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All the attention in the sports world will be on Philly and Kansas City today, but hey, you need something to do for the afternoon, and there's some college basketball to fill in the gap. Buyer beware, road favorites in conference play are not generally something you want to bank on, but I'm going there today. You've been warned.

Iowa vs Minnesota

I'm a Minnesota fan, but there's not much to cheer about this year. Dawson Garcia was the one bright spot, but he's been out for the last four games with an ankle injury and there's no timetable for his return. I can't blame him for not coming back to this dumpster fire.

Iowa's still in the thick of the Big Ten race at 7-6, but they need wins. I was impressed by their effort against Purdue on Thursday--especially their press. They just dug themselves too big of a hole. Iowa is 1-5 away from home in conference play, so that's something to be wary of. However, Minnesota is so bad that I don't think it matters here. Iowa's press will bother Minnesota, leading to turnovers and easy points. As long as Iowa has a decent shooting day they should be fine on offense.

On the other side, Minnesota will struggle to score. They've put up 57, 61, 55, and 46 in the four games without Dawson Garcia. That's just not enough to hang with Iowa. And even with Garcia, Minnesota has been terrible at home in conference play, losing by 35, 4, 22, 18, 2, and 15.

Yes, it's a big number, but I expect Iowa to come out motivated and pull away quickly.

Pick: Iowa -11.5 (-110) DraftKings

Youngstown State vs Cleveland State

Next, we go to a battle of the #1 and #3 teams in the Horizon League. Youngstown St dominated the first meeting 85-71, but it's not likely to be that easy going on the road.

I automatically look to back home dogs, especially when they didn't even cover the spread in the first meeting of the year, so there has to be evidence to convince me to go the other way if I do. Youngstown is 9-3 ATS away from home this year while Cleveland is only 4-6 ATS at home. In conference, Youngstown is 10-5 ATS and Cleveland is 8-7.

There are two things that tip me toward Youngstown in this matchup. The first is that they have performed well on the road in conference, going 5-2 straight up and winning those five games by 5 or more. Meanwhile, Cleveland State has been fine at home, but they have played close games with bad teams. They beat Robert Morris by 2, IUPUI by 6, and IPFW by 5 to name a few.

The second thing is that Youngstown state just has more talent. I wouldn't pick a game just for this reason, but when other things point in the direction of the team with more talent that can push me over the edge.

Pick: Youngstown State -2.5 (-110) FanDuel

Purdue vs Northwestern

I love Purdue in this matchup, but when I saw the line I knew it wasn't going to be a cut-and-dried win for the Boilermakers. The number one team in the land is a 4.5-point favorite against the middling Northwestern Wildcats in Evanston. For what it's worth, I'd make Purdue a 9.5-point favorite in West Lafayette. Just highlighting how much home court matters here.

Purely in terms of matchup, this is not the kind of team to give Purdue trouble. To beat Purdue you need to be athletic, deep, and able to shoot the ball well. Northwestern is not notably athletic, they basically play 7 guys, and they're dead-last in the Big 10 in FG% at just over 40%. So why isn't this a Purdue blowout??

Well, it's because Purdue is playing on the road. If remove their game against Minnesota, their wins in conference have come by 5, 1, 2, and 3 points. Not to mention that they lost by 5 to Indiana. Northwestern's performance at home in conference play has been much more of a mixed bag. They've won by 3 and 13, but lost by 3, 17, and 16.

Despite my hesitation, I'm going to go ahead and play Purdue -4.5, I just don't expect it to be as easy as I thought at first glance.

Pick: Purdue -4.5 (-110) FanDuel

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