 70
West Virginia (15-6) vs TCU (11-9)
When: Tuesday, February 23, 7:00 pm, ET
Where: Ed and Rae Schollmaier Arena, Fort Worth, Texas
Analysis: The winning streak of West Virginia came to end against Oklahoma, but it rebounded with a terrific 84-82 win over Texas last week.
The Mountaineers are tough to keep down and the response was credit to their coaching staff. Beating Texas on the road isn’t easy to do, but they battled it out and came away with a clutch win.
West Virginia is currently ranked in the top 10 and they are fourth in the ultra-competitive Big 12 Conference behind Baylor, Oklahoma and Kansas.
Miles McBride continues to score at a good clip of 16.2 points per game and he chimes in with 4.7 assists. Derek Culver is also doing good work, which sees the Mountaineers average 77.8 points per game as a team.
TCU averages almost 10 points less, so a top defensive performance is needed from the Horned Frogs. They are riding a disappointing two-game losing streak, which culminated in an eight-point loss to Kansas State.
That is a loss no team wants on its record this season, so TCU needs to regather itself to have a chance of beating West Virginia on Tuesday.
Most of the money will come for West Virginia and it’s tough to disagree with bettors.
They are the better team and although playing another game on the road isn’t easy, it has beaten Iowa State, Texas Tech and Texas on the road over the last three weeks.
TCU will need a season-best performance to cause an upset, and we can’t see that happening.
Pick: West Virginia 77 TCU 70
St John’s (14-9) vs Villanova (14-3)
When: Tuesday, February 23, 8:00 pm, ET
Where: Finneran Pavilion, Villanova, PA
Analysis: We considered St John’s to be a sleeper team for the March Madness tournament this season until they lost to DePaul last week.
It was a disappointing 88-83 loss and it came on the back of a 93-84 win over Xavier. However, the Red Storm are one of only three teams to beat Villanova this year when scoring a 70-59 thrashing on February 3.
The Wildcats have produced three wins and a loss since that result, with the wins coming over Georgetown, Marquette and UConn. The Big East isn’t as strong this season, but Villanova continues to keep a lead in the conference.
Most of the early money has been placed on Villanova, but St John’s has the talent to bounce back from the loss. It shouldn’t be overlooked despite playing on the road.
A close game is expected on Tuesday and we think Villanova could get the job done. However, St John’s has shown an ability to beat Villanova by double digits this season, so don’t be surprised if it wins again.
Take St John’s with the points in online betting markets.